Follow the road as it snakes its way up the hill.
We are standing in front of a building that has been a school for more than 130 years. Until 1948, it was a girls’ school and in the first two decades of the twentieth century the activist Františka Plamínková (1875-1942) taught here. Her main interest was the situation of women who, as she had been well aware since childhood, were in a weaker position in all situations: “They have a lower level of education, the husband makes all the decisions at home, sons are raised more liberally than daughters, a lot of illegitimate children are born for whom the father has no responsibility, the law says that the man is superior to his wife who must obey him, and if a separation takes place, children belong to the father (boys from four, girls from seven years of age) without the mother being allowed to have a say.” This is how Eva Uhrová, Františka Plamínková’s biographer, summarizes the situation for women in the late 19th century.
At that time, it was obligatory for women teachers to remain single and Františka Plamínková had to decide whether to teach, or to marry and have children. She chose the first option. She succeeded in promoting women’s right to vote and the abolition of the compulsory single status for women teachers –but to start with, she had had to persuade a number of her colleagues. The law, however, was one thing and its application another. The new Czechoslovak constitution was only the beginning of the struggle for the state to create conditions in which women would be allowed to combine profession and family. For example, only male lawyers were invited to write the Family Act, and since the state did not want to pay for the then three-month maternity leave, women were often dismissed from work shortly after marriage. Plamínková responded to this: “... the antidemocratic motive behind the persecution of married women employed by the state results from hostility against motherhood, a state which man are happy to praise in books or in the mothers of their children, but which, if the woman happens to be a public employee, is considered reckless, disrespectful to the state, and just a woman’s privilege.” Plamínková joined the Czech National Socialist Party in 1918, which she represented at the Prague City Hall (1918-1925) and later in the Senate (1925-1939). In 1938 she wrote an open letter to Adolf Hitler, responding to his accusation that Czechoslovak President, Edvard Beneš, had lied. She wrote: “This insult is perhaps only explained by a lack of information to which dictators are subject ... as an honest democrat I consider it my duty to write to you, Mr. Chancellor, because I am firmly convinced that truth will prevail even against military rule.” After March 1939, she refused to remain abroad because, although she had received a passport and left legally to visit Sweden, Norway and Denmark, she wanted to be in her homeland to share the difficult times. Two weeks after Heydrich’s assassination, she was arrested by the Nazis and shot on June 30 at Kobylisy rifle range.
- Wikipedia entry: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Franti%C5%A1ka_Plam%C3%ADnkov%C3%A1
- Barbara Reinfeld (article): Františka Plamínková (1875–1942), Czech feminist and patriot
It’s less than five minutes to the “Bike to Heaven” monument. Go towards the Vltava River, the Expo pavilion will be on your right. Follow the winding path downhill with a beautiful view of Prague. When you get to the sidewalk, head to the left and you will see a silver street lamp with a bicycle attached part-way up it.