1933 – 1996
Who was Olga Havlová?
Olga Havlová, née Šplíchalová was the first wife of Václav Havel, the last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic. She was a dissident under the communist regime of former Czechoslovakia and signer of the human rights' document Charter 77.
Olga Šplíchalová was born in Žižkov, "one of the roughest, working-class districts of Prague." As a young girl, she had refused to join communist youth organizations such as the Pioneers, and Czechoslovak Youth Union. After completing primary school she worked in the factory of Tomáš Baťa. From 1961-69 she worked as an usher in the Theatre on the Balustrade, where Havel was also active. They had first met in 1953 through mutual friends at the Prague writer's hangout, Café Slavia. She married Václav Havel in 1964. She later became an important source of support for her husband when they began to be harassed by the secret police, and became his voice to the outside world when he was in prison. She was described as "...full of forthright, even earthy common sense. A shrewd, intuitive judge of people, calm but tough, and with a natural dignity..."
She became active among the Czech dissidents after the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia. In April 1979 she co-founded the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted with her husband; when he was imprisoned the following month, she took charge of the samizdat, Edice Expedice until his release in 1983. In 1990 she founded Olga Havel Foundation - the Committee of Good Will, which aimed to "re-equip and humanize" the prison-like institutions housing orphans and the disabled. Donations poured in from Czechs living abroad, and even elderly women within the country sent 100-crown notes through the mail. It grew much larger than she had envisioned and it was renamed the Olga Havlová Foundation.
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