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Olga Havlová

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Olga Havlová

Olga Havlová
First Lady of the Czech Republic
In office
2 February 1993 – 27 January 1996
President Václav Havel
Succeeded by Dagmar Havlová
First Lady of Czechoslovakia
In office
29 December 1989 – 20 July 1992
President Václav Havel
Personal details
Born Olga Šplíchalová
(1933-07-11)11 July 1933
Žižkov, Prague, Czechoslovakia
Died 27 January 1996(1996-01-27) (aged 62)
Prague, Czech Republic
Resting place Vinohrady Cemetery, Prague
Nationality Czechoslovak, Czech
Spouse(s) Václav Havel (1964-1996; her death)

Olga Havlová, née Šplíchalová (11 July 1933 – 27 January 1996) was the first wife of Václav Havel, the last president of Czechoslovakia and first president of the Czech Republic.[1] 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 Pioneers, and Czechoslovak Youth Union.[3] 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.[4] 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 (Státní bezpečnost),[5] 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..."[6]

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 (Dispatch Series) 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.[7] It grew much larger than she had envisioned and it was renamed the Olga Havlová Foundation.

Death

Olga Havlová died of cancer in Prague in 1996, aged 62. For "outstanding contributions for democracy and human rights", she was posthumously awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk in 1997.[1]

See also

References and notes

  1. ^ a b "::.Václav Havel.::The official website of Vaclav Havel, writer, dramatist, dissident, prisoner of conscience, human rights activist, former president of Czechoslovakia and the Czech Republic". Vaclavhavel.cz. Retrieved 14 April 2011. 
  2. ^ John Keane (23 May 2001). Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy In Six Acts. Basic Books. pp. 143–.  
  3. ^ Keane, pg. 143
  4. ^ Keane, pg. 141
  5. ^ John Keane (23 May 2001). Vaclav Havel: A Political Tragedy In Six Acts. Basic Books. pp. 309–.  
  6. ^ Ash, Timothy Garton (1996-03-21). "On Olga Havel (1933–1996)". NY Books. Retrieved 2011-12-26. 
  7. ^ Keane; pg. 413-414.
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