Freedom was the suggested theme in this year’s BCSA writing competition – freedom in any of its forms.
The entrants showed their usual ingenuity in interpreting that. A Czechoslovak pilot took to the skies fighting for freedom in the Battle of Britain. Another entry mused on the excitement and the hopes in Czechoslovakia when freedom was restored in 1989 and on the reality and disappointments since that great time, ending on an optimistic note. In a third entry the son of a well-off family in pre-war Czechoslovakia found his freedom working in a squalid farmhouse in southern Bohemia and then in a quarry in Derbyshire. In a fourth an alcoholic gambler pondered the meaning of freedom in a Czech bar.
Freedom was not a compulsory theme. Non-freedom entries included our very first venture into the world of speedway, and a comic playlet showing a Czechoslovak Jewish refugee talking her way into a job at Roedean School in 1939.
Second prize, winning £150, has gone to BCSA member Liz Kohn, with a piece called Two Worlds. Liz has been researching her family history and in particular that of her father and his first wife, Alice Glasnerová. Her current research is into Alice’s trial and its relationship to the Slánský show trials of 1952. Liz’s entry tells some of this story.
This year’s winner – taking home £400 – is Tereza Pultarová, also a BCSA member. Tereza is a London-based science and technology journalist, originally from Prague. She has degrees from Charles University and a Master’s in Science from the International Space University in Strasbourg. Her winning entry, The Final Incarnation – Chapter 1 is the first chapter of a novel Tereza has written, which deals with growing up in 1990s post-communist Czechoslovakia, and explores how traumas from the communist years live on through family dysfunction and alcoholism. It can be read here