Letenská Anna

07.07.2015 | 21:15
Letenská Anna

An actress to her last flap

It’s not very often that a star of the silver screen leaves as little behind her as did the actress Anna Letenská. And yet her life story would be a great topic for a novel.

Anna’s life story started on August 29, 1904 in Nýřany near Pilsen. Born to an actors’ family, she soon became familiar with the joys and sorrows of travelling theatre companies. At 16 she got her fi rst engagement with the České Budějovice Theatre. Later when she joined the Otta Alferi Company, she met her fi rst husband, actor Ludvík G. Hrdlička (pseudonym Letenský), who she married in 1925. After several more engagements and the birth of their son Jiří (1926), the couple settled in Prague. Anna had her fi rst fi lm role in K. Špelina’s fi lm “Suspecting Wife”, but made her real debut in “Loving Is Forbidden”, a comedy directed by M. Cikán.
The marriage ended in divorce in 1940. Then Anna met Ing. Vladislav Čaloun , a head clerk for a German transportation company, and wed him on Oct. 10, 1941. Čaloun helped persecuted people to emigrate, he smuggled documents, foreign currency and luggage on trains and actively worked after the dissolution of organization Sokol in its illegal group Jindra. Moreover, he had close contacts with Dr. Lyčka, who was connected with the paratroopers from the Anthropoid group. A combination of coincidences, worries, naivety and treachery resulted in Dr. Lyčka’s wife being arrested by the Gestapo and her husband committing suicide on Jul. 21, 1942. All the others awaited a fate worse than death.
She remained actress until the last shot – the film role in Otakar Vávra’s comedy “Be back in a Minute” was the last role for Anna namely. It was shot at the time when her husband was in custody and then on Sep. 19, 1942 he was transported to the Small Fortress in Terezín. When the last scene was shot, Anna changed her clothes and went home, where she was awaited by her 16 year old son Jiří. The next day, Sep. 3, 1942, she was arrested and moved to Pankrác. From there she was also transported to Terezín on Oct. 5, 1942. During the line up on October 22, she realised something was going on, because she and other women prosecuted in the “Paratrooper” case were told they were not to go to work the following day. Instead they set out for a railway station in Bohušovice nad Ohří where a special train was waiting to take them to Mauthausen.
In Mauthausen they underwent the usual entry procedure and were divided into the working blocks. Then under the supervision of SS-Hauptsturmführer Martin Roth, responsible for a smooth liquidation process, the women were to allegedly undergo a medical examination. The first was number 1034, Doctor Milada Frantová. The women were escorted one by one through a narrow corridor, where loud music was played, into the “surgery”. It was exactly 8:30, when the first muffled shot was heard. After 2 minutes they took another one – former nurse Miroslava Dubová. The shots that followed ended the lives of the sisters of Jan Kubiš, the Heydrich assassin. At 10:00 death found Františka Lyčková and then, Jesenská, Opálková, Kubišová, Drašnerová – mothers, grandmothers, daughters, granddaughters… The next name called, Anna Caloun! It was 10:56 am. The guard called out more and more names…

Luděk Sládek



With Jiří Plachý, Beaver-skin Coat (1940) Pelican with an Alibi (1940) From the fi lm Loving Is Forbidden (1938) MUDr. Břetislav Lyčka Ing. arch. Vladislav Čaloun Ludvík G. Hrdlička Anna Letenská Registr of the baptism record Anna Letenská Children of the Czech actors Marie and Oldřich Svoboda´s (photo
from 1908). On the right daughter Anna (married as Letenská) Anna Letenská

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