Nataša Gollová

28.10.2016 | 22:20
Nataša Gollová

When Fate Takes Your Smile
Even today, memories of Nataša Gollová will still bring a sincere smile to faces of those who knew her in person, or at least from the silver, theatre or television. It is the same smile that she had given to all her audiences until cruel fate decided otherwise.

Nataša Gollová was born 27 February 1912 in Brno into a family of well-off , influential Masaryk supporter, politician, economist, MP and lawyer JUDr. František Xaver Hodáč who worked as a professor at ČVUT and later the general secretary at the Central Union of Czechoslovak Industrialists. Her mom Adéla neé Gollová was a painter and studied under Antonín Slavíček. It was her who chose Nataša‘s name based on the central character in Tolstoy‘s War and Peace. Nataša had an older brother Ivan who graduated a prestigious military school and later worked with Baťa. She took her stage name Gollová from her grandfather-professor Jaroslav Goll, the leading Czech historian.
She studied abroad but was also enrolled at the Faculty of Arts at Charles University. She could not suppress her love for theatre and so followed her heart. Her breakthrough came with a part of the simple girl, Mařenka, in Kristián (1939) where she starred with Oldřich Nový. And, in the same year, she shone as Eva in Eva Fools Around. She never spoke of her private life, maybe because there were no scandals or love aff airs, in contrast to her fellow actresses. However, during the Protectorate she was discredited in many people’s eyes because of her relationship with Willy Söhnel and also because she made a German film.

Terezín Ghetto 1945
During April, many people arrived in Terezín: those forced to take part in death marches as well as prisoners from Polish and German concentration camps who arrived in crowded passenger and cargo trains. Prisoners travelled for up to three weeks with almost no food and water. Their bodies, dressed in rags, were dirty and skinny with open wounds, their hair full of lice. Wagons were full of dead bodies of those who had not survived. These people on the brink of total exhaustion needed rapid help, clothes, food, medical care and home. To make matters worse, new prisoners brought epidemic typhus to Terezín, an insidious disease that spread rapidly. Nazi offi cials and physicians loathed the prisoners and the conditions in ghetto became unbearable. There were no beds, mattresses or bed linen, so the ill often lay for days on bear ground. Their numbers increased and in May almost a hundred people were infected per day.
The dead used be buried in mass graves in the Terezín North bank. Now, they were left lying around in the courtyards. The last Nazis fl ed Terezín on 5 May. On 8 May during the night and 9 May early morning, the fi rst Soviet tanks arrived. The Red Army took decisive steps to stabilize the situation and placed prisoners under its protection. Starting from 10 May, medical supplies and staff arrived in the ghetto. From 14 May, a two-week quarantine was declared in the camp and Soviet medical staff , along with Czech physicians and nurses, who had come as part of the Czech Aid mission on 4 May, started to treat the ill and care for the dying. Many of them paid the highest price for the ability to help. But thanks to them and the great eff ort of other people, thousands of lives were saved.
“I met Nataša Gollová in the Terezín ghetto 4 May 1945 when we both volunteered for Red Cross aid. (At this time, Nazis were still present at the camp — note of the author). Our work consisted in washing and feeding the impoverished people in rooms where they were staying. Nataša did everything with us with selfl ess dedication. She did not avoid any work and was our shining example.” (Helena Kapounová, Roudnice nad Labem)
“I met Nataša Gollová in May 1945 at the Terezín concentration camp where we both volunteered. She herself told me that her values had changed there and the work we did there impacted our future actions.” Květa Dvořáková, Ústí nad Labem.
“In May 1945, some medical students and I were getting on a truck outside the Policlinic to leave for Terezín on a Red Cross mission. Just before we left, the fi lm director Čech had helped Nataša Gollová to get in. When we arrived, Dr. Raška, professor of epidemiology, allocated us to individual Terezín units where help was needed. I don‘t know what Nataša went through there but the rumour has it she caught epidemic typhus… Those who survived typhus had lost their hair and were totally exhausted. Sometime later I met Nataša Gollová in Prague, in Na Příkopech Street — I was so happy to see she‘d survived. She was exhausted but she’d survived!” (Dr. Helena Šlaisová, Prague)
“My most signifi cant life experience? I can think just of one that is disturbing: It was in May 1945 when volunteer nurses were asked to go help out in Terezín because there was a critical shortage of professionals… I remember seeing those poor people, lying on mattresses, their heads shaved, eyes bulging… but the most striking thing was that they‘d learnt to talk without anyone noticing any lip movement! It was horrible! … I too caught epidemic typhus there in the end.” (Nataša Gollová, 1988)
After the war, nothing was said in favour of the formerly bubbly and happy woman and she had to leave the Na Vinohradech theatre. In 1947, she married Karel Konstantin. The love of her life, however, was Tristan Tzara. She met him at the house of painter Josef Šíma in Paris in 1932. Tzara was originally a Romanian Jew but became known as a French poet, essayist, playwright, and the founding father of Dada. Since then, Gollová and Tzara kept in touch until late 1948. After she had looked for work in Prague with no success, she left for the České Budějovice theatre. Finally, in 1951, the almost forgotten actress got lucky. Jan Werich and Martin Frič gave her the part of Sirael in two films: Císařův Pekař and Pekařův Císař. Poor health, depression, lack of respect, and the socialist realism lead her astray. She had two more parts in fi lms and then, in 1971, defi nitely left the public on 29 October 1988. She was buried in the Olšany Cemetary and later her remains were moved to the Růžička family tomb on Vyšehrad. There she rests next to her brother Ivan († 13/1/1993).
Kateřina Hodáčová (Růžičková), Nataša Gollová‘ s sister in law, was born in Prague on 21 December 1927. “My very fi rst encounter with Nataša Gollová took place in their apartment, at Janáček Embankment in Prague. She was a kind and very pleasant person to be around. After lunch all three of us (Nataša, her brother Ivan, and I) lay on the sofa together and talked. She had a good education and could speak English, German, and French. But the time I got to know her was one of the most diffi cult periods in her life because she could no longer act. We saw each other almost on a daily basis because our apartments were connected. I like to think back of her.”
Kateřina Kovaříková (Hodáčová), the niece of Nataša Gollová was born 6 July 1949 in Prague. There she studied at the Faculty of Physical Education and sports, Charles University, and worked as a professional gymnast. Her sport achievements in the Czech national representations rank are among the best in Czech sport history. After her active career had been over, she taught physical education and English. “I loved my aunt. She was a very pleasant person, intelligent, and well-read. You could talk about anything with her. She had a great sense of humour, too, and her laughter was contagious. She loved my brother Ivan and me. All we had to mention was the tickets had been sold in the Alfa cinema and she called immediately to arranged for to be able to go. She had no children of her own so she might have considered us to be hers in a way.”

For Terezín Memorial Luděk Sládek, Marcela Kohoutová
Photo: author, Terezín Memorial, Milan Wolf, Family archives of the Hodáčovi
Acknowledgement to: Aleš Cibulka for permitting the use of quotations from the book Nataša Gollová (2002)

Mother sitting on the left, Ivan on the lap of an unknown man,
Nataša on Father’s lap (circa 1914) Nataša with her grandfather
Jaroslav Goll Nataša devoted to riding in her youth With Karel Höger in the fi lm Okouzlená (1942) Terezín 1945 Nataša Hodáčová Gollová Nataša and Adina Mandlová Karel Konstantin (1903–1961) Nataša with Karel Höger in the fi lm Enchanted (1942) Kateřina Kovaříková Kateřina Hodáčová

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