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Freedom Collection

Interviews with Sasha Vondra

Interviewed January 4, 2010

I think that the support from the United States was very important. I personally could feel that many times in 1980´s, when we were invited to the U.S. Embassy, we felt that we are under certain protection. I was risking to be jailed. I was jailed. But because my name was known [in] the western media, due to the US and some other support also in Western Europe, in particular for example the Dutch and the Scandinavians were good there, so we were somehow protected.

In the 1950s there were many examples when somebody was really killed in prison. We were risking years of prison but we were relatively safe from being killed due to that support and solidarity. And from the US presidents or the Administrations I would put on the pedestal certainly President Reagan because with his offensive towards the Soviet Union, [with] the policy of strength he forced the Soviets into a defensive mode – this was the most important element and certainly the support for Solidarity [the pro-democracy Polish labor organization] by Reagan´s administration but also by AFL-CIO was very, very important because it helped Solidarnosc [Solidarity] to survive in the underground.

I would also mention President Carter. Maybe it is a different or strange contradiction here. He was idealistic as a President, but there was one important moment – it was the policy of human rights in the late 1970s or in the mid and late 1970s – which helped to bring this human rights basket into the Helsinki process. So it was not just about disarmament or economic cooperation, that was not anything serious, but the human rights helped us to raise the flag.