Rudy Misurec (born Rudolf Mišurec), 1924
Rudy Misurec was born in Dobré Pole, a small village in southern Moravia on the Austrian border, in 1924. His father, Gustav, was a railroad worker while his mother, Hildegarde, worked part-time selling tickets at the railroad station. Rudy had one older brother, Karel. Rudy went to elementary school in Dobré Pole and started gymnázium in the nearby city of Břeclav. With the signing of the Munich Agreement and start of WWII, Rudy’s family moved to Brno where Rudy finishedgymnázium and passed his maturita exam in 1943. He was then recruited to work in a plant making plane engines for the German war effort. Rudy says that his factory was targeted by Allied forces and bombed while he was working there.
Following WWII, Rudy immediately entered medical school at Masaryk University in Brno. He graduated in 1950 and began his internship at the state hospital in Děčín in northern Bohemia. Shortly thereafter, however, Rudy was drafted into military service. Although the compulsory term of service was two years, Rudy was promoted and required to remain in the army. After five years, Rudy returned to Děčín where he worked as a general surgeon and, later, a thoracic surgeon.
In 1966, Rudy was invited to visit friends in France and was given permission to make the trip. He did not return to Czechoslovakia and spent one year in a refugee camp in Nuremberg, Germany, where he also worked in a U.S. Army hospital. He arrived in the United States in 1967 and settled in Chicago (where a cousin of his lived). Rudy did the requisite training and worked for many years as a urologist with the University of Illinois Research and Educational Hospital (now University of Illinois Medical Center). Today Rudy lives in Oak Brook, Illinois with his wife.
After graduating from high school, Rudy worked in a factory building planes
“It was a place which was known, evidently, to the Allies that there is a possibility of building something and making some engines for the Folke-Wulf, so they then one day came with their planes and bombed it.”
Were you working when it was bombed?
“Yes, yes. The American planes were coming through that area, going most often to bomb Austria, mainly Wiener Neustadt, where there were some factories which they considered important, and we many times had an alarm and we were so pleased because they had to chase us out of the buildings. But the day when it really came to the point where the bombing fleet was bombing the factory, it was so sudden that we didn’t actually have much time to get out. So we were actually still in the buildings of the factory and just trying to run out when the bombs were falling. It was quite frightening, you know, because you can hear the bomb coming from 5,000 or 10,000 feet – I don’t know how high – so you can hear the bombs coming down, the whistling sound, but you don’t know where it comes down and if it will kill you or not.”
Well, was everyone ok?
“Oh yes, there were people killed.”
Rudy attended medical school at Masaryk University in Brno, which was closed by the Nazis during WWII
“Right away after the end of the War when the universities were opened. So at first, we had a flat wagon and they used us to go to the city. They knew where the German professor was living – there was a German university and a Czech university [which was closed during WWII], and the Germans were gone – and we were collecting the books from them and bringing them to a place to be saved. That is what we were doing right away before the university was fully functional, and then once the university was fully functional I was visiting [and studying at] the university. It’s amazing; in the beginning there was a big interest and in the first meeting, I remember, there was a gentleman saying ‘There are more than 300 students here, but don’t think all of you will finish; only about half of you will finish,’ because it’s difficult to study, a lot of studying.”
Shortly following his graduation from medical school Rudy was drafted into compulsory military service
“In 1950 I was promoted as a doctor of medicine, and then I went for residency training into the hospital at Děčín, which is in northern Bohemia on the Elbe River. There I started an internship but, after several months of the internship, I was drafted and I had to go into military service although I didn’t like the military at all! Unfortunately, at the time there was a law in the General Assembly that – the military service was two years – but the government had the option to use Paragraph třicet devět , and they could put you in an additional three years of military service and there was no way that you could say no. So then after two years of military service in the army, I was promoted as a captain and I spent an additional three years in the military service, which I was very unhappy about because my friends had the opportunity to go and study additional medicine, because that was my goal, and I had to be in the military and I didn’t have any way out. So then after three years I was finally able to go again to the residency in the hospital.”
In 1966 Rudy and his family left Czechoslovakia on the invitation of friends who lived France
“The French were always friendly to Czechoslovakia and they were actually considered as big allies, and there was a gentleman with a family and other French people who decided to go to the Czech Republic to spend the winter vacation there. Because we were skiers we met there in the winter time and Christmas time and, this way, we had friends in Paris. So that’s how I met them, and then they did invite me to visit them and at the time I said ‘I most surely will not be able to use the invitation’ because it was impossible to get from Czechoslovakia to the Western part of the world. But, possibly because the gentleman whom we met there, the Frenchman, was a member of the Maquis – the Maquis was the underground group of the French resistance, and if this was the reason, or what was the reason, I don’t know – but I got permission to go to France, and then I decided not to come back.”
Rudy talks about adjusting to life in the United States
“My wife is from the old country and she keeps some of the Czech customs, but most of that blends together with the life in America because the country will not adjust to you; you have to adjust to the United States. And we were fairly successful. It was not for free; we had to work very hard, but we succeeded.”
Category: Chicago, Oral History