[They] judged and sentenced the farmer immediately for so-called ‘crime against the republic,’ meaning they were accused, for instance, of having for example just an extra goose more than they were supposed to have, or that they didn’t return the proper amount of grain which they were supposed to give to the state, to this supply office. It didn’t need to be true.
The city was so old, and the building stones, the buildings, they always sort of spoke to me and they were trying to tell me things about the city and it was so fascinating. I was just transported, in a way, and I wanted to know what it was trying to tell me. It was a great introduction to learning the history, which I proceeded to do by writing about it eventually.
So we went to a garden restaurant. They’d been celebrating, dancing, and I sat down and I think he ordered some wine or whatever. And then he said ‘Come and dance,’ and I said ‘What are you, crazy?’ He said ‘Come and dance,’ so we’re dancing, then I looked around and the Russians came there. And they come with their machine guns and they looked at the people. He [my guide] said ‘Now be nice, smile at me.’
Three weeks after the victory, I went to a bookshop and the owner said ‘You were talking German. I’m calling the police.’ I said ‘Yes, I was talking German to an anti-fascist German soldier.’ ‘No, no. You were talking German. I have to tell the police.’ Fortunately, I had my identity card at that time which said ‘Prisoner in so-and-so [labor camp]’ and so I showed it and he said ‘Well, I must have made a mistake.’
We lived in one room. And I believe, off and on, there were either two or three families sharing one room. It was a relatively large room. The bath was actually down the hall, so that was shared by several other families. It was an old army barracks, it was an old kásarna that had been bombed during the War.
There was that one unfortunate, well, peculiar incident just one year before I went to gymnázium when I was on the street with a couple of my friends and one of them was eating, I think it was plums, and was spitting the pits out into the street. And suddenly a German who had a swastika attached to the fender of his car stopped and seized us, claiming that we were desecrating the German flag.
When I tried to bring my parents here, and send an affidavit in 1952 or ‘53, I got a letter from my father. ‘Please do not attempt to do anything right now. Because the situation right now, the only place we would wind up or could get to would be Siberia’ because it was at the time when Stalin was insisting on his program. That was when the Cold War actually started.
For the rest of us like me, [the war] was the most beautiful time because we had a beautiful friendship. All the time I was going to the gymnázium and our class was going together and we had a very, very close friendship. The reason for that was, you see, there was nothing else to do