You were getting closer to the border so the woods were there, but they were everywhere. So you could see them and that was a very scary thing. Probably not very much conversation going on in the car, not that I remember. I remember holding a doll and just sitting there, not knowing what was happening.
I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to study medicine so, when I was 14, they take you to this group of people and they listen to what you want to be, and then they determine what you will be, really. So when I got my turn, they asked me what I wanted to be and I said ‘I want to be a doctor.’ They sort of chuckled because, at that time, those were professions for children of the communists.
I remember my grandpa returning from the concentration camp, which was very lucky because his good friend learned of his imprisonment and intervened with the Allies and put him on a list to be exchanged. So my grandpa and the other leaders of Sokol – he was one of the five leaders – were on transport to Auschwitz, all the others died there, but they took him out of a railroad car, cattle car in Terezín and gave him a ticket to Prague.
We had some history books in the school always, and on the front of the history books was a tank, a Russian tank, with a flower and it said ‘we liberated you’. And I found out in 1968, which was the Prague Spring, I bought every week a Slovakian magazine called Expres, and they started to put a lot of stuff in, and I found out the southwest of our country was liberated by General Patton!
With collective farming, farmers did nothing but went to Prague and went to nightclubs. So the soldiers and schoolchildren had to go and do hops [during the harvesting season]. So let’s say I went for two weeks to do the hops brigade. Very hard work; it’s very hard on your fingers, and I just couldn’t manage and it was so stupid.
The voting I went through in Czechoslovakia was absolutely ridiculous. With the age of 18 you had the ‘right’ to vote, and it consisted of you being forced to go and vote. You were handed a paper filled out with the Communist candidates, which you folded and threw in some container. That was the extent of the voting. Absolutely absurd stuff.
They would ask me ‘Well what did you learn?’ and I would tell them and they would say ‘Well that sounds really good, but what really happened is this, this, and that.’ So they taught me about the First Republic; they taught me about Masaryk. At age ten, I have to say I was a rather confused person, but no regrets. It was fine. I wasn’t anti-social or anti-communistic, because I didn’t know any better.