I have a diploma in Marxism-Leninism. I was vice-chairman of the head and neck surgery department so, as one of the top positioned physicians, I had to be well educated in politics. So Marxism – the philosophy and economy and whatever else comes… I had to go and take a state exam at the state board, and I have a diploma in political sciences now.
They did want to take the whole house, and they would come every so often, I remember, when I was a little kid, people would come to our house and they would measure the whole house, because they had some rule, if your property exceeded some whatever square feet, or meters in our case, they had a right to take it.
Actually, I had two aunts, so one was working and the other was supposed to take care of me. But she was partially deaf, so when there was an air raid announced, all children were sent home, and parents came – we were in the first grade, so all the parents came to pick them up – but because my aunt couldn’t hear, nobody picked me up.
When I was in the dorm I believe they knew everything I was talking about. Because those speakers… Every room had a speaker – like a radio – and the speakers were built two-way. And there was a secret room right at the front of that dorm where nobody was allowed to go, only some students who were Communist Party members. Besides that they had also guns with them. So there was something special going on in that room.
When this plane landed, of course the airport in Prague was extremely primitive then, and we landed at what looked like a shack, a wooden building that actually a neon hammer and sickle over the top, and it was really a foggy day in October. It was creepy; I was scared as hell coming in there.
We were schooled for one year where we learned everything about everything, mainly about tanks because I was a tank driver. And the second year we went to Prachatice. And at the end of that, in August 1968, the Russians came and occupied Czechoslovakia, so we thought that maybe we will stay longer in the Army or something but our activities ended
I spent six months in Italy living in Rome with a Catholic priest attached to a Slovak bishop who was there, was part of the Vatican. Essentially their mission was to help refugees – at that time there was a lot of refugees in the refugee camp south of Rome – so I was helping them out visiting the refugees.
Sokol was outlawed, but he [my father] was teaching a little gymnastics class that I and about a dozen boys, we would go into the old Sokol Hall and he made arrangements, he would teach us the stuff, you know, gymnastics: parallel bars, high bar, rings, floor exercises, the sort of typical stuff that the Sokols do – for several years. And I think he always believed in exercise and the whole notion of ‘in a healthy body is a healthy spirit.’
I do remember it vividly. I was about four and a half years old, but no matter how much our parents were trying to shield us from it, they just couldn’t quite do that. Litomyšl has a very long square – it’s not a square, really; it’s a main street – and it’s the second longest square in Czechoslovakia, second to Wenceslas Square in Prague, and they were trying to prevent the Russians from invading the middle of the town, so they put a barrier as a bus.
I stayed in Prague, but I had to go to psychiatry. Children’s psychiatry [hospital], it’s a big place in Prague; it’s called Bohnice. A lot of people know it; it’s slang, like ‘You will end up in Bohnice’ if you get a little crazy. It was a really interesting experience, very, very interesting experience with the children. The children did like me a lot, because they had these old-fashioned nurses who were cruel and nasty to them.