You know, it was such a terrible thing to happen to my country. I’d always grown up with a memory of the Nazis coming in and killing part of my family and all that, and then we were so looking forward to a peaceful, democratic world after the War was going to be over and we weren’t going to have any…
Communist coup Tag
I remember when we were about 12, we were with my friends and classmates and suddenly the sound was wailing, preparing for bombardment, and we had to rush out to shelter, and one of us shouted ‘Vladimír, rush!’ and this 12 year old creature said ‘By now, everything in life has bypassed me. I have missed everything. Why should I run?’
And then going to school was fascinating, because there was a lot of shrapnel on the road, and it was suggested that it would be helpful to collect the shrapnel, so we had bags or buckets or whatever, putting the pieces of shells in to collect so that they could melt it and shoot it back.
Not only that, many people were like that – both boys and girls. Because many guys didn’t have much opportunity, only to marry somebody else who had… to be again on a farm. You know, [another person] in the village and stuff like that. So I inherited some money from my parents, I had the opportunity, but I was not allowed. That’s it.
Actually, it was scary, I tell you! That was one place I was sort of afraid because I hadn’t expected this, there were many people detained at Ellis Island, and we were separated – there were women in one section, men in another section, and they did have to take him to a hospital, I believe, or a doctor, and have a new X-ray done and have him proclaimed clear of any illness.
He had really good ideas, and those ideas which I heard, which he told me, I liked them, because I felt yeah, everybody should… there shouldn’t be hungry people, there shouldn’t be poor people, everybody should have a little piece of something, everybody should have free school, free health program. And that’s what communists promised. So that’s how he believed it.
So this was one thing that we had to do and then eventually, towards the end of the War, he would say ‘Take this and drop it off there and there.’ And it was obviously for partisans, guerrillas, so you know, he said ‘It’s extremely dangerous and you can do it, as a little boy.’
By the time of one escape, and then another escape and being jailed in between, and having sort of come from very elevated circumstances and having had to do this really menial work during the war, and trying to run a business and that failing – it was just a tremendous amount of discouragement.
All of a sudden, they yanked me out the cell, brought me to a big room full of people, I did not know… nobody told me what it was about. I was there, there were some people up there on the podium, and I couldn’t make out what it was all about. In about 15 minutes they took me back to the cell.