Family life Tag
I think we lived in one of the most beautiful places in the world in Slovakia with the mountains… We also had a little farm. On top of my parents working, we always had a cow, and of course for winter you had to collect the food for the cows, so my father was working the fields and we went and helped.
I was okay. I was a little… when you are 20, you don’t know fear. It was funny; on the plane in front of me, there were a bunch of guys from Bratislava and they liked to eat klobásy (sausages) and have slivovice [brandy]. So they said ‘Oh miss, come join us. Have a drink with us. Have fun!’ I said ‘No, no. Thank you.’
When the Communists came to power, nobody believed that it would last. It was very unusual; it actually had never happened before. So when they confiscated all our property, my grandma – being a smart woman – decided that since this wouldn’t last she would save some of the stock somewhere else. Save it. Just believing that one year or two years after she could resume the business. Well, they found it.
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!
It was the best year of our lives. It was like a honeymoon, because we didn’t have any responsibility towards the family. We thought we had money. We lived as we lived very modestly, in a very tiny apartment. I mean, very tiny. It was a studio. But we were young, we made friends.
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.
So anyway, this is what we did to prepare to go, and because of this terrible experience of flying from England after the War, I developed a very high fever and they had to postpone the trip to the last plane that left Czechoslovakia for Israel. The plane that we were supposed to go on was one that was shot at, and it fell over, I think, Bulgaria. So that forever was kind of a shock to us that we could have been on that plane.
Madeleine Albright was born in Prague in 1937. Because of her father’s diplomatic career, Madeleine spent her childhood in Belgrade, London and Prague, and the family eventually claimed asylum in the United States following the Communist coup in 1948. After receiving her PhD from Columbia University, Madeleine became involved in politics – a career which culminated with her being named Secretary of State in 1997.