His colleagues were teasing him and said ‘What if you said this?’ When my dad sat before the microphone, he blurted that out, and of course, before he was finished, a couple of Gestapo officers were waiting for him and took him into this infamous Petschkuv Palac. My father wasn’t tortured, but he was interrogated for 24 hours
We would hear bombing from whatever was the nearest German town, and all of a sudden one Sunday ‘Americans! They’re coming!’ you know, and so we went to the road, it was a state road which went between Vimperk and Strakonice, and we waved and there were kids, you know, that’s what you see in Afghanistan, that’s what the kids did.
In 1944, the Germans started taking away women who were, and who had been, married to Jewish men. And they had a camp, a slave labor camp, in Prague. And in that camp they manufactured windshields for German fighter airplanes. So my mother was taken to that camp. And before she left she hid me with some friends, actually farmers, that we had been living with after the Germans expelled us from our home.
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.’
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.
We had some political frictions, the Slovaks, but the biggest friction was between the Czechoslovaks and Slovaks. Fights erupted on a weekly basis, and the MPs marched in with big sticks and beat anybody who was outside regardless of what it was, who it was, whether they were fighting or not. Then finally the Germans took over the camp. Rocks were being thrown and even I had to sleep with a pipe in my bed, for my own protection.