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.
Maybe a year before leaving the country – so when I was 20, 21 – I got baptized at home, at my friend’s home, where we were meeting regularly, reading evangelical, but, you know, very modern guys, like Bonhoeffer and these freedom evangelists – you know, people who were rather avant-garde in terms of their theological thinking.
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.
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.
We had several American pictures, but we had them hidden, we couldn’t play them because under the Germans, they wouldn’t let us play them. We had some Czech, we had a couple of Slovak films, but these came from Bratislava, you know, we always got a new film every week. And I don’t know what kind of film we were preparing because we never –played it – the Russians came and they wanted to…
Now, there was a long line of people, and there was an old lady there, who was carrying a little suitcase with all her belongings there. And one of our neighbors in the same building where we lived, a big guy, he ran to this lady and grabbed her suitcase. He took it away and said ‘You are not going to need that.’ So this patriot later became a leading figure in the Communist Party in the neighborhood.
Our mother, she was jailed twice, and she spent a long time in German jails, and during that time our maid was still with our family and also our grandmother, who came also from a family which was German speaking, so she was looking out for us and actually, it was our grandmother and our maid who saved us when our mother was taken prisoner, when she was in the jail.
This was in 1952 when I was getting pretty well persecuted because of my political inactivity. We got together with my cousin and a friend from the aero club – we got together and decided there is no way, no future for us. Because pretty soon my flying career ended; they stopped me from flying, and my two friends were mechanics whereas they joined the Air Force for the purpose of flying so that they would get flight training.
Over there, with kids, we go out hiking or something, we find an anti-aircraft machine gun, we find piles of ammunition and rifles. I remember we found an abandoned Tiger tank and about 15 of us started carrying ammunition and just dumping it in the open hatch – this was deep in the woods – and then we emptied out big shell casings and made a long path of gunpowder that went about half mile away, and lit it. What a bang. That was the entertainment for after the war for kids.