Post-1989 emigrant Tag


Otto Zizak Jr.

As a young child, I was into the domestic things that were available so it was fine. I didn’t feel deprived. But in the later years, in seventh, eighth grade, I was getting into bands from abroad and different styles of rock music and whatnot, and that was not available at all. We had to go Poland and buy bootlegged tapes and that sort of thing.

Pavel Zuštiak

I remember activists who came from Prague right after the revolution, right after the demonstration in Prague, with video documentation. It was both at school and I know that through any underground Christian groups, they would be very present there. So all of us would watch the footage from the demonstration and at that point I really felt like there’s no way that this could turn backwards.

Otto Zizak Sr.

I came back to Prague with a paper saying I can come back to America as an expert. They’re going to take me to work. I came like a big man with a smile – I know how naïve I was; I know it today and I knew it later – I took the paper, I took vacation the next two weeks, I spent my money because I was happy, happy, happy [thinking] I’m going to America, right?

Vladimir Zeithaml

This is not an isolated world anymore; even if people think that it is, it’s not. And what’s happening in Europe will be here really, really soon. So we are in one world. That’s why I feel more like a citizen of the world, and I can imagine that I can live in some other place and it’s still one world. And that’s what I am enjoying most. I learned how to pack.

Tomas Votocek

Everybody had a big vision to work for themselves, because before everybody worked for the company, the state was the owner, and now everybody wants to be free and work for themselves and make a profit for myself. But nothing was too easy, everything was hard.

Antonin Varga

Well, guys thought that the situation would be better in the Czech Republic when it comes to women. And that’s why they left. And they were wrong, of course. And women left because they wanted to have a family, for example. With their kids, or because they wanted to start their family in the Czech Republic.

Ludmila Sujanova

Yes, we did have a chata, or summer home, or záhrada [garden] and we pretty much spend almost the entire summer there. There was always something to do. My dad was very much an avid gardener and we grew everything. I didn’t know such a thing as to go to a store and purchase potatoes or carrots or even things like jam or ketchup or anything.

Anna Streckova

No, there was not an invitation; there was forcing. I asked them ‘Why me?’ and they said ‘Oh, we need the people who really do a good job at work, who are responsible’ and so on and so on. But it was so strong. Every single day I was called to the big boss’s office or this contract guy – he was a chairman of the Party – so I had them all the time on my neck.

Richard Stilicha

My grandpa, the communists were threatening and trying to get him to join the Party. They said ‘Look, you are a showcase of Slovak culture. You composed the first national opera. It’s appropriate for you to be in the Party.’ And he always refused.

Marek Soltis

I was always kind of growing or living with the music community, and it was not just the band. It was folk music, folk ensembles, dancers, theatre. So I got to know a lot of people, and also that community was what I always loved. The musical or artistic group of people, we always said that we are different. We have a big love for it. It helped me in my business, too.