“It was in 1939, shortly after the occupation. Through his connections, my father got a scholarship to Great Britain. The scholarship covered the whole family. He would be obliged to repeat his medicine studies. As was his good habit, my father hesitated for too long before he took a decision and thus, by the time we already had the British visas in our passports, the Gestapo sent us a very concise note saying that doctors would be needed. Application for leaving the country denied. This was truly a fateful crossroads in my life. If we had moved to Britain at that point, my life would have been completely different. Maybe we would never have come back to Czechoslovakia anymore.”
“He had this idea that those Jews that had survived the war would be cordially welcomed home, that they would get keys to a brand new car that the Gestapo had taken away from us and that nobody ever heard about, etc. Nothing of this came true. Among the Aryan colleagues, they would comment the return of any Jew: ‘damn, he came back’. It’s not true for everyone but most reactions were like that.”
“The family from my mom’s side was Aryan. Her brother (she had a brother and a sister) became a great Nazi. After the occupation, he came to her and told her: ‘you have to get divorced. We’ll take care of Petr. He’ll join the Hitlerjugend and people will stop asking questions’. The family saga says that she kicked him down the stairs. In reality, she probably didn’t do it. But anyway, she threw him out and we haven’t seen him again.”
“On Friday, Saturday and Sunday, Brno was completely cut off, nothing got to the city. At that time, my parents had long been dead already. I lived in hotel suites but although there was a TV on the room, there was nothing on it. But then, suddenly, Monday morning I open the Lidová demokracie newspaper and I find out what’s going on. They called me from Prague saying I should come as soon as possible. I told them that I would first finish the recording of one program I was just working on because I didn’t like to have unfinished work. I would than come to Prague in the evening. The radio in Brno was by then very agitated and they didn’t like to work on the program too much. I told them: ‘look, the demonstration will be at five o’clock. Until then, we’ll be fine completing it and then we’ll go to the demonstration’. This is what happened. The Náměstí svobody Square was crowded with people. I think that somebody was even speaking on the megaphone there. There were rumors that at seven o’clock in Prague, there would be a manifestation at the great Mahenovo divadlo Theater in Prague.”
If we had left to Britain in 1939, my whole life would have taken a completely different direction
Petr Adler was born on March 25, 1930, in Brno. Both of his parents worked in the healthcare sector. His father had a private practice. His parents had a mixed marriage: his father was a Czech Jew, his mother a German Christian. They stayed together during the war. Even though his father was affected by the anti-Jewish laws, he somehow managed to evade the transport to the concentration camp. The family was thus able to stay together for the whole time of the war. Petr graduated in 1949 and went on to study music studies at the Masaryk University. After he graduated from university in 1954, he began to work as an instructor of ballad opera in the state theater in Brno. However, as he did not find this job satisfying, he quit after two years and got a new job in the Brno office of the Czechoslovak Radio. He worked as a director of documentary, literary and drama programs. In 1959, he married the art historian Alena Kudělková. In 1961, they moved to Prague and Petr Adler worked in the Prague office of the Radio. This was where he witnessed the era of the social liberalization and the ensuing occupation by the armies of the Soviet bloc in August 1968. After the political screenings in the Radio, he stayed in his job for another 20 years although he was not a Communist. After the fall of the communist regime in 1989, he became the chief director. In 1996, he retired, even though he still cooperates with his former employer.