Walter Vincenc Albert

* 1926

  • “All of my relatives lived in Vienna so I stayed there as well. I wanted to return but it twas not possible. I let it be and I thought that at the end, when I would be old and alone, I would certainly return to Prague and I would die in Prague because Prague is mine… was mine… for me, when I was young, my life was here in Prague, I was a Prague guy, I knew all the people, those were from Prague. I never tried German in Germany because they spoke… I did not like it. They did not know how beautiful it was in Prague, how my life in Prague was. That’s what I never forgot. That’s what helped me in the bad times and when I was sick and things like this… or when something did not work. That was the basis for me, my childhood in Prague.”

  • “It was such a lovely childhood, it stayed with me for my whole life. I had lived through some horrible times but when I remember it, I lived in such a sort of a bubble. Everything that happened to me, I did not see it. I did not see how people were dying in front of me, behind me, friends, I saw people lose their arms and legs and I lost my hearing for a while because I was too close to an exploding grenade, I saw how people open their mouths but I did not hear them speaking and it was just a moment and then it was gone. That was absolutely horrendous.”

  • “I remember, it was like in a movie…, I did not believe it! There was such a lady in the French pub and she told me in French: ‘Don’t do this stupid thing (run away], you never know what could happen, we know where it’s going but the Germans know it as well, they will shoot, it’s dangerous, let it be!’ It was in the last year, in 1945, and we were in some place at the German-French border. There’s where the Americans came, I was arrested and I had to hand over my gun. I had never seen a black person before. And the soldier was so black and had such white teeth… I was scared a laittle bit. He looked at me and wondered: ‘You are a soldier? You’re a schoolboy or what, what the heck are you doing here?’”

  • “They came and wanted to send me to Germany because I was half German but dad had good contacts. Only one thing happened, Kautský was not allowed to go to school any more because he was Jewish. I couldn’t come to terms with that, I couldn’t understand it. He was my best friend since the first grade, we went on holidays together and now he had to wear the yellow star. So, obviously, I would see him, we would go to a café or some such. Someone saw us and phoned my dad: “Mr. Albert, your son is out of his mind or what, they saw him with a Jew…’ And my dad said: ‘I have no idea about such a thing.’ - ‘Once more and you might get into deep trouble...’”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 24.10.2019

    duration: 01:23:09
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 25.10.2019

    duration: 32:34
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 3

    Praha, 06.08.2020

    duration: 01:07:40
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
  • 4

    Praha, 25.08.2020

    duration: 31:05
    media recorded in project Memory of the Nation: stories from Praha 2
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

So that people would be tolerant

Walter Vincenc Albert on a contemporary photograph
Walter Vincenc Albert on a contemporary photograph
photo: archiv pamětníka

Walter Vincenc Albert was born in Prague to a German-speaking family on the 3rd of July of 1926. His father originated from the Sudeten, his mother was Austrian. His father appreciated the politics of T. G. Masaryk and allegedly, he had several clashes with the Nazi administration. In 1940, he sent his fourteen-year-old son Walter to Austria because he thought he would be safer there. Soon after, Walter was arrested as he was against the occupation of Austria, imprisoned and sent for forced labour to Germany. There, he worked for the Wehrmacht until the end of WWII, he accompanied the German army to Normandy where he fell into the Allied Forces’ captivity. He reunited with his mother and sister only two years after the end of war when they were already expelled to Germany. His father had died by a stray bullet shortly before the liberation during a shoot-out in prison. After the war, Walter studied at a film academy, became a photographer and cameraman, lived in Australia and now he lives in Prague. When he lived in Australia, his wife died so he single-handedly raised his two daughters.