Věra Čechová

* 1934

  • “They (Czechoslovakian soldiers – ed. note) were in a (Russian - ed. note) collection camp. And in 1941 President Beneš demanded pilots to come to England. So twenty-six or thirty pilots left and they went from the camps and got to England in a horrible shape. My father was about 180 centimetres tall and had 92 ulcers on his body and weighed 40 kilograms. The journey was simply horrifying. And when they got there they went to a Red Cross hospital led by Mrs Hana Benešová. My father was unfortunately very sick. On the other hand he was extremely happy to have met Mrs Hana.”

  • “During the Heydrich era they (the Nazis – ed. note) decided to be strict and remorseless. We, all the children, were sitting in the courtyard, that was nice how age was not important to us. Suddenly the gate opened and Gestapo officers walked in. Let me tell you that for a very long time I could not stand seeing those tall polished boots… We were sitting at the farthest point from the kitchen part of the courtyard which is where they were heading. I was seven years old. Some of the boys were older and said: “Shouldn’t you be going home?” And I was suddenly sort of stiff, couldn’t even stand up. But in fact I was used to my mother being taken to Garňák. And then my grandmother called out: “Come say goodbye to mum.” My mother was first transported to Olomouc where she was locked up for about a year. Then there were Svatobořice where they put women and the mothers and sisters of those who escaped.”

  • “They released women from Svatoborice and the (local – ed. note) people gave them places to sleep, gave them food, clothing, everything. And the women slowly went (home), some of them to Olomouc, some to Prostějov, some to Vary. There was always someone who’d help them on the way. And so my mother returned on Christmas Eve in 1944. There was someone banging on the store front again and we were wondering: “Who is there? Everyone knows you enter through the courtyard.” My grandmother, poor thing, as if she sensed something, she ran to the door. And mum entered. My mother, when she was imprisoned, she was missing a kidney. Back then that was it. The whole time my grandmother kept saying: “She will never come back, she only has one kidney.” She’d almost fooled us. My mother came back. Except her whole life, my mother had her hair dyed blond and now a dark-haired person showed up. We couldn’t recognise her at all. And she was unbelievably thin. Unfortunately that didn’t last long because my grandmother only fed her potatoes. She gained quite a bit of weight by May. Then when they met with my father he said: “Well, you look well.” He was afraid of saying she was fat. My mother couldn’t forgive him that.”

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    Praha, 06.12.2016

    duration: 02:12:33
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
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My parents and I became estranged because of the war

Cechova foto.jpg (historic)
Věra Čechová
photo: Příběhy našich sousedů

Věra Čechová, née Fleischerová, was born on the 18th of June 1934 in Prostějov. Her father Miloš Fleischer worked as a personal pilot for the director of the Vítkovice ironworks, later he worked for the Československá letecká společnost (Czechoslovak Aviation Company). Following Germany’s occupation of Czechoslovakia in March 1939 he went abroad to fight for his country’s freedom. First he escaped to Poland and after it was occupied he and other Czechoslovak soldiers were imprisoned in the Soviet internment camp in Oránky. From there he eventually got to England in 1941. Since his health was horrible at the time he first had to recover in a Red Cross field hospital led by Hana Benešová. Later he joined No 311 Czechoslovak Bomber Squadron Royal Air Force and participated in the fighting. Because of his involvement abroad the Protectorate authorities confiscated the Fleischer family’s flat and Věra’s mother was repeatedly interrogated and arrested by the Gestapo. From 1942 to 1944 she was detained in a prison in Olomouc and in an internment camp in Svatobořice. Meanwhile, Věra and her younger sister Libuše were being cared for by their grandmother and aunts in Prostějov. When their father came home in June 1945 the family moved to Prague where Miloš Fleischer worked for the Czechoslovak Airlines. Following the communist coup d’état he was fired for being a western pilot and sent to a labour camp in Kladno. The regime made it impossible for Věra to study. In 1951 the labour office placed her into the ČKD Stalingrad company where she performed administrative work. In 1956 she married Jiří Čech and they had two children with whom Věra stayed at home. Afterwards she got a job in the editorial office of the Československé pohostinství magazine. From there she went to work for the Balnea company. At age 52 she was awarded disability pension. She lives in Prague 6.