“Why did we leave? Because we fundamentally disagreed with the regime. We were not the victims yet. We were not forced to leave. But that would sooner or later come. my family belonged to the higher capitalist classes and all the members of higher classes were sooner or later persecuted.”
“In spring 1968, it was easier to travel abroad. My friends, schoolmates or my wife’s relatives could come from Czechoslovakia and visit us. So they came to Paris and they saw the students building barricades and fighting against… The contrast was apparent because the people came from Prague to celebrate democracy and freedom in the traditional sense. And here they saw barricades and people talking about Maoism and the like… That was the contrast, the student’s demonstrations, at least as it appeared to me. I was influenced by the Prague Spring and in a peculiar position among the western students. I went through that also in the following two years.”
“The two main fields I’m interested in and also my two occupations are On one side, it is the European integration, and on the other side, the problems of University education- interconnected but also separated in many ways. I’m not concerned with the problems of methodology of education, neither am I concerned with the individual fields like medicine or law, I’m interested in questions of financing and structure of university education related problems.”
“Unlike most of the other people, I never had to decide whether to stay or to go, I never had any doubt about that. I knew I had to leave. And when I was leaving in August 1948, I was leaving for good, I didn’t hope or assume that I would ever come back. Whether I was going to return, it would be after a long, long time. I definitely didn’t count with the possibility that an overthrown would come soon and I could return back home. The opportunity to return came in 1989. Even then I wasn’t certain whether I would definitely return.”
“It was already after February 1948. The overthrow was not yet perfect. In various government offices, if you weren’t politically suspicious, like members of non-communist parties or members of anti-communist students’ organizations, which was not my case, nobody really cared. I didn’t have to bribe or influence someone. My parents were in much more complicated situation a year later. They had to leave ‘across the hills’, as people say. They crossed the border in Šumava, they had a someone who took them over.”
“Pavel Tigrid was the director of the Czechoslovak section. Radio Free Europe broadcasted since 1951. Before that, he had already been looking for people to the department. He also came across the Skutečnost (Presence) journal, which we used to publish. Because I spent a year at the College of Europe, he automatically, not immediately but after some two or three months, gave me the program on European integration. The program was called ‘Europe without the iron curtain’ or something like that. That was my job. I attended several European conferences, mainly in Strasbourg. Those conferences were held by the Council of Europe because no other organizations existed at the time.”
Why did we leave? Because we fundamentally disagreed with the regime.
The Čerych villa in Česká Skalice recently used as a training center for workers in the non profit sector is named after a local industrialist. His heirs Jiří and Ladislav Čerych gave it to the NROS foundation in 2001. Ladislav Čerych, the elder of the two brothers was born in 1925. His father was an associate in a relatively big textile factory which was nationalized already in October 1945. Ladislav attended basic school in Česká Skalice and grammar school in Náchod. There he studied also with a year older Josef Škvorecký. In 1948, Ladislav Čerych managed to get permission for a study leave abroad and in August, he legally left to West Germany. He finished his studies in Geneva and at the College of Europe in Bruges where he also worked. At the beginning of the 50s, he worked for two years in the Czech section of Radio Free Europe in Munich. In the 60s, he moved to Paris where he worked as a consultant and a research worker for UNESCO and OECD and also as a director of a small research institute. After 1989, he returned to Czechoslovakia but he never fully moved to Prague and always maintained his second residence in Paris. He travels between Paris and Prague depending on his work duties. He began to cooperate with the Pedagogical faculty at the Charles University. In 1994, he was one of the establishing members of the Center of Educational Policies at PedF CU. He directed the center for five years. He also represented Czech Republic in the OECD Education Committee and he took part in the negotiations between the Czech government and the financier George Soros about the opening of the Central European University in Prague. He died in Prague in August 2012.