“In 1946 I began attending the episcopal grammar school in Bohosudov. With two breaks, we were able to attend until 1950 when they liquidated all the monastic orders. That was quite a raid. At ten o’clock in the evening they would have us go to the dining room in pajamas. They searched through our rooms and us as well. The other day we woke up into havoc. Everything was scattered about, damaged. We have not met the priests ever again. All of them were gone. They drove us off, all three hundred of us. They wanted to release the older ones who already had their ID cards. They moved us to Děčín. There was a villa for thirty theologians and suddenly there were three hundred of us. And the older ones said they would not go anywhere as long as us younger ones were kept there. So it was quite a mess. We were teasing them in various ways, walking from a chapel to the nuns across the whole of Děčín, playing our own music and so on. They tried to teach us there but that did not work out at all.”
“One needs to follow their own way, follow the orders. The main thing for us was our faith and we believed that good would prevail eventually. One must not fear it all too much. When our children were attending school, we would of course always subscribe them for religious education. The director of the school visited all these parents, effectively threatening that if the subscription was not withdrawn, the other child would not make it to the next grade, or so. But then one of the women asked: ‘Have you been to the Czernins’?’ He replied: ‘That is of no use, it would be a pointless ride.’ And she said: ‘In that case, I am also not withdrawing it.’ One must have not been too afraid of them. They promised and they threatened. And this still remains true.”
“The best one was my mom. She lived in Vienna and when she paid us a visit in the summer, she asked: ‘Did you get something already?’ I replied: ‘Not yet, it takes time.’ She would say: ‘Take all of it but let them have the chateau.’ I often remembered her words because it was the toughest of labours. I had to start with something completely different from what I had been doing my whole life. That was also not all too easy. But we have those sorts of memories. Once, as we worked on building the workshop, we were standing in the courtyard with my son Tomáš. Those who were in charge back then were terribly angry about us invading their guarded area. The journalist Komers arrived with the TV crew and videotaped us. We were standing in front of the fence with a view of the chateau. He placed the camera there and we spoke about them not wanting to leave, or to pay rent. And that they were still there as if nothing had happened. I then asked him when would they screen it and he said: ‘It will take about a week for it to be ready.’ They put it on Sunday’s top news and on Monday morning, fifteen lorries were standing in front of the chateau. They moved out before night. That was a success of the TV.”
Take it all but let them have the chateau, suggested mom
Theobald Czernin was born on the 7th of July 1936, into one of the most significant Czech noble families, the Czernins from Chudenice. He spent most of his childhood at his family’s chateau in Dymokury near Nymburk. His father Rudolf Theobald Czernin (1904-1984) was among the members of the Czech nobility whose delegation met with President Edvard Beneš on 17 September 1938, pledging loyalty to the Czech state. In September 1939, R. T. Czernin signed a detailed proclamation addressed to Emil Hácha. In 1943, he was arrested, in 1944 shortly after, he was convicted and imprisoned in the Small Fort of Terezín and later in Gollnow near Szczeczin. R. T. returned home only in the summer of 1945. From 1946 to 1950 Theobald Czernin attended the episcopal grammar school in Bohosudov where he witnessed the so-called “Action K” intended to destroy the male monastic orders. As member of the aristocracy, Theobald was identified as a class enemy by the Communist regime. He then trained to become a bricklayer and following a military service with the Auxiliary Technical Units he worked in road construction, as did his father. In 1961, Theobald married Polyxena Lobkowicz with whom he raised five children. The parents of Mr. Czernin immigrated to Austria in 1964. In the fall of 1968, he and his family attempted to immigrate to Switzerland but instead returned to Czechoslovakia in April 1969. Since 1971 the family has lived in Rudný near Nejdek in the Karlovy Vary region. Theobald worked here as an ambulance driver until 1990. At the beginning of the 1990s he requested the restitution of family property including the Dymokury chateau. Since 1994, he has been managing this estate along with adjacent forests and fields.