Petr Deiml

* 1950

  • “The way I was involved was that I used to go to the Jewish community, and I knew that apart from being a Czech and being happy as a Czech and having my group of friends, my boat dock, the summer camps, I had something else as well, and this was my Jewishness.”

  • “I remained in touch with this friend and with others, too, but only very infrequently, because I did not want to do them harm and I did not believe that I would be able to return. But then there was 1989 or 1990 and I could not wait any longer and I immediately went to my wife and we travelled to Czechoslovakia. We visited all friends, and the way I did it was that I just knocked on their doors and they knew immediately what was happening and it was a surprise for all. It was something that one has to experience, I was inviting everybody and I was being invited by everybody and I had to answer so many questions. It was a beautiful time, although Prague at that time was still very grey and apart from the subway it was nearly in the same state as when I had left it.”

  • “We packed our apartment within two days. We were not able to take many things. My mother said: ‘We need to forget everything that was and we need to make everything knew, so take only the most, most, most important things, several photos and things like that.’ It was interesting that we lived there in blocks which had been built after the war for political prisoners. We lived there and those houses were called Žiďárna (Jewish houses – transl.’s note), because really there used to be a large concentration of Jews who had received those apartments. On August 30, there were two small Fiat cars on the street and a friend from the neighbouring street with his mother and we were leaving at the same time. Although we did not coordinate anything, such as telling the other family about something. Our whole family was leaving on August 30 because my brother was already in Israel and he stayed here.”

  • “Our family decided to go to Israel. One of the reasons was that my parents had many friends here already from the time of the war. Since my parents were quite well known among friends who were living in various kibbutzim here, in 1965 the ‘kibbutzniks’ donated money and they arranged flight tickets to Israel for my parents. Perhaps it was already in 1964, but my parents had already been in Israel before our emigration.”

  • “When one judges one’s life, then I have attained a lot in the field which I had chosen. I think that I have. Whether I have achieved everything? No. I will retire in half a year and I have not even started preparing for it. I think that from nearly nothing - because when we came here to Israel, we only came with our bare butts as we say, and we set up our lives here from nothing - and I cannot say that I would not be living a good life here. I have been through several wars which took place here, and I was mobilized until the age of forty, after I had returned from Germany. I think that I cannot complain.”

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    Kirjat Tivon, Izrael, 25.03.2017

    duration: 01:52:00
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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I felt as a Czech who has Jewishness in addition

Petr Deiml was born on September 28, 1950 in Prague to parents who have survived the holocaust. He has an older brother and a younger sister. His father Jiří Deiml came from Plasy near Pilsen and his mother Erika Rothová, nicknamed Ečka, came from Ostrava and both were members of Zionist organizations. Petr’s father worked in a foreign trade company and later as a purchaser for a company, and his mother worked as the head of a haematology laboratory. Petr Deiml studied at a grammar school in Prague and he spent his free time in a boat dock and with a group of Jewish youth called Children of Maiselovka. The family decided to emigrate in 1968 after the invasion of Warsaw Pact armies to Czechoslovakia. In late August 1968 they went to Vienna and from there they travelled to Israel. They lived in Tel Aviv where Petr continued with his studies. In 1970 he passed his final graduation exam from grammar school and in 1970-1973 he did his compulsory military service. In 1973 Petr took part in the Yom Kippur War. After his return to civilian life he studied biology in Jerusalem and later he transferred to the study of medicine. From 1974 onward he lived in Germany where he studied biotechnology and he remained here even after the completion of his studies. In 1977 he married and he worked as a biotechnologist. In 1983, after nine years in Germany, he and his wife decided to return to Israel. He regularly visits the Czech Republic since 1989 and he meets friends from the Children of Maiselovka. Petr Deiml lives in Kiryat Tivon.