Aglaë Hagg-Thun

* 1955

  • "She was accompanying a huge truck and she was sitting in a car next to it. And at some point this car broke down, the small one, and she had to get into the truck itself. That means she physically drove with the toilets in the truck to the freshly built houses where the toilets were installed. But before that, she was out there herself in boots, providing food to people stuck in the mud, bringing clothes, delivering boots. The first boots were just in a small bus, and she then distributed them there. That was how the contacts were made. The whole thing was coordinated through the diocese and the parishes, who knew exactly what was needed. ‘Please, today we need 100 pairs of boots in size 38 and 20 in size 42.’ And she gave it to them.That's how she got to know the people and of course promised them - ‘I'll come back’. When she left, it was with a heavy heart. ‘My countrymen are suffering from this catastrophe, I must come back!’"

  • "In retrospect, when I was almost thirty years old, I finally understood why we were never taken home to Bohemia, neither by my stepfather nor by my mother. There were no vacation trips, no weekend getaways, we never went to Bohemia. That didn't happen. We only knew it from stories. The great forests, the great fields. Everything was better in Bohemia, the sun shone better, and the moon was less cold, etc., etc., etc. At some point during adolescence, we said - oh, they're crazy, it couldn't have been like that. It's just the trauma, the longing, and homesickness that makes our parents exaggerate so much. When my brother and I went back to Bohemia for the first time after the revolution in 1989, our eyes popped out. Because the forests were really bigger, the trees were really taller, the fields were really yellower. And only then did we perceive the splendor of the nature of Moravia and Bohemia as a reality . Before, we didn't believe it. And why couldn't we travel there with my parents during the entire communist era? We only realized that later on – It was because they would have been arrested immediately for their smuggling activities. The KGB was waiting for them at the border. Of course, they didn't tell us that so we wouldn't know. What you don't know doesn't hurt you. We couldn't have been blackmailed because we didn't know that our parents were smuggling. If there were packages with clothes sent somewhere, they were just for some poor people who needed them. But that it crossed a border it shouldn't have... Bibles. Yes, the Bibles were there, I already knew they were being smuggled. Relatively dim. Of course, medications, the medication campaigns started with us, initially only with vitamins for Vaclav Havel when he was in prison and also for Dominik Duka when he was in prison. And then it became a formally organized institution, and the monasteries and the parishes and other communities were then sent medications because there simply weren’t enough to go around, especially after the 1968 revolution. And this campaign still exists and is called St. Luke's."

  • “What I got much stronger exposure to was the crisis of '68, the Czech one. When the Czech refugees arrived, the Maltese Aid Service was already fully established, twelve years later. They even had ambulances, their own cars, one or two. This meant that medical help could be brought to the border in Neu-Nagelberg. My mother was probably away from home for three, four weeks, I remember missing her. I was fully aware of that, it was all clear. She stayed there. My father couldn't stay that long, of course, because he had a job and had to go to work, he worked in the state archives. I'm now talking about my stepfather, Berthold Waldstein. But he was the commander, the chief of the Maltese Aid Service. And he spent a lot of time there, in Neu-Nagelberg, receiving the refugees. They provided medical care, treated injuries, illnesses, coughs, hoarseness, whatever they had accumulated while fleeing. Clothing distribution was more in the hands of the Red Cross back then. And of course, providing food and drink, making tea, etc., was especially important. As far as I know, my aunt, Mirli Waldstein, only went there on weekends because she also worked and couldn't take time off so easily, but she did manage to get away occasionally. Many institutions understood that the relief workers needed to be released from work to be sent to the border, and that is why they were able to do quite a lot. Tents were set up.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Praha, 16.10.2023

    duration: 02:02:50
    media recorded in project Bohemian nobility
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

I wanted my teachers in Austria to be secret priests, like the Czech ones.

Aglaë Hagg-Thun, Praha, 2023
Aglaë Hagg-Thun, Praha, 2023
photo: recording

She was born in 1955 in Vienna into the family of Daisy and Michael Thun Hohenstein. After her father’s premature death, her mother married Berthold Waldstein-Wartenberg. Her mother, father and stepfather came from prominent Czech noble families, and after being expelled from Czechoslovakia, they deeply missed their homeland. Both her mother and stepfather were active in the Maltese aid organization, which often operated from their family apartment in Skoda-Gasse, Vienna. It wasn’t until Aglaë was thirty that she understood the significant role her parents and their circle played, not only towards refugees from Czechoslovakia but also within the country. For example, they were involved in smuggling hard-to-find medicines and banned books into their former homeland. In 1978, she married the Austrian diplomat Walter Hagg, lived with him on assignment in Italy, Nigeria, and Ireland, among others. Among the most significant moments of Aglaë’s diplomatic career was the canonization of Agnes of Bohemia in Rome, which she personally attended. She has strong family ties, especially to the town of Rokytnice u Přerova, where her mother Daisy came from.