Nina Ingrišová

* 1931  

  • "At least I'm not back there all alone. So, I decided to return, because no one told me that communists are still in the government. And don't tell me they aren't, that they're just in the senate and the parliament, because the senate and the parliament are the government. And the fact that there are a few head honchos on top - the people they call government here - but the fact is that the parliament and the senate are the ones governing! Because, the government can't do anything without it being approved of or proposed and approved of by the parliament and the senate. And, I didn't know that. Because, I might've thought twice about coming back! Because, we thought that the communists had copped it back in 1989, that they'd be gone from here. We didn't know that they'd kept them, that Mr. Havel had said: 'We won't be like them.' So, we didn't know that, no one said that."

  • "The Sokol Hall was very pretty--it was an old Arab mosque or something. And, just opposite it on the corner of the street was the Heart of Europe Restaurant - because Czechoslovakia is the heart of Europe. He had had a restaurant already in Prague. Not a pub, a restaurant. His name was Karel Fink. He had to change that in America, because 'fink' is a bad word in America. So, he had people call him Finek, but his papers still had Fink officially. And, this was a tiny restaurant with as many tables squeezed in as possible. He had a pianette, a harmonium, he played the harmonica and sang--that was so popular! There were actors from the films coming there, TV actors - it was almost the middle of old Hollywood. It was always bursting in its seems. He had Yugoslavian wine, a Traminer, I remember that.... He knew how, like in cafés with the evening dress, he knew how to present himself. I'm not surprised people used to go there. And the food was amazing! 'Jak vařila maminka, tak se vaří u Finka!' [Just like at Mum's, that's how we cook at Finek's! - transl.] That was his Czech slogan. And Mrs. Finková really did do the cooking with her mum. They just had a Mexican to do the dishes. A small but incredibly lovely joint. Karel Fink had this one joke, I have to tell it to you: When exiles stopped by there, then some of them would, even if they hadn't owned a thing back home, they would brag about how they had owned factories and goodness knows what. I mean, those were usually young people! And the Finks had a little dog, a bitch called Lassie. He always said: 'Our Lassie used to be a St. Bernard in Prague, too'. I won't forget that. And it did fit so many people perfectly!"

  • "Then we had three trains meet up in this deep valley: two were to one side and one to the other. I can't remember which was our one, but it was in the middle somehow. And, there was a cottage on the hilltop, a meadow and lots of soldiers. Of course, the plane--ra ta ta ta ta ta--they tried to, [and] caught the other two engines, and we fled up the hill and behind the house. It was fenced off from behind, and up front--afterwards we found out--those were Vlasovites. They were going to liberate Prague. Those were the idiots who were going to liberate Prague. And they said: 'Hey, you're from Czechoslovakia! We're going to liberate Prague!' Our men said: 'You're crazy, they'll hang you there. Do you really think they'll welcome you with open arms when you have German uniforms?' They tried to talk them out of it, and they tried to talk us into turning back, that they'll liberate Prague. They were making camp fires when they started swearing at us that the Americans were shooting at them because of our train, because they couldn't catch our engine--our train was in the middle."

  • "[Inozemcev] told us: 'Try to get to the American zone'. They already knew that they had it divided up into the French, English and American zone. And so, we headed to Bavaria, that side of Bavaria; we were headed for Munich and that area. It was a terrible journey, of course. Our wagon was always joined on to military trains, and they would detach us and leave us stranded at any old station, waiting for the next train to arrive to move us that bit further. We scampered along like rabbits, as.... During the journey, and before we passed Munich into Bavaria, they took out three of our engines. They would always come in flying low, and ra ta ta ta ta - pshhhhhhhhhh, and the steam was gone! And, we were standing again, and running up and down the field.... We might rush out of the train in the night, near Mühldorf, or some place like that. Nerves strained to the limit, it was all the time, rushing for cover when they got close...."

  • "My Mum's parents pretty much refused to say goodbye to him [her father, Viktor Vasiljevič Karpuškin]. He always claimed that they didn't at all. They reproached him for taking us into Germany, into uncertainty. 'Leave them here, Viktor, we'll hide them here! Nothing will happen to them.' Daddy would say: 'I'm not forcing them to go! They can stay! I'm not dragging them away.' But, I said in front of everyone, in front of all the relatives we had there, I declared that: 'If Mummy stays, then I'll just go with Daddy on my own. I won't be waiting here for the Soviets.' Because, I knew from the Cossacks and from those who had escaped the Soviet Union, I knew what atrocities they performed. And, didn't they prove it all to be true: Malinovsky's army, yes, despite that you have a Malinovsky Square here in Brno - makes my blood boil! They still have a bust of him there, and communists place wreaths before him and sing the Internationale these days. Twenty years after the revolution - that's horrendous!"

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    Tuchlovice, 10.06.2010

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    duration: 08:02:17
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    Brno, Eye Direct, 24.10.2017

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    duration: 03:50:21
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Already as a child, I had thought that if I was to marry someone, he would have to be tall with dark curly hair. And that is the man that Eduard Ingriš was!

Nina Ingris
Nina Ingris
photo: archiv pamětnice

Nina Ingrišová (née Karpuškinová) was born on the 14th of June, 1931, in Brno. Her father, Viktor Vasiljevič Karpuškin, was part of the Russian Cossack emigration of 1921. He studied geodesy at the Technical University in Brno. Her mother, Marie Brychtová, was from Veverská Bítýška. She graduated from a secondary economics school and worked in Brno in the central office of the Czechoslovak People’s Party. In April 1945, the Karpuškins fled the Republic with other Cossack families, heading West away from the approaching Red Army. Their journey into the western occupation zone took them to Munich. They ended up in the Memmingen refugee camp in the autumn of 1945. It was not until 1949 that the family received permission to emigrate to South America. Nina Karpuškinová had gone to basic school in Brno during the War. She completed her secondary education while in Germany at the Memmingen grammar school. Later while in Brazil, she applied herself to operatic singing, appearing on the Ipanema Opera stage. From 1951 to 1952 she worked as an interpreter and guide for Aerovias do Brazil at the São Paolo Airport. In 1957, the family moved Los Angeles, California, USA. Nina secured for herself a place in the foreign department of the Bank of America. The Karpuškins kept in contact with the Czechoslovak ex-pat community in the US. They took part in the cultural activities of Czechoslovaks in Los Angeles, working with Eduard Ingriš among others. Ingriš arrived to the US from Peru in 1962. Nina Karpuškinová took part in the staging of Ingriš’s operettas in Tam na horách (There on the Mountains, 1963), Maryša (1964) and Okolo rybníka (Around the Pond, 1965). In that time, the two grew close, and in June 1965 they married. Together they had a son, Eduard, in 1966. In 1968, they started journeying across North America, earning a living through the screening Ingriš’s travelogues from his ventures into Polynesia and the jungles of the Amazon during the 1950s. When after ten hard years of traveling, they decided to settle down, they opened a health food store headed by Nina. In the late 1980s, Eduard sr. came down with a bad illness. Nina sold the store to finance the purchase of a computer on which to write down Ingriš’s memoirs, but he died in 1991 with the memoirs unfinished. Nina worked in the dietary supplement store for another 11 years until she returned to the Czech Republic in 2002. Nina Ingrišová lives in Brno and tries to keep strong the memory of her husband. Eduard Ingriš jr. lives with his family in Prague.