Hanuš Korda

* 1917  

  • "They came to England at the last minute before the war broke out. They came to England, but my father never believed it would turn out so bad, so they didn't have any money with them. They were completely... So, I have to say, we had a chauffeur, a Packard car, a cook and a housemaid, right, in our house in Prague. And my mother came to England, at the last minute before the war started, I found them a room, just a small room with... without a kitchen even. But my mother never complained. But de facto all my parents' relatives, she had three brothers and a sister, my father had eight brothers and sisters - they all ended up in Auschwitz, right."

  • "There were four of us who stayed in England. And I was... I had an English fiancée, she said she didn't want to go (to Czechoslovakia). So I said: 'All right, I'll stay in England.' But I always came to visit, every year, and seeing as I had legged it in 1938, I de facto emigrated to England, then even with the Communists here I didn't have any trouble. Because they said: those who left in 1938 are okay." ("What did you do in England after that?") "Well, in England I started catering to airline companies. It was hard work, but I did it, and in the end, some twenty years ago, I gave it up and sold it. And de facto, you can't live on an English pension, because it's really small, right. You need at least twenty five thousand pounds per year in England, if you're living alone. And what the English government gives you as pension, that is four hundred pounds per month, so four thousand eight hundred per year, well you can't live on that. But I'm doing well financially, I can't complain. I've got four children, I bought each of them a house, three in England and one in Spain. For my son, who doesn't want to work at all, so he lives in Spain. But de facto, the relationship of me and my children is completely different then from what I had with my parents. I don't know if it's an exception or if it's non-existent, that children don't care for their parents like they used to, but my children are only interested when they need some money."

  • "I sunk a Japanese ship that was headed to Bordeaux. On the 29th of December 1944, a Japanese ship was taking eighteen thousand (tonnes) of raw rubber to the Germans. And the Germans had everything, even oil, as they had Romania. But they didn't have rubber, right. And I sunk that ship sixteen miles before Bordeaux. Even though six... what do you call a destroyer in Czech? You know what it means? Warships, those fast ones. They headed out to help the Japanese. Destroyer is what it's called in English. And I sunk that ship before they arrived. I received a Czechoslovak War Cross for that, what everyone received in the end. After the war, they gave everyone a war cross. But at that time, when I got it, it was an honour."

  • "I came to England and I had twenty pounds. And when you're twenty years old, everything can be a joke, right. So I find myself a job, and then the war started, so I tried to get into the... to fly. Before you could get in to the air force in England, you had to be in the Czech (Czechoslovak) army for two weeks. And I thought that if I was going to have to spend two weeks in that Czech army, that I'd commit suicide. Because the morale there was terrible, right, because the people there had never fought before, they just sat around in Leamington Spa, it was called, and they were - well, a complete nuisance. So I joined the air force, I learnt to fly, which gave me a lot of pleasure, and then I got into the 311th squadron as a navigator. We flew fifteen hours, always. That means I as a navigator and bombardier, I worked the whole fifteen hours. Meanwhile the other people that sat there, they were bored, basically."

  • "Well in the end, when I turned 75, I had enough of being a businessman, so I sold it. I've still got the building, it's a small shopping centre in London. And it makes me... it's making some... I've got eight small companies that live there, not live, that do business there. So I'm keeping it, and when I die, my children will have to sell it, because England isn't like Czechoslovakia. Czechs, as you know, when they inherit their parents' property, they don't have to pay any, but in England you have to pay 40 %. That means the building I have, which is worth a million pounds, and the shopping centre, which is worth half a million pounds, they'll have to sell them, because they have to pay those 40 %."

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    Praha, 04.06.2003

    duration: 50:48
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
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“War made me into a person. I was the son of wealthy parents, and I didn’t know any other life.”

Hanuš Korda
Hanuš Korda

Hanuš Korda was born on the 2nd of November 1917 in Prague. He comes from a wealthy Jewish family. In 1937, he went to study in Denmark, a year later he decided to leave for Britain. He also managed to persuade his parents to emigrate. Before the start of the war, he went through several jobs. He then joined the Czechoslovak army. He was assigned to No. 311 Bombing Squadron as navigator. After the war, he did not return to Czechoslovakia. For approximately three years, he worked for the British Intelligence Service, later he started an airline catering business. He lives in London, has three children who live in England and one who lives in Spain.