The things a baby has to endure during birth would be hard for an adult to take
Emílie Koudelová, née Kraislová, was born on 8 November 1926 in the village of Veliki Bastaji in current-day Croatia as the oldest of five siblings. Her parents were Czech immigrants, and so the family always spoke Czech at home. They frequently moved because of work, later settling down in the town of Garešnica, where Emílie attended her four years of mandatory school. In 1938 her father died, and when the war broke out, her mother sent Emílie to her uncle in Cerna near Vinkovci and then on to her aunt in Belgrade. In spring 1941 people began evacuating the city because they were afraid the Germans would bomb it. Emílie and her aunt also left. She waited at the Belgrade train station for three days before succeeding in boarding a train home. She left the city two days before it was bombed. In January 1942 she moved to Leipzig, Germany, in search of a job. She worked as a cleaning lady, later as a worker at a cannon factory, and finally as a nurse. She quickly learnt the language and became engaged with a German soldier, Rudi, who sabotaged factory production. Emílie Koudelová experienced air raids in Leipzig; during one of the last raids, she lost her brother, who was never found again. After the war she and her whole family went home, and she did not see her fiancé again. In autumn 1946 she met her future husband Stanislav, and they married that same year. They had two sons, Mirek and Drahoslav. In 1952 she applied to a nursing school in Zadar, specialising as a birth attendant. Her husband stayed at home to look after their little children. From 1954 she helped give birth to babies in Daruvar and the surrounding area. In the years 1975 to 1977 she worked as a nurse and midwife in Al-Khums, Libya - the European personnel of the local hospital were provided by Yugoslavia. She returned home to her sons when her husband died. Her son Drahoslav emigrated to Czechoslovakia to find employment, and Emílie Koudelová joined him in 1989. She lived in Prague for three years and worked as a gatekeeper at the Větrník Students’ Hall. In the meantime, war broke out in Yugoslavia, and the witness’s family house was looted and destroyed. She thus lost many family documents and papers with notes on her work.