Eirini Kupková

* unknown

  • “Mum, when she came here from Greece, she didn’t much know how to cook, what can I say. They had lived in rather meagre existential conditions, yeah, and they would do simple cooking. In other words they were farmers and the main thing was they had to work on the field, and for her to cook the whole morning, well that was unthinkable. Grandmother cooked mostly, so when Mum came here, she had such a limited repertoire, and it wasn’t any haute couture, yeah, and I know, that for instance she’d slice an onion in her hand, yeah, no cutting board or some such, no. But she was a good learner. We had one neighbour, Mrs Konečná, she must be in heaven. And Mum learned a lot from her. That Mrs Konečná, she served under various families in Vienna during Austria-Hungary, and so on, so she was a fantastic cook. Mum learned a lot from her, of course she didn’t reach that level of mastery, but she caught on to a lot of stuff and she did learn. So my cooking, it’s influenced by that, but my daughter says: ‘Mum, but you have better cooking, because Grandma always muddled it so.’ ”

  • “There was a shortage of space in play schools at the time, and Mum wasn’t working, she stayed at home. And the headmistress was forcing her to keep us at home. If she’s at home, why should she put us into play school, me and my brother, who was a year younger. But I can remember it like it was today, how urgently Mum said to her: ‘But where shall they learn Czech?’ And she was right. She had realised that when we’d go to school and we wouldn’t speak Czech, we’d have it hard than the other children. So I guess she was good at it, she put up the arguments and we stayed in play school. So the result was such that in my childhood we spoke two languages at home - Greek and Czech. Our parents amongst each other in Greek only of course, and they spoke to us children in Greek as well, and us siblings spoke to each other in Czech, and we spoke to our parents in Czech also, they understood us. Yeah, if they didn’t know something, they’d ask what it meant, so we’d translate it for them.”

  • (Q: “You said that you went to those meetings on Sundays...”) “Well, that was a show, when I tell that to my daughter, she says to herself: Well is that possible? It was so strange, because it’s only when looking back enough years later that one can assess it all, because they have the comparison. We considered it to be normal back then, it was Sunday, so like Christians went to church, so communists went to meetings. Not every Sunday, I don’t know how often we had it, but I’d say at least once a month. Sunday morning always, a big hall, and we sat there at a table... There were so many invalids there, it was strange. I looked on as a child, there was a chap there with no arms, say, just up to his elbows, both arms missing and he was smoking. You wouldn’t believe it. I saw him with my own eyes, how he lighted his cigarette. Or there were blind people, with plastic surgeries, those were all war invalids, but as a child one takes it at face value - it is how it is. They were very fiery. They always started the meetings so peacefully, in a friendly way and so. And of course that Greek (temper) - they got caught up, all those various opinions, and they didn’t know how to control themselves, so they started swearing at each other so nastily, shouting at each other, and some of them would leave in anger. Not my dad, he was reserved, serious, he never shouted.”

  • “Because they didn’t flee together. First Dad left, he was like a partisan in the mountains, and then she had to, well, their lives were at stake, it’s not like they just decided one night - so, and now we’ll go precisely to Czechoslovakia, no. I don’t know if you know, but their... that was an escape in fact, a flight. If Dad had stayed there, he’d have been shot, executed. Mum as well, maybe. And originally, my siblings were fleeing with them and with my grandma. But then they fell into some trap, they didn’t know about one another, and so they went back, the four children and Grandma. And Mum stayed along with some other people, and so she managed to cross the Greco-Yugoslavian borders and to reach her own there. Well, and after that to put the family back together, that was out of the question, simply... There were some exceptions, but it just wasn’t possible.”

  • (Q: “You said you married a Czech. Didn’t your parents insist you marry a Greek?”) “Well, to start with yes, already when we were going out together, they said: ‘You know, what if we return to Greece?’ Of course that was just a hollow hypothesis. When I was getting married, that was in the 72nd year, the junta was still ruling Greece, we had the normalisation here, well any thoughts of Greece were almost like thinking of Mars. What do you mean, Greece, that was out of the question. So no, it was clear to them. And then, to find a partner in the Greek community, it was getting limited after all. I told that to my daughter, and she asked: ‘Mum, why didn’t you marry a Greek?’ I said: ‘You know what’s interesting, there were pretty boys there, clever, students, but they wanted Czech girls.’ That’s interesting, they wanted Czech girls. All sorts of smart students, builders, engineers and so, one had a ballet dancer, I remember him, and so on - they wanted Czechs. I don’t know how come. So what? So conversely, us Greek girls usually, we who studied here, we often married Czechs.”

  • (Q: “Did your parents tell you how they came to Czechoslovakia?”) “Oh all the time, because they were full of it. They came here under dramatic circumstances, of course I came to realise that only much later. When you’re a child, you feel like it’s real, and it even annoyed quite a bit at the time. They kept on talking about it. About the circumstance of their flight, they would reminisce... Also, we were a fragmented family, they had left my four elder siblings there. So when I think of it today, I realise that they were the victims actually, both my siblings, and my parents. And I know that my mum, when I was small, up to about five, six years of age, she would say: ‘He’s definitely going to Greece, and we’ll return too.’ In other words, for a long time they retained that hope, but as the years went by, they finally lost it.”

  • “When they had the May Day parades in Brno, there were all sorts of minorities parading and such, so the Greek minority did that too. I told my husband about it, he took a look at it, we went to have a look once, and I said: ‘And next are the Greeks, but watch out, they’ll come in thirds, so you know.’ First will be the Maoists, then there were the cynologists, then munitions group, I don’t know who. Then Greeks again, of course the Czechs probably didn’t know, they didn’t care. But they all had their flags, so they carried them. They didn’t go together. Maoists, Stalinists, then there were the Dubčekists and Partsalidisites, and then the proper ones, yeah, Brezhnev, Brezhnevists and Kolijannisites. Kolijannis his name was. They went in three groups.”

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    Pustiměř, 27.11.2010

    duration: 35:29
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When I was getting married, moving to Greece was out of the question.

Eirini Kupková was born in Brno. Her parents escaped from Greece during the civil war. While on the run, the family split up, and four of the children returned back with their grandmother to Greece and did not meet with the rest of the family until the Seventies. Eirini Kupková grew up in Czechoslovakia with her parents and two siblings. Both of her siblings and her mother returned to Greece. Eirini Kupková studied law, married a Czech, and now lives in Pustiměř.