“When the Nazis came they took whatever they wanted from our pub. Among other things, they took the gramophone too. My grandma went out to the street and started cursing in Czech. One of the Nazi soldiers came to her and said: ‘Ma’am, don’t be angry with all of us, we are not all guilty’. He was from Bohemia. After that, he would visit us as Czechs. My aunts were pretty and young people would gather in our place and sing Czech songs.”
“It came the time to go to a kindergarten, then to the Czech school. It was near the church; a school is there still, but it worked for two years only because the Nazis ordered all other ethnicities to go to the school down there; it is called the Žarko Zrenjanin School now. We went to that school with Romanians, Hungarians and Czechs. When we played there was this discipline: here are Romanians, here are Hungarians… there were quite a few of us, but not many students.”
“When I went to Bohemia we were in Prague for three days and the Inform-Bureau was active then. Our teacher Ms Šovancova was big communist and she said: ‘Children, sing.’ So we sang but each of us did what they wanted: those who sided with the socialism – that was the most terrible coup – said ‘Stop singing!’ Others said ‘Sing, go on!’ We spent three days in Prague. Then we went to a family that would receive us – the Vlčeks, Mr Josef Vlček. I went to Týniště nad Orlicí and there was a factory they managed. He was a big communist but I knew a lot by then. He took me by the hand and led me to the premises: ‘This girl is from Yugoslavia. Let her tell you how great living is over there.’”
Ludmila Mihajlovič, née Marešová, comes from the community of Kruščica located on the territory of the former Yugoslavia. She was born on 15 September 1936 to Šiman and Maria Mareš. She is a member of the Czech minority in Serbia. When she was three years old her family moved to Bela Crkva where her grandmother’s sister owned a pub. Ludmila’s father got a job there but was arrested shortly after the outbreak of WWII and spent four years in prison. Ludmila went to a Czech school in Bela Crkva; when the Nazis closed it two years later the children went to a school where the members of all ethnic minorities were taught. Thanks to teacher Ms Šovancová she remained in contact with the Czech language and culture. She became a teacher and joined the Czech school in Kruščica. She was active in the local Czech community. She went to the Czech House in Belgrade. The Czech class in Kruščica was closed several years later; Ludmila Mihajlovič taught a Serbian class for a few more years and then she and her family moved to Pančevo where she worked as a police clerk.