Eva Paddock

* 1935

  • “So, you were asking me about Nicholas Winton. Nobody knew, who that was or how we got to England. I think 50 years later, I forgot what year, Nicholas Winton became known to the public through a television program, in which the person had been given by Nickie’s wife the documents which he had put together when he was bringing the children to England in 1939. And he didn’t do it alone, by the way. The family really wanted to be sure to understand, that there were two or three other people who were very helpful, as they were in Prague and he was in England. And his wife found these documents and there was a television program, where there was a big audience. He was told that he was just going to be asked about his life. And the interviewer said: ‘We have this book that you did this work bringing in some children in 1939.’ And he said: ‘Yes, I did.’ And at the end of the program… My sister is on his right, and a friend was on the left. And at the end, he says: ‘Anybody who ows their life to Nicholas Winton, please stand up.’ And the whole audience stood up. It was a 60-minutes tape. That was the first time that we knew who this person was. Couple of years later, when I was in England with my husband, as I said, we went very often, I telephoned his house and said: ‘I’m one of those children, and I would very much like to meet you in person, could we come for a cup of tea.’ And his wife answered the phone and said: ‘Oh, nobody comes for a cup of tea. They come for a whole day. So you can come when you’re in London.’ So we did, and we spent a wonderful day with him. He was a charming, kind, lovely person. He wasn’t very interested in talking about all the things he had done, he just said that he was glad that he’d been able to help. And that was how we met him.”

  • “Well, he [my father] knew that the Germans would come, and that he was on the first list of people to be thrown to jail or worse. If the question is why were they looking for him so quickly, that’s because some years earlier, he was a politician. He had been on the Town Council of the village I was born [Proseč]. I told you I was born and then we moved to Prague. He was a great reader, and there was a writer called Thomas Mann, who was German. And the Germans were already burning books of people they didn’t like they were writing. And Thomas Mann had escaped from Germany to Switzerland, because his books were being burnt and he was in danger. And so, my father had helped Thomas Mann get Czech citizenship. He decided to ask his Town Council to offer Thomas Mann honorary citizenstip for the village. And with the honorary citizenship for the village, he would be able to get honorary citizenship for Czechoslovakia. And he put that proposal to the president of Czechoslovakia. Everybody knew about Thomas Mann, he was a very famous man. And president said: ‘That sounds like a really good idea, we would be helping Thomas Mann, and our country would be honored.’ And so, my father had gone to Switzerland, met with Thomas Mann, offered him Czech citizenship for him and his brother. They were very grateful. That way that did get Czech citizenship. And that is how Thomas Mann came to be able to leave Switzerland and come to the United States.”

  • “My father had already left, he escaped to Berlin on the 15th of March [1939], when he knew that Germans were coming to Prague. He had been very politically active, and so he was told, not on the internet, not by a tweet or Twitter. People told him that the Germans would look for him, so he decided he needed to leave, thinking that he would then be able to help to get us out. He had already gone, so that was just my mother who had found out about the Winton train. My sister was nine, and she doesn’t remember details either. Sometimes when very difficult things are happening in your life, your brain erases them. What we know, I’m sure, our parents told us we were going to England for a little while and they would see us. And in fact, she was nine, close to ten, had a very good time. It’s like you guys [the interview was recorded within the educational Our Neighbors‘ Stories project], on a very big train trip, and there were friends and they had fun and games and stuff. She just had to look after me, but I don’t think I was too much trouble.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA, 04.05.2019

    duration: 54:12
    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

Nobody knew, who Nicholas Winton was, or how we got to England.

Every child on the train had its ID card. Eva had the number 639.
Every child on the train had its ID card. Eva had the number 639.
photo: PNS

Eva Paddock (née Fleischmannová), was born on the New Year’s Eve of 1935 in Proseč, Czechoslovakia, from where they moved nearly three years later to the capital city of Prague. Her father was an active regional politician, thanks to which he assured the honorary citizenship to the German writer Thomas Mann, and afterwards also a Czechoslovak citizenship. His help to Thomas Mann was, unfortunately, well perceived by the Nazi system, and Rudolf Fleischmann knew well that he had to escape from Czechoslovakia before the war starts, as the Nazis would search for him immediately. Meanwhile, when the war was about to begin, Eva’s mother Sonya heard about the trains heading to Great Britain, which could take her two daughters to a safe place. These trains were later known as the “Winton trains”, upon the name of their main organizer Nicholas Winton. Both of the Fleischmann girls were sent to Great Britain and stayed with the Radcliffe family. A year later, finally girls’ mother arrived to England, through Norway, and the family gathered again, and survived the war. However, despite their plans, they never returned to live in Czechoslovakia, where in 1948 took place the communist coupe, and so, they stayed in England and naturalized there. Until 1988, thanks to a television program of BBC, Eva got to know who was the organizer of her salvation, and her sister Milena met personally with Nicholas Winton. Eva was then living abroad with her husband, however, she met Sir Winton a couple of years later. Nowadays, Eva and her family, live in Cambridge, Massachusetts, United States of America.