Hrabě Jan Podstatzky - Lichtenstein

* 1937

  • “When we reached the border, they threw out all of our suitcases. We could not go on. The train left and there was a strict check. They took our watches, and they took everything that mom had, such as money, everything, everything. We were sitting in a room there. I think that we arrived there around ten o’clock and the policemen changed shifts at two o’clock at night. One went to sleep and another one came. The second chief was born in Telč. The name Podstatzky is known there quite well and he said to mom: ‘Madam, I know what will happen to you if you don’t get to Austria. I will allow you to go, but we need to go through…’ I don’t know how many trains, with the suitcases and everything, upstairs and downstairs and further on. There was a cattle train car there and it was for cattle which was sold to Yugoslavia, but he told us: ‘I will phone the Austrians and I will tell them that you are in this cattle train and they will open the door for you.’”

  • “At first I need to say that mom and dad never spoke about the war. We were children and they were not supporters of one side (of Germans). But they could not say it openly. It was better not to speak about it so that we children would not inadvertently say something improper somewhere. Several times we went on trips in the vicinity here, where we had our relatives. But they strongly supported the Germans. They were Austrians, and Austria was part of Germany at that time. During those trips we did not go to visit them. I asked my mom why we were not going to visit them and she told me that it was not possible, because they were too pro-German. As a child, in this way I thus began to see that something was not all right. Things like that were happening. And we had one nanny, too, she was a German from the Sudetenland. When we were children, we had to pray with her every evening. And when the war was drawing to an end, she wanted us to pray for Hitler. Fortunately my mom just entered the room. She yelled at her and told her that she was crazy. Thus I saw that there were two sides... Only later I learnt that dad had been in the resistance movement. Obviously, he was not able to tell this to us at that time.”

  • “Dad had been selling some timber, and it was paid in Switzerland and he kept the money there, but the lawyer who had it for us said that he did not have anything for us. He simply stole it, everything, of course. You cannot do anything with lawyers. And then mom and dad bought presents in Italy, because aunt, mom’s sister, was already in Chile, and she bought a store there and they wanted to sell wedding accessories there, gifts, paintings, everything. Dad and mom thus purchased large cases full of small gifts from Murano, Italian glass, and paintings and prints, and things like that. They bought all that and we carried it to Chile by ship. And they had to leave it there for two weeks because of customs. They left it there for two weeks for customs. Two weeks later they went to pick up the large, huge cases. They opened them and it was the same and everything was always the same. And when they opened them, they were full of stones. They stole everything from us, all those presents and everything that we had saved in order to have something for the beginning.”

  • “We only learnt about what he had been really doing when we returned back here. Of course, he was helping people. We knew that he had a beautiful horse. He would go to the forest every evening and we were told that he was going to see the forest since he was no longer able to drive a car. But he carried a rucksack on his back and inside he had food for people who were hiding in bunkers around here. But we were told this only a long time after the war. He has helped many people. When we were children, the only thing we knew was... On one side of the pond in Netín there was a cottage, and on the other side there lived forester Pavlas. Somebody had apparently informed upon him and he thus had to go into hiding. But he had a son who was already eighteen and he was therefore arrested and he died in Dachau. As children we thus gradually began to understand that the situation was difficult. Therefore we did not ask too many questions because we saw that mom and dad did not want to talk about it.”

  • “It was the idea to bring Europe to Christian thinking, that it was not only atheistic, but so that it would be Christian above all. So I spent a year in Paris as a technical secretary for the meetings of the minister and the German and French parliaments. The union organized the first meeting between Adenauer and de Gaulle. The first European agenda was the meeting between Adenauer and de Gaulle. We organized it there. And then we organized the first meetings between the German and French ambassadors, in order to establish contact between them, so that they would get to know each other.”

  • “I think that’s the problem that all politicians have: what is really good, right? But if you ask me, I would say that only such politics which have Christian roots can be good… in Europe. Christianity did bring about wars and the inquisitions. We did grave mistakes just as others have done, but the roots should be Christian and the politics should stem from them. For me, the only democracy which works is the Swiss democracy. They have order and they know what they can do. When they do something, people have to do it properly. If you buy a Swiss watch, you have one hundred percent certainty that it will work until the last moment.”

  • Full recordings
  • 1

    zámek Velké Meziříčí - bydliště pamětníka, 13.03.2017

    media recorded in project The Stories of Our Neigbours
  • 2

    Velké Meziříčí, 19.09.2017

    duration: 02:39:05
    media recorded in project Stories of 20th Century
Full recordings are available only for logged users.

We do not have to give money to children, but we have to give them culture, reason and responsibility

Jan Podstatzky Lichtenstein as a young man, 1960
Jan Podstatzky Lichtenstein as a young man, 1960
photo: archiv pamětníka

Count Jan Podstatzky Lichtenstein was born August 13, 1937 in Janovice near Rýmařov. Soon after his birth, the family moved to the chateau in Velké Meziříčí which was owned by his mother. Jan grew up together with his two siblings. His father was active in the anti-Nazi resistance during WWII. He was helping people who were hiding in nearby bunkers. However, after several years of postwar peace, the family began to face increasing pressure from the communist party due to their aristocratic origin. The state confiscated the family’s entire property in 1948. Jan’s parents therefore made the decision to leave Czechoslovakia. In spite of complications, Jan’s mother managed to reach Austria with the children. Their father eventually left the country under a fake identity after several unsuccessful attempts. The beginnings abroad were not easy for the family. They eventually settled in Chile in South America. Jan and his parents returned to Europe in the 1960s. In 1969 he closely supported Otto von Habsburg, who strove for the unification of Europe based on Christian fundaments. Jan Podstatzky Lichtenstein organized meetings of European politicians and he was involved in translating and interpreting. The property was returned to the family in the 1990s. At present, Jan and his wife live in the chateau in Velké Meziříčí and in cooperation with the town they continue their work on the restoration of the chateau and its entire premises.