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The Czechoslovak Talks is a project that embraces the life stories of Czechoslovaks around the world – the stories of the personal ups and downs, the opportunities and obstacles, and especially the life experiences that we would like to preserve for future generations.


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Anna Schablingova Langen

“My name is Anna Schablingová Langen, and I was born on 18 March 1914 in Poběžovice u Domažlic. I was 15 years old when my family and I moved to Prague. I also met my first love there and got married. However, our peaceful life ended with the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. My father and husband were Jewish, and our entire family was deported to Terezín. The Nazis shot my husband in Terezín right in front of my eyes. The rest of the family was transported to Auschwitz. In the end, my sister and I were the only ones to survive the hell of the concentration camp.

After returning to Czechoslovakia, I got married again, but soon, in 1946, the political situation and the imminent arrival of the Communists forced us to emigrate. My husband and I left for Paris, where the Czechoslovak police contacted us several times. They threatened to confiscate our property and urged us to return. But we didn’t want to return. We travelled to Chile, where my husband had a distillery. Though it was a difficult situation even there. We lost the distillery when Salvador Allende came to power, and we were forced to flee once again – this time to Germany. However, anguish and hardship took their course on my husband’s health, and he soon died.

The Nazis shot my husband in Terezín right in front of my eyes. Then they transported the rest of the family to Auschwitz. In the end, my sister and I were the only ones to survive the hell of the concentration camp.

I married for the third time when I was 65 years old. My husband, the same as the first two, came from a Czech-German Jewish family, and he managed a large hotel in Florida. Following the whole series of unhappy events, I was finally happy in the United States.

You know, sometimes I have yearned to return at least for a while to Czechoslovakia to see once again the place where I was born, my beloved Prague … But during the Communist regime, of course, this was not possible, and when the revolution came in 1989, I wasn’t sure if everything could change so abruptly– especially the people who have hurt me. And old age and illnesses on top of that, it was just better to forget.

That’s why I so surprised when people from the Czechoslovakia contacted me after so many years that knew my fate and even stated that my property which was nationalised could be returned to me. I thought it was impossible, and even my American friends couldn’t believe it, but in the end, it actually happened, and I received back part of the confiscated property. I considered it as a little moral and financial satisfaction, even though understandably some bitterness still remained.

Now I know that I will not see the Czech Republic again. But with all my heart, I hope that your young republic develops successfully and that there are more and more young, educated, and honest people who will lead the way to such a democracy that I have come to know here in America.”

Anna Schablingová Langen died on 15 August 2003. She never saw her home country again.

December 15, 2016
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