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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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Dana Jones

My name is Dana Jones (born Dana Daczicky z Heslova). I was born in Prague in 1945, at the very end of World War Two. My sister, Misha, was born in 1947. My father, Baron Frederic Daczicky z Heslova, descendant of a famous medieval writer and chronicler Mikulas Daczicky z Heslova, married my mother, Zdenka Puc. Her father, Vojtech Puc, owned the Koh-i-noor factory with two other men. My mother’s parents also owned an apartment in Vinohrady and a villa in Dobrichovice. My father was an engineer by trade and owned the Klepac factory for numbering machines in Kolin. We lived in our villa in Dobrichovice. We had cooks, a gardener, a chauffeur and a nanny for my sister and me. Life was good, but when the communists took over, they started taking everything from my parents little by little.

When they started moving complete strangers into our villa, and we were forced to live in just a few rooms, my parents decided to make our escape.

When they started moving complete strangers into our villa, and we were forced to live in just a few rooms, my parents decided to make our escape. They paid the Belgium consul and, for a lot of money, he got us across the borders and into France. This man had a wife and two young boys, so he made false passports for my mother, my sister and me. We simply posed as his family.

My sister and I had our hair shaved like boys, we were dressed like boys and drugged so as not to talk crossing borders. My mother owned jewelry worth a lot of money. We were to start a new life with it. The wife of the Belgium Minister of Justice was to bring the jewelry at a later date. We never saw it or her again.

So we lived in and around Paris for two years and then immigrated to Montreal, Canada. My father’s sister, Marietta, sponsored us. There was a large Czech community in Montreal. First sport association Sokol had been established already in 1928, a Jesuit priest Bohuslav Janicek opened the Saint Wenceslaus mission, the new heart of Czech religious life in Montreal. Thanks to Janicek´s efforts, the community was able to collect enough money and to build a mission house in 1961. Janicek was also editor of Montreal Vestnik, whose first issue saw the light of a day in September 1964. He organized a Saturday school and, for many years, a summer camp Hostyn in Rawdon (about 60 kilometres north of Montreal) for Czech children. During the 1960s, a number of new associations (Canadian Czechoslovak Club, Cyril and Methodius League, Czechoslovak Welfare Association etc.) emerged.

Misha and I went to a Catholic school. My mother stayed at home. My father, an aeronautics engineer, worked for Canadair. We lived in the city in an apartment and in the Laurentian Mountains in the summers.

After about ten years, my father was hired by the Boeing Corporation, and we moved to Seattle. We became American citizens without realizing we would lose our Czech citizenship. That made it impossible to reclaim any property back home. My parents tried for decades without success. My father died in 1995. I have been trying to reclaim something ever since. It’s hopeless. My mother died in 2017. My sister lives in British Columbia and has three sons. I live in Seattle and have two sons, Shavic and Sev. Sev has a son, Mikulas.

We became American citizens without realizing we would lose our Czech citizenship.

We escaped communism at a great price. We lost our homeland, our families and possessions. On the other hand, we were always grateful for the second chance and the good life we’ve had in Canada and America.

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Comments

  • Susan
    REPLY

    My heart goes out to people who were compelled to endure situations such as this. We, Canadians, born and brought up the great country of CANADA were never made aware of how immigrants arrived, the many hardship they endured, and the loss of all their precious possessions—- indeed how they RESTARTED their lives a second time in a country so foreign to them.
    Shame on the ‘ powers that be’ who refuse to return ( in part or entirety ) what ALL IMMIGRANTS once owned,
    My BEST FRIEND ( I have known her for over 50 years) and her family, arein the exact same position as described in this story. For the past 10 years she has spent large sums of money, hired a lawyer in Europe, without success. In other words NOTHING HAS BEEN RETURNED TO ANYONE IN THE FAMILY.
    The only consolation, is knowing God is fair—- the credit and debit column, at the end of the day, are equal.
    Signed—- EXTREMELY SAD

    June 6, 2019
  • Sari Agan
    REPLY

    You were such a wonderful part of my Mom’s life here in the US, Dana. She and my Dad talked about your folks a lot. I wish that I had been in Chelan in the years that they lived here to get to know them better. I was watching Wimbledon Men’s Final this morning and thinking Mom and Denise are up there yelling for Roger.
    Thank you for your story, Sari.

    July 14, 2019
  • Helena Polak
    REPLY

    Dana, I have just discovered this site and I was fascinated by your life story. I was born in Prague in 1944, and we left in 1947, before the Communist takeover, because my father firmly believed that our country would fall under a totalitarian regime. And he was right. We made a life in Rio de Janeiro, lost our apartment na Hrebenkach and our villa in Orlik, and our economic situation was drastically downgraded. But my parents made this sacrifice to allow us – my two brothers and me – to have a new chance in a free country, and I am deeply grateful to them. They died in 1978-79, only four months apart. After 1980 my husband and I have gone back to the Czech Republic several times and renewed our ties with my cousins, some in Ceske Budejovice. Our grandchildren have also met a lot of my family there. Sending a big hug, Helena

    August 19, 2019
  • Donald R Oxley
    REPLY

    Very nice story…..

    September 19, 2019

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