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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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Eva Rohan

„I grew up one of three sisters: me, Jiřina and Bohumíra. My father was a technical specialist at Škoda factories, and his job required him to travel extensively. He was seldom home, and thus our mom brought us up. During the Second World War, my father worked abroad, and when he returned, my parents separated. From there on, he lived his own life and we lived ours.

I studied acting in Bratislava and later played in the Slovak National Theater. One of my colleagues was Ladislav Chudik, legendary Slovak actor, whom I still admire. Those were the times that my life had no troubles but was full of enjoyment, fun and parties. Soon after, I settled down in Bratislava and got married. My husband was a real charmer from a good family, but sadly, our marriage did not last for long, and we soon split up.

One suddenly had to be careful with its own words. Me, my sister and my mother ended up in jail because we spoke up and somebody reported us to the state security.
As the communist regime was strengthening its grip on power, things began to change rapidly. One suddenly had to be careful with its own words. Me, my sister and my mother ended up in jail because we spoke up and somebody reported us to the state security. Even though we were soon released, my life and career options were limited thereafter. Communists would not let me go back to acting, and thus I had to work manually.
One day I was offered to participate in an audition for a cabaret dancer at Alhambra. It was one of those really strange auditions, but I was chosen. However, I only stayed there for a short time. The atmosphere was getting more stifling day after day, and I kept on searching for ways to escape Czechoslovakia. I longed for freedom and independence.

If you wanted to get out of Czechoslovakia and beyond the communist-controlled countries, you had to have an invitation letter. I was lucky enough to have an auntie in Austria who wrote one for me. Though I was supposed to stay only for a few days, I never returned to Czechoslovakia. In Austria, I worked as a dancer in Maxim and sang chansons like Edith Piaf. I was incredibly successful, young and beautiful. Many men lost their head over me.

One day, a young and well-connected Italian visited our club and offered me a job in the USA. The contract as well as my journey across the Atlantic was soon prepared. Right after I set foot in America, I knew I wanted to live my life here.

here. Unfortunately, I did not notice that the contract was to last only for 3 months, and I soon was on my own. To my advantage, we have strong business roots in our family, and I started to buy and sell various goods. My first business was a small newsstand in Astoria. Later on, I was selling houses on Long Island.

America is full of opportunities. You either use them to your advantage or miss out on them. Yet, you need to be tough, tough on yourself as well as on the people around you, including Jiřina who joined me later on. Jiřina is also not a weakling, and she deserves all she has achieved. My younger sister Bohumíra was also a very successful businesswoman after the revolution.

America is full of opportunities. You either use them to your advantage or miss out on them.
I still have family in Czechoslovakia. They come visit on occasions, but I never went back to my native land. Unfortunately, I do not have good memories of Czechoslovakia. The communists wanted to confiscate our house, and we struggled in legal battles for years. Luckily, they were never able to take it over.

I moved out of New York a few years ago and now live in a small town nearby. The nature is beautiful here, and it fills me with energy and vigor. I try to enjoy every moment and day of my life, even though it is in a different way than I was used to.

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