“I like to remember how we spent Christmas in the train. On 24th December we were still underway, and guys from our train car stole a big bough from some conifer somewhere, and women from the train car were searching in their baggage for some colourful papers which could be used as decorations. They cut out some stars, made a paper chain for the ‘Christmas tree’ or created some little birds from peanuts. We decorated the bough, and we had candles, too, because there was no light in the train cars, and each of us thus had to have some candle to have light in the evenings when needed, with caution of course, so that it would not cause fire. We were two little girls in that train car, and so we received a present under the ‘Christmas tree,’ and in our eyes of ten-year-olds this was a wonderful present: a box with two paper dolls. They were actually not baby dolls, but adult ladies, and I got one brown-haired doll and the other was blonde, and there were various paper clothes in the box which we could exchange on the dolls. There was a ball-gown, an overall of an automobile racer, regular dress, swimsuit, and what not, and hats to go with it. Asta and I were then playing with these dolls for quite a long time; it was a memorable occasion. Since it was on Christmas Eve, there was a special dinner, Soviet style. Each of us received selyodka, a salted fish with some mash, and adults got a shot of vodka and there was tea, of course. So this was our festive dinner on Christmas Eve. The train kept going and eventually we reached the Carpathian Mountains and there was a rumour in the train that we could be attacked there by Bandera’s bands. The Red Army soldiers who accompanied us were therefore on high alert, and even some Czechoslovak men volunteered to do guard duty, and I think they were even issued some rifles. I remember that one time we heard some shooting, but nothing happened. As we were approaching the border, there was another rumour that if we had not crossed the border of the Soviet Union by midnight of 31st December, they would not allow us to go on and we would have to remain in the Soviet Union.”
“I remember that journey quite well. Those moments were so special that they have remained in my child’s memory. Naturally, there were no flights to Iran at that time, and we had to go by train via Romania and Russia to Baku, and there we transferred to a Russian, or Soviet, ship and we went to the port Bender Pahláví in southern Caspian Sea, which was already in Iran, and our fathers and husbands were waiting there for us. What happened was that my brother, who was one and a half years old, became sick during the journey, and he suddenly developed fever when we were in Bucharest. The train was about to depart and my mom knew that the child needed a doctor. She thus got off the train with Petr and me and the transport went on. We stayed in some dormitory near the train station and there were iron beds and those narrow lockers, the kind that workers on construction sites use for their overalls. A doctor then came and I remember that mom was crying into that locker. The situation was not good. But the doctor came there and he probably gave her some medicine for Petr and we then went by some other train and in Baku we caught up with the entire transport... I don’t remember the following longer journey on the other train, but what I do remember is this moment when my mom was desperate and my brother was sick, I remember that very well. In Baku we thus boarded a ship and we got into our cabin, but it was already in autumn and what happened was that there were autumn storms and we were supposed to travel for one day, a night, and another day, it was about that far, but the storm came in there and the captain wanted to avoid it but he didn’t make it in time. As a result we spent five days on the sea and I remember that the ship was swinging like this! It was swinging terribly. All passengers were throwing up. Apart from the three of us and one woman with a little girl, Mrs. Felberová with Hanka, they moved all of us into one cabin so that we would not be together with those who were vomiting, and the cook tried to give us at least some food, because it was not possible to cook anything when the steamboat was swinging so violently. Well, we didn’t die of hunger, but I remember that the bunk beds in cabins had nets attached to them so that we would not fall down, and we did get some tea and biscuits. We survived the journey and we arrived to Bender Páhláví, but the sea was still too rough and the ship could not dock in the port. We later saw the port when we were visiting Iran with my husband and at that time we understood why the ship could not get into the port. A small boat thus arrived from the port to meet our ship and everything was being transferred to this little boat and taken to the shore this way. There is one thing I remember very clearly: they were passing some bag, it was a mail bag, and it tore and all the contents spilled in the water. And the second scene: a baby wrapped in a cloth was being passed from the upper deck to that little boat and the cloth began to get loose and the baby was about to fall down, but the men managed to catch it and the baby thus didn’t fall in the water. That baby was probably Jaran Fořt. We reached the shore and our dad was waiting there for us with a car. I assume it was a company car. However, those men had been waiting there already for several days and they had not received any news about the ship’s delay. They only knew that there was a storm and so they were waiting.”
Věrka Drozdová, née Heimová, was born April 28, 1935 in Hradec Králové. Her father, Richard Heim, was a builder for the consortium SIS (Société Iranienne Skoda), a joint venture of the engineering factory Škoda Pilsen and the construction company Konstruktiva Prague. Both companies were working on a number of construction projects in Iran, and in 1936 Heim was sent to work there. His wife, daughter and son followed him in autumn 1939. After the declaration of the Protectorate, Věrka‘s father refused to hand in his Czechoslovak passport to the German embassy in Tehran. In 1941 he was fired from SIS as a result. He then found employment at the Iranian Construction Ministry and in spring 1942 he began working as the construction site manager of a road being built from Tabriz to Miyaneh. The family then moved from Tehran to Tabriz. In December 1942. Věrka‘s brother died of diphtheria and in May 1943 her father succumbed to typhoid. Věrka and her mother returned to Tehran in September 1943. Her mother found a job as a teacher in a recently established Czechoslovak school. Repatriation of Czechoslovaks, (who were not bound by their work contracts), began when the war ended. On December 3, 1945, the first repatriation transport of about three hundred Czechoslovaks left Iran. After a month-long journey Věrka and her mother arrived in Prague. Věrka continued her elementary studies as a second grader. Subsequently, she was not admitted to the secondary school of civil engineering, and in September 1949 she enrolled in a girls‘ vocational school for construction workers in Opava. After two years she received her trade certificate and she continued studying at the secondary school of civil engineering in Ostrava. She graduated with honours in 1955. In March 1956 she began working in Hydroprojekt, Prague as a draughtswoman. She worked there until retirement. In 2007 she wrote a book about her stay in Iran titled ‘Iran, a Journey To My Primeval Ages.‘ (Írán aneb cesta do mého pravěku in Czech). Věrka Drozdová married for the second time and she lives in Stříbrná Skalice.