Michal Kodíček

* 1946  

  • “His name doctor Arnold Koldíček and came from a family of skilled and talented people, as his brother was Josef Kodíček. He was a famous critic, he knew Čapek and Masaryk and other people of the Friday circle, who met at Mánes. All brothers left for England just before the war and thus saved themselves. He was the youngest of the Kodíček brothers, He fled from Hitler first to Poland, where the refugees met and then went on to Russia. They expected Hitler to attack Russia, but he didn’t because Stalin had a pact with Hitler. But they wanted to fight. Then they went with general Svoboda via Tehran and around Africa to Britain. They wanted to take part in that war but the war evaded them. When they got to Britain, they stayed there. My father served there as a military surgeon.”

  • “I think we had a better life than young people have today. When we didn’t provoke anybody, did not go to demonstrations and did not meddle with things, we were safe. You went to pub, beer and everything was cheep. We had no problems, really, although we couldn’t go abroad. People generally complained about the system. We knew it was going nowhere and that Prague was falling into pieces. We knew there was freedom in Germany and other countries that we didn’t have. But we all had good holidays, we went swimming, mushroom picking and we had enough of food. There were no problems in this.”

  • “My father belonged to a generation enthusiastic about building, the positive atmosphere. So he was a communist as well. He joined the party with this original enthusiasm that everything would be new and different and excellent. It soon passed. He was the consultant at the military hospital, where he spoke his mind. They had a file on him, what he said and when. Cadre materials. They put down everything he had said and eventually they fired him. There was a lot of nonsense, like ‘dr. Kodíček eventually got, after three-year-waiting his Skoda car and he said that it was a shit and not a car.’ Such nonsense they wrote about him.”

  • “Families of officials visited my dad. Gottwald’s daughter and the wife of general Čepička and all these women visited him. And then doctors were presented with gifts. We lived in Střešovice, they used to arrive in black limousines and brought us presents. Gottwald was always drunk. They thought they would go hunting, like Masaryk did at the Lány Castle. The drunk Gottwald shot down pheasants and similar animals and they then hang at our balcony. My father complained we were too thin, not eating much and that we were to eat all of it. Geese and stuff. And once they brought us a spike. Alive. We put it into our tub.”

  • “She had a beautiful flat and a great collection of art. Picasso and Gaugin, Braque, Chagall and others. She didn’t trust anybody so I went to paint the walls in her flat. Or to wash the painting. She would think her Braque was dirty and that I should wash it. We took it off the wall, she gave me a sponge and detergent, saying we would wash it. I was surprised but she said it was oil and we could wash it. She then wanted me to wash a painting by Yves Klein, which consisted of such blue spots on the canvas. The painting, however, was not oil and when I brushed it, the sponge was wet. I said we should not go on and, fortunately, she listened to my advice. We put the painting back. After her death, she bequeathed the whole collection to Boys Club and they sold it. The lightly washed Klein was sold for about 100,000 pounds.”

  • “They had this campaign on BBC, looking for people to accommodate, for a short-term, the Czech migrants. There were many Czech students who were studying at the time when the Russian came. They didn’t know whether to return or not. So they ran this campaign at BBC and asked people to provide accommodation in their homes. We were taken by a couple living near Greenwich and we are still friends. They were young. He was an architect. They wrote to BBC, saying they would put up a family. They had an offer to take two musicians, either myself, Zuzana and our son, or some hysterical woman with a teenager. So it was not a competition really and they took us.”

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    Praha, 21.05.2018

    (audio)
    délka: 01:47:56
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
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Our parents fled from the Nazis in 1938, we fled from the Communists in 1968

1967
1967
zdroj: archiv Pamětníka

Michal Kodíček was born on June 20, 1946, in the Prague’s military hospital, where his father, lieutenant dr. Arnold Kodíček, served as the consultant. His mother Zdeňka, née Picková, was, same as his father, of the Jewish origin. His father fled the war to Poland and during the war he got to London, where he worked as a military surgeon. His two brothers saved themselves from the holocaust in England too, but they did not return to the country. His mother Zdeňka Picková was a photographed and escaped holocaust by emigrating to London, where the Kodíčeks met. He married after the was in Prague, where Arnold was the consultant at the maternity ward in the military hospital until 1958. Due to his political opinions he was expelled from the Communist Party and degraded professionally and in rank. Michal Kodíček studied the piano in 1963-1968 at the music conservatory. After the August invasion in 1968 he, his wife and their three-year-old sone emigrated to England. On the BBC’s appeal to provide a refuge for Czech migrants, the Kodíčeks were offered accommodation by a young English married couple, who are still friends with the Kodíčeks. They made their living by various art activities, from piano lessons to theatre. In the early 1980s, Mr Kodíček married a second time, this time with his English wife Agnes, with whom he has two sons, Max and Jakub. He lives in Cornwall, his sone Max decided to live in Czechia. Michal’s brother Milan is a scientist, specialising in biochemistry. His uncle Josef Kodíček was an important pre-war literary critic, an editor at BBC during the war and of the Radio Free Europe in the 1950s.”