“On 1st September, 1942 I went home late. It was not the same as today, so that mum would not have to go anywhere and cared and then grabbed a child by hand and took it to school. Well no, we had to go to the field in the morning. And especially the older children, and I was the middle one, had a younger sister and an older one too, she was already in the field and I had to take care of my younger sister. So we worked in the field in the morning and suddenly mum looked around and said: oh, the sun is so high. And said to my father: ‚Come on, we had to go, the girl has to go to school.‘ So my father started loading everything up the carriage and prepared the horses, all the tools and my little sister, and off we were. But we were half-way between Rastovec and Ivanovo Selo, and suddenly the bells rang midday. Mum cried: ‚Our girl will be late today!‘ But my dad began to ride the horses fast and shortly we were back home. Mum made the water ready, washed me properly, prepared the clothes already early in the morning and combed my hair quickly. Back then I had longer hair, so she braided it and tied with a bow. I felt it took a long time and was really worried to come late. I didn’t managed to eat my lunch so mum gave me two pieces of bread with marmalade and put them in a clean cloth. She kissed me good-bye and said: ‚Now you run not to be late.‘ Oh well, I came to school and it was empty.”
„So they taught us and began speaking nicely Czech to us and we liked it. And if it comes to a song, then a Czech one, of course. And so it was, that was the second grade. We got used spelling-books (from Czechoslovakia) and one of them was called the Mother Tongue. We also liked it, as it was full of poetry and we could already read so the teachers were explaining us nicely. But then the school burnt down, just the walls remained. So they adapted one large room for lessons. And another smaller one was for the teacher to stay in. And that was the deceased Mr. Zámostný. He spoke Czech and we especially liked him as we were singing all the time. We even didn’t like going back home.”
“There were often dancing and music, every Sunday. Nowadays there is nothing at all for half a year. There came spring, summer, and entertainment took place outside in front of school, we always put a fence there and began dancing. And as I already said, the grown-up men were walking around the village singing, it was a jolly time. As it got dark I already knew, that in a moment we will hear them singing. And when they started and marched all the streets up and down singing everywhere. (...) We celebrated Christmas and Easter a lot. And there were various games. I remember the girls dressing up and taking the little death puppet carrying it out behind the village and burning it down. That was a tradition before Easter.”
Justina Koutníková, née Švarcová, was born on 5. August 1935 in Ivanovo Selo in today´s Croatia. The village was founded in 1920s by the Czech immigrants and by now there are almost exclusively Czech families. Her parents were also Czechs and worked on their farm there. The witness and her two daughters helped out as usual. Since 1942 she attended the local Croatian school, yet it burnt down during war. In 1945 a Czech school was founded, but non-officially there were Czech lessons already a year ago. She continued in the nearby Hrubečné Pole and then studied five years of educational institute in Pakrac. In 1957 started as a teacher in the Czech school in Ivanovo Selo, where she taught until retirement in 1992. In the village she also met her future husband Rudolf, a teacher, who began teaching there several years earlier. They had a son and daughter and also worked for the Czech beseda; the witness led a dancing group and rehearsed theatre with pupils, while her husband led an adult theatre group. In 1950s there were over 800 inhabitants in Ivanovo Selo, but nowadays there are less than 300. Many of them left after war in 1990s and several people died, while the village was shelled. The most beautiful memories of Justina Koutníková are those of local boys gathering in the village square every evening singing Czech songs.