Ing. Anh Tuan Nguyen

* 1957  

  • “When I returned to Vietnam it was nice to see my younger brother with whom I spent the whole childhood. I also met my siblings whom I had not seen for thirty years. We cried on each other’s shoulders, we talked about what we had experienced. It was deeply moving to hear what they had experienced. I felt like crying. They lived with different relatives because our parents were abroad. They for example came from school and had nothing to eat. They had to run away because of bombing. Their life was extremely difficult. I regretted I was so lucky that I was in Poland meanwhile they had to suffer so much at home. When my dad died, I got extremely depressed so Majka [my wife] made me an appointment with a psychologist. I tried to go there out of curiosity. She opened my eyes. I did not want to tell her anything at the beginning, then I started to share things with her and she told me that I had a concentration camp prisoner syndrome. That I regretted that I survived and the others did not.”

  • “It was hard for me to get used to it because it [Snina] was a little town. I felt like everybody was watching me and that everybody was gossiping about me. I did not feel well. I still wanted to return to Poland, to come up with something but I did not stand a chance. I did not have a home, a family, anything there. Poles would help me but I did not have money to start with and to be there. Snina was getting me down. I was depressed about where I ended up. It was really amazing in Poland and suddenly horrible socialism [was everywhere]. I had never imagined that before. Red posters were everywhere. I felt like I was in a Russian school where we did not see anything else either. I wanted to get away from Snina at all costs.”

  • “I was looking for a way out. Hungarian, Bulgarian and many Poles had been my friends up to that point and they suddenly told me that I could not be friends with them anymore. I could not deal with it. I preferred European way of thinking over the Vietnamese one. I lived in Warsaw since I was a child. My Vietnamese vocabulary was limited to what I had known thanks to my dad and mum, I did not attend a Vietnamese school. I sometimes had hard time communicating with Vietnamese and they laughed at me because of it. I did not like going out with them. I am not a sportsperson and I did not want to play football with them. I was looking for a way how not to spend time with them. I discovered a group of Vietnamese rebels at that time. They had long hair and wore flared trousers.”

  • “When I was starting the studies at university, they imposed a condition that I could not go to the cinema, I could not meet foreign friends, I could only meet other Vietnamese and that I had to attend meetings or workshops with Vietnamese students. They supervised us. When we wanted to go to the cinema, we had to be two or three Vietnamese friends to be able to assess if the film was politically correct or not. I had to go playing football with them and they basically could not meet people of other nationalities neither, even though it [Poland] was a fraternal socialist state. They considered everything to be espionage or something like this.”

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A lucky star probably brought me to Europe

Anh Tuan Nguyen in 1982
Anh Tuan Nguyen in 1982
zdroj: archiv Tuana Nguyen

Anh Tuan Nguyen was born on 4 July 1957 in Hanoi in North Vietnam. In 1962, he and his parents left for Polish Warsaw where his father got a job in diplomatic service. The witness attended there a Soviet School for foreigners. He then studied electrical engineering at Warsaw University of Technology. He faced problems and pressure to return to Vietnam because of his relationship with a European woman, Slovak girl Mária, which was according to the Vietnam embassy, unwanted. He was expelled from school. He made money by painting icons and portraying tourists in streets. He moved to Czechoslovakia with his wife and daughter around 1980. The family lived in the East Slovak town of Snina and then in Bratislava. He finished the studies of electrical engineering as an extramural student and he worked as an IT technician in a car factory. After 1989, he started to make his living by painting portraits on Charles Bridge. He moved to Prague.