“I was seven and a half years old. I began attending a Ukrainian elementary school in September. And in March 1939, one day late in the afternoon, some gentlemen came to us and they spoke to dad. And although I was a little child, I could sense that something was happening. Then things got busy at home, and some two hours later a truck drawn by horses arrived for us. They took us to Perechyn. We basically left without anything. We waited at the train station for a while and then a train for emigrants pulled in there. We boarded this train at about ten o’clock in the evening and I remember that even before the train left the station, Hungarians were shooting at it. My mom and I were lying on the floor. There were ugly wooden train cars. I was so scared when they were shooting at us. I was there about ten years ago and I visited my friend from the prewar times. Carpathian Ruthenia is a very beautiful region, and so I felt regret that I had not been able to grow up there. At that time I told Marica (her girl friend – ed.’s note) what it would have been like if I had stayed there. And she told me: ‘There would not have been anything at all, because Hungarians shot all the people from Galicia who had stayed there.’ We thus would not have stayed alive.”
“At the very end of the war, when they were bombing us, we were hiding in a shelter in a neighbouring house, because in the doctor’s house (the family’s landlord –ed.’s note) there was no shelter. I remember that we were so scared. We prayed, I think that we had the Mother of God in our hands and we prayed. It was horrible. When Russians arrived, dad did not want to let me go anywhere, because they raided the place and they were raping women. The Russians imprisoned doctor Slusar (the family’s landlord – ed.’s note), I don’t know where they took him afterward. He was from Ukraine, and the Russians did not like that. He has a large bookcase. There was a staircase leading from the yard to the house and he hid all his Ukrainian books there. He bricked in the whole place because there were many books which were banned from publication during the Soviet rule.”
“We had a lot of German language instruction. But surprisingly, my very good friend was a German. They probably deported them afterward as well, I don’t know. But I do remember the deportation of Germans from Brno. There was a field in Černovice and I remember that they really chased the Germans like cattle. I remember it vividly, and I felt really scared by it. Over the fields there... They were tired, they practically did not have anything. They looked deprived. They chased them without stopping. I always say that Hitler and his regime were diabolical. But those people did not have to treat them like that.”
Having clear conscience brings one peace and happiness
Jaroslava Struková was born on September 8, 1932 in Uzhgorod in Carpathian Ruthenia, which was one of the autonomous parts of Czechoslovakia at that time. In March 1939, she and her parents had to flee Carpathian Ruthenia in order to escape the Hungarian occupation of the region. Soldiers were shooting at the train for emigrants that the family boarded in Perechyn. Jaroslava then spent the period of WWII in Brno in the Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia, and she has been living in this city ever since. The family found an asylum there thanks to the functioning Ukrainian community. In the 1950s, she and her loved ones were affected by the operation Akce P. The totalitarian regime tried to exterminate the Greek Catholic Church. Based on a manipulated church congress in Prešov in April 1950, the Greek Catholic church became unified with the Orthodox Church. Due to her religious faith and her Ukrainian origin, Jaroslava faced troubles with admission to school, and her son later had to deal with the same problem.