Robert Vano

* 1948  

  • “In spring they were recruiting. The boys, who didn’t get to high school, had to enlist. I was worried and didn’t want to go. When you´re eighteen, you perceive the two years in military service is a major part of your life. I could not imagine myself standing in a field with a dog for the next two years. I was even worried to go to the dry toilette at my grandma´s and my sister always had to come along. I had a friend, who also wasn’t accepted to school and together we were meant to join the army on the seventh. And so we decided to run away. We planned our escape at St. Nicolas; on December 5, only two days before we were meant to enlist.“

  • “On the border there was an iron curtain. That meant the woods were cut out as wide as the Wenceslas square. All along the border it was wired. The wires were horizontal and down about thirty centimetres above earth. We had to get under that. Jarda said we have to take our clothes. We managed to get under and on the other side there were already Italian border patrol, but we didn’t know they´re there to help us, so we were running from them. And they were chasing us on motorbikes. We were worried they´d send us back. We didn’t know their language. Surely I was nervous, but then in the refugee lager, where there were the Czechs, Albanian, Hungarian, Rumanian, Russian and we learnt so many stories. How someone crossed only half-way. Sometimes they shots someone, some went on a raft and in a bay everyone drowned. Maybe the way they are running now; someone makes it and the other one does not.”

  • Interviewer: „You had freedom of movement, and how about pocket money?“ – „If they didn’t check you, then you could not go out. I was hard, as people then didn’t have a passport. Only the communists had a passport. And it the other had an identification card, I don’t know about that. Yet we threw all our papers away before we crossed the border. Jarda said it would be better if we didn’t have them so that they didn’t know where we are from.“ – Interviewer: „Why?“ – „So that they didn’t know where we´re from, it may have been stupid as they could sit us down on an electric chair and you´d say anything, what´s even not true. But when you run away in the hurry…“– Interviewer: „Still you said you´re from Czechoslovakia…“ – „That´s right, but we didn’t want us to be caught on the border and returned back. In the West we said everything.“ – Interviewer: „So it was a protection against ours...?“ – „They had certain tricks as I leant. But when you´re eighteen, you don’t think about that. Or Jarda said a stupid thing; that we have to run; and I feared because in a movie you get shot from behind. And Jarda said that in the Western direction they cannot shoot that it is against the law and that´s not true. We were running in the Southern direction. The West was another way. But that´s something children make up. And as we didn’t have the papers and Jarda said it would be better not to have them as then they wouldn’t know where we´re from… But a Yugoslavian would certainly know, who´s Hungarian and who´s Slovak as our language is similar to Yugoslavian. I don’t know, that´s how we did it, why I don’t really know.”

  • Celé nahrávky
  • 1

    Praha, 29.03.2016

    (audio)
    délka: 03:34:10
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of 20th Century
  • 2

    Praha, 01.08.2016

    (audio)
    délka: 01:48:50
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
  • 3

    Praha, 08.08.2016

    (audio)
    délka: 01:10:22
    nahrávka pořízena v rámci projektu Stories of the 20th Century TV
Celé nahrávky jsou k dispozici pouze pro přihlášené uživatele.

... and they sentenced me for high-treason

Robert Vano v mládí
Robert Vano v mládí
zdroj: Petra Verzichová

Robert Vano was born on May 5, 1948 in Nové Zámky in the Southern Slovakia. In 1967 after graduation instead of beginning the obligatory military service he emigrated via Yugoslavia to Italy and then to USA, where he was, according to American laws as being under-aged, adopted by husbands from Pennsylvania. For illegal crossing of the border he was tried in absence. In 1972 he got American citizenship and since then until revolution in 1989 he was attempting for a visa in vain, so that he could visit his family in Slovakia. Family meeting happened in 1984 in Budapest. In the USA he had several manual jobs before he got an opportunity to work for a infamous entrepreneur, Vidal Sassoon. In 1970 he accepted a job as a fashion photographer assistant and began taking photos. In 1984 he got independent and built a carrier of a successful photographer of world famous fashion magazines. In 1995 he definitely returned to his native county and settled down in Prague.