Letter to the Editor

Escape from Eastern Europe

Friday, December 23, 2016

Dear Editor,

Sometimes Americans take their political rights and religious freedom for granted. The following is a true story:

Eva Walburger of Idaho remembers stories told by her parents and maternal grandmother, who lived in Czechoslovakia (now Slovakia).

Her mother was born in Propardo, Czechoslovakia. During World War II, her grandfather served in the Czech army. Czech military families fled into a wooded area to hide from Germans who had invaded their country.

For five days, parents and grandparents covered Eva's mother and her sister with a blanket and fed them sugar cubes when they were hungry. Eva's mother was five years old and her sister was one.

Amazingly, their family survived, but many other families were killed. Eva's grandmother had prayed that they would escape certain death.

After World War II, the Communist Party became strong in Czechoslovakia. Germans from East Berlin took control of the government. Eva's mother was in her early 20s when she married a young countryman on Feb. 18, 1967.

The Russians invaded Czechoslovakia in Aug. 1968. Eva's older brother was born in 1967. Their family lived in an apartment house. Some spies who lived in that same building worked for the secret police. Quietly in the middle of the night, their family fled to Austria.

When they reached Vienna, they lived with two other families. They were fellow Austrians who had escaped from religious and political persecution in Czechoslovakia.

This was very difficult for Eva's family, who were Mormons.

These three families lived in the basement of the Bockinstasse Church in Vienna. After finding jobs, they all pooled their money so they could immigrate to Calgary (Alberta) Canada.

Nov. 5, 1968, their plane landed in Edmondton, Canada. When they arrived in Calgary they had a suitcase, a few dollars and a baby carriage.

Their hardships were many, but it was a new beginning for these refugees.

Now Eva's family lives in Canada and Idaho. They still have memories of a land and culture they once loved.

Helen Ruth Arnold,

Trenton, Neb.

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