November in Námĕšt nad Oslavou

November in Námĕšt nad Oslavou

bohemian-moravian-highlands-zdar2bwKarel (Charles) Novacek was nearly seventeen years old when on May 9, 1945, his homeland of CzechoSlovakia was liberated from Nazi Germany, mainly by the Russians from the East, and  also by the Americans from the West. Freedom at last! Soon after Russian troops occupied the country and Charles’ struggle for freedom and work in the Czech resistance continued.

In the following excerpt from his memoir, Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance, Charles recalls happier days before occupation and wartime.

“November brought about nostalgic feelings for bygone days. The leaves were almost gone, and I found myself compelled to go to Námĕšt to walk my hills. My thoughts raced through my head, swirling like the last leaves in the wind; I had brought my journal along, and stopped for a moment to record all that moved in my mind:

     I walk slowly over a low ridge and muse over the intermittent murmur of a stream now cresting over its banks in the valley. Anxiously my eyes try to penetrate the fine bluish vapor emanating from the forests scattered around me and from the hills on the other side of the valley. I turn reluctantly from the colorful background to keep walking.   

     My gaze falls on parched grass stalks bordering my walk, now muddy after a gentle rain. Many water droplets wreathe the bent grass like small pearls, reflecting a stunning spectrum of crystal tears shattered by the toes of my shoes. I reach the top of the hill anamestbrifgeandchurchbwnd suddenly a precious vision is revealed to me: the sun’s rays reflecting red on the roofs of Námĕšt. In the square is a church, a monument of old Gothic architecture; its bell chimes, imploring heaven, calling folk to pray. My sight moves from the church, over the statues on the stone bridge, and stops at the majestic castle. Its silhouette shines brightly from the blue-gray behind it. The massive battlements crown the enormous walls, seeming to resonate a festive tune to the countryside, as if singing about long gone medieval glory. Wherever I look, nature triumphantly responds.   

     Here I lived for seven years, through beautiful and bad times.       

     All of this reminds me of the Low Tatras region in Slovakia; that was also my home, where I spent my youngest years. It was lovely there, until the Nazis brutally divided our Republic, and I, together with my family, had to depart. Knowing that I was not going to an utterly foreign country, I knew that here, in the place where I now stand, I would find another home, and that Moravia would surely give me all that I need.    

     I was not disappointed, and hoping that soon we would be free, I lived my sad youth until that freedom came, when everyone breathed a sigh of relief and I believed that I could start a new and happy life.    

     Now I work with joy, and shall try to prove that I am a worthwhile member of the human race.        

Shortly after I wrote these words, the joy to which I looked forward vanished, and we all started a new struggle for survival.”

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