His short bio: My Granddad Drahomir turns 90 today, in his life he has encountered a lot of difficult times. He has lived in Brno, Czech Republic for the majority of his life, apart from when he was imprisoned in a Nazi forced labour camp 1942-1945, called Sankt Valantin. He was taken because he had been apprenticed to a 'toolmaker' and was very good at his craft. In the camp he and other Czech prisoners helped to sneak food to the Polish prisoners who were treated worse then them. He escaped from the camp in April 1945 after an Allied raid.

He was hidden in a train locomotive by Austrian anti fascists where he pretended to be the fire stoker. He walked from Austrian border to Mohelno in the Czechoslovakia where he was sheltered by a farming family until the end of the war.

He has lived under the Nazi's and Communist rule and into the current democratic state. Under the communist rule he worked at an engineering factory in Brno, and continued his studies outside of work up to a degree in Adult education.

The reason I am doing this is because I don't speak Czech and as I live in England and him in the Czech Republic I don't get to see him or speak to him often at all without an interpreter (thanks Mum). I'd love to have a record of some of his experiences to keep hold of for the future. He's a real inspiration to me and I think you will find him too.

My Proof: http://youtu.be/DPCyno10DJs (video taken of his speech from his party over the weekend.)

PLEASE POST YOUR LOCATION WHEN ASKING A QUESTION - My Granddad is keen to know where the questions are coming from :)

Final Update: 11/09 21:00 GMT: My Granddad is now finished answering questions now. I will be keeping a copy of the thread and will try to go through all the questions and comments and add information where I can. My Granddad wanted to record a personal message to everyone who submitted a question: http://youtu.be/_o8k9DUAHUQ And here is a Thank You from me the OP...(far less interesting): http://youtu.be/uuoTAzENGVM

11/09: 18:45 We're Closing Questions now as we have a lot to work through. Thank you to everyone who contributed. We will do our best to cover everything. New video: http://youtu.be/vpZeBe06TcY

11/09 17:51 GMT Answering the last lot of questions now.

11/09 10:20 GMT So we are going to do another round of questions this afternoon/early eve before we close questions. We will sincerely try to answer all the ones we can...but as you can appreciate my Grandad is 90 years old so we'll go for as long as he feels able to. Thanks again for such interest and DUDE THANKS FOR THE GOLD!!

10/09 18:45 GMT - Reading out the locations and Happy Birthday wishes to him over dinner. Will answer questions that we know the answers to/my mum can answer. But a lot are specific to his experiences and of course would not want to put words in his mouth.

10/09 18:30 GMT - He is going to call it a day today, as he has his birthday evening meal ready for him now and we're going to have the cake and some champagne. He does want to answer all your questions so please do keep them coming through and he'll pick things up tomorrow afternoon/evening. THANK YOU to everyone who's asked questions today. He says of today's questions: "I have deduced from all parts of the world that people can get on together (online) and live happily without anybody trying to push them around. Thank you for your questions, being 90 years old I get tired but I have enjoyed this greatly and look forward to more questions tomorrow."

Some more related videos taken in response to questions asked here: http://youtu.be/jeQ972qGOHg and http://youtu.be/tBf0eNCR6hk

He would love to know what happened to Giovanni Caldo who was his friend in the camp...if anyone would know how to trace him it would be amazing.

Comments: 518 • Responses: 73  • Date: 

zofcz109 karma

Vzkažte dědečkovi, že ačkoliv se to nezdá, mladá česká generace si lidí jako on váží a všeho co vytrpěl proto, abychom mohli dnes žít ve svobodném státě. Vážím si svobody a ještě více lidí, kteří kvůli ní trpěli. Ať prožije zbytek života v klidu a v pohodě!

BellaMitri46 karma

Thank you it is good to know that my Grandad is appreciated, those are lovely words.

zofcz28 karma

I don't see many Czechs in Reddit and I am very glad that you make this happen. Thank you and your grandfather.

BellaMitri13 karma

Thank you for your kind message, I held my laptop over the table and my mum read it out to him over dinner. He was really touched by your words!

BellaMitri85 karma

If you would ask your question and let us know where in the world it's coming from that would be great my grandad is really interested and excited

swandon76 karma

I recently moved to the Czech Republic from America to teach English at a small private college in Olomoucs! I'm wondering where his favorite place in all of the Czech Republic is? I'm constantly researching new travel destinations and I would love to go visit a place cherished by such an amazing individual!

BellaMitri122 karma

Wow - he says he is touched by your kindness. He loves his home town of Brno, the historical centre and the beautiful surroundings (forests and hills surround the city). A specific place is a small spa called Luhacovice.

Quick views of the rest of the family...if you'll indulge us: My husband: Český Krumlov Castle. My mum: A small town in the uplands called Nedvedice (Vysocina) it has a gorgeous medieval castle called Pernstejn.
My dad: Prague, specifically Charles Bridge which is a tourist must. Me: The best caves I've ever visited are called Macocha.

Edit: He also says if you speak Czech you are welcome to come and visit him in his care home in Brno.

yogigirl201373 karma

Ahoj, please look at the website http://www.pametnaroda.cz/ (switch to english version of website Memory of nations), they are building database of people like your grandpa. They record memories of people who experienced nazi and communist persecution.. The database is pretty huge by now (about 1500people). Its amazing project full of incredible stories (both audio and written form). Your grandfather could be part of it and you would have record of his voice and written story, CV etc.

BellaMitri18 karma

Yes thank you. Both my mum and him would love to participate. I will make sure we follow this up.

TheAbsurdSanjuanino61 karma

What was the most beautiful thing that he saw in the labor camp?

Edit: I'm originally from Illinois, USA, but I'm living in San Juan, Argentina.

BellaMitri140 karma

Wow what a great question, and a fantastic way to turn such a negative experience to look at the positive. Whilst in the camp my Grandad and his fellow Czechs would sneak pieces of bread into the toilet cisterns for the Polish prisoners to eat as they were a lot worse off than them...there was a lot of camaraderie. He had an italian friend called Giovanni Caldo who would draw pictures cigarette paper of my Granddad and his fiancée (my grandmother was not in the camp but my Granddad had a locket with her picture in it). He would like to know what happened to Giovanni. We still have some of the sketches which are in my parents house. Giovanni was truly talented. Here's a link to the pictures and my Grandad holding them: http://youtu.be/tBf0eNCR6hk Just to reiterate these are drawings and not photos!

DaHitcha30 karma

Hi, Italian here, I'm trying to search online for this type of information (on how to find your grandad friend) but the only thing I found was a form on the Mauthausen memorial website. Maybe your grandad can fill in some of the info they require.

There's a book with an extensive list of all of the italian deported, I could try and see if it's available at the library, but it could take time.

BellaMitri16 karma

Thank you so much. I will see if I can find out more from him tomorrow after he's had a nice sleep and time to refresh.

Daftmachine21 karma

What the actual fuck these look so real i cant even comprehend it. Also, how big were cigarette packs back then ? :) These look like painting done with proper gear, at least.

BellaMitri20 karma

We asked the same thing as cigarette paper now is far smaller. Apparently back then the paper was like normal paper and you would hand cut it down to size. This is why they are so large. My parents have them in their bedroom. My grandmother died before I was born so this picture of her mother is very special to her and I think both the portraits capture their spirits really well.

hwalsh0156 karma

What's his favourite drink? I'm from the uk btw!

BellaMitri70 karma

French cognac in small doses in particular Martel - he laughed at this question thanks :)

Gravy-Leg__48 karma

Escaping a Nazi labor camp seems like a major achievement. How did he do it?

BellaMitri71 karma

There was an allied air raid which destroyed a lot of the camp. They were taken to the shelter but there was mayhem during the transfer so he and 6 others managed to escape. He says he was wearing his labour camp clothes and shoes. They escaped because the opportunity presented itself but it of course was dangerous - if they had been seen escaping they would have been shot on the spot or been taken next door to Mauthausen concentration camp.

HeroBrown14 karma

This may not be something your grandad wants to answer, maybe a history buff instead, but if an Allied air raid destroyed parts of the camp does that mean some prisoners were probably killed from it too?

BellaMitri25 karma

I asked this and he didn't really want to answer this. I asked my Mum and she wasn't able to provide much more. He was getting a little tired so I wonder if his memory wasn't so great. I will gently ask tomorrow if I can and of course post a response.

Gravy-Leg__9 karma

By the way, Texas gulf coast.

BellaMitri10 karma

Thank you. I am collating a list of all the locations for him.

t3rrapins42 karma

What's the craziest technology change or social change that he has seen during his lifetime?

Thanks for this AMA!

Edit: I'm from Maryland, USA.

BellaMitri58 karma

Thanks for your question. Mobile phones, the fact we're doing this across the globe from a phone. That he can call my mum at any time and reach her.

Edit: My parents live in a village north of London and my Grandad lives in Brno.

Calgon-Throw-Me-Away12 karma

Don't forget to update your post with where you're posting from--OP says her grandfather was really touched that people from so far away were interested to hear from him. It would be pretty cool for her to be able to tell him where all the questions came from!

BellaMitri15 karma

Thanks for asking people for their locations.

partyanimechick39 karma

What would you consider your greatest success in life.

BellaMitri73 karma

This had the whole family pricking their ears up to listen as I don't think anyone has asked him this before. He says: Being the first in Czechoslovakia to introduce managerial training and be able to impart his knowledge to others.

mjswoops37 karma

Could you describe what daily life was like in the labour camp? Thank you so much!

Edit: posting from Corvallis, Oregon.

BellaMitri58 karma

A typical day started at 5am, he was given black coffee and bread no butter or anything. Work started at 6am and continued for 12-18 hours. As he was skilled, he was putting together the Tiger and Panther Tanks. There were 24 people to one room to sleep in basic bunks.

HomerWells36 karma

Thank you Drahomir for answering these questions.

What were the best two days of your entire life? why?

Question was from New Jersey, USA

BellaMitri58 karma

He says the best two days were getting married and the birth of his daughter (my mum). Of course there were massive events in his life that changed him and his way of life forever, but it was these personal events he chooses. Thank you.

cletusthedinglefairy35 karma

What's the greatest advice you would give to younger generations this day and age?

Edit: As OP asked question is from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, U.S.

BellaMitri62 karma

To live a healthy lifestyle, without smoking, drugs and getting drunk and never be afraid not to be honest. President Masaryk who was the first president of the Czech Republic who's famous quote was "Don't be afraid and don't steal"

Edit: Thanks for your location - he cannot believe that people so far away care about his life.

JessicaMaple15 karma

Enjoying your Grandfather's words of wisdom from San Francisco, California. Happy Birthday, Granddad Drahomir!

BellaMitri2 karma

Thanks for your message :)

DarenJax10 karma

Please wish him a happy birthday from Florida, USA!

BellaMitri2 karma

I have done, he says thank you.

cletusthedinglefairy7 karma

Awesome. Many thanks for doing this.

BellaMitri2 karma

No problem, this has been so much fun and I'm learning so much more than I ever knew about my Granddad.

KittenWhispersnCandy35 karma

What is the dumbest thing/biggest mistake you have ever seen someone do?

BellaMitri84 karma

The person who invented wars.

herschel_3433 karma

Happy Birthday to him!

BellaMitri28 karma

Thank you. He would like to know where you are posting from.

herschel_3431 karma

Georgia, USA...I'd give him a hug if I could!

Deathljo11 karma

Happy Birthday from Canada. Sorry that I couldn't do it any sooner!

BellaMitri8 karma

Thanks very much, I'm making him a list of all the places he's had messages from.

BellaMitri2 karma

Thanks for messaging back! I've given him a hug for you.

hells_belle26 karma

When he was young, before... Everything...what did he want to be when he grew up? Edit: posting from Atlanta, Georgia

BellaMitri44 karma

He wanted to have a full education and be a teacher of some kind. Through his managerial work he actually feels like this aspiration came true.

Signal0925 karma

Do you hate Germans?

BellaMitri75 karma

No, not at all. It is not fair to judge one whole country for a black spot in their history.

Update: The first phonecall wishing him Happy Birthday today was from his German friend.

KoolGMatt25 karma

At 90 years old, what kind of music does he listen to now? Does he have a favorite singer/group?

BellaMitri38 karma

He listens to classical operatic music. Verdi is his particular favourite, he also likes Karel Gott and admires Simon Keenlyside who is a famous English opera singer. He says he splits music into two groups...good and bad. See the below post about Dubstep. He is blind now so spends a lot of time listening to the radio which brings him great pleasure. Thanks for your question.

BellaMitri23 karma

Sorry guys our Internet went down my grandad is staying with my parents and they have a dodgy village connection

stevieboy198423 karma

How long did it take him to walk from the Austrian border to Mohelno? How did he survive the journey?

BellaMitri46 karma

He says it was 8km to Mohelno where he sheltered with a farming family for about a month, he relied on their generosity for food and shelter. He pretended to anyone who asked to be their son helping in the fields. Then they had to hide in the cellars whilst the front moved over them towards Berlin and Mohelno was liberated by the Russians. As soon as the front moved beyond Brno he walked 50km in around a day.

stevieboy198411 karma


BellaMitri14 karma

It's pretty fast walking for someone who hasn't eaten a proper meal in years. My Grandad has always been a very active person and when I was younger he'd take me on long walks through some gorgeous places in the Czech Republic and he walked SO fast. Even today he refuses to walk with a stick.

QuapsyWigman21 karma

What does he think of dubstep?

BellaMitri49 karma

He doesn't know what it is...but I am going to play him some and try to video his response for you and pop it on my YouTube channel - I'll post the link...may take a little time so please bear with!

He was forced to listen to a lot of pop music when I was a teenager and I wanted to share it with him...to that he would always have an open mind. He even bought me some Czech pop music from a band called Holki when I was younger!

Edit: Here's the video: http://youtu.be/jeQ972qGOHg

cletusthedinglefairy6 karma

Please follow through with this.

BellaMitri12 karma

link above :)

jbol20 karma

does he like Halušky?

BellaMitri44 karma

He says yes that is a Slovak dish, he likes it and they often have it in his care home. His favourite Czech dish is Chicken soup with liver dumplings and Svickova which is beef in a vegetable cream sauce with bread dumplings and cranberry sauce.

Edit: Liver dumplings oops!

nutellalover720 karma

What's the best advice you can give?

BellaMitri32 karma

He's answered this below...sorry didn't spot this one as we were using my mobile whilst we fixed the internet. He says that he believes President Masaryk's (the first president of the Czechoslovakia) famous quote "Don't be afraid and don't steal"

Edit: Czech Republic to Czechoslovakia --- sorry

jjgonya16 karma

It is brilliant you're doing this AMA. If only we young people would more often listen and learn from their elders, for they have much to share. I have three questions for your grandfather.

1: What do you think your defining moment was?

2: What have you crafted that you are the proudest of?

3: What do you think of the progression away from craftsmanship in products to cost effectiveness and quantity?

BellaMitri36 karma

Thank you for your kind words. Some great questions. 1. No moment but he says his strong will and patience which led him to become what he wanted to be despite being brought up in poverty and his problems through the war. The upbringing pre-war, in democratic Czechoslovakia gave him values in life. 2. He had to think a while for this one. My mum offers the fact he built a washing machine for his wife as there was a shortage in the shops. He admits it was his masterpiece! The washing machine never broke down but they upgraded to an automatic...he says it probably would still work in the way it was supposed to if he still had it. (He said this somewhat longingly looking into the distance thinking about it.) 3. He's not impressed by modern shoddily mass made products. He prefers to fix things rather than buy new ones. Though now due to age and loss of eyesight he is limited. He says his opinion is probably shared by his generation who had the 'made do and mend' mentality.

suedaisy14 karma

Dobry den! My Czech husband (I'm American) is now in a managerial position here in America and his employees call him "the pit bull". He's a wonderful and hard working man but he feels Czechs are born to be managers and need no training. What advice can I give him to help him move forward in this new position that only a Czech man would understand? Dekuji!!

BellaMitri18 karma

This made the whole family laugh. He would like to refer back to his previous comment about learning from others. No matter what you know yourself and your capabilities, there is always the ability to learn from others and grow.

JonaMona14 karma

I'm concerned that he might actually prefer not to talk about his war experience because it could be traumatising for him at that time.

Would very much prefer to know about his experiences in managerial training instead. Any lessons that he would like to teach us in the field of management?

BellaMitri30 karma

He's thrilled to have this question, he doesn't mind talking about the war but this is something he is most proud of and I think defines him as a person. Even for this trip he had a neatly packed suitcase with everything organised. He had a folder with his itinerary in it in Czech and English in case he had any problems in either airport.

He says take people with a little experience, be able to negotiate in foreign languages. Be prepared yourself to learn from other people and other experts in the field. Education gives you the basis and experience helps you to progress and go further. Once when he was in his 40s he talked to an 85 year old lady and was thoroughly surprised how good economic advice she could give him on the basis of her life experience.

Update: he also says 'Learn from your mistakes'

samusername10 karma

AmA! But don't mention the war

BellaMitri11 karma

We explained the Fawlty Towers link as he's never seen it - he thinks it's funny.

MarcoBrusa13 karma

Hope I'm not late, I'm truly amazed by his life. Wish him happy birthday from Italy!

What was life like during the Communist Era?

(i'm opening a thread on /r/italy to see if anyone knows a person named Giovanni Caldo)

BellaMitri8 karma

Some extra details, he would be in his 80's or 90's. Giovanni was possibly from southern Italy and his father may have owned a cafe. Apologies, my Grandad finds it hard to remember these details. He was an Italian solder (we're not sure of the details here as the Italians were supporting Hitler...but he may have defected hence ending up in the camp)

MarcoBrusa5 karma

yes, lots of italian soldiers were kept prisoners by the nazis after the government decided to switch side. They gave me a bunch of websites but i cannot find anything related, maybe i can track him down in some way sending an email to ANPI, the national association for Resistance soldiers, they might have some kind of record book.

BellaMitri6 karma

Anything else I can get from him I will let you know, he was getting a little tired towards the end of the day so I wonder if he will remember any more tomorrow. Interestingly a Polish man lived round the corner...literally on the same road...from my parents who was in the same camp at the same time. Though they never met at the camp they both could recall the same events. At the time it was in the local papers here, alas the Polish gentleman has now passed away, but it made for some reunion then. It would be amazing if Giovanni was still alive.

stevieboy198412 karma

FYI - OP is experiencing technical difficulties (internet has gone down at her parent's house). She's trying to get some responses through via her phone, but it's going to take a little while. Drahomir and her send their apologies!!

BellaMitri7 karma

Thanks Steve :)

Gravy-Leg__11 karma

How did the Nazis treat him in the labor camp?

BellaMitri25 karma

He was very lucky in having decent bosses at work when he was building the tanks, because he was such a hard worker BUT the Gestapo was a different cup of tea - they were power hungry and would regularly beat up the prisoners. The camp was surrounded by electrified barbed wire...step too close or look at them funny and you were in trouble.

Sapone10 karma

I'm polish and want to thank your grandfather for his effort. My grandfather was a soldier during WWII and survived but died before I was born.

BellaMitri8 karma

Thank you for your message, I am sorry you never met your grandfather, I never met my Grandmother as she died two months before I was born...he speaks of her so fondly it's like I know her but just don't have the memories to go.

wellboar9 karma

Wow. Inspirational. What was the most inhumane thing he ever witnessed while there?

BellaMitri21 karma

He saw some people being shot, and others carted off to the next door concentration camp (Mauthausen). He cannot believe that humans are capable of such atrocities.

moyerr8 karma

What a life. Brno is such a cool city. Prague gets all the glory, but Brno is just as awesome.

BellaMitri13 karma

Thank you. He says he loves his home town very much, he's been to Prague many times and enjoys a little Prague Pivo (beer) called Staropramen...but at dinner he does ask for Starobrno!

lankyfitz8 karma

If (hypothetically) the Nazis were to offer an apology to Drahomir for everything they did to him and those people around him, would he accept it and forgive them?

BellaMitri21 karma

If he could see/recognise real penitence then he would be able to forgive because it is a hand extended. He has many friends who are german who he bares no ill feeling towards.

Kiin6 karma

What is his favourite kind of chocolate?

BellaMitri16 karma

He loves Lindt Swiss chocolate.

11silence5 karma

I once had the chance to meet a Jewish man from Poland who barely escaped being taken prisoner to a concentration camp. He said through the years of having to relocate and the need to be able to communicate with those around him he learned a lot of different languages. He was completely literate in polish, Yiddish, Spanish, Italian, German and Russian. I'd like to know if your grandfather learned any other languages through the years and if so how that affected his situation. Oklahoma City, Oklahoma, USA

BellaMitri4 karma

Today at lunch he was communicating very well with a Polish waitress, he speaks basic German and understands a little Italian. He isn't very linguistic and always thought it a great shame he didn't pick up any other languages.

My mother is a linguist and knows, Czech, Slovak, French, German, Russian, English and a little Bengali.

Nadeo44415 karma

Všetko najlepšie prajem. (happy birthday)

BellaMitri5 karma

Thank you. I have passed on your birthday wishes :)

shucksshuck5 karma

What was his favourite birthday present? Asking from Leeds (England, I'm sure you know!)

BellaMitri16 karma

Well he (and this is something I have inherited) is a little obsessive about making a good impression. Example: He travelled from Czech to UK in a full suit. So we all clubbed together and bought him a brand new charcoal grey suit for his birthday. He's really excited as he never treats himself to things so it was an opportunity to spoil him. That said I think he would say the that the best gift was his health that he was able to make the journey to the UK to celebrate with family. We would have of course gone out there if he couldn't make it, but he is fiercely independent...today when we did a little walk he refused to use the wheelchair he wanted to walk the entire circuit of the woods at the end he said "what do you think of my walking." so I guess that tops the list. Thanks for your question.

hanadeho3 karma


I'm writing to you from Brooklyn, NY. My mother is from Czech Republic, and I speak fluently. I am able to travel and see my family there at least twice a year.

Reading your grandfathers history was an amazing experience for me. You can tell how strong he is. And he is lucky to have the family he has. I wish I could get to know him myself.

Anyways, if he is able to read my terrible czech, below is a little letter to him. It may not make much sense. But he is very inspirational.

Jmenuju se Hana. Je mi 20 let a studuju ve skole. Nevim co chci delat ale uvidime.

Chtela jsem te rict ze te opravdu chvaluju. Ne rozumim jak jsi mohle delat vse co si udelal.

Vidim na tebe ze jsi vzdi byl silne a ses i dneska.

a mas krasnou rodinu.

Vsechno nejlepsi k narozaeninam. Chvalim te.

Vim ze to asi pro tebe moc neni, ale tvoje historije... je mi lito ze jsi musel v tomhle veku zit... pro mne je to neco krasnejo. ze jses porad tady. a ze chces nam (reddit) rict to co jse te stalo.

Dekuju vam za vsechno co jsi delal. Uz nemam slova.

Nascledanou. At ziji Drahomir!!!

BellaMitri4 karma

My mum read your message out to my Granddad, he says thank you for the kind message. He was touched by what you said and says "I want to reiterate that the world would be a much better place if people talked to each other more. I would like every young person to be able to have an opportunity to do what they want career wise and be supported."

TheFightingFox3 karma

What would you say is your Grandfather's greatest quality?

BellaMitri12 karma

Aw thanks for your question. He is such an inspiration to me you have no idea...I really don't think I'll make it to 90 years old at all let alone with half the grace, strength and sense that he has.

His greatest quality is hard to label as he has so many. I love his sense of humour and the way he always tries to stay on top of what is going on in the world, he is an active part of his care home helping to organise events and activities for other residents. He just inspires me with his capability to still grow his horizons even at 90!

TheFightingFox5 karma

I just got back from my walk and in a surprising turn of events, it's raining in England. Thanks for the answer. He sounds like a great guy, particularly as I was never really close to my grandparents and my Great Aunt died last year. They would have loved each other :). She was 97.

BellaMitri5 karma

Thanks for sharing. My English side Grandparents passed away when I was in my early teens. I don't have any Aunts/Uncles/Cousins so we are pretty tightknit with Mum, Dad and my Dedecek.

Llamapants3 karma

Dobry den!

BellaMitri6 karma

Dobry den! Where are you from?

woodview3 karma

My family fled czecheslovakia during ww2 and only visited for the first time recently. They found many of the buildings that had been bombed in their village to be in the same state, untouched. Is this common in the Czech Republic?

BellaMitri11 karma

This is common in mainly villages. During the communist rule there were no funds for the upkeep and maintenance of buildings. Only until relatively recently (last 20 years) Prague town centre was quite dilapidated in places. But he is surprised that they still found buildings in that condition today.

Joncheruine3 karma

Thanks for the AMA. What does your granddad think of Václav Havel ? Did he participate to the revolution against Communists ?

BellaMitri6 karma

I'll post a response to the second half of this question when I speak to him. But I know that he thinks/thought that Havel was a marvel, he had great respect for him. When I was very little he and my parents took me to Prague Castle for a ceremony...Havel took some flowers from me (claim to fame). In Brno apparently Havels wife's sister/cousin runs a B&B in which my parents stay when they visit...they talk about it all the time. My mum still has a Havel picture up in the house. He's a bit of a hero to them!

BellaMitri2 karma

UPDATE: "In spite of his sheltered upbringing Havel had courage to stand up to the regime. Pay with his health and even though he may have made mistakes, he could be called the second President liberator."

"I went along with the people that supported Havel in rallys in Brno, but it is true to say that apart from Prague, Havel was kept quite a close secret by the communist. His name was not mentioned, his plays were not played. In all honesty the main happenings were in Prague."

pivobeer2 karma

What's his favorite pivo?

BellaMitri2 karma

Well it depends on where he's drinking. I know when we go his favourite local bar only do Kozel which he happily drinks but over in the UK he asks for Staropramen/Starobrno...we can't seem to find Starobrno here.

The funny thing is he absolutely hates cold beer he has to have it at room temperature. Despite this being the case all my life my mum and him still say 'pivo at room temperature' when I ask if he wants any.

Hosni__Mubarak2 karma

What is the best beer in Czech?

BellaMitri2 karma

Staropramen is the collective family answer!

nahbroaye2 karma

Not a question, just a thank you from New Zealand.

BellaMitri3 karma

Thank you for your Thank you, my Granddad is as touched that people just came on here to say hi to him as well as ask him questions.

judochop12 karma

How does the work ethic of his era compare to that of those working today?

Are people really getting lazier? Or is that just some bull crap?

And happy birthday!

BellaMitri3 karma

He says "There is much to improve at the moment. In the Czech Republic the communists destroyed the work ethic."

"It is really important to talk to people and discuss the problems in your work environment (but also in politics) and also that the previous regime didn't explain anything but issued orders - essentially the workforce never learnt skills. That is 20 years ago...but I still think there is a hangover today."

ohthehorrors2 karma

I assume that the mentioned labour camp was the Nibelungenwerke (in German, Google Translate works). My question would be a details of about the escape of your grandfather: How did he meet the people who helped him leave the St. Valentin area? I presume they were railway workers. Did his escape route lead him directly north via the railway form St. Valentin to Ceske Budejovice?

Regarding Giovanni Caldo: There is a list of victims of the national socialism. Caldo is not listed there, which could indicate that he survived, as no death was recorded, although the documentation of the fate of camp inmates may not be complete, especially for 1945.

BellaMitri2 karma

Thank you so much for the link. I will share this with him tomorrow and ask him your question. Will post response :)

Exterminatealldaleks2 karma

Did he ever go to Plzen? My father was born there.

BellaMitri8 karma

Yes he has, that's where Pilsner beer is from!! He helped to train managers from that town.

octeddie912 karma

If he had to make a list of three places to visit in this world, what three places would those be and why?

Also, if he could, what one living person would he want to meet, and what words would he have for them?

Posting from Medford, Oregon, U.S.A.

BellaMitri3 karma

"After living under a totalitarian regime I never was given the opportunity to travel. But if I could, I would have loved to visit the USA and see how democracy works there." "I would like to revisit Scandinavia, because I have been there before with work and loved it." He found it really tough to come up with three.

"I feel quite depressed about meeting somebody being blind as I quite likes to see people who I talks to - I would like to meet Pope Francis, I would say to him that he should allow priests to marry because I think it is unfair."


I will be in Prague in October what is the one thing I absolutely MUST see or do while I'm there?

BellaMitri1 karma

Take a walk from the Old Town (stop and have a beer) - over Charles Bridge and up to the Castle. Ask to see the 'Singing Fountain' and have your picture taken crouched underneath it.

FrellPumpkin1 karma

From Germany: Hi, thank you for doing this AMA. Almost all people I get to know from Czech were pretty awesome and had a special type of black humor I quite enjoy. You lived through some of the hardest times of the last century. How did this affect as a human being, your psyche and the psyche of your friends?

BellaMitri2 karma

It is so funny that you mention black humour. Today my Granddad was sharing with me a typical example. He was at the funeral of an 85 year old friend recently and she was buried in the local cemetery. One of the other mourners asked my Grandad how old he was, he said nearly 90. She replied; 'You had best stay here at the cemetery then'. I was utterly shocked to hear this...my Granddad is chuckling as he tells the story.

He has always had the drive to 'make a good impression' and the ethos 'everything will be alright if you work hard'.

I will add to this tomorrow if he has anything else to add. Thanks for your question.

Ketsa1 karma

Why was he was imprisoned in a Nazi forced labour camp 1942-1945 ? (from GE, CH.)

BellaMitri1 karma

He was taken because he had been apprenticed to a 'toolmaker' and was very good at his craft, they thought he would be useful to help them build tanks.

xcerj611 karma

Dobrý den, When did your parent(s) move to the UK? did they go directly there or were there more stops along the route? Děkuji za odpověď :)

BellaMitri1 karma

Hi sorry to clarify are you asking the OP? My mother (my Grandfathers daughter) was born Czech and is married to my father who was born in Somerset in England. My mum has also had an interesting life as she was prevented from leaving the Czechoslovakia by the communists to marry my father so they had to marry in Czechoslovakia and then wait until she was finally allowed out. She moved to England in 1979 and has lived here ever since. I (OP) was born in the UK.