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Printed 21.03.2023 22:53

Milena Hubschmannova and two miracles in wartime Prague
19-05-2005  David Vaughan

Dr Milena Hubschmannova is the Czech Republic's foremost scholar of Romani, the ancient language spoken by millions of Roma across Europe. At the time of the German occupation she was a little girl, living with her family in Prague's New Town, close to Wenceslas Square. Here she recalls two memories from that time. They seem unconnected, but both show how in war the smallest chance can mean the difference between life and death.

Milena Hubschmannova "I was a child during the war, and I remember very vividly when in 1942 the Gestapo came and they took my father to the internment camp. He was there three years. And they came at six o'clock in the morning. They always used to come at night or in the morning. My brother at the time was three months old, I was nine and my sister was six. They took my mother too.

"The Gestapo people said, 'We have to put your two girls (that means myself and my sister) into a children's home.' At half past six in the morning my mother's aunt came by just to say, 'How are you?' Usually she never did that. Why would she come at half past six in the morning? She said, 'I was just at the church - St Stepan, just round the corner.' My mother winked to her and showed that she should agree with everything that my mother said. So she told the Gestapo people that our aunt was staying with us, and that she could take care of us - of me and my sister. So they didn't take us to the children's home. We stayed with my aunt. So this was really God's little miracle!

"And here is the other story. You know the Tancici dum (Dancing House) - a new building which was constructed about ten years ago, very modern. Next to this building there is a house which was built after the war. It was bombed - it fell down into ruins. It was in February 1945.

"My mother went for a walk with my little brother, who was about three years old at the time, and the wind took her hat. So she went into that house and she wanted to comb her hair and put her hat on her head, because there are mirrors in the halls of those old apartment blocks. So she combed her hair and she went home. As soon as she got home there was a bombing raid, and this house fell down.

"So these two little miracles happened to us during the war."

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