“Outcast Europe” presents an exhibition of personal items, offered by residents of six European countries – Greece, Bulgaria, the former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia, Serbia, Czech and Hungary. The items carry the personal experiences of their owners and at the same time contain the impact of migration experience in the group conscience of the respective countries, and therefore of Europe.
Newspaper Clipping i
.‘Either life or death, either both or none of us’, that was the only thing I was thinking about when fleeing Czechoslovakia on a hang-glider with my 3 year old son tied to my back. I decided to run away to Austria using a self-manufactured hang-glider that I had made with the help of my father. It was a very mad and dangerous idea, but I didn´t want to live in a communist regime anymore where I was persecuted because of my love for ‘western technologies and especially motorbikes’. My wife and our other son fled a month before us to Yugoslavia – she pretended our son was ill and they managed to escape from a toilet window at the doctor’s and later applied for asylum. We met a few months later in an Austrian refugee camp.
Volleyball Jersey i
.I had a great career as a volleyball player in Czechoslovakia where I was playing in a national team. I was praised, I had great results and all the benefits I could have. I decided to leave Czechoslovakia for personal reasons. My father has been sexually harassing me. Since both of my parents were lawyers and active communists in prominent positions, nobody would have believed me even if I had reported it because ‘such things do not happen in high-profile families’. I decided to escape because my father’s attacks became unbearable. I left in August 1988 during a friendly match in the Netherlands. I applied for asylum and soon I was playing with the Dutch national team with whom I participated in the Olympics in Barcelona in 1992.
ICM card & Prague Map i
.Both of my brothers have emigrated when I was a child. Miloš was a passionate airplane model builder and in 1962, thanks to his knowledge of air traffic, he managed to slip into an airplane that headed to Canada. In 1969, Tomáš fled to England after being expulsed from medical studies. In 1988, I managed to escape to Canada. My parents did not live anymore and I was the last one from the wider family who was still here. An escape was an opportunity for me to live close to my brothers. I was granted a permit to travel as a tourist to Austria and once there, I applied for political asylum. It took over a year until Canada agreed to transfer me from Austria. During this time, I stayed in refugee camp in Treiskirchen.
.When I was ten, my dad was arrested because of his activities with the youth. He was detained in a prison in Uherské Hradiště, perhaps the worst interrogation centre in our country. After two months there, he had to be taken to hospital and it was almost a miracle that he survived the injuries inflicted on him during the interrogations. He was convicted of treason and he spent twelve years in jail until an amnesty was issued. As a son of a ‘criminal’, I knew I could not even dream of studying at a university. I was also forbidden from joining sports organizations and although I eventually graduated from a technical school, it was difficult to find a job with this label. When my wife and I were thinking about our future, we didn’t want our children to experience anything like that. We left to Vienna in April 1964. We took only one suitcase full of towels in case my wife would give birth during the journey. We were granted asylum in Austria. After a year in emigration, I was offered work on Radio Free Europe in Munich and I gladly accepted it.
Dictionary and Photo i
.From the point of view of the regime, our family was denigrated also because of the fact that we used to go to church. When I wanted to study at a grammar school and then study medicine, they did not recommend me. I could only study at a medical high school. Deciding on whether to emigrate was very difficult for me because I had a very sick mother. But my relatives agreed to take care of her. At the time of my departure, I was five months pregnant. Another obstacle we had to overcome was the lack of knowledge of the language as I started learning German only a few months before the journey. I got a little Czech-German dictionary that we took with us. When I had to go to the hospital in Vienna shortly after arriving, it was a big problem to communicate with the doctors. The communists tried to make our life uncomfortable even abroad – they sent a false statement to Vienna that I had stolen five hundred pieces of bed linen in Prague when working as a nurse and that that was the reason for our escape.
Bag and photo “The Day of the Escape” i
.During the normalization, the feeling of fear and general mistrust among people was ubiquitous and very intense. I once applied for a business trip to Vienna. However, I was summoned to the police and I was told that my travel was not in the interest of the state and my passport was taken away. After several years, I found out that someone reported me. I rather did not try to find out who reported me. When my wife and I wanted to go on vacation to Yugoslavia, they gave me only a so-called ‘grey’ passport which was valid only for that country. Later on, we managed to get the remaining necessary documents and we knew we would probably not come back. As part of the vacation, there was a trip to Venice and we felt that was a good opportunity to leave. Thus on June 21, 1984, we emigrated and we thought we would spend the rest of our lives abroad.
Book and Prisoner’s Card i
.The State Security officers arrested me and my friends in the morning of February 25, 1971, on the day of the ‘February victory of the working people’. We were put in detention on remand. They searched our homes and seized books and documents. They found my short story ‘My Brother Kain’ which was published in the Brno magazine ‘Kurýr’ and which was inspired by the invasion of the occupying armies. I was charged and sent to prison in January 1972. My novel ‘Reconstruction’ which I started to write after being released from prison is based on the environment of Czechoslovak prisons. I used to hide the finished pages in a siphon bottle in my pantry as I feared that the State Security could find them. Later, I handed the manuscript to a trustworthy friend. Unfortunately, he was not as trustworthy as I thought.
Toys and Photo i
.During the bombing of Sarajevo, we were hiding with my parents in a cellar. My mother tried to distract me so that I would not be afraid; she taught me how to sew and I made these two toys. I have been carrying these mascots with me for 26 years. Together, we made our way to safety. Over time, I realized that these toys do not just bring me happiness but they remind me that one can learn something under all circumstances.
Books of Ali Bolat i
Ali B.Ali grew up in Ankara. His parents wanted him to stay in Ankara for university, but his dream was to be a journalist. He secretly decided to apply for univerity in Istambul, where he later finished his studies. He started to write an articles to local newspapers. He was very open and wrote topics that were highly controversial in a Muslim country (LGBT). Soon he wrote his first book. There were two kissing boys on the cover of the book, something unthinkable in conservative Turkey. Booksellers refused to sell this book. The publisher has been interrogated several times by the police. But he still had a courage to publish another book, that had again a very controversial cover. It was called "The Whore" and on the cover was a naked girl in the position of a crucified Jesus. All booksellers and publishers refused to cooperate with him. He decided to leave the country when when the Turkish parliament refused Kurdish people as members of parliament in 2016. He was too scared, that he will be persecuted as a gay and a Kurdish. He asked for asylum in Czechia.
Photo of Mr. Ivan Medek and the first president of Czech Republic Vaclav Havel i
Family Medek .Mrs. Helena Medkova met her husband Ivan Medek during the studies at Academy of Fine arts in Prague. He was one of the first people who signed Charta 77, that was an informal civic initiative in communist Czechoslovakia. All who signed this document were persecuted, interrogated and after they signed, their life changed rapidly. Mr. Medek was fired and he decided to leave the country. Emigration to Vienna was succesfull and Mrs. Medkova left the country shortly after him. They got asylum and started a new life in Vienna, she taught piano in music school and Ivan Medek worked for the Voice of America. They organised help for dissidents in Czechoslovakia. After Velvet revolution Ivan Medek got a call from new Czech president Vaclav Havel (who was also his friend), if he wants to work for him. Ivan Medek worked for presidental office and later as a chancellor for Vaclav Havel till 1998. He has received several state awards for bravery and service to his homeland.