The Fleischman sisters -Winton children did well!

Eva Střížovská 10 2012 Naši ve světě English

In 1939 special trains left Prague for London. They were full of Jewish children (almost 700 of them). The children hoped to find “new” parents and a new home. They escaped from being murdered in Nazi concentration camps-as it had happened to their parents and relatives, and to their friends who had not been so lucky...In one of the trains was 9-year old Milena Fleischmanova and her three-and a half year old sister Eva.Both of them came into a family that moved their own daughter to her grandmother to make room for both sisters. But the girls were lucky- eventually even their real parents arrived in England . Milena attended a Czech school, and Eva enrolled in an English one. We already wrote about Milena several times –she was the only Czech woman who obtained the title Lady from the Queen. Her whole life was devoted to promoting Czech music, culture and food- note how she has been involved with the “Lady Remoska.” Milena obtained several important prizes, e.g. “ Gratias Agit” and “An Outstanding Czech Woman” - both from the Foreign Affaires Department. The latest prize . entitled “Notable Woman”, was awarded to her by her birthplace-the town of Prosec.Both girls lived for some time with their “substitute “parents and little Eva became truly “anglicized.” She wanted to become a physician. After she had not been admitted to medical school due to overcrowding, she studied pharmacy but she did not like it very much. She married an architect. They moved to the USA and later to Canada, where her husband wanted to be closer to modern buildings. They had a son and in Canada their second son was born. But then the country experienced some kind of crisis-there was little rain, the land was too dry, the crops were very bad and thus people did not buy or build houses. The couple moved back to England. For a while they lived in Scotland where their third child was born-a little girl. The family moved again to the USA and to Canada and when the children reached school age the parents decided to settle in Boston, USA. And Eva also went to school She studied psychology and English. She was 36 years old when she finished her studies. She started to teach at an elementary school and worked there for 15 years. At the same time she continued her studies. She received her Master’s Degree in Education and then a Master’s in Administration. She then taught at a school for teacher education. She was of the opinion that only the best teachers should teach at a school like that. She practiced what she preached and she became the director of that school. She obtained a special award from the White House- her school was recognized as the best school in Massachusetts. Her husband received a contract to build a university in Seoul in Korea. Eva was teaching there also. She was surprised by the fact that the local children were too obedient and used to being lead by others, that they were not very creative and independent. She tried to change all that. At first there was not much progress, but eventually she was successful. The children were happy when they were allowed to play and talk to each other instead of just sitting and listening to the teacher. She supplied the school with toys and various teaching materials such as blocks, etc. to teach the children to use their hands. Eva had to return home to Boston. But she continued to work on her project to build a modern school in Seoul. She educated her teachers and continued in training them. The school in Seoul added another class yearly. She lived in Boston but she traveled to Seoul to help “her” school. Most schools in Seoul today follow Eva’s specifications. She should have retired at sixty years of age. But she did not want to and she kept on working- at the university, in hospice work as a volunteer, and she even kept on studying.


Even Milena- who settled in England and always considered herself to be a Czech patriot-always felt a connectedness to her Jewish origin. ( Their mother had both girls christened out of fear of the Nazis- but the children did not care.) Eva was also interested in her Jewishness. She always felt that something was missing. At age 60 she found out more about her family and was more satisfied. It was different for Milena. She remembered that –when hundreds of rescued Jewish children were arriving in London- the local rabbis were angry that the children were being given to Christian families. And so the following declaration was made in the film about Sir Winton and about his wonderfully human action:” Would you rather have the children christened or dead??”

Translated by M.D.


Vydavatelem Českého dialogu je Mezinárodní český klub

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