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This is the version I e-mailed to my friend Paul Craig Roberts  on Tuesday, July 22, 2008, 2:17 AM

 

Craig,
 
I was not brave enough to stay in Czechoslovakia after the Soviets (note that I do not use the word Russians) invaded us on August 21, 1968. Just  3 weeks after that I was already on the train with my wife and 2 kids to go through Germany and France to London.

Just imagine what it was, when at 10 PM of Monday my colleague Vaclav Mueller and the chairman of the economics department at the Charles university in Prague Bohumil Urban came to my apartment in Prague and told me that Zdenek Mlynar was sending me the message to leave the country before next Saturday noon when the Czechoslovak border with the West would be taken over by the Soviet army and therefore  closed to people involved in the Prague Spring movement.
Zdenek Mlynar was at that time the member of the Communist Party politbureau and just returned from the forced deportation to Moscow. He was also my friend - because before that he was a professor of law at the same school of the Charles University, where the economics department was located and also he was the husband of my colleague and close friend Rita Budinova (after the fall of communism in 1990 the ambassador of Czechoslovakia to the USA).

 

Because I believed that the Soviet occupation could not last for long and hoped that we would be able to return in a few years, I had just four days to get

1) official leave of absence from the Charles university,

2) leave of absence from the Central Price Office of the Czechoslovak government, where I worked as part-time consultant,

3) permission to temporary leave from the local army office - because I was the army reservist,

4) have my  wife to get a leave of absence from the Central Statistical Office, where she was employed ad that time,

5) get the Czechoslovak exit visa permit,

6) get the US entry visa,

7) get the British entry visa,

8) get the French transit visa,

9) get the transit visa through West Germany, that was also issued by French
  embassy.

All that was needed because there were no air-flights to the west  at that time so train way was the only possible connection.

In addition all that was complicated by the fact, that most of the Czech offices were closed at that time. For example I had to go to the home of the Vice Rector of the Charles University (who was a Jew) to get the signature from him. And it was not easy, because the people in the house, where he lived suspected me to be the soviet agent trying to arrest him.
Unbelievably I got the American and British visa just at the time I came to those embassies. But this happened only because I refused to wait one or two weeks as the standard officers asked me to do. On my insistence the US consul came to see me and after my short explanation of the situation just signed my visa on the spot. Similarly at the British embassy I got immediately the signature from the British ambassador who was quite a famous person at that time, although I do not recall his name just now. What I remember is that he was an author of the book about the Hasek's Good Soldier Schweik. On the opposite the French consulate was not helpful at all. Only because my wife was already standing in the line inside, I could pass here our passports just one minute before they closed according their  regular schedule.

 

Now Craig imaging that this all ended on Friday late in the afternoon, so we still needed to buy train tickets, pack all the things for the trip (knowing that we may not be able to return ever). We left on Saturday morning by the first train from Prague, but we knew that it was going to reach the border just one hour after the supposed closing of the border at noon. Fortunately the closure of the border did not happen at that time because for some political reasons Russians agreed to postpone it for several months.
  O.K.
PS.: All that happen only after I saw you originally at that seminar in Italy.

 

His response came on Jul 22 2008 - 12:40pm:
A nerve-racking experience. I sometimes think Americans may yet experience them.

 

Who is Paul Craig Roberts?  The following quote explains it:
“Paul Craig Roberts wrote the Kemp-Roth bill and was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury in the Reagan administration. He was Associate Editor of the Wall Street Journal editorial page and Contributing Editor of National Review. He is author or coauthor of eight books, including The Supply-Side Revolution (Harvard University Press). He has held numerous academic appointments, including the William E. Simon Chair in Political Economy, Center for Strategic and International Studies, Georgetown University and Senior Research Fellow, Hoover Institution, Stanford University. He has contributed to numerous scholar journals and testified before Congress on 30 occasions. He has been awarded the U.S. Treasury's Meritorious Service Award and the French Legion of Honor. He was a reviewer for the Journal of Political Economy under editor Robert Mundell. He is the co-author of The Tyranny of Good Intentions.”

See also   http://vdare.com/roberts/all_columns.htm

 

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