Operation Velveta 1 — Part 4

Part 4.  Doctor Josef Schwarz receives us in his farmhouse.

We all said: “Yes please” for we were all very hungry. But Phil Mamelstein asked if he could first call Prague and he took the Count along with him. Our host took both of them to his study where he kept his ‘phone and as soon as they succeeded to get the Israeli Legation in Prague and  speak to Ehud Avriel and  Sam Pomerantz he left them and returned to us. Behind him came a well dressed young  and good-looking woman and a village girl who brought food on a huge silver platter. Our host introduced the young woman as his wife and she left us after several polite greetings in Czech and English and took along the servant girl. Our host gave all of us linen napkins. There were two stacks: The first stack contained a dozen large pork schnitzels and the other stack contained a similar number of pickled cucumbers. Our host asked us to please eat with our bare hands as they do in their farms He did’nt have to ask twice. Marmelstein and the Count returned and Phil said: “All is well.” They joined our meal. The food disappeared in a jiffy and our host rang a bell and asked the village girl to bring another load of schnitzels and cucumbers and explained to us that all the food which we were eating was produced by this very farm. While waiting for the extra food I rose to look at the paintings on the walls.Near one of the corners there hung a diploma in a black frame where it said, in Latin and in Gothic letters that the University of Prague hereby grants the title of Doctor of Philosophy to Josef Schwarz. Our host who saw me looking at the diploma  came to me and told me that it was his. He is Doctor Josef Schwarz. This did not mean much to me. The Doctor took hold of my arm and dragged me to the furthest corner of the room and  whispered to me: “Do you understand German?” I said I did and he surprised me by saying: “I am Jewish. This farm belonged to my parents. I was born here. The Nazis sent my parents to a concentration-camp. I never saw them again. My wife was also exterminated in a concentration-camp. She was Jewish too. As soon as Nazi Germany annexed the Sudetenland we managed to smuggle our only daughter out of Czechoslovakia. She finally got to Israel and is in a Kibbutz now. When the Nazis got here I succeeded to run away east and I joined the Czech Legion which fought as a Division within the Soviet Army. When the Soviets found out that I had  a Ph.D. in Political- Science they sent me for “reeducation” in a special school. I received high marks in my studies and was appointed to be a Political-Commissar in the Czech Legion and by the end of the War I was a full Colonel. After my release from the army I returned here, got my farm back and enriched it quite fast. I married again, this time to a Christian woman. In July, just two and a half months ago my farm was nationalized and declared “narodny-podnik” (national-property) and I was appointed by the Government to be Director of the farm. I know who you are. I am aware of what is going on in Israel. Now that you landed here “they” will think that you came here in order to smuggle me to Israel. I was stunned by what Doctor Schwarz said. I was curious to find out how he knew that we were Israelis. I said to him: “Do not worry Doctor Schwarz. We did not come here in order to smuggle you to Israel. ‘They’ know very well who we are and what we are and why we are here.”

The village girl came back in order to clear the empty food platter and brought along a large bowl full of big red apples. We bit into the apples. I will never  forget their taste for never since then did I have apples which were this juicy and tasty, not even the apples of Oregon in the US. It was getting quite late. Doctor Schwarz suggested that we get some sleep. This was a big house. It had at least 6 bedrooms and each two of us received one. Sunderland and I accommodated ourselves in one of these bedrooms. It contained a canopied bed. In order to get on it I had to hop up. We had downy-blankets and a fire was still burning in the fireplace so that the room was warm enough.

Next morning we all met in the same living-room and had coffee. The coffee was not real coffee but ersatz-coffee similar to the one which they had in Europe throughout WW2, and we had large, soft house-baked cookies with butter and Jam to go with our coffee. By the time we finished our coffee, at about eight a.m. a car arrived at the farmhouse and four men got out of it and entered the house. The car drove away. One could not miss the identity of these four guys: They were four plainclothes men of the Secret Czech Police Force. One of them who was dressed in a long leather coat took our host aside and had a few words with him in a low voice and then we were asked to move ourselves to the barn which was near the house. We all went there and the Czech fellows gestured to us to sit down on the wooden cases which were lying about among the straw. One of the four remained in the farm with Doctor Schwarz. The barn door was closed and one of the fellows stood outside to make sure that it stayed closed. The other two fellows sat with us. Time passed. Soon our boys produced two packs of cards and started playing “Gin-Rummy” while the two fellows watched.

We were there about four hours. At about noon the car arrived again. The barn door opened and a tall and slim man who looked about 40 years old, dressed in a business-suit, wearing a tie, and over it all wearing a well-used raincoat. He was half-bald and held a leather briefcase. He greeted us in English and asked who was Mr Mamelstein? Phil identified himself and the man told him that he was a Flight-Navigator which was sent to us by the Czechoslovak Ministry of Aviation so as to navigate us to Kunovice. He then asked if we had enough fuel for a one-hour flight. We had much more than that for we left Niksic’ with both wing-tanks and belly-tank full. The man asked us to go to the airplane. The four fellows disappeared as if they were never there.  Nor did we see Doctor Schwarz. When Phil Marmelstein told the Flight-Navigator that he wanted to thank our host for his excellent hospitality he answered that it was not necessary for he already thanked him for us. When we got to the airplane Phil and Lou Nagley gave it a preflight-check and the Czech Navigator climbed into the airplane with us and went into the cockpit. I remained standing near him. After our take-off he gave Phil a Westerly heading. I thought that he will produce from his briefcase some chart or map so that after our arrival I shall try to convince him to leave it to me but he did not open his briefcase and did not produce any map but looked at the surface below and it was clear that he was familiar with every step of his homeland..The Navigator told Phil to fly at an altitude of 3000 feet. The weather was clear as it was the day before. We were approaching a town. I asked the Navigator which one it was and he replied that it was called Zlin. I asked him if there still is in this town an airplane factory called “Zlinavion” and he said yes. This was the factory which produced the Zlin-12 airplane which was bought by the Irgun Zevai Leumi and flown for seven years by Binyamin Cahana and Jack Ratushniak and finally crashed during the early days of the Air Service.

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