Disguised as a Rooster
Jára Kohout was one of the comedy stars of the first republic and protectorate theatre and film. After February 1948 the Communists nationalized his theatre. Increasing political terror and a worsening outlook for actors forced Jára Kohout to emigrate. He wanted to go to Western Germany together with his family – his wife and three daughters. He paid 150 thousand Czech crowns to the people smugglers. On October 2, 1948 he performed in a theatre play “Na tom našem dvoře” in Aš. It was a performance for local workers, but also customs officers and SNB (national police) members. According to his words he provoked the border guards present during the play when he walked on stage with a candle and threatening: “I am about to blow, I will blow!” After the first break he sneaked out from the theatre, but he was still in disguise as a rooster. They were heading to the state border when they heard an unusual noise – the border guards obviously noticed that the comic escaped. So they waited in an old first republic shelter till the situation calmed down. The smugglers advised him to stay in disguise and in case they were caught he could say he went crazy. Approximately after an hour the cunning border guides sent them to the border, but concurrently stole their luggage. “We were running. I looked back and saw our guides loading our luggage on the tractor and leaving with them. My wife got to the customs house as the first one and sent an officer for us. He used to live in the Sudetenland and knew me from the films. Then we continued to Selb by a milk-float.” And that is how Kohout's emigration started. During it he worked in a cabaret, was an actor but also a co-worker of Free Europe. In April 1990 he came back to his homeland.