Past the Teplá Vltava River between the towns of Borová Lada and Ráčí
167, 384 51 Horní Vltavice, Czech Republic
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He came back for his wife

Available in: English | Česky

In 1949, Harry Pollak and his wife Jarmila set out for their new life in freedom and peace in western Europe. They were going to illegally cross the border of Czechoslovakia. Smugglers helped them pass the Boubínský Forest, jumping over streams, fallen trees and overcoming other pitfalls of Šumava. Then they reached a dangerous point between the villages of Borová Lada and Račí, (at the Teplá Vltava River). “On the other side of the river, there was a meadow and then a forest. The smuggler told me that this was the most dangerous section of the trip. After crossing the river, we had to run up the hill and get to the forest as fast as we could. If we got stuck somewhere, we’d be lost. They would not be able to help us,” he recalled. When Harry reached the forest barely catching his breath, he discovered that his wife was missing: “I told the smugglers that my wife wasn’t there. She must have gotten lost on that stretch, fallen behind. They said that I couldn’t go back and look for her, that it was too dangerous. ‘You have to forget about her’. But that was absolutely out of the question. I wouldn’t leave without her. So I went back. She fell down exhausted on the way. I took her bag and pulled her up and carried her. We managed to make it across the border.”

Harry Pollak

Harry Pollak

Ing. Harry Pollak, Ph.D., was born on February 24, 1923, in Dvůr Semtín nearby Votice to parents of Jewish origin. He completed elementary school and then attended a grammar school. He passed the first four grades of grammar school in Prague and in Litoměřice and then transferred to a school in Nimes in France, where he graduated in 1940 and thereafter joined the 1st Czechoslovak Division in France. As a soldier of the Czechoslovak exterritorial army corps, he took part in the defense of France and then fled via Gibraltar to England. He also served in the 1st Czechoslovak Independent Armored Brigade at Dunkirk. However, he hates to speak about his war-time years. The first reason is his disrespect for the army and the second reason is the poor organization of the army. After the war, he returned to Czechoslovakia and studied engineering at Charles Square in Prague. However, the communist coup resulted in his dismissal from university. He therefore decided to leave Czechoslovakia and in 1949, he fled with his wife through the Bohemian Forest, (Šumava), to West Germany and was stationed in the Valka-Lager nearby Nuremberg. His wish was to get to England but prior to that Pollak had to overcome a tremendous amount of paperwork barriers. In February 1950, he finally found himself in England, got a job as an office draftsman before becoming division head in a factory producing air-conditioners. Very quick career advancement followed suit. He was hired by the firm Mead Carney, where he studied and learned the method of value analysis. From Mead Carney, Pollak moved on his career path to Dunlop and subsequently became the director of a London-based bank that specializes in reviving big companies. At that time, he was already an outstanding expert on value analysis with invaluable experience. He also became honorary citizen of the City of London. At some moment, he became an independent entrepreneur. Among the companies that he saved are major names such as Krupp Eisenwerke, IBM, or Aston Martin. In 2000, he retired and in 2003 he received his doctorate from the University of Economics in Prague, where he likes to come to hold lectures. He’s currently living in Switzerland but plans to move permanently to the Czech Republic.

Past the Teplá Vltava River between the towns of Borová Lada and Ráčí

Available in: English | Česky

The Teplá Vltava River was a silent witness like so many other places in Šumava on the Czech-German border. It witnessed for example the getaways of Czechoslovaks who – under the guise of the night – took the paths of the smugglers heading into free Europe after 1948.

Past the Teplá Vltava River between the towns of Borová Lada and Ráčí

On this place

He came back for his wife

He came back for his wife

Harry Pollak
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