Philippsreut
Philippsreut, Germany
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During the war, Harry Pollak fought against Nazi Germany for five years but after the communist coup of February 1948, Germany became his refuge. It was one of the many paradoxical situations in the new, post-war Europe. However, at that time, Harry Pollak did not feel hatred towards the Germans anymore. It was a long way from Czechoslovakia to his dream land – England – and many an obstacle was going to complicate things for him on the way there. The first stop of Harry and his wife after crossing the Czech-German border was the town of Philippsreut: “We came to a farm. The cows were in the cowshed in the basement and the family which had a ton of children lived on the first floor. It was about five o'clock in the morning and they were already getting up. They gave us something to drink and although it was disgusting, we drank it. Then I left Jarmila there and walked for about a kilometer to the house of the border guard. I rang the bell and a man opened the window on the first floor and said: ‘What do you want?’ ‘We are refugees, I’d like you to receive us and handle the paperwork’.” The town of Philippsreut is only an approximate location that was identified by Harry Pollak himself.

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.

Philippsreut

Available in: English | Česky

A town on the German side of Šumava One of the first settlements on the Bavarian side of the Czech-German border is the town of Philippsreut which is situated in the Freyung-Grafenau district. Nowadays, it has only 685 inhabitants. Despite its small size, it profoundly affected the lives of many immigrants from Czechoslovakia after 1948.

Philippsreut

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Harry Pollak
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