Czech...and Swedish: how typical is this?

elroy

Imperfect Mod
US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
I just bought a bike from a guy who is ethnically Czech but has lived in Sweden most of his life. He is therefore bilingual in Czech and Swedish, but he also spoke to me in excellent English and is studying here in Germany so I'm assuming his German is beyond acceptable (hmm...should I tell him about this forum? ;) )

Anyway, he told me he lives in Sweden (he actually said, "I come from Sweden" so I guess he considers it his home now) because his family fled the Czech Republic (or I guess, the former Czechoslovakia) from the Russians. I guess that shouldn't have come as a surprise, but I had never considered the idea that citizens of Communist countries had to flee their homelands.

Was this a common occurrence? What percentage of people from previously Communist countries have had to flee? How many of them are still in foreign countries, and how many of them have returned to their own countries?

I would appreciate any information about this issue, whether from official sources or from personal experience.
 
  • Jana337

    Senior Member
    čeština
    elroy said:
    I guess that shouldn't have come as a surprise, but I had never considered the idea that citizens of Communist countries had to flee their homelands.
    This comes as a surprise to me. :)

    I am to tired to produce a meaningful, informed reply, but let me just point out to the greatly misleading way you ask this question:

    What percentage of people from previously Communist countries have had to flee?
    It may sound like I am splitting hairs - but when reading had to, I almost jumped from my chair. :)
    To put it bluntly, many people wanted to and almost no one was able to. "Had to" irritates me in the sentence.

    I will write more, much more later.

    Jana
     

    elroy

    Imperfect Mod
    US English/Palestinian Arabic bilingual
    Jana337 said:
    This comes as a surprise to me. :)

    I am to tired to produce a meaningful, informed reply, but let me just point out to the greatly misleading way you ask this question:

    What percentage of people from previously Communist countries have had to flee?
    It may sound like I am splitting hairs - but when reading had to, I almost jumped from my chair. :)
    To put it bluntly, many people wanted to and almost no one was able to. "Had to" irritates me in the sentence.

    I will write more, much more later.

    Jana
    Well, he didn't exactly say "we had to flee" (he just said "we fled") but I assumed that they had to. It's hard for me to imagine somebody voluntarily desiring to "flee" his or her homeland. In fact, the word "flee" by definition implies escape, urgency, and involuntary action: otherwise one would say "I emigrated" or simply "I left."

    You say people "wanted to leave." But did they really WANT to? If the reason they wanted to leave was because of the Russians, doesn't that mean they would have left against their will - not because they didn't want to live in their home country anymore, but because they didn't like the situation?

    I didn't mean that people were forced to leave and thrown out of the country, but that because of the circumstances they left to seek better opportunities elsewhere.

    I will await your fuller reply...
     

    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    I found that 374 people form Czechoslovakia were shot on the border when trying to flee.
    About 200 000 -300 000 people fled Czechoslovakia. (mostly around 1968)
    According to a statistics about 1 million people died as victims of communism in Eastern Europe.

    As for Hungary I have found only about 200 000 Hungarians fled in 1956
     

    bibax

    Senior Member
    Czech (Prague)
    I found that 374 people from Czechoslovakia were shot on the border when trying to flee.
    272 people died on the border (1948-1989), only 145 were shot (many of them were armed agents, CIC/SIS), the rest died mostly by electric current or mines, some were drowned in the border rivers. It was the so called Iron Curtain.
    About 200 000 -300 000 people fled Czechoslovakia. (mostly around 1968)
    Most of them were economic migrants like the "Syrian" refugees nowadays. They left their fatherland to live mostly in the USA, Canada, Germany, Sweden, Switzerland, ... like present-day "refugees".
     
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    Sepia

    Senior Member
    High German/Danish
    It was not unusual. I have known several people who fled from Poland - but at least it was a bit easier to leave Poland and just not come back. Even more fled via neighbouring countries from the GDR to the Federal Republic of Germany, something that was probably even more tempting because of the language and because they were already considered citizens when they arrived.

    But it was not only the communist countries that people fled from. I have also met pepole who had to flee from Greece while it was still a dictatorship.


    And:

    @Most of them were economic migrants like the "Syrian" refugees nowadays.

    I am not sure what that is supposed to mean. How many Syrians had been killed or badly wounded as consequence of the war? Not much more than 10%, right?
     
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    ilocas2

    Banned
    Czech
    Yes, it belongs to the Czech national character - to despise their own emigrants. They are different from Poles and Hungarians in this respect. I have read it in a book.
     
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    Encolpius

    Senior Member
    Hungarian
    Yes, it would be an interesting discussion about who the hero is, the one who stayed in the country or the other one who fled. But it is too much politics what I do not like so much. If 1 person searching for freedom had been shot it would have been a terrible thing to remember what communist dictatorships were and still are able to do. I still remember the poor last one trying to escape and shot in DDR before the Berlin Wall was destroyed.
     

    Ben Jamin

    Senior Member
    Polish
    According to a statistics about 1 million people died as victims of communism in Eastern Europe.
    It is a very misleading information. What countries do you include and what time period?
    To be more specific: about 2 million Poles died as a result of Soviet/communist persecutions between 1939 and 1956.
    Alexander Solzhenitzyn assesses the number of people in Russia/Soviet Union dead because of internal fighting, deportations, starvation, executions and labour camp exhaustion between 1917 and 1956 to more than 40 million.
    You can also evaluate the number of Soviet soldiers killed in the war with Germany unnecessary, only due to the idiocy of the political leaders of the army, to about 10 million.
    Then you can set the number of people executed, starved to death, etc in Czechoslovakia, Hungary, East Germany, Romania and Bulgaria between 1944 and 1968 to maybe between 7 and 10 million.
    You end with a number of about 70 million people during 50 years.
     
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