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16 October 2014

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Prague Revisited

By Desider Golten
October 2004, Cardiff
A digital story from Capture Wales

Desider made a promise to keep in touch with his classmates from Prague. That was before the Iron Curtain made any contact between East and West impossible.


"My school days spent in Prague were amongst the memorable times of my life. We had a fantastic team of teachers and I was always very sorry when Friday came as it meant the end of learning for that week. Yet it wasn't just the learning that made me happy, it was the amazing spirit of friendship in the class that made it such a special time.

As the threat of war became real, my parents thought it best to leave the country and in August 1939 my family and I came to live and work in Cardiff.

It was very difficult to leave my school friends behind and I always promised myself that I would keep in touch with my classmates but it was impossible as after the war, the Iron Curtain came down and cut off any contact between East and the West.

I kept trying though and 60 years later, when the political climate in Prague had changed, my promise was realised.

I managed to get the addresses of my friends and wrote to them. The replies I received were very emotional and I attended my first reunion shortly after, where we greeted each other as brothers and sisters and where we all shed a few quiet tears.

I can tell you that 60 years play havoc with your looks and the lovely young girls and handsome young men were now old wrinklies, but it did not detract from the pleasure we found in each others' company and the spirit of friendship was still as strong as in those happy days in Prague so long ago."

Desider Golten


Please tell us a little about yourself.
I am a retired engineer who arrived in this country four weeks before the start of WWII. I went to Whitchurch Grammar School in Cardiff where I learnt English and obtained my O-level certificate. I then worked for one year in Taffs Well in the tool room of an engineering company and saved some money to enter the University of London which had an external department in Cardiff. I graduated in 1944, was called up and sent to Newcastle to work on aircraft guns. At the end of the war I returned to Cardiff, joined our family engineering business and worked there until virtually my retirement.

What's your story about?
A nostalgic trip to my young days as a pupil of a school in Prague and some brief memories of my youth.

Why did you choose to tell this particular story?
As one gets older one tends to return to his young days and reminisce of one's youth, besides I thought it may be of interest to my children and grandchildren.

What did you find most rewarding about the workshop?
I was very happy to work with young people and learn from them the technology that was not thought of when I could have made use of it during my working life.

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