Travels: Prague

Czech Repatriation Train | Germany

Prague, Nov. 1945
Prague, Masaryc Home
Today I visited the Masaryc Home just outside Prague. Here on a beautiful wooded estate, the city constructed in 1926-28 a fine group of buildings to care for those of its people whose physical condition requires a degree of permanent residence under medical supervision.

Later a children's home was added, and this, because it could also be used for German children, survived the war, when all the old people except the paying guests were ousted to make room for a military hospital with 5000 beds.

One pavilion is occupied by convalescing repatriates.

I was particularly interested in the children's homes and Docent Dr. Blazek, director of the children's section, and Dr. Kubatova, house surgeon, acted as guides, together with Mr. Zeaman of the Czech Red Cross, who made the arrangements for the visit.

The buildings, which they told me had originally been a pleasant cream color, had been repainted a drag grey by the Germans. Much of the furniture and equipment shows signs of hard wear, and needs replacing. They called my attention to the bedding, which had been patched and repatched. But through all this one can see what mush have been one of the finest institutions of its kind in the world-and will be again. It is tangible evidence of the concern of Czechoslovakia for her children, whose welfare she recognizes as the most important factor in nation's future.

The largest number of the children are either t.b. or convalescing polio cases. We visited first the babies' wards.

This child came to the home when he was one year old, weighing 6 kilos, and with badly deformed legs. Dr. Kubatova tells us that now, at 18 months, his weight and general health are satisfactory, but it will take time, massage, electric treatments, to make the legs again useful.

The child's tubercular mother died at his birth, and he has been in the hospital ever since, receiving the injections and care that will save his life.

This little fellow's father was killed during the revolution. The baby was born prematurely and the mother, in her grief at the father's death, took her owl life. The baby, just recovering from rachites, is a happy little fellow, with no conception of the sorry world into which he was born.

And this baby, fine and smiling, is introduced to us as "the pride of the hospital." A premature baby, he came to the hospital six weeks after birth with a terrible septic infection of the head. There are still cruel looking scars bearing evidence of the seriousness of his condition, but the infection is gone-cured with penicillin.

Each small ward in the nursery has its own equipment for bathing, "changing", feeding, and its own section of the wide veranda, where the young patients spend as much time as possible. But the partitions are glass, so the nurses in charge can see what is going on on the whole floor.

For those children who are making the fight against tuberculosis, rest outdoors on the veranda is particularly important, but is limited because of present facilities for keeping sufficiently warm. Dr Blazer said they were badly in need of warm sleeping bags for the 1 to 14 year olds (the bags should be 110 to 150 cms long.) Warm house slippers, too, are badly needed. The children get some milk, but they have had no citrus fruit for the last six years.

Czechoslovakia, Nov. 1945
Miscalleanous Thoughts
In a land with historic ties of friendship to the United States, but now turning to Russia as natural protector, and where the people are almost sentimentally attached to their children, I should think even the shipping board of Washington would realize how much political significance a few thousand diapers might have. Certainly the Christian Church should realize that unless we demonstrate forcefully and at once the power of Christian love, these people will turn to other ideologies. They contrast the old church they knew which oppressed the people with the new communism which advocates brotherhood on a world scale, at least in theory. If we point out the limits of the Soviet theory, they can always inquire where to look for an example of Christianity in practice. I think it is most important that we bring such an example directly to them, and I think the way is through the children.


Slovakian crops are 25% of normal. The final fighting took place just when the Spring planting should have been taking place. Added to this there has been a severe drought.

There were very many youthful marriages in Czk-S during the war due to the fact that one child under six or two under 14 excused a mother from being sent to Germany as a laborer. Some of these marriages are now breaking up and creating the usual divorce problems.

The child population of Cz-S is placed at 4 million. There are 250,000 births per year. 789,000 are said to be facing deficiency diseases. (This apparently means troubles of a fairy serious sort, since other figures say that every school child is aenemic, and that perhaps 80% have rickets in one form or another.)

Czk-S believe that a child belongs in a home, but they want to be sure when they place an orphan in a home, he will have all possibly advantages. Today the housing shortage in the cities makes it difficult for families to take in an extra member. Many are already "doubled up". But authorities do not like to place children in rural homes where the school facilities often are not of the best, and where supervision is difficult. An increasing number are therefore being placed in Children's Homes. A number of such Homes are maintained by the Protestant Churches. The Czk Brethren /Presbyterian have five Homes in Bohemia and Moravia accommodating 300-one housing 46 children was totally destroyed; the Baptists 2-one near Prague and one near Bratislavia; the Czech brethren Unity (Congregationalists) one at Shvale; the Methodists a large home accommodating 400 children at Prague; the Lutheran and Reformed Church of Slovakia 2-another was destroyed; the Moravians 2-one was dissolved; Church of Czk one. A number of the denominations also maintain old people's Homes. The Methodists are planning a new Children's Home in Moravia.

Holland kids

Czech children, like children in America love a ride in a swing. These children are dressed in their best holiday attire.

Holland kids

Using a chair to learn to walk again after winning a battle with polio at the Masyric Home Prague. Hospital director's greatest desire was for best new literature on the disease published in America. Polio has increased alarmingly during years of occupation-probably due to lowered resistance resulting from inadequate diet.

Holland kids
Fresh air is good for babies. Only the Masyric Home, Prague, hasn't nearly enough blankets and sleeping bags to accommodate all who need them. There is a shortage of 600 beds for children in Prague hospitals.

Holland kids
Little crippled baby, Masyric Home, Prague.

Holland kids

Little boys climb a lamp post to watch the Russian soldiers leave Prague.

Holland kids

Many girls appeared at the student celebration in traditional costumes handed down as dowry gifts through many generations. You can tell from what district a girl comes by her dress.

Czech Repatriation Train | Germany

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