The eery photo of the Charles Bridge in Prague featured in today's episode, is the beginning of a long and sordid tale. The photographer, Roman Boed, was born in the Czech Republic back when it was still communist Czechoslovakia. He escaped as a refugee in 1979 with his father and sister, leaving his mother and brother behind.
At the time, Roman's father was an engineer and often had to travel abroad for work. He found himself under increasing pressure to collaborate with the secret police. They wanted him to report what he observed in the west during his travels. He knew that refusing them would mean the regime would turn against him and his family, so he decided to flee the country to nearby Hungary, taking Roman and his sister with him. Roman was given the choice to return home to Czechoslovakia with his mother and brother, or continue as a refugee with his father and sister. With much difficulty, he chose to continue as a refugee.
The three found refuge at the Austrian consulate in Yugoslavia, and later Roman moved to the U.S. and settled in Chicago. But he never forgot about his home country, and tirelessly waited for something to happen. 10 years later, in 1989, something did happen. Something incredible. Half a million people joined the Velvet Revolution and the Communist regime was finally forced out of power.
13 years after that, Roman was finally able to return to the country and see his mother and brother again. Since that day, he and his fiancee and their three sons return to the Czech Republic often. They always make a point to stop at the Charles Bridge, which feels like the center of the country to them. The day this photo was taken, fog surrounded the bridge, stirring the feeling of emptiness that always represents Prague in Roman's memory.
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Read more about the Czech Republic and the Velvet Revolution:
International Business Times: What is the Velvet Revolution?
BBC: Czech Republic Slovakia: Velvet Revolution at 25