The story of Winter jewish family
through the eyes of Daniela Winterová's wife
"Jiří's father, Mr. Karel Winter, was, as his name suggests, of Jewish origin. His mother, Mrs. Marie Částková, was a Czech Christian. Zamlada was a renowned beauty from the now unfortunately disappeared district of Bubny, of which only the railway station and a few surrounding buildings remained. She belonged to him and the station from which, a few years later, Jewish families leave for Terezín and from there to Auschwitz, Buchenwald, Mathausen.However, we are still in the period of the idyllic First Republic, and the horrors of the Second World War would for now seem like a haunting and completely unbelievable bad dream.
Jiří's mother is a girl whom the whole of Bubny turns around with affection. Chubby, blue-eyed, with blond hair and red cheeks. Exactly what the ideal of female charm was then and what Jiří's ideal looked like forever. Dad was a handsome Jewish young man, an athlete and the owner of a prosperous business - glassmaking and picture framing. Jiří was therefore from a mixed family, similar to, for example, Ota Pavel, who also had a Czech mother and a Jewish father. From the point of view of Nazi ideology, he was a racial mixed race, from the point of view of the Jewish faith, he was a Czech, because Jews trace their thousand-year-old families through the maternal line. Mom and dad influenced Jiří more than it would seem at first glance. In addition to a lifelong love of good food and chubby, fair-haired and kind women who hold life firmly in their hands and are not swayed by anything, his mother also instilled in him a love of art and history. She was a practical woman who, in addition to taking care of her family, also managed a small grocery store, which was then called a colonial or grocery store. In addition to food and drinks, all other basic daily necessities were also sold here. Little Ivan Mládek, for example, used to go to Jiří's mother to buy marbles to play with.
Mom loved not only her family, but also art and history. She was in the association of friends of museums and that meant regular Sunday visits to museum exhibits, especially their remote corners and depositories, which are not accessible to the general public. Little Jiřík liked these kind of mysterious and slightly scary adventures the most! He and his mother visited the Thimble Museum for the first time and felt the mysterious attraction and power exerted on him by the exhibited objects. It was then that he decided that he would like to have such things at home and soon began to fulfill his dream. Until the end of his life, he was primarily a collector and only then an artist and everything else. However, Jiří lost his first beautiful collection. It was confiscated with all other family property by the Nazi Empire when Jiří joined the resistance and was imprisoned along with the rest of the family.
Only Jiří and his mother remained from the whole large and close-knit family. Dad was martyred at Pankrác. Other family members disappeared in Terezín and then in the incinerators at Auschwitz. The only cousin was saved, who took refuge with his family in a refugee camp in Shanghai and moved to Australia after the war. The last remnant of the Winter family, Jiří's closest relatives, still lives here.
But Jiří was far from being influenced by his mother in his childhood. Dad was a master glazier and in his glass shop he not only glazed windows, but also framed pictures and collaborated with several well-known artists. When the zoo was established in Troy, dad was often invited there to create or repair aquariums, terrariums, glass pavilions and everything else. Sometimes he sent a worker for him, but little Jiřík was never allowed to be absent. He gradually became friends with all the residents and employees of the ZOO, even with Mr. Janda, the director. He writes very nicely about it in his book On a visit to Neprakta."
Although Jiří himself was imprisoned and experienced terrible times that are hard to imagine. For example, the dangerous journey he took with a couple of fellow prisoners after liberation, when they traveled from Bernau prison to Prague, where after the war only an abandoned, stolen apartment awaited him, with only his phone left, yet he managed to transform bad memories into something that is positive and prolongs life. In joke and laugh. He remained hardworking and very humble. He was not broken by wartime racist ideology or communism. He stayed true to his values. He received the Medal of Merit for his resistance in World War II.