Overnight in Exile Wednesday, August 21, 1968 Walking along the platform of train station in Lutzern, Aramis suddenly points to a special edition of newspaper Blick-Extrablatt: Mitten in der Nacht: Sowjets ueberfallen Czechoslovakia" (Mid of night the Soviets attack Czechoslovakia) is set in huge black letters. I am dumbfounded. For 20 Rappen I buy a copy. We are speechless and get mechanically on the previously selected train to Zuerich. That's terrible. Only yesterday full of enthusiasm I was unfolding my plans for the future with our friends in Bern. I feel miserable now. What about my parents and sister? Several years ago, I might not have so many reasons for return, but now? My study, having apartment and the exciting life in the last six months. All seems gone. Aramis is considerably calmer. He has always wanted to stay somewhere abroad, no flat, no study. His family ties are much looser. He tries to calm me down. He says that we have still four days to continue our trip and then we can decide. There is noon when we reach the Zuerich train station. I buy more newspapers and try to read it. I understand only a little. Aramis is on the phone with our friends in Bern. They do not listened to morning news, so they also don‘t know anything, but we should return to them. We decide to try to hitch-hike. We have little money and we will need them now. There is a beautiful sunny weather. The city is teeming with life. But we're a little confused, which direction to take to Bern highway. Aramis pushes me to ask. In Italy he took care of everything in English, but since our arrival to Switzerland, it is my turn to do so, however I can recall very little from my German. With difficulties I am asking one young man. Because it is far, he recommends number 4 tram. Its stop is just in front of the railway station. At about 1PM we are at the tram final stop at the Bern highway. Aramis attaches small Czechoslovakian flag to his bag and I attache newspaper with headlines on mine. We hope it will work. There are not too many cars on the road. Only one stops, but it doesn't go to Bern. At 3PM, we return to the train station, eat a snack we got in the morning for the journey. I'm asking about the train ticket to Bern. It costs 16 Fr. Not too much money will be left. After returning to our friends in Bern we are intermittently watching television, talking about what is happening and what we should do. We are told that for us is important to choose the right kanton in Switzerland, because in various kantons are various possibilities. Bern is nice, but almost no industry. The best seems to be kanton Zuerich. They say it is a likeable city and the industry is concentrated in it. They recommend to visit their friend a Czech teacher. We get the address of the school, where she teaches and a recommendation, at which time to go to see her. We also get maps of Switzerland and Zuerich, a calendar a folder with letter writing papers and stamps. Besides that some addresses of other Swiss residents from the Czech minority. Thursday, August 22, 1968 Today we return to Zuerich hitch-hiking. This time we are immediately picked up by a man in a VW at a gas station on the end of the city. As instructed we visit the teacher at her school. She calls the immigration office and takes us there at 2PM. We want to ask for asylum. It looks like it is the only course we can take. If the situation improves, we believe, we could still return. For asylum one has to applied at the police. We get its address. In the meantime we can stay in a dormitory in Limmathaus. To our surprise, each of us receives 25 Fr for five nights at the dormitory and 40 Fr for meals for those days. Tomorrow we are to bring receipt that we paid for the nights. Our mood significantly rises. Our teacher gives us 10 Fr for lunch. She received the money for us from a young teacher at her school. We have little money from before. It looks like that the future might not be so bad. Though the only pants I have after our Italian journey I had to repair holes in them with a black thread in Florence (the pants are brown). Then I have only 2 shirts, spare underwear, a T-shirt, a sweater, a pitiful raincoat, a tie, a scarf and a falling apart sandals, some handkerchiefs, 2 towels and a dishcloth. Furthermore, 2 cameras, a sleeping bag, a backpack and a straw hat from Rome. That s all I have. We spend the evening at a rally protesting the invasion of Czechoslovakia. Various speakers have speeches on the stage. Most of the time I don t understand what they say. There are plenty of banners. Some people shout: Dubcek - Svoboda. A group of young people is collecting money with a Czech flag. In it the Swiss throw money to support the Czechoslovaks who are now in Switzerland. The official program ends at 10PM.. Our national anthem is being sung from beneath the stage. A handful of Czechoslovaks are sharing the latest events with each other. They are all in sport outfits as unexpected events caught them. Here and there surprised calls are heard as friends find each other. Some are sure they don t want to return, while others want to go home. One young man talks about yesterday's stormy demonstration in Bern, where police had to intervene to save the Soviet embassy. After a while a gentleman appears introducing himself. He is a sort of chairman of the Czechs in Switzerland. He gives us various information. Then on somebody s question, he tells us to come here tomorrow at 3PM. He will get a room where we could discuss everything. Generally, there is enthusiastic and even patriotic mood in the air. Then we return to the dormitory. Originally we did not plan to go to Zuerich, but now we might be here longer than we were in all other places during this year s holiday. Counting Finance: I have 47.60 Fr; $ 10; 130 Austrian schillings. Friday, August 23, 1968 At 8:30AM we are at the police station. There are several Czechs here, they are all confused and don t know what to do. We are sure we apply for asylum. However, the clerk does not want to talk with us about asylum. She extends our stay by the Swiss side until August 31, 1968. So we have another legal week here.
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