I do not have a clear picture of my Great-Uncle Val's travels and residences during the 1950s and 1960s. As a child and teenager, interest in the stories that he told was always peripheral to the actual family gatherings.
However, sometime in the 1960s, he took up residence in Australia outside of Sydney. The sprawling four story house was built into a hillside and commanded a view of the surrounding area. The first level was quite formal with the family living quarters on a lower level. The game rooms and the pool were on the lowest level.
During my visit with my great-uncle in 1990, one of the things that he told my husband and me about was his arrival in Australia as a refugee. He and his wife had been living in Djakarta, Indonesia as part of his management resposibilities for Bata Shoes. Sometime during the violence that erupted in Indonesia during September, 1965, it must have become extremely unsafe for foreign nationals to be in residence. As the violence escalated, he and his wife made a decision to leave Indonesia. He says that they took the first plane out with little more than the clothes on their backs.
As it happened, that plane was bound for Sydney, Australia. Val and Slavka landed in Sydney with no Australian visas. They were immediately taken aside and asked what they were doing. My uncle, never a shy person, showed is Czech passport, and said that he was claiming asylum due to the unrest in Indonesia.
My uncle's dark skin, hair, eyes and build meant that he looked more like an Indonesian than an Eastern European. However, my aunt with her light skin, hair and blue eyes was an advertisement for Eastern European beauty. Since they were both traveling on Czech passports, he pointed to his wife and said that "she was his Visa." I guess this bold approach and the fact that we had not yet entered in our post 9/11 paranoia was good enough. They were granted temporary asylum. Both of them went through the permanent resident and citizen process.
While never stopping work for Bata Shoes, he became an Australian citizen and set up home and family north of Sydney. However, it still puzzles me that he managed somehow to reclaim his household goods from Indonesia. As I look back on family pictures, I can track some of his art and furniture through many moves. He must have had trusted colleagues and friends in Djakarta who helped protect and send on his possessions after he left.