Thank God We Got Through That

The story of Petr Mayer. Drawn by Ondřej Malina

By Memory of Nations

Post Bellum

The quiet reserve with which Mr. Mayer speaks about his life was very familiar to me from the beginning and I tried to transfer it to comics through the drawing. Our generation has not experienced war, but it occurs to me that humor is one of the ingredients necessary for the survival of similar versions of hell. In elementary school, I filled my notebooks with various epic battles from the Second World War. But hundreds of soldiers' heads from a bird’s eye perspective and miniature hands, randomly holding and firing guns, probably would not work for me now. So, researching uniforms, weapons and hairstyles was a necessity. In addition to period newsreels, materials from the General Patton Memorial in Plzeň helped me get a pretty good picture of various half-track vehicles, tractors and the motorized technology of the combined division, for which I am very grateful.

Thank God We Got Through That (p. 1–2) by Ondřej MalinaMemory of Nations

Hávarie lodi Patria
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“A critical situation happened on the 25th of November 1940 when the boat suddenly at 9:15 swayed. First, we thought that was an airstrike alarm or a torpedo or something like that because the police started patrolling around. The boat was sinking and they yelled, Go in! Go in!‘. And then again:,Go out! Go out!‘. And when the boat went down I asked the English policemen again if I really should get out of it and save myself in the sea. They screamed at me:Yes! Go in!!!‘ I was used to asking about everything because I was very polite… Or as we say in Czech dumb.”

Thank God We Got Through That (p. 3–4) by Ondřej MalinaMemory of Nations

V internačním táboře Atlith v Palestině
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“They treated us very well in the internment camp. We got the issue attire, underwear, caps, shoes because we had nothing. On March 7th we commemorated the anniversary of President Masaryk's birthday. We had quite fun at the camp. We played football. But the main thing was the investigation of the Patria boat sinking. They found out that it was sabotage with the main goal to prevent taking us to the island of Mauritius and to make us staying in Palestine.”

Thank God We Got Through That (p. 5–6) by Ondřej MalinaMemory of Nations

V Anglii a ve Francii
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“On July 5th, 1943, I embarked with 1125 soldiers on the steamboat Mauretania in the Suez Canal and after the voyage around the whole Africa with a three-day stop and walks in the Cape Town we landed in Liverpool in England. There was a military parade and then President Beneš dismissed the regiment and the soldiers were sent to other units of the 1st Czechoslovak Armoured Brigade which besieged Dunkerque after the D-Day in June 1944 with the Allies and surrounded 12 000 German soldiers cut off from the German Army.”

Thank God We Got Through That (p. 7–8) by Ondřej MalinaMemory of Nations

Thank God We Got Through That (p. 9–10) by Ondřej MalinaMemory of Nations

Petr Mayer (* 1919)

Mr. Mayer grew up in Olomouc, graduated from high school and entered an Agricultural College, but due to his Jewish origins, he could not continue his studies during the Protectorate. The family moved to Prague and Mr. Mayer began preparing to emigrate to Mandatory Palestine. He left on 3 September 1940 on the last legal convoy. The refugees traveled by way of Vienna, along the Danube River to Romania, by ship to Crete and from Crete under the pretext of traveling to Shanghai to Palestine, which was under British administration. The British authorities did not allow the refugees to disembark. And that is where our story begins.

After the war, he left the army, began teaching English at a language school and worked as an editor at the Czechoslovak News Agency (ČTK), from where he was fired in 1950. He found a job as a lathe operator in a factory, but after half a year he started working in journalism, where he remained for the rest of his life, as an employee of Telpres, a pedagogical publishing house, and of Chemoprojekt. In retirement, he translated from English and wrote the commemorative books “Z protektorátu do osvobozené vlasti” (“From the Protectorate to the Liberated Homeland”) and “Deník uprchlíka” (“Diary of a Refugee”). Mr. Mayer received several military honors.

Petr Mayer by Post BellumMemory of Nations

Credits: Story

Post Bellum, Ondřej Malina, Kristýna Plíhalová
English translation: Rick Pinard


Memory of Nations: Petr Mayer

Credits: All media
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