becoming a self in history, becoming a self in my street

Jaro Pavel

Jaro was born in 1932 in Czechoslovakia. He experienced his country being invaded first by the Nazis who imposed their tyranny on his country. After the war he had to endure the communist regime. He is a civil engineer and when he speaks about his work his face lights up with real enthusiasm. Jaro married in Czechoslovakia but because his wife’s mother came from Scotland, he also had British in-laws. He and Agnes have three children, a son and two daughters.

In 1967 the family came to Britain to visit their relations and for Jaro to work in London. On the day they were to return home they heard on the news that the Russians had entered Prague in tanks. The family’s possessions had already gone on ahead on an earlier train. Despite having nothing but what they stood up in, Jaro made a decision which was to completely alter the course of his own and his family’s life. He decided with Agnes that the family would not return home to their country. At the time, Jaro could hardly speak English. He and his wife had to leave behind many people they loved as well as home and memories. Living in a small flat in London with his family he was able to find a job because the language of engineering is universal. From this starting-point he completely rebuilt his and his family’s existence in a new culture.  

Rising to the challenge of risking losing everything, and facing an uncertain future changed the course of their lives completely.