Agnes’ fate is far from unique in human history. What makes it meaningful to record is the time – the twentieth century; the place – central Europe; and the until then held opinion, considering Europe to be part of the civilized world.
Changes which Agnes saw in her life do not repeat often during one generation. Her early life was still spent in the Old Austro-Hungarian Monarchy, she experienced World War One, saw a new state of Czechoslovakia coming into existence, its consequent destruction by the Nazis, lived through World War Two, followed by capture of power by communists with resulting Stalin’s tyranny.
Whilst life stories of prominent and important people, dictators and common criminals, are being published in the thousands, we rarely read what happens to ordinary men and women in the course of their lives. Agnes was one of them. Her life was derailed from normality by political events around her, and by abandonment by her husband.
Agnes often compared herself to Penelope, the wife of Odysseus, who waited faithfully for her long-lost husband. When Odysseus returned home, he stayed with his long suffering wife. When Agnes’ husband returned home after more years than Odysseus had been away, he discarded Agnes. Yet Agnes never gave up her moral principles, her belief there is goodness in people, never did any harm to others, helped them whenever it was in her power. Such people are rare, and mostly remain unknown to the rest of us.
Human feelings have not changed since the times of ancient Greeks. Despite of all the painful experience, Penelope, at the dawn of recorded history, and Agnes, living in our times, had the same feeling towards another human being. Perhaps there is hope for us still left.
The image of the Miramar Castle Agnes visited in her youth, stayed with her for the rest of her life. It represented in her mind the nicer side of life, life she has not been privileged to experience.