FRANK FRISTENSKY, family historian

"History must be written of, by and for the survivors." —Anonymous

I was born in 1948 in Olomouc, shortly after the infamous communist coup in February of that year in the former Czechoslovakia (present-day Czech Republic). It marked the beginning of Soviet supremacy, until their complete withdraw in 1989. Since 1996, I reside in Durango, Colorado.

My grandfather was a very accomplished athlete in the sport of wrestling, but always in the shadow of his older brother, the "world superman" wrestler Gustav. In addition to being a professional athlete, my grandfather Frantisek was also a very dedicated and hardworking farmer. In 1953, essentially overnight, the government seized my grandparents' farm during the collectivization process. My grandparents were imprisoned while the government officials took all of their property, belongings, and livestock into the government's possession. Up until that time, my parents and I had lived on the farm.

Not until much later, I found out that the name Fristensky carried prestige in the country, thus saving the family from additional reprimands by the government. At this time I became more interested in the Fristensky's athletic accomplishments, which empowered me in my personal athletic pursuits.

I was 19 years old when the 1968 Prague Spring began – major positive political and economical changes swept the country. It was a very optimistic and exciting time, but it didn't last very long. On the 21st of August in 1968, the Soviets demonstrated their power once more and rolled with their tanks over the country's promising spring. On September 21st of that year myself, my two younger brothers, along with our parents, defected to Switzerland.

The first few months, even years, living in Switzerland felt like living in a fairytale. The transformation from living behind the Czechoslovakian iron curtain –where the communist ideology was pounded in us everyday –to the western lifestyle, was indescribable. This transition became apparent when I moved to the United States in 1978. When I was a young boy my grand father used to tell me "between the lines": "If you ever want to achieve anything in your life, you must move to America, but do not dare to tell anybody." Well, there I was following his advice.

As I grew older I realized my desire to find out about the legacy of the Fristensky name and its continuous acclaim in the Czech Republic. My mother's family completely perished in the Nazi concentration camps – with the exception of her brother Peter, who escaped from the death train at the end of the WW II (which I did not know about that until much later). I never asked and when I wanted to know, it was too late. Many of the older Fristensky generation is no longer with us, therefore it is my mission to gather and organize as much information as I can to preserve our family history for future generations.

" Like branches on a tree, our lives may grow in different directions, yet our roots remain as one."