"Here's looking at you kid...": a Czech girl in wartime Casablanca

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If the film Casablanca had not been fiction, perhaps Sam would have played "As Time Goes By" for the Prague-born writer Lenka Reinerova. In 1941 she was one of many thousands of refugees who found themselves trapped in the Moroccan port as they tried to escape occupied Europe for the New World. Lenka Reinerova was born 88 years ago into a German-speaking Prague Jewish family.

Lenka Reinerova
If the film Casablanca had not been fiction, perhaps Sam would have played "As Time Goes By" for the Prague-born writer Lenka Reinerova. In 1941 she was one of many thousands of refugees who found themselves trapped in the Moroccan port as they tried to escape occupied Europe for the New World. Lenka Reinerova was born 88 years ago into a German-speaking Prague Jewish family. When the Second World War broke out she was in France and ironically found herself being interned as an enemy alien. She was eventually released, but then quickly had to flee France in the face of the German occupation. In the end she managed to escape to Mexico - but not before a long, unscheduled stop in Casablanca. Here she remembers back to that time.

A scene from the film Casablanca
"One of my most adventurous experiences was Casablanca. Nowadays you just go to some travel agency to buy a ticket and you are God knows where, but to this day I am sure that I was the very first ever girl from Prague who ever walked through Casablanca.

"It was involuntary also - I was on my way to Mexico from France, and the boat I was on stopped there and didn't continue. So I was stuck there. First I was in some camp and then I somehow I managed to get a "laissez-passer" for 48 hours, and of course I never came back to this camp.

"And then I was half a year - a full six months - living in Casablanca, and that is to this day one of my greatest adventures in life. I was completely alone. I had almost no money. I had to make some money even just to be there, and somehow I managed. Not only did I manage, but I am - if it is possible - kind of grateful to myself that even in this very complicated situation, I enjoyed being there. I somehow felt - this is an adventure and take it!"