When Forman was seven, he was called out of class to see his father standing with two Gestapo men. His father’s pleasant demeanor disguised the seriousness of the situation. He told him to do his homework and give his mother an envelope. Forman did not understand why his mother burst into tears upon reading the letter inside. After serving in prison for being a part of a Czech Resistance group which distributed banned books, Rudolf Forman was called in front of a judge that said he could be released on time served; he never was released. Then, Forman witnessed his mother being taken away. At ten-years-old, Forman was in bed with a fever when he heard a knock at the front door, men’s voices, and draws slamming. The Gestapo entered and searched the house. His mother was taken away along with 12 other women from the village. Eleven of the women returned to the village. She never did. Forman later found out that the Gestapo man who had stamped his mother and father’s file “Return Nondesirable” had once worked for his family on their summer hotel. Both his parents perished in concentration camps. Forman later found out that his biological father was a Jewish architect named Otto Kohn. He had worked on the family’s summer hotel. During the war, he moved to South America. After finding out about his father, Forman tried to reconnect with him, but it never worked out.
Photo courtesy of Oldřich Škácha