Ceremonial Persentation of the Václav Benda Award
On 15 November 2012
, the ceremonial presentation of the Václav Benda Award and commemorative medals “For Freedom and Democracy” took place at the Residence of the Mayor of the City of Prague. Commemorative medals of the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes “For Freedom and Democracy” were presented to:
An opponent of totalitarian regimes and a political prisoner. She was a member of a Christian scout group and participated in meetings of Catholic Family. She hid a number of priests and monks, helping to organise the illegal cross-border escape of some of them. After her arrest in 1953, she was sentenced to 11 years in prison, of which she spent seven in Communist correctional facilities at Prague’s Ruzyně, Žielezovce and Pardubice. Following her release she worked in a warehouse and as a lab assistant. Mrs. Jitka Malíková received her medal in person.
Ivan M. Havel
Academic, cybernetician and representative of the Czech dissident movement. He graduated in the field of automatisation and computers from the Electro-Technical Faculty of the Czech Technical University in Prague, before earning a doctorate at the University of California, Berkeley. He played a significant role in the activities of the samizdat publication “Expedice” (“Expedition”), ran flat seminars and organised links between the Czech opposition and people abroad. As an expert in cybernetics, he assisted in the use of the first computers by dissidents. In November 1989 he was one of the founders of Civic Forum. At the start of the 1990s he habilitated in the field of artificial intelligence at the Third Medical Faculty at Prague’s Charles University. He currently works for the Center for Theoretical Studies at Charles University and at the Czech Academy of Sciences, as well as being editor-in-chief of the magazine “Vesmír” (“Cosmos”). Mr. Ivan M. Havel received his medal in person.
Opponent of totalitarian regimes and political prisoner. During WWII she served as an intermediary to Col. Josef Robotka. After the Communist takeover of February 1948 she became involved in the anti-Communist resistance. Following arrest in August 1949, she was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Her uncle General Josef Robotka received the death penalty and was executed in 1952. She was imprisoned in jails such as those in Znojmo, Prague’s Ruzyně and Pardubice and at the Minkovice and Chrastava labour camps. She was conditionally released after 10 years in 1959. Mrs. Vlasta Jakubová received her medal in person.
Persecuted under the totalitarian regime, originally from a family of farmers. When his father was dubbed a kulak by the Communists, their farm was nationalised and the family persecuted. As a result of this situation he was unable to enter university and was sent to the Auxiliary Technical Battalions (PTP, a kind of labour camp). After the fall of the Communist totalitarian regime he became a member of the PTP documentation commission, the Central Committee of the PTP Union and the chairman of the Czech PTP Union. Mr. Jiří Růžička received his medal in person.
Racially persecuted during the Nazi occupation. Thanks to help from neighbours and friends she succeeded in avoiding a transport to a concentration camp. Unlike dozens of her family members, she survived the Porajmos. Today she is one of the last living survivors of the Romani Holocaust in the Czech Republic. Mrs. Emilie Machálková received her medal in person.
Translator from French and Italian. In the 1970s and 1980s she was involved in organisational work linked to samizdat publication, taking care of transcription and book binding. She maintained contact with foreign journalists and diplomats and helped distribute mail to dissidents. Mrs. Drahoslava Janderová received her medal in person.
Worked with the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC) intelligence service. Under the codename “Eagle” he took part in anti-Communist activities. He was arrested in connection with the exposure of the group of cross-border agent Viktor Palkovič and sentenced to life imprisonment in 1950 after being found guilty of treason. He served the first part of his sentence at Leopoldov jail, before being transferred to the Jáchymov camps. Released under an amnesty in 1960. His daughter, Mrs. Mária Baranová, collected his medal.
Poet and translator. After completing his studies at the Arts Faculty of Prague’s Charles University he worked until 1960 as an editor at the Horizont publishing house, before later working as an antiquarian. After signing Charter 77 he was forced to make a living as a janitor. He was involved with the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. In the second half of the 1980s he worked on the samizdat magazine “Střední Evropa” (“Central Europe”). From 1990, he lectured on cultural anthropology at Charles University for six years. In 1996, he received the Jaroslav Seifert Prize. He is a regular contributor to Revolver Revue. Mr. Zbyněk Hejda received his medal in person.
Opponent of totalitarian regimes and political prisoner. She took part in anti-Communist activities, disseminated flyers, and hid friends who had deserted from military service. In 1952, she was sentenced to 15 years, receiving three more for attempting to escape. She was released in 1966. Following the occupation of August 1968, she and her mother left for Australia where she earned a bachelor’s degree in arts before studying archaeology, medieval history, psychology and sociology. In 1981, the exile publishing house Sixty-Eight Publishers issued her prison memoirs Byly jsme tam taky (We Were There Too). Her medal will be presented to her family by the Czech Republic’s diplomatic representation in Australia.
Folk singer-songwriter and composer. At the end of the 1960s he performed with Vladimír Veit, before later going solo. He was repeatedly named songwriter of the year. Founder and member of the Šafrán folk association. In 1977, he actively took part in the Third Festival of the Second Culture at Hrádeček. Signatory of Charter 77. Under pressure from the State Security’s “Clearance” operation, he left Czechoslovakia in 1978 and settled in the Netherlands, where he worked in exile for the Czechoslovak opposition. Following the fall of Communism, he actively took part in public discussions on the need to come to terms with the past, among other activities. Mr. Jaroslav Hutka received his medal in person.
Legionnaire, head of the Main Staff of the Czechoslovak Army and supreme commander of operations. In 1917, as an officer of the Austro-Hungarian Army he was taken captive by the Russians and a month later joined the Czechoslovak Legion. He distinguished himself at the battles of Bakhmach and for the Siberian railroad. In 1919–1920, he led the 2nd division of the Czechoslovak Legion in Russia. He was appointed general in Czechoslovakia, graduated from the Military University in Paris and in 1928 was promoted to division general. At the end of 1933 he was named head of the Main Staff on the instigation of President T.G. Masaryk; he later became supreme commander of operations. In the critical year of 1938, he was charged with organising the national defence. Under pressure from political leaders, he accepted capitulation on 30 September 1938. During the Nazi occupation he was briefly imprisoned. When WWII ended he was not recalled to the army; in 1947 he was definitively placed in the reserve. Five years later he was demoted to the rank of private, had his pension revoked and made a living as a labourer. His daughter, Mrs. Marie Žižková, collected his medal.
World-renowned expert in international criminal law, general of the judicial service, member of the United Nations Commission for the Investigation of War Crimes, chairman of the Czechoslovak delegation at the International Military Tribunal for the Punishment of War Criminals in Nuremberg, and judge of the International Court of Justice in the Hague. His grandson, Mr. Jaroslav Lorek, collected his medal.
Composer and musician. He was first prosecuted in 1969 for “disorderly conduct” in connection with protests on the first anniversary of the occupation of Czechoslovakia. From 1978 to 1989, he was a leading activist of the Jazz Section. He signed Charter 77 in 1979. He contributed to the underground magazine “Vokno” and in 1985 brought out the extensive publication “Alternativa” in samizdat form. He has been a member of the groups Extempore, MCH Band and others. In 1990, he swapped the profession of labourer for a career as a professional musician. His medal was collected by Mrs. Kateřina Volková.
Poet, librarian, editor, and film critic, a representative of the Prague underground. He graduated in library studies and academic information. He first published the revue “Tvář” (“Shape”), before later putting out other literary magazines. When the normalisation period began he mainly made a living as a manual worker, publishing in samizdat. He was a signatory of Charter 77 and the “Return of the King” manifesto, and was a member of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted. After 1989, he was librarian in the Office of the President, contributed to “Respekt” and the “Literary Supplement of Revolver Revue” and worked at the magazine “Střední Evropa” (“Central Europe”). His medal was collected by Mr. Jiří Gruntorád, the director of the samizdat library Libri Prohibiti.
Distinguished Czech graphic artist, painter, photographer and designer. He worked in the studio of Alfons Mucha in Paris before later working in the United States. He was the creator of the “Česká grafika” (“Czech Graphic Art”) series and a founder of modern Czech graphic art. Following the Nazi occupation in March 1939, he contributed to the illegal national patriotic resistance magazine “V boj” (“To Battle”) and later, following the arrest of the first “First Line Squadron” publishing team, took over its publication with his daughter Inka Bernášková (the Spořilov issue). In September 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo and subsequently deported to the Dachau concentration camp, where he died in 1944. His medal was collected by Mrs. Barbora Bažantová, mayor of the municipality of Světec.
Leading official of the Central Distilling Organisation in Prague. After the end of WWII, he became general secretary of the distilling and yeast industry, before being stripped of his position by an Action Committee in 1948. Legal clerk and later translator at the national enterprise Konstrukta Praha. From 1955, he was a willing collaborator of the Czechoslovak Intelligence Office (CIO), the Czechoslovak section of the British intelligence service. He provided his friend JUDr. Josef Potoček with sensitive economic, political and military information that his position afforded him access to. Following his betrayal by Karel Zbytek in London, he was arrested on 14.7.1956. He was investigated and was at the end of the year tried in court, where he and Josef Potoček received the death penalty for treason and espionage. His execution took place on 26 January 1957 at Prague’s Pankrác prison. His medal was collected by his son, Mr. Václav Kvíčera.
Opponent of totalitarian regimes and political prisoner. At the end of WWII she helped the partisan movement. In February 1945, she and her parents were arrested by the Gestapo and placed in Brno’s Cejl prison. Following the Communist Party’s takeover, she was active in the Libuše 23 resistance group which received weapons, broadcast to other countries and hid people. In 1954, she and her father were arrested and sentenced to 18 years in jail. She was released in 1963. Her medal was collected by her daughter, Mrs. Helena Šenkeříková.
Participant in the anti-Communist resistance, cross-border agent. He and his brother Josef helped people under threat cross the border into Bavaria in the 1948–1952 period. In September 1950 he went to look for his son and, near České Žleby, fell into a trap set up by the Border Police, during which he was shot dead; later the same night he was secretly buried. Fortunately, Josef Hasil was not injured and bravely continued to help people cross the border for two more years. His medal was collected by his nephew, Mr. Jaroslav Hasil.
Participant in the anti-Nazi resistance, cross-border agent. Became involved in the resistance in 1944. During the Slovak National Uprising he was captured but managed to escape and so avoid a transport to Germany. On 4 October 1948, he was a passenger on a C47 Dakota plane from Bratislava to Prague that landed in Munich. After a month in Germany, he returned to Czechoslovakia as a cross-border agent tasked with establishing contacts and gathering information on political and economic developments. He was arrested in the course of the following year. During a six-month trial, his death sentence was commuted to life imprisonment. He served his sentence in Leopoldov jail and in the Jáchymov work camps. Following his release in 1964 he worked as a labourer. His medal will be presented to Mr. Živodar Tvarožek at a later date.
Victim of communist violence, priest from Číhošť in the Havlíčkův Brod area. According to witnesses, a half-metre crucifix on the altar in the local church repeatedly moved, which attracted the attention of the State Security. On 28 January 1950 he was arrested, taken to Valdice prison and, by means of cruel torture, forced to confess that he had covertly moved the cross. He was subsequently charged with staging the so-called Číhošť miracle. He was taken in a critical condition to a state sanatorium in Prague on 25.2.1950, where he died as a result of his cruel treatment. His medal was collected by the Archbishop of Prague and primate of the Czech Roman Catholic Church Cardinal Dominik Duka.