Wartime Czechoslovak spymaster František Moravec’s remains brought back from US

The remains of Czechoslovakia’s World War II head of intelligence, General František Moravec, are being ceremonially reburied in his home town of Čáslav this Tuesday. The spy chief died in exile in the United States and was buried for decades in Washington D.C. However, through the efforts of his family, he is now being moved back to his home country amid much pomp and circumstance.

General František Moravec is known in the Czech Republic as the country’s wartime intelligence chief who played a significant role in ensuring that the state of Czechoslovakia would continue to exist after the defeat of Nazi Germany.

However, in America, where Moravec lived his final years after being forced to leave Czechoslovakia in 1948, the spy chief was largely unknown, his granddaughter Anita recalls in an interview for Czech Radio.

“I do sometimes come across people who know of him, or mostly know about Reinhard Heydrich and Operation Anthropoid. And I tell them: ‘My grandfather was responsible for that.’ (laughs)

"But that sense of history did not impact the US as much, so there is really very little recognition here.”

Operation Anthropoid, the May 1942 assassination of acting Reichsprotector of Bohemia and Moravia Reinhard Heydrich, was carried out by a team of Czechoslovak paratroopers trained and organised under the leadership of František Moravec from exile in London.

According to General Jan Beroun who is the country’s current head of military intelligence, a position once held by František Moravec, Anthropoid played a key role in ensuring the recognition of a Czechoslovak state after the Second World War.

Anita Moravec Gard | Photo: Luboš Pavlíček,  ČTK

“The result was clearly positive and for Czechoslovakia it meant that the great powers changed their stance towards the Munich Agreement.”

Moravec spent the last decades of his life working as an advisor for the US Defence Department in Washington D.C. and it was there that he remained buried until now.

The first impulse to bring his remains back to his place of origin – the Central Bohemian town of Čáslav – came from his granddaughter Anita, says her brother Alan.

“We were looking for a better location for his final resting place. Anita was the prime person driving this.

"Originally, she was just planning to go over herself or with several of us on a regular plane as private people and have the ashes interned in the Čáslav cemetery. However, as other people found out, it became a more involved celebration and memorial for my grandfather.”

Photo: Josef Vostárek,  ČTK

Now General Moravec’s US-based descendants are traveling back to his homeland to attend his funeral and meet several of their Czech family members. Traveling to Communist Czechoslovakia was impossible for them, but the family has visited the country several times since the fall of the Iron Curtain, says granddaughter Anita.

“I think we have all become closer to the Czech side than we were before. Before it was primarily my mother’s wonderful cooking of koláče (laughs) and the stories. It has brought us closer and I hope that that friendship continues.”

The reburial in Čáslav is being attended by members of General Moravec’s family as well as representatives of the state. Defence Minister Jana Černochová said that the former spy chief will also be honoured during the celebrations of the 80th anniversary of Operation Antrhopoid which will take place later this year.