Work to begin on memorial to Josef Mašín and “three resistances”

Photo: ČTK/Josef Vostárek

Work is set to begin on a memorial to WWII resistance hero Josef Mašín and what are known as Czechoslovakia’s “three resistances”. It will be located at the farm that was home to the Mašíns, a family who left their mark on the country’s modern history.

Josef Mašín

On Wednesday, the 124th anniversary of the birth of Major General Josef Mašín, a mulberry tree was planted at the homestead where he was born at Lošany near Kolín.

The mulberry was the favourite tree of Mašín, who served in the Czechoslovak Legions in WWI and was a key member of the Czech resistance during WWII, before being executed by the Nazis in 1942.

Wednesday’s ceremony was the symbolic first step of a process of the creation of a new memorial there.

As well as to Mašín himself, it will pay tribute to what are known as Czechoslovakia’s three resistances: during WWI, WWII and the Communist period.

Historian Petr Blažek is a member of the association behind the place of remembrance.

Photo: ČTK/Josef Vostárek

“The memorial at the family home of Josef Mašín is conceived as a memorial to the three resistances. That’s because his wife Zdena Mašínová was engaged in the third resistance – she had also been active in the second one. Of course his sons, Ctirad and Josef, were also active in the third resistance; they had also been in the second resistance, for which they were decorated after the war. In our view the family symbolises the link between the three resistances.”

Ctirad and Josef Mašín escaped to the West in 1953 despite a massive manhunt. Some other members of their armed group were caught and executed and Zdena Mašínová died in prison in 1956.

The Mašíns’ younger sister, also named Zdena Mašínová, was jailed too after their defection. Today 86, she won ownership of the family farm in 2017 after a lengthy legal  battle.

Only the outside walls remained and the planned memorial should be a stark tribute.

Zdena Mašínová, photo: ČTK/Josef Vostárek

Among the key items on display will be a letter. Petr Blažek explains.

“It was found after the war in the cell from which Josef Mašín was taken to be executed at Kobylisy in 1942. In the letter he tells his children how they ought to behave. He emphasises the heart, saying that if they faced repression similar to that which he encountered they should not hesitate but fight for their homeland. For me, it symbolises the connection between the three resistances.”

The small museum – funded by a public collection – will also include information panels and tubular skylights in the roof; in the Czech national colours, they will move around the space in response to the movement of the sun.

The memorial should be completed in a year’s time and the organisers hope its future visitors will include school groups.