Five who stood up to Nazis, Communists, and Russians honored in Prague

This year's recipients of the Memory of the Nation Awards included a Czech woman imprisoned by the Gestapo and a Ukrainian Orthodox priest. Staff

Written by Staff Published on 18.11.2023 17:00:00 (updated on 18.11.2023) Reading time: 2 minutes

At the National Theatre in Prague on Friday evening, five individuals who resisted oppression under Nazis, Communist, and Russian occupiers were honored with this year's Memory of Nations Awards, presented by the NGO Post Bellum.

The ceremony, attended by President Petr Pavel and his wife Eva, marked an especially special occasion, with Pavel being the first Czech head of state to attend since the awards' inception in 2010. The event also paid tribute to the late former foreign minister Karel Schwarzenberg.

This year's recipients included Jan Litomiský, a Czech dissident and spokesperson for the Charter 77 human rights movement, which vehemently opposed the totalitarian communist regime in Czechoslovakia. In his acceptance speech, Litomiský emphasized that the award recognizes the collective efforts of the Committee for the Defence of the Unjustly Prosecuted.

Hailing from what is now Slovakia, Maria Šidová and Eva Karvasová faced persecution under the communist regime. Karvasová, whose father aided partisans during World War II, was targeted by the Gestapo, the Nazi secret police, and later by the Communists for her marriage to anti-regime novelist and playwright Petr Karvas.

Šidová and her family assisted those persecuted by the regime, hiding priest Jan Hutyra in the 1950s, leading to her arrest and imprisonment. Reflecting on her experiences, Šidová expressed appreciation for saving her parents from punishment.

Czech Marie Klangová was recognized for her resistance against the Nazis during World War II. Forced to work in Germany, she collaborated with a British prisoner of war on the V1 cruise missile.

Arrested by the Gestapo, Klangová endured harsh interrogations and refused to betray her British comrade. Escaping imprisonment in Dresden after the city's bombing, she accepted the honor with humility, emphasizing the fight against evil and injustice.

The fifth awardee, Ukrainian Orthodox priest Vasyl Vyrozub, demonstrated bravery during the 2013 Kyiv protests and later as a military chaplain in eastern Ukraine. Captured by Russians during an expedition to retrieve soldiers' bodies, Vyrozub endured torture before his release in a prisoner exchange.

Since 2010, the Memory of Nation Awards have celebrated individuals who exemplify honor, freedom, and human dignity in challenging circumstances, honoring those who have heroically maintained their principles during difficult moments in their lives.

Would you like us to write about your business? Find out more