Wednesday, 23 April 2014

Govt to decorate late anti-communist fighter Mašín

ČTK |
18 August 2011

Prague, Aug 17 (CTK) - The Czech government wants to decorate former Czechoslovak anti-communist fighter Ctirad Masin who died in the USA on Saturday, Prime Minister Petr Necas said Wednesday.

Defence Minister Vondra (Civic Democrats, ODS) will attend Masin's funeral that will be held on in Cleveland, Ohio, on August 24. Czech ambassador to Washington, Petr Gandalovic, will attend the ceremonial event, too.

Necas said he regrets that he himself cannot go to the funeral due to his working programme.

He said both Masin brothers, Ctirad and Josef, would get the Golden Linden Decoration.

The opposition Social Democrats (CSSD) said Wednesday they disagree with awarding the Masins because their deeds are not perceived unequivocally.

"The government actually accepts the interpretation of the events as they were offered by the Masin brothers, or that it was a period when a war was waged against the communist regime. I would like to say that there is not consensus on this in our society at all," CSSD deputy chairman Lubomir Zaoralek told journalists.

"The criteria of heroism in war are entirely different from those in peace and civilian times. These two levels are constantly mixed up in the Masin brothers' case, and this leads to the big discords," Zaoralek said.

"It is a decoration awarded by the Defence Ministry. Ctirad Masin will get it in memoriam, Josef Masin will be presented with it on the spot," Necas said.

The Golden Linden together with the Cross of Merit are the highest decorations of the ministry. They were introduced by then minister Vlasta Parkanova in 2008.

Ctirad Masin, a U.S. citizen for a few decades, died after a long disease aged 81. He will be buried with military honours as a U.S. war veteran. He served in the U.S. armed forces for five years after he settled in the country.

The Masins case still divides the Czech society. They killed several people while fighting their way westwards in the early 1950s. That is why some brand them assassins, while others consider them heroes deserving a state decoration.

Besides the CSSD also the Communists (KSCM) have been traditionally opposed to awarding the group members.

Then prime minister Mirek Topolanek (ODS) decorated the Masins and Milan Paumer, another member of the resistance group, with a medal of the prime minister in 2008.

The Masin brothers and Paumer succeeded in fighting their way from the communist Czechoslovakia to West Germany. But other members of their resistance group were arrested and given death penalties or long prison sentences in Czechoslovakia.

Unlike Paumer, the Masins refused to return to the Czech Republic, which they said has failed to cut its legal and other ties with the former communist regime.

Ctirad Masin did not want to return to the Czech Republic even after his death. He wished to be buried in the U.S., Josef said.

Last year's funeral of Milan Paumer, a member of the former resistance group led by the Masin brothers, was held in Podebrady, central Bohemia, where Paumer had lived before his death. It was attended by top constitutional officials including Necas, Vondra, both deputy prime ministers and heads of both houses of Czech parliament.

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