Thursday, 24 April 2014

Memorial to anti-communist fighter Paumer unveiled in Poděbrady

8 October 2012

Podebrady, Central Bohemia, Oct 6 (CTK) - A commemorative plaque marking Czech anti-communist resistance fighter Milan Paumer, who died two years ago, was unveiled in Podebrady, where he lived, Saturday.

Paumer grew up in Podebrady where he met the brothers Ctirad and Josef Masin with whom he formed a resistance group after the communists seized power in 1948.

When he returned to the Czech Republic from exile in 2001, Paumer lived in Podebrady. He died on July 22, 2010, aged 79 years and he is buried in the town.

The place of commemoration with a plaque at the Podebrady chateau's courtyard was created after two-year efforts and long discussions in the town thanks to gifts from private investors, Milan Paumer Endowment chairman Jiri Cihlar told CTK.

It should clearly show that the activities of Paumer and the Masins were a regular fight against evil and the upcoming totalitarian regime that ruled in the country for 40 years, Cihlar said.

The Podebrady assemblymen pushed through the Paumer memorial by a narrowest possible majority of one vote.

This is probably the first memorial to the Masin group in the Czech Republic at a dignified place, said historian Eduard Stehlik.

Some 150 people attended the ceremony to unveil the plaque, including Zdena Masinova, sister of the Masin brothers, and Senate deputy chairman Premysl Sobotka (senior ruling Civic Democrats, ODS).

The Masin brothers and Paumer succeeded in fighting their way from the communist Czechoslovakia to West Germany in the early 1950s. During their armed resistance and later escape to the West, they killed six people, namely two Czech policemen, three East German security force members and an armed guard transporting money.

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

The Masins' case is still a highly divisive issue in the Czech society. Some label them murderers, while others consider them heroes who deserve a state decoration.

The left-wing Social Democrats (CSSD) and Communists (KSCM) have always refused to nominate them for decorations.

Neither current President Vaclav Klaus nor his predecessor Vaclav Havel have decorated them.

Sobotka, who si running for president, said as a head of state he would probably not award the Masin group members either though he considered them heroes.

Only former Czech Prime Minister Mirek Topolanek (ODS) presented the Masin brother and Paumer with a medal.

Defence Minister Alexandr Vondra (ODS) bestowed the Golden Linden highest military order on Ctirad Masin in memoriam at his funeral in The United States last year.

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