Prague, Nov 17 (CTK) – Former Czech and Slovak political prisoners Frantisek Suchy, Maria Matejcikova, and Frantisek Lizna and Otto Simko, who was repeatedly persecuted for his Jewish origin, received the Czech Memory of the Nations awards in the National Theatre in Prague on Friday.

Suchy, 90, hid the ashes of the executed victims of Nazism and Communism so that they could have dignified burials later. He did this together with his father who was the director of the Prague-Strasnice crematorium. He was arrested for hiding a U.S. intelligence agent and subversive leaflets. He was sentenced to 25 years in prison and released from prison in 1964, after serving half of his sentence.

Matejcikova, 86, helped hide a Catholic priest who escaped from a prison hospital to which he was sent after being brutally beaten by the secret police. She was sentenced to five years in prison for high treason. After the fall of the communist regime, she was engaged in the effort to rehabilitate political prisoners and unjustly prosecuted people.

Priest Frantisek Lizna, 76, was imprisoned for anti-communist activities five times, namely for fleeing the country, distributing illegal books and printing a leaflet about political prisoners. He is known for his pilgrimages: he walked about 8,000 km in 1984.

Simko, 93, was repeatedly persecuted for being a Jew. Thanks to false baptism certificates, his family avoided concentration camps but was sent to labour camps under Nazism. He took part in the Slovak National Uprising as a partisan. We underwent brutal police questionings in the 1950s, which was motivated by anti-Semitism, and lost his job. In the early 1970s purges he lost his work again.

The Post Bellum organisation has been awarding eye witnesses of crucial moments of the 20th century since 2010. Historians select the winners of the awards from the Memory of Nations online database that includes about 5,500 witness stories. More than 30 personalities have received the award so far, including war veterans, political prisoners, resistance fighters, Holocaust survivors, persecuted writers, underground culture representatives, scouts and church members.