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Signatory of Charter 77 Ledererová dies in Germany

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Prague, May 30 (CTK) – Translator Elzbieta Ledererova, one of the first signatories of the Charter 77 Czech human rights manifesto, died in Augsburg, Germany, on Saturday, at the age of 85 years, historian Petr Blazek told CTK on Tuesday.

Ledererova was also a constituent member of the Committee for the Defense of the Unjustly Prosecuted (VONS).

Her husband Jiri Lederer (1922-1983) was a significant dissident, journalist and writer who was imprisoned by the communist regime several times.

Ledererova, born in Kazimierz Dolny, Poland, on January 7, 1932, studied philology. She married her second husband, Jiri Lederer, in 1967 and they lived in Prague.

Together with her husband she was actively involved in public life that culminated with the Prague Spring communist-led reform movement in Czechoslovakia. She was writing articles to some Polish papers, cooperated with the Polish Culture and Information Centre and worked as a translator.

After the 1968 Soviet-led Warsaw Pact troops invasion of Czechoslovakia that crushed the Prague Spring movement, she and her husband were persecuted, the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (USTR) writes.

Jiri Lederer was repeatedly sent to prison for political reasons in the 1970s.

He and his wife were among the first signatories of Charter 77. Ledererova was also a constituent member of the VONS, established in 1978, and its only member without Czechoslovak citizenship at the time when her husband was in prison and she lived alone with their daughter Monika.

After he was released, the whole family was subject to the operation of the communist secret police (StB) under the cover name Asanace (Clearance) with the aim to force Czechoslovak dissidents to emigrate in the 1980s.

Ledererova as a citizen of Poland faced the threat of not having her residence in Czechoslovakia extended and so the family decided to move to Germany under pressure.

Jiri Lederer was active in the exile movement and worked as a journalist in Germany. He published several books abroad and in samizdat. His book Jan Palach. A Report on the Life, Act and Death of a Czech Student (1990) was published after his death. It was about the student who immolated himself in 1969 in reaction to the 1968 Soviet occupation and the lethargy in society afterwards.

After the collapse of the communist regime in 1989, the family for striving in vain for the return of Czechoslovak or Czech citizenship to Lederer posthumously.

Ledererova received the Vaclav Benda award from the USTR in 2014. Like her husband, she will be buried at a cemetery in Bad Birnbach, Germany.

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