Politician, lawyer, brave warrior, wife, mother and above all a victim of the communist regime. Many years after her death, Milada Horáková became a symbol against the totalitarian regime, and today the whole of the Czechia commemorates her memory at several locations. The woman, whose courage seems baffling to many of us even seventy years later, believed in democracy and wished for a free tomorrow not only for her daughter Janička, but for the whole of what was then Czechoslovakia. What we take for granted today was, until recently, only a dream and wish of a woman who walked to her execution with her head held high.
It's 1950 and summer is in full swing. On June 27, the then children in Czechoslovakia are looking forward to the holidays. At the same time, however, a woman was sitting in the Pankrác prison, reconciled to the fact that she would not live to see the light of another day.
"The birds are already waking up, it's dawning. I walk with my head held high - there is dignity in defeat. It is not a shame. Even an enemy deserves respect, if he is true and honest. People fall in a battle, and what is life other than a battle? Good health to you! I remain yours sincerely, Milada,"
these are the words of the last letter from Dr. Milada Horáková, who was hanged in the backyard of the prison five minutes past six in the morning. The reason was clear. She was not afraid to speak out against the then totalitarian regime and managed to stand up for the truth.
"Milada Horáková was assassinated by the Communists on the basis of a contrived political process. Not even requests for clemency from personalities such as Albert Einstein could help. There was only one reason for this crime: Dr. Milada Horáková was not indifferent to injustice and had the courage to face it. It is our duty to commemorate her story and defend it from those for whom the truth is still uncomfortable today,"
stated the mayor of the capital city of Prague Zdeněk Hřib. According to historians, Dr. Milada Horáková was dying on the gallows for a quarter of an hour. This cruel death was just another proof of communist evil.
You may have noticed large-scale visuals with a portrait of Milada Horáková and the caption "Murdered by Communists" at multiple locations in Prague. These banners can be seen, for example, at the Faculty of Law of Charles University, where Milada Horáková studied, or in the buildings of the National Museum, Karolina, FAMU, Rudolfinum or the Trade Fair Palace.
"We must never forget her sacrifice. That is why I am glad that we will also commemorate her in this way in public space,"
said Jiří Pospíšil, chairman of the United Forces for Prague club. People in Prague could also commemorate her death via municipal radio, which broadcasted an audio collage of the trial and of the letters Milada wrote to her family several times in a row.
The story of this woman is an inspiration for many of us today, it gives us strength and courage. It would therefore be a mistake to claim that the Czechs don't have their own world-renowned heroes. When we look back at our history, we can be proud of the names we find there. For example, without Gabčík and Kubiš, who fought against the Nazis until the very last breath, without Milada Horáková, Jan Palach or Václav Havel, we as a nation would not have stood together on Wenceslas Square in 1989 and would not have rang the keys to welcome freedom. And, of course, we could mention a long list of other names of heroes who were not afraid to stand up and fight.