Charles’ Sister Honored in Prague — Awarded Benda Medal for Freedom & Democracy

Charles’ Sister Honored in Prague — Awarded Benda Medal for Freedom & Democracy

Credit: Institute for Study of Totalitarian Regimes

I wasn’t there in person to cheer her on, but on the Internet I’ve been able to see Charles’ 87 year-old sister Vlasta Jakubova honored for her service in the Czech Resistance during World War II and the Cold War. As the photo shows, she accepted her award in person. What an incredible woman!

The ceremony for the presentation of the Vaclav Benda Award and commemorative medals “For Freedom and Democracy” was held November 15, 2012. The awards were presented to 19 individuals by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, at the Residence of the Mayor of the City of Prague in the Czech Republic.

The award statement affirmed the following:

[Vlasta Jakubova was an] opponent of totalitarian regimes and [a] political prisoner. During World War II she served as an intermediary to Col. Josef Robotkà. After the Communist takeover of February 1948 she became involved in the anti-Communist resistance. Following arrest in August 1949, she was sentenced to 18 years in prison. Her uncle General Josef Robotka received the death penalty and was executed in 1952. She was imprisoned in jails such as those in Znojmo, Prague’s Ruzyně and Pardubice and at the Minkovice and Chrastava labour camps. She was conditionally released after 10 years in 1959.

A separate biography of Vlasta’s involvement in the resistance is included in Border Crossings: Coming of Age in the Czech Resistance by Charles Novacek.

Václav Benda, who died in 1999, was a Charter 77 signatory and samizdat publisher.

Charter 77 was a petition drawn up by some Czechoslovakian writers and intellectuals. It demanded that the Communist government of Czechoslovakia recognize basic human rights. Most of the rights it sought were already guaranteed by the Czechoslovakian Constitution and the Helsinki Accords, which the Czechoslovakian government had signed.

Few Czechoslovakian citizens had the courage to sign Charter 77. In a country of 15 million, less than two thousand Czechoslovakian citizens signed it. Most signed in 1989 as

Credit: Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes

the Communist regime was nearing collapse. The signers were mainly ordinary people with no agendas wishing to live their lives with integrity. Yet the government harassed the charter signers. Their meetings were banned. Many were ostracized, interrogated, forced to work at menial jobs, or put in jail.

For more information on the Benda Award see the website for the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes.

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