Czechs don’t dispute the heroism of their grandfather, his father was more careful, says Barbara Masin.

On Friday, the Masinov family held a grand memorial ceremony for three resistance movements at the family farm in Roshany, Kolin Region. One of the former resistance groups still alive, Joseph Maschin the Jr., did not arrive. His daughter Barbara flew from America to replace him, speaking in an exclusive interview with Aktuálně.cz about why, in her opinion, Czechs should consider her father and uncle as heroes as her grandfather. rice field.

Barbara’s grandfather Josef machine The elder stood up to the Nazis during World War II. sons of joseph When honorable After the occupation ended, they joined the anti-communist resistance and left for Western Europe in 1953. Until now, the name of the Machine brothers has caused conflicting reactions among Czechs. Some appreciated their courage in fighting the totalitarian regime of the time, while others killed needlessly.

“When my grandfather fought the Germans, their group planted 2,000 bombs in factories and trains. After the explosions, there were undoubtedly civilian casualties. Undeniably. But, In my grandfather’s case, the Czechs took it as a necessary loss, and no one disputes his heroism,” points out Barbara Machine.

Did your father tell you about how you fought communism when you were a child?

He didn’t talk about resistance. Before he went to bed, he told me about his escape from Czechoslovakia to Berlin. The story always ended at the most exciting moment. Mom told him not to tell us that because we couldn’t sleep. But we always wanted to hear it over and over again. that no one dies.Of course it didn’t (In 1953, the Maschin brothers’ group fled to West Germany. Three of the five members managed to escape, and Zbyněk Janata and Václav Šveda were captured and sentenced to death – editor’s note) .

But as an adult, I became more interested in the stories of my father and uncles when I wrote a book about them. Are you researching your family history and are you surprised by something you never heard from your dad?

When I wrote this book, I decided not to just believe what my father said. I spoke to witnesses, I spoke to people who were affected in some way, I visited archives. I wanted to get a Russian perspective, but it turns out to be late in 2001.if i run for president Yeltsin, still have a chance to get into the Russian archives.his successor Putin However, he closed the archive.

At that time, several books had already been published on this topic, perhaps the most famous of which is Ota Rambousk. just not scaryBut when people read those books, my father and uncle already found them too extreme. Those books had no context. It must be recognized that Czechoslovakia in the 1950s was very different from the 1970s and her 1980s. At that time he was in the 1950s, the Stalinist era. Communists arrested 3,000 people each month and sent them to uranium mines and labor camps. In the 1980s these labor camps ceased to exist. As such, those who read these books tended to view the stories through the lens of their own experiences with the regime.

Your grandfather is generally considered a hero in the Czech Republic, but what do you think about the fact that your father and uncle are considered murderers by some Czechs?

My father didn’t talk much about his parents. He just said that the machine people fought for freedom and we should be proud of our name. It was after the Velvet Revolution that journalists from the Czech Republic started going to see my father in Santa Barbara and asking questions. I think it was because I wanted the Czechs to know a little more about their history.

Then, when I was writing the book, he translated for me a letter my father had left for them, which was found in the Pankrat prison after the war. The letter was succinctly written: My father and uncle took it literally. The paradox is that after the communists came to power, people disappeared just like during the war, and labor camps were created. Although I have won countless medals in battles with the Czechs, they perceive my father and uncle differently.

Apparently The most contradictory act of the Mashin brothers was the murder of an ordinary policeman in Cerakovice who had already kept his composure., when the resistance group wanted to acquire weapons. Another policeman was killed earlier in a similar incident in Chlumec nad Cidlinou.

Yes, people are asking why they attacked the small local police stations of Chelakovice and Čurmets nad Chidorinou. However, these stations in the 1950s had the Model 23 submachine gun, a weapon used by the military. Aiming and killing just one person is not the same as using a gun. With a submachine gun he doesn’t shoot one person. mow down people They are used for frontal attacks in military operations. These weapons were kept in state police stations. This meant that these officers were armed to quell the riots.

At that time, Cerakovice had 5,000 inhabitants and one machine gun could fire 600 rounds per minute. If you line up all 5,000 inhabitants, you will die within 5 minutes. The fact that these officers had military weapons made them legitimate targets for the Resistance.

barbara machine

She was born in 1967. She is the daughter of her Josef Mašín, who belonged to an anti-communist resistance group with her brother her Ctirad in the early 1950s. Her grandfather was Joseph Masin the Elder, who fought the Bolsheviks during World War I and the Nazis during World War II.

Barbara grew up in Germany and now lives with her father in California. In 2005, she published her book Odkaz – The True Story of the Mašín Brothers, focusing mainly on her father and her uncle’s illegal flight to Berlin. He has her sister Sandra.

But didn’t you have to tell your dad that some things were already over?

When Grandpa was fighting the Germans, their group planted 2000 bombs in factories and trains. Undoubtedly, civilian casualties remained after the explosion. definitely. But in the case of my grandfather, the Czechs see it as necessary damage, and no one disputes his heroism. At the same time, my father and uncle became more careful. Basically, only those in uniform and those who swore to the Communist Party regime died. I mean, people who had guns.

You know, it was a regime where people couldn’t even own maps or copiers. And only those who were loyal to the party could own weapons. Those in arms swore to support the regime. This made them a legitimate target, as they were part of a mechanism to murder people. The Nazis fought for nationality, the communists fought for class status. They wanted to get rid of the bourgeoisie.

Your family fought two totalitarian regimes. Including your grandfather, a Russian legionnaire, he had three against the Bolsheviks, where did that courage come from?

we have to do what we need to do His father told me that he was the only group that led the Resistance at the time, and that was theirs. But there was always the paranoia in the communist media that someone was always trying to undermine the regime. At the same time, Free Europe and Voice of America claimed that there was an armed resistance fighting for freedom in Czechoslovakia, and when my father and uncle heard it from his two opposing sides, I believed it. They were convinced that they too had to get involved in order for the regime to fall. Unfortunately, there was no mass resistance at the time.

My family paid a lot of money…

Do you know why I wrote a book about it? This story is very important not only for Czechs, but also for Americans. Because it’s about people who have done the right thing despite all the obstacles. In such situations, we all have a choice. Are we keeping our mouths shut or are we actually doing something?

The newly opened memorial at Roshani, the farm where your family lived, is also intended to commemorate this idea. He even wrote that he hoped that he would do something for me. How do you relate to this place?

My family has lived here since the 16th century. It’s a very special place for machines. We believe this place needs to be preserved and we want to preserve it as part of our family heritage.

Why didn’t your father come and stay in America?

It is no secret that he does not like the fact that after the fall of the communist regime there was no clear separation from this criminal system. Judges who had previously rendered inhumane and unjust sentences remained judges. Moreover, while some victims of communism were rehabilitated after the Velvet Revolution, fathers, uncles, etc. who were actually armed were spoken of as murderers rather than as fighters against the regime. I don’t think this whole country has yet realized that the armed struggle against communism was just as justified as it was against the Nazis.

Barbara, her sister Sandra (right) and her aunt Zdenka (wheelchair center) inside a rebuilt farmhouse in Roshani.

Barbara, her sister Sandra (right) and her aunt Zdenka (wheelchair center) inside a rebuilt farmhouse in Roshani. | | Photo: Honza Mudra

Some lawmakers are now proposing to the president to honor the Machine brothers. Order of the White Lion. Isn’t that enough?

They have already won awards such as the Golden Linden. Mr. Alexandre Bondola (former Minister of Defense, editor’s note) traveled to the United States to present this award to his father. But it was an award based on personal beliefs, not from the government. Things are different now. This is the closest thing to state endorsement as it is endorsement proposed by elected representatives of the people.

how do you talk to your dad at home Czech language?

No, I only know a little bit of Czech.

Did he not want you to know his native language?

We grew up in Germany. Dad didn’t speak Czech to us. He wanted us to learn French and Spanish. In other words, it’s a convenient language for us. At that time, the western and eastern borders were still closed. But her mother tried to keep in touch with her family on the Czech side, and even during the communist era, her mother, sister and I visited my aunt several times. Seeing how things worked here in the 1970s and comparing it to the West was very enlightening to me.

Now you have opened your farm. Director Tomás Masin is preparing a film about Joseph and Ktilad, but does your family have other plans?

We are glad that you are interested in our story and that lessons can be learned from it. That is, “If someone opposes, an unjust regime cannot stand.” Democracy was introduced in the Czech Republic, allowing people to vote freely. This is a big change. However, this system cannot stand on its own. People have to be active, interested and try to keep it.

Video: Joseph Machine’s Daughter on a Family Farm: Lessons Can Be Learned from Our Story

In an earlier interview at the family farm, Joseph Masin’s daughter Barbara argued that Czechs could learn from her family’s story.


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