Speech by Josef Masin -- April 06, 2005

I appreciate the honor that you have bestowed upon us with this medal. I am especially happy that it is being given by a group of individuals who have themselves experienced Communist oppression and that this is an organization of Czechs and Slovaks together, which I view as the nation that we fought to free.

I understand the award of this medal not just for myself personally, but also for our friends in Czechoslovakia and in the U.S. Army who worked to free the country. Including those whose activity until today has not been recognized.

Today, 15 years after the collapse of the Soviet bloc, I have to recognize with great sadness that the republic we have fought for has been dismembered, and many of the old, Communist-era structures have remained in place, only the name being changed. Many of those present here surely know that I and my brother have not until the present day returned to Czechoslovakia and I hope that you understand this decision, which, although difficult for us, was reached by us after ample reflection. Unfortunately the Czech Republic today is a state in which the Communist party continues to have legitimacy and even participate in the government; and the legal system is based on the principle of continuity. Even the highest judge of the land is a former member of the Communist party; the Communist Party which, before 1989, as the sole legal authority. It was the Communist Party which passed the death sentences over members of our resistance group. I cannot imagine that in a democratic Rechtsstaat, such as, for instance, the United States, a member of a criminal organization, which the Communist Party was without a doubt, could become the Chief Justice of the highest Court.

Unfortunately, the first set of leaders in 1989 has in my opinion perpetrated a crime on the Czechoslovak people by paving the way for legal and institutional continuity and has implemented an economic reform that would have made Nigeria proud. It has hollowed out the economy and stole the people's property. It was necessary to implement this continuity in order for the ex-Communists to retain their positions in the economy, in politics and in the justice system. They would have had to account for themselves, for their crimes and their membership in a criminal organization, and they would not have been able to continue playing leading roles in the economy, in politics and the justice system.

Today, 15 years after the Velvet Revolution, it isn't possible for us to even review the files that the StB has assembled on us, despite our best efforts. On the other hand, the ministers of the state have barred access to StB files about their activities during the Communist regime.

Those present here know that in the debate about our activities the objection is often raised that we made war when no official war had been declared. Is there a particular form in which war must be declared? For instance, how Germany invaded Poland and Czechoslovakia without a declaration of war? Or the Italians invaded Abyssinia? Would one also chastise the citizens of those countries for defending themselves and for killing armed opponents? The Communists did in fact declare a war against a majority of the country's population. A class war and a dictatorship of the proletariat. I can still remember that in our school in 1949 the teachers in the government sanctioned lessons, declared that the Communist Party exercises total power in the state and that the working proletariat which was being represented by the Communist Party was waging class war against the so-called bourgeoisie and kulaks. We took that declaration of war at face value. I continue to have hope that the new generation will bring about the rule of law and functional democracy in the Republic.

Freedom and the rule of law are precious and fragile gifts. In the course of human existence, those who have enjoyed them have been a tiny minority, and they come at a price. Some of our friends paid that price. They fought for the cause of freedom and they gave their lives for it. Let us remember them today!




  • Speech by Josef Masin -- April 06, 2005

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