Normally I don’t really post photos of people, but here, it’s to show a contrast how different nations treat heroes differently. Photo courtesy of Vollketten and Imperial War Museum.
Photo taken in London, time unknown. Members of the British and American military meet with the exile Czechoslovak government. For the allied side:
Brigadier General Edmund Hill – (in the back) U.S. Air Force, served with distinction during WW2, retired in 1946 back to the USA, where he lived a peaceful life of a honored veteran until he passed away in 1977.
Lieutenant General Sir Harold Edmund Franklyn – (forefront, second from the left), British Army, fought the Germans in France at Arras, buying the British enough time to evacuated, received a title of Sir, retired with honors in 1945, lived in Britain until 1963, celebrated as a war hero.
For the Czechoslovak side:
On the left, forefront, General Sergej Ingr, a member of Czechoslovak government (Minister of Defense) in exile until 1944. In 1940, he commanded the ten thousand Czechoslovak soldiers fighting in the Battle of France before evacuating to Great Britain. Based on the communist pressure, he was forcibly retired by Beneš in April 1945. He became an ambassador in Hague, but resigned after the communist coup of 1949 he was stripped of all his honors and decided to stay in exile. He never saw his home again and died in Paris in 1956.
Second from left, Air Vice Marshal Karel Janoušek, the commander of the Czechoslovak pilots serving in Royal Air Force, who, along with other pilots in exile – especially the Polish – played a major role in the Battle of Britain. Janoušek returned to Czechoslovakia in 1945 but was, soon after the 1948 communist coup, arrested on trumped up charges, demoted to private and sentenced to 18 years in prison by a communist kangaroo court. In 1950, his sentence was (again illegally) prolonged to life in prison. From 1948 to 1960, he stayed in several communist concentration camps. In 1960 he was released by a presidential amnesty and in 1968 he was rehabilitated, but with his health destroyed from years of imprisonment, he passed away soon after, in 1971. Sabaton wrong the song “Far from Fame” about him.
The third person on the far right is Jan Masaryk, son of the first Czechoslovak president Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk. A skilled diplomat, Jan Masaryk was a Minister of Foreign Affairs in the exile government. After the war, he continued as such in Czechoslovakia and hoped to build bridges between the east and the west. He never resigned and was one of the few ministers actively standing up to the communists during the coup. Two weeks after the communist coup, on 10.3.1948, he was found dead in front of his flat – he fell out of the window. The official version was that he committed suicide but the cause of his death was never truly discovered as the investigation was interrupted based on communist pressure. Many believe he was murdered.
And the moral of the story? Make no mistake. Communism is no different from nazism and some of the worst atrocities in history are nowadays passed with a wave of a hand only because the right side won the war…