Press Advisories

24. 6. 2010 9:34

61 years have passed since the execution of General Píka

Soldiers and government officials met yesterday in front of the building of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic to honour the memory of General Heliodor Píka.

The military and political representatives of the Czech Republic, including for example President of the Senate of the Parliament of the Czech Republic Přemysl Sobotka, Deputy Minister of Defence Jan Fulík, First Deputy Chairman of the General Staff of the Army of the Czech Republic Brigadier General Miroslav Žižka and others, yesterday commemorated the 61st anniversary of the execution of the former Czechoslovak legionnaire, soldier and diplomat General Heliodor Píka. He was found guilty of espionage and high treason after a show trial and was executed at Bory Prison in Pilsen on 21 June 1949. General Píka was heavily involved in, apart from other things, the organisation of the creation of Czechoslovak military units and secured the release from the gulags of around twenty thousand Czechoslovak citizens, refugees from Transcarpathian Ukraine.

“General Píka called for the unification of the nation and in 1948 and 1949 this had genuine significance, but I also think that it continues to resonate today, and I would be happy if, during the current plans for further political changes in the running of our country, the nation was united at least insomuch as it values its own army. I say this because a nation that is not capable of defending itself, a nation that does not have a strong, well-trained and well-prepared army, has no right to existence,” said Deputy Minister of Defence Jan Fulík during his speech yesterday at Vítězné náměstí.

In his speech, Honorary Chairman of the Czechoslovak Legionary Association General Tomáš Sedláček commemorated the work of General Píka in the organisation of the Czechoslovak eastern unit and his important contribution to the liberation of Rusyns from the Soviet gulags. General Sedláček called this hero and victim of judicial murder a man who dedicated his whole life to the fight for freedom, democracy and justice in the Czechoslovak state.

Division General Heliodor Píka was born in 1897 in Štítina na Opavsku. He was a legionnaire in the First World War. He participated for example in the Battle of Zborov, he also fought on the western front and the battles for Cieszyn Silesia. During the Nazi protectorate the government-in-exile in London appointed him as military attaché in Bucharest, where he helped Czechoslovak and Hungarian refugees escape abroad. Between 1941 and 1945 he was based in the Soviet Union. He frequently stood up against practices in the Red Army and was embroiled in conflicts with representatives of the Czechoslovak communist exile. After the February putsch in 1948 he was arrested and charged with espionage and high treason and in a show trial was condemned to be executed by hanging. President Klement Gottwald refused to grant him amnesty. Yesterday exactly 61 years had passed since this first political execution and judicial murder in Czechoslovakia.

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