By Jiri Valenta

                                                  BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 1,021, November 29, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: Shifts in perceptions among European Jews on where they feel safest is not due entirely to demographic change. It also has to do with Eastern European leaders like the Czech Republic’s Miloš Zeman, who, in the tradition of the country’s founder, Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, has become not just a strong voice for his people but a true friend of the Jews.

Czech President Miloš Zeman’s historic speech to the Israeli Knesset on November 26, 2018, in which he stressed that his country is not only Israel’s best friend in Europe but one of its best friends in the world, came on the heels of an important report released by the American Jewish Distribution Committee (JDC) on November 20.

The JDC report concluded that there is an ongoing historical shift in the perceptions of Jewish elites in Europe. Whereas a century ago they viewed Western Europe as a sanctuary for European Jewry, they now feel far safer in Eastern Europe. Analysts attributed this phenomenon to demographic changes in Western Europe; the influx of Muslim refugees in the wake of the wars in Iraq, Libya, and Syria, and the rise of radical Islam.

While this is undoubtedly a major factor, there is another element that must not be neglected by Western policymakers, particularly in Washington. That is the Herculean effort of some Eastern European leaders, above all, the Czech Republic’s Zeman, Hungary’s Viktor Orbán, and several leaders in Poland, to engage in what Zeman has called “the civilization struggle.”

In view of the demographic upheaval wrought on Western Europe by the massive Muslim immigration, and in defiance of the EU’s opprobrium, these leaders continue to defend the sovereignty of their nations against the rise of Islamism by prohibiting entry to Muslim migrants.

Miloš  Zeman, the first Czech president ever to address the Knesset, is at the forefront of this struggle. At the Knesset, he was given the honorary title, ‘”Defender of Jerusalem,” by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. In 2012 he was one of the first politicians in the world to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.

The story of the Czech Republic’s evolution into Israel’s best friend in Europe suggests that leaders matter in the struggle for freedom and liberty. Zeman’s visit to Israel was in the tradition of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk, the founder of the democratic modern Czechoslovak state in 1918 on the ruins of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. A true friend of the Jews, Masaryk became the hero to many Jewish Americans because of his defense in 1899 of a Jewish peddler accused of the ritual murder of a young Czech girl. At that time, Czechoslovakia was still part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Welcomed by American Jews during a visit to New York 1907 as a Slavic hero, he was not a hero to his countrymen. The anti-Semitic Czech and German Reds were marching daily outside his Prague apartment and his own students demonstrated against him.

After 1918, Jewish life flourished in imperfect yet democratic Czechoslovakia, which hosted World Zionist Congresses in 1921, 1922, and 1933. A 1927 visit by Masaryk to Jerusalem, during which he showed interest in both Arabs and Jews, not only symbolized his support for the Zionist cause but highlighted the new and special relationship between the Czech and Jewish peoples. Chaim Weizmann wrote, “Every Zionist should study the history of the Czech national movement and of the Czech struggle for national existence. In the late 1930s Czechoslovakia became a land of freedom.”

Then came another dark period in Czech modern history. The Munich Agreement of 1938 led to a massive rise in native Czech anti-Semitism. As in 1899, Masaryk was again labeled an instrument of Zionism during the Second Republic (1938-39) and the Nazi occupation. During this time, anti-Semitism permeated Czech society.

Then came yet another dramatic change after the liberation from the Nazis. After WWII, while the US and the Soviet Union laid the diplomatic and political groundwork for Israel’s establishment, Masaryk’s son, Jan, in the face of both British and American diplomatic opposition to Jewish immigration, opened the Czechoslovak borders to tens of thousands of Holocaust survivors from Poland. Reaching DP camps in Germany and Austria, they went on to mandatory Palestine, then to Israel, where they joined the struggle for a new Jewish homeland.

But then the Czechs did even more. In defiance of the British naval blockade, they sold both arms and planes to the Jews in Palestine, vital war materiel that helped the nascent Jewish State rebuff the Arab attempt to destroy it at birth. So vital were these weapons that David Ben-Gurion commented, “Without [them], we would not have survived.”

This support notwithstanding, the large wave of anti-Semitism that surged in 1938 did not subside until the 1967 Six-Day War, when Czech students welcomed the Israeli victory. It encouraged them in their own struggle for liberty from the Soviet empire. With the defeat of the 1968 Prague Spring, in which a young Miloš Zeman had actively participated, rabid anti-Semitism and support for radical Arab regimes resurfaced, with Czechoslovakia becoming a “second home” to the PLO.

After the end of the Cold War, new Czech president Vaclav Havel stopped sending arms to the PLO. Havel was a great dissident, playwright, and revolutionary. He approved the 1991 Sanford Ziff Freedom Flight of Soviet Jews to Israel through Prague and received three of them in Prague Castle.

Unfortunately, Havel listened to Middle East experts who convinced him to act as an intermediary between Yasser Arafat and Israeli leaders. Moreover, despite the objections of some senior foreign ministry officials, Prague sold 450 T-72 tanks to Syria in 1991. It also signed an agreement to build a large tank plant in Libya that did not materialize due to the lack of Libyan hard currency, and it approved selling the radar system Tamara, as well as some nuclear technology, to Iran in 1994. That sale was subsequently canceled only because the US planned to block Czech entry into NATO. Arafat returned to Prague in April 1990, and Syria, Libya, and Iran continued to receive Czech arms.

The real change came when Zeman became Prime Minister in 2002. He compared Arafat to Hitler, and when he became president, he enlarged the scope of his support for Israel. As Netanyahu put it in 2012, “the Czech Republic is a true and fair friend. We have many friends, but I don’t think we have better friends than the Czech Republic in Europe.”

Zeman’s election in 2018 was close, but in the end the Czech people confirmed its support for his policies, including friendship with Israel. Unfortunately, his close economic relations to Russia and China have been used by his foes to try to prevent President Trump’s making a historical visit to Prague; this despite his having just announced a 2% contribution of Czech GDP to the military budget. He has also made cooperative agreements with NATO to fight terrorism in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Following Zeman’s speech to the Knesset, the time has come for Trump to acknowledge Zeman’s efforts in making his part of Europe safer for his people and for Jews. As the US is competing with Russia’s Rosatom for a contract to finish the electric power station in the Czech Republic’s Dukavony, Trump could offer support for a contract that Zeman cannot refuse.  Trump could also visit Prague and Budapest, signifying his recognition of the new historic shift in Europe – a shift that aligns with the Trump Doctrine on immigration and anti-Islamic terrorism.

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Dr. Jiri Valenta is a Senior Non Resident Research Associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. A Council on Foreign Relations member in NYC, he was formerly a tenured associate professor in the Department of National Security Affairs of the U.S. Postgraduate Naval School, and Director of the Institute of International Relations, a post-revolutionary think tank in Vaclav Havel’s government in Prague.

                                         BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family

                                       iří a Leni Valenta: Zrození Izraele a klíčová role Prahy

25.02.2019 17:58

Zatímco Spojené státy a Sovětský svaz připravovaly rezoluci listopadu 1947 podporující založení státu Izrael, [1] Československo poskytlo vznikajícímu židovskému státu životně důležitý válečný materiál. nutný k odvrácení arabského pokusu o jeho zničení při samotném zrodu. Bylo to tak důležité, že David Ben-Gurion, první izraelský premiér, komentoval: "Bez těchto zbraní bychom nepřežili." [2]ří a Leni Valenta: Zrození Izraele a klíčová role Prahy

25.02.2019 17:58

Zatímco Spojené státy a Sovětský svaz připravovaly rezoluci listopadu 1947 podporující založení státu Izrael, [1] Československo poskytlo vznikajícímu židovskému státu životně důležitý válečný materiál. nutný k odvrácení arabského pokusu o jeho zničení při samotném zrodu. Bylo to tak důležité, že David Ben-Gurion, první izraelský premiér, komentoval: "Bez těchto zbraní bychom nepřežili." [2]

Israel's hero, the late Czechoslovak Foreign Minister Jan Masryk, murdered in 1948.


                      Why This Democrat Supports Donald Trump                    


                                                                Published January 1, 2019

Czech Version:

Jonas; Leni, with your background, you are a very unusual critic of the Islamization of Europe. Most of those who criticize the Islamists are viewed in general as right wingers or Christian zealots. You also say you are now a supporter of Donald Trump. Yet you maintain you were a lifelong democrat until 2012. What made you change?

Leni: The 2012 Benghazi-gate scandal, and the needless deaths of four Americans who could have been rescued, troubled me deeply. But I also came to wonder about Obama’s loyalty to America. The last of many sign posts for me was when Obama traded five of the worst GTMO terrorists for a traitor, Beau Bergdahl, and gave his captors a huge ransom to boot. There was also his slashing of our military, the horrid Iran deal and his hatred of our Israeli ally, Bibi Netanyahu.

 As for his comrade-in-arms, Hillary, I view her as a totally corrupt woman with weather vane principles that change with each audience. If Democrats really studied her background rather than casting their habitual Party vote, they would realize Hillary is far from one of them. 

A former acolyte of the Bolshevik-like radical, Saul Alinsky, author of “Rules for Radicals,” she has gotten away all her life with one scandal after another. Her earlier crookery was exposed in 1996 by the late, Pulitzer Prize-winning New York Times,  reporter, William Safire, in an article entitled, “Blizzard of Lies.” Earlier, Safire had been a critic of Nixon, to whom he compared Hillary. 

Jonas: What about later? 

 As time passed, she and husband Bill attained unsavory funding sources on an international level that is almost unthinkable -- particularly with radical Islam. For example their Clinton Foundation received 5 million dollars from Gems Education, which promotes Sharia law on three continents. The Clintons also reaped fantastic profits by helping to transfer a fifth of America’s uranium to Russia! 

Much of my concerns about Hillary-Obama also have to do with the 2011 NATO “humanitarian” intervention in Libya, launched mainly by Hillary. She pushed a story now discredited by British reports that Libyan leader Moammar Qaddafi was imminently going to massacre civilians in Benghazi. Her aide, Sid Blumenthal, provided the nice touch at the UN that Qaddafi was supplying his troops with Vigara for a massive rape. 

But the true motive of the intervention was regime change -- a huge policy shift.  Qadaffi, having given up his WMD, was a secular leader working with the U.S. against al Qaeda. Yet Hillary armed the supposedly “moderate” rebels who ultimately killed him. After Libya fell to the jihadists, Obama bemoaned his “poor post war planning” 

Poor? Why then did Obama and Hillary secretly begin arming the so-called “moderate” rebels in Syria against dictator Assad?  

Jonas|: Why do you think? 

My big and shocking discovery thereafter was that we were knowingly arming al Qaeda and other jihadists with the help of Turkey’s Erdogan Moreover, we not mainly pursuing ISIS as reported; we were mainly going after Assad. (It was Trump who finally clobbered ISIS). 

The smoking gun here became a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency [DIA], memo obtained by Judicial Watch, which showed clearly we were arming the jihadists. That same memo crossed the desk of the head of the DIA -- General Mike Flynn. He started a fuss with the Joint Chiefs and was fired. Was that why he was hired by Trump as his first NSA? 

Space does not permit my covering what else I learned about Hillary and Obama’s actions and motives in Syria, except to say there is a whole alternate story that the public doesn’t know about because our no longer wholly free press has hidden it from the public. What I can say is that if Hillary had won we would have had war with Russia. 

Your readers need to know that immigrants who practice Sharia are on a mission to infiltrate their host governments at ever civic, governmental and law enforcement level with the aim of eventually overturning democracy in favor of Sharia. They do not assimilate! 

Sharia is a cult, or a Nazi-like, “unsavory religion” that should be banned in the U.S. Islamists believe the religion cannot evolve and must be practiced as in the 7th century -- including stoning a woman to death for adultery. Indeed adherents worked with the Nazis in WWII. It is in all respects the exact opposite of our U.S. Constitution, a cult that seeks not . life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness, but death by martyrdom, the enslavement of women and dictatorship by an unelected body of clerics who decide every facet of your life. 

Readers should Google Obama and Hillary’s Islamist connections. Hillary’s key aide, Huma Abedin a Muslim Brotherhood princess, and ask yourselves if she should  ever have had access to classified information! Both Hillary and Obama also supported the Muslim Brotherhood leader Mohammed Morsi, thrown out by the anti-Islamist Egyptian military when he tried to impose Sharia law. Obama punished Egypt financially; Hillary has been a great friend of Morsi’s wife, Nadia. 

 Then, they should also question why Obama appointed John Brennan to lead the CIA, which was vetting which of the Syrian rebels we armed. According to former FBI agent John Guandolo, Brennan was said to be converted to Islamic Wahhabism by Saudi Arabian operatives. Some vetting! Hillary’s former running mate, Virginia Governor Tim Kaine, also has Islamist connections. 

Jonas: Why haven’t we heard anything about the things you are telling us? 

Leni: U.S. readers don’t trust anything but the mainstream press, some of which has now become the fake news press. Writers are banned, stories are buried and information is controlled. That is why Trump, a former liberal democrat and rejected by the right wing of his party, can’t tell you the things I can. 

Sadly, I came to realize that Democrats don’t realize they are being hoisted on the swords of their own goodness, tolerance and beautiful ideals by endorsing Muslim immigration. They largely believe these are normal immigrants -- the Statue of Liberty’s ‘huddled masses yearning to breathe free.” But many are not. The stated goal of militant Islam is infiltration of the host country at all levels until they can instill Sharia law. 

Consider then Secretary Madeleine Albright’s stated willingness to even become a Muslim in solidarity with them and because of her anti-Trump and anti-Zeman biases. Czech-born Madeleine was born a Jew and prevaricated for years that she didn’t know it. Her father, Josef Korbel, revealed it to his mentee, my husband. I find it hard to believe Madeleine doesn’t know the threat that radical Islam presents. But as a Democratic Party animal, she has led the campaign against Trump’s efforts to curb terrorist immigration. She has also published a totally misguided propaganda book, serialized by  Lydovy Novyni, implying that Trump, a former liberal Democrat rejected by the right wing half of his own party, is a fascist. Ridiculous!   

 President Milos Zeman, the presidents of Hungary, Poland and now the Chancellor of Austria, should not be blamed for opposing the EU immigration quotas. They have thus kept their countries safe. I|also praise Zeman for visiting Israel and for supporting Czech Republic’s anti-Islamist war in Afghanistan. 

Presently, there seems to be a small turn -- some Muslim immigrants are returning to Syria and the West is planning to build new homes and villages for them. I’m happy to report that Pulitzer prize winning reporter Seymour Hersh -- banned in the U.S. for his inconvenient truths -- has just published his memoirs and is visiting Czech Republic. 

 However, the war in Syria is not over. There is news that in Aleppo a gas has been used on civilian in Syria again -- we don’t know by whom. As usual, the rebels and Assad are blaming each other.     

What we need to do is reach out to those Muslims who recognize a higher power than the prophet -- God. Every manifestation of God attests to His creativity. All life is evolving to a higher order -- and so should |Islam. There are some truly beautiful tenets in the Muslim religion, and they should be applied to all people, not just Muslims. 

Leni Friedman Valenta has for many years been part of a prolific writing team with her husband, foreign policy expert Dr. Jiri Valenta and is CEO of and editor of their small Institute of Post-Communist Studies. A cum laude graduate of Brandeis University (named for Tomas Masaryk’s Czech-Jewish supporter, Justice Louis Brandeis) she also holds an MFA in play-writing from the Yale School of Drama. Previously active in New Jersey politics, she is a former aide and speech-writer to a Democratic New Jersey state senator, and was winner of a Hannah G Solomon Award from the National Council of Jewish Women.

                                                                 Neville Chamberlaini before the signing of the Munich Agreement 


                         THE MUNICH AGREEMENT -- 80 YEARS ON

                                                                                    By Dr. Jiri Valenta

                                                          BESA Center Perspectives Paper No. 989, October 28, 2018

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY: An important lesson of the notorious Munich Agreement, which marked its 80th anniversary last month, is that small nations must defend their independence at all costs, even at the risk of defying most of the international community. Had Czechoslovakia defied the Munich sellout and defended its territory, Hitler’s bluff would have likely been called. And even if he had made good on his threat and invaded, the Czechoslovak army could have put up a spirited resistance that might have contained the German army, which was not yet at the peak of its operational competence. This clash might have sparked an international backlash that could have stopped the invasion and possibly prevented the outbreak of WWII.

In discussions of international relations, the Munich Agreement, which marked its 80th anniversary last month, has become synonymous with the perils of appeasing megalomaniacal tyrants. Yet while most discussions focus on the Anglo-French betrayal of Czechoslovakia that would trigger the worst war in human history, there is a commonly overlooked lesson to this tragedy: the need of small nations to defend their independence at all costs, even at the risk of defying most of the international community.

Had Czechoslovakia defied the Munich sellout and defended its territory, Hitler’s bluff would have likely been called. And even if he had made good on his threat and invaded, the Czechoslovak army could have put up a spirited resistance that might have contained the German army, which was not yet at the peak of its operational competence. This clash might have sparked an international backlash that could have stopped the invasion and possibly prevented the outbreak of WWII. That this did not happen was due to the timidity of Czechoslovak President Eduard Benes, who was a mirror image of the appeasing British PM Neville Chamberlain.

A fervent believer in the soft power of diplomacy, Benes was virtually incapable of contemplating the use of military force despite his keen awareness of the years-long Nazi strategy of exploiting the large German ethnic minority in the Czech Sudetenland to subvert the Czechoslovak state. Things came to a head on September 13, 1938, when an incendiary speech by Hitler sparked widespread clashes between the Nazi proxy Sudetenland group, Freikorps, and the Czech authorities. Five days later came an Anglo-French ultimatum and Benes decided to accept its major demand: the transfer to Germany of all districts in the Sudetenland that comprised more than 50% ethnic Germans.

This was too much for ordinary Czechoslovaks, and on September 21-22, huge crowds took to the streets of Prague making their way to the presidential castle. “Give us weapons,” chanted the crowd as hundreds of demonstrators broke into the castle. “We want General [Jan] Syrový.” On September 22, the decorated general and former chief-of-staff of the Czechoslovak army reluctantly accepted Benes’s request to assume premiership of a national unity government, and the president announced military mobilization.

This did not mean Benes was prepared to fight. On the contrary: rather than ask the parliament to discuss means of confronting Hitler’s threats, as required by the constitution, he heeded the appeasing voices emanating from London and Paris while anxiously watching the spreading restiveness in the Sudetenland. Also relevant to Benes’s response was US President Roosevelt’s appeal on September 26 for a peaceful resolution of the crisis, in which he carefully refrained from distinguishing between aggressor and victim, as well as the Kremlin’s effective admission that there was nothing it could do to help Prague. By way of reaffirming his predisposition, Benes canvassed his three top military advisers, two of whom accepted his view that capitulation would be the least of all evils.

This defeatist outlook was diametrically opposed to the defiant mood in the army and among the Czechoslovak public at large. Though outnumbered by the German army, Czechoslovakia had the sixth-largest army in Europe, was well equipped with its own manufactured weapons, and was able to mobilize well over a million men. The formidable defense line that extended across parts of the country, especially in Bohemia and Moravia, was likely to slow down, if not stop, the German advance. Were the Germans to breach those defenses, the army would retreat to mountainous Slovakia and even Ruthenia, from where it would carry out anti-German guerilla warfare. This resistance, it was hoped, would awaken Western public opinion to the Nazi danger and bring about military intervention on Prague’s behalf.

This assessment was not wholly unrealistic, given the lack of appetite in Germany for a military adventure. On September 27, Hitler was deeply dismayed as Berliners watched the parade of a motorized division in Wilhelmstrasse with atypical indifference. “With this nation I cannot conduct the war,” he commented to his coterie.

There were even reports about opposition of key generals to Hitler’s threatened invasion. General Ludwig Beck, who on August 18 resigned his post as Chief of the General Staff over the Czechoslovak crisis, had secretly approached the British government for confirmation that it would declare war in the event of a German attack on Czechoslovakia, in which case he would “finish the Hitler regime.” In a prophetic memorandum in May 1938, Beck forecast the chain of events that would eventually lead to war on two fronts and to Germany’s eventual defeat. On September 28, a day before the signing of the Munich agreement, conspirators met at the military headquarters in Berlin, only to decide to wait and see the outcome of the next day’s negotiations.

Had the Czechoslovak government signaled its unwavering determination to reject the looming sellout of its territory, world history might have taken a very different course. In the words of Prokop Drtina, Benes’s young secretary and a future minister of justice, who sought to convince the president to resist the international pressures: “A nation must not lose its freedom without struggle, in order to prevent its entire moral collapse.” Sadly, that is what happened to Czechoslovakia in 1938, and yet again in February 1948 with the communist takeover. And the road to recovery was long.

Dr. Jiri Valenta is a Senior Non Resident Research Associate at the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies. He was formerly a professor in the Department of National Security Affairs of the U.S. Postgraduate Naval School, and Director of the Institute of International Relations, a post-revolutionary think tank in Vaclav Havel’s government in Prague.

                         BESA Center Perspectives Papers are published through the generosity of the Greg Rosshandler Family.


Editor's Note:|  There have been quite a few responses to our article, "The Birth of Israel, Prague's Crucial Role," published in The Middle East Quarterly, December 1, 2018 and still available here if you click on  "."Special Report. Here is one that focuses on the death of Masaryk..


                            The Death and Mystery of Jan Masaryk

                                                                                              Geoffrey Luck

                                                                                          December 27, 2018

A mere two weeks after Stalin’s puppets took control of Czechoslovakia, foreign minister and national hero Jan Masaryk was found dead in the courtyard below his apartment. There was no suicide note nor hint of explanation beyond an enigmatic Bible verse. Today, seven decades on, the who, why and how remain a riddle that grows ever more intriguing

Hands up those of you who remember Jan Masaryk (left) and the mystery of his death, seventy years ago? In the swirl of historical developments in the aftermath of World War II, his name was headline fodder, at the centre of events as diverse as the fight to establish the state of Israel and the encroachment of the Soviet bloc. Now, a new theory purports to explain how he fell victim to the double-dealing  of the Cold War.

The basic facts of the case are simple: two weeks after the Communist takeover of the government in Czechoslovakia, Masaryk, the Foreign Minister, was found dead in his pyjamas, on the courtyard cobblestones below his apartment in the Foreign Ministry’s Cerninsky Palace. The Soviet Union had occupied Czechoslovakia during World War II, and it had seemed likely would try to install a Communist government, as it had in Poland, East Germany and elsewhere. Masaryk had dealt skilfully with Stalin, assuring him that a democratic nation posed no security threat to Russia.  Then he blundered, proposing to accept aid under America’s Marshall Plan, something Russia could not allow.

When news of his death flashed around Prague on the morning of March 10, 1948, the immediate official explanation was that he had jumped from the bathroom window of the apartment, on the third floor. (In Europe, the ground floor is counted as Level 1, not G). But immediately there were suspicions of murder. Masaryk’s death was a double shock to the little nation, still adapting to life under Communist rule. He was a national hero, the son of Czechoslovakia’s first president, Tomas Garrique Masaryk, regarded as the founder of the nation. Like de Gaulle, he had gone into exile in Britain with his president, Edvard Benes, at the Nazi invasion, and had broadcast regularly on the BBC to inspire citizens and partisans in his homeland.

In February, when Communist Prime Minister Klement Gottwald demanded a Communist-dominated cabinet, twelve democratic politicians resigned en masse in protest, but Masaryk did not. His reasons were never articulated, but friends believed he decided to stay on, in the hope of moderating the Soviet policies. It was claimed that he did this with a heavy heart, feeling pressures from both east and west. The official line was that he was suffering from depression and insomnia, badly hurt by British and American criticisms of his decision to remain in office.  A press report from Prague the day after his death claimed that he had been held a virtual prisoner in his apartment, surrounded by new secretaries, and not permitted to meet visitors alone.

Bit by bit, suggestive evidence dribbled out. The police doctor who certified the death as a suicide did not attend the autopsy. He himself was found dead a few weeks later, another suicide.  Plaster was allegedly found under the fingernails of the corpse; there were marks on the walls of the room as if he had pressed his hands against them while resisting.  He left no suicide note. Then the former Justice Minister was savagely beaten, his body dumped beneath the window of his flat.

Jan Masaryk’s body where it fell or, more likely, was thrown on the morning of March 10, 1948

And yet there was scepticism. The Russians, on whom suspicion had immediately fallen, had an explanation for the lack of a suicide note. They reported that a Bible was found on his bed, open at Verses 22 and 23, Chapter V of St Paul’s Epistle to the Galatians:

“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, meekness, temperance: Against such there is no law.”

Hubert Ripka, who had been Minister for Foreign Trade, believed Masaryk was too sensitive and too honest to share the responsibility for a regime which had usurped power, was governing by falsehoods, injustice and terror. 

In 1951, The Sydney Morning Herald re-visited the case. – an indication of the worldwide interest in growing Soviet Cold War power.  It quoted from a new book, “Who’s Next?” by ‘John Brown’, the pseudonym of a highly-placed Czech who escaped in 1948. It poured cold water on the claim of suicide.

“Few people loved life as he did; and he was very much afraid of pain – he even feared a hypodermic needle or very hot water. He always carried 50 or 60 sleeping tablets and slept with a loaded revolver under his pillow. Is it likely that with these means at his disposal he would have chosen the desperate method of jumping from a window?” 

Masaryk had only recently condemned the method. Dr Drtina, a cabinet colleague who resigned, leapt from a window of his house in Prague and was badly but not fatally injured. Masaryk’s comment was: “To jump through a window is stupid. That is what a servant girl would do. You can’t be sure of success.” That same year, 1951, when President Truman received the new Czechoslovak ambassador to the US , he didn’t mince words: “Relations between our countries have deteriorated since Masaryk was murdered.”

In 2003, with Czechoslovakia free again, police re-opened the Masaryk case, and declared his death murder, not suicide. Reminiscent of a recent case involving a death fall at Sydney’s suicide spot, The Gap, the decision was based on research by a forensic expert, Jiri Strauss. He calculated that Masaryk, a heavy man, could not have landed two metres out from the building unless he was pushed or thrown out the window.  The fall was 14 metres, not necessarily likely to be fatal for someone who landed on his feet. The suspicion was that he was killed in the apartment. The police report pointed to secret service agents of the Soviet Union, the NKVD.

What seemed new facts emerged in 2015 with a book by Vaclava Jandeckova, Kauza Jan Masaryk (Novy Pohled)  which translates as ‘The Jan Masaryk Case – New View.’  The author, an independent researcher specialising in uncovering the crimes of the Communist era, dug into the archives of the StB (Statni Bezpecnost) the State Security or Secret Police. She found that a few years after Masaryk’s death, a Foreign Ministry official named Jan Bydzovsky (left) was picked up on a minor matter and, astonishingly, confessed to murdering the Foreign Minister. He also named an accomplice, first as Frantisek Fryc, then Jiri Liska.  He claimed they entered Masaryk’s flat, put a sleeping draught in his drink and dropped him out the window when he fell asleep.

The sensational part of his confession was that the murder had been ordered by the British secret service, which had recruited him when he worked as a cryptographer in exile in London during the war. But there was never a show trial and the two served only short prison terms.

Bydzovsky, a code expert, seemed an unlikely murderer, and his unasked-for confession appeared either the act of an attention-seeker, or a put-up job. But was he being used in a ‘false flag’ operation?  In any case, the extra layer of excitement about operating on behalf of Britain’s SIS certainly suited the Soviet’s book. There had been rumours that Masaryk had intended defecting to the West. Some months after his death, it was claimed that he had been preparing to escape from Czechoslovakia the very day that he died. This was typical Communist disinformation – Masaryk had been preparing to appear publicly with Prime Minister Gottwald that day.

Now, a new article by leading experts on the Iron Curtain countries, Jiri Valenta and wife Leni shows how Masaryk’s murder was inextricably linked to his work to supply Czech arms to Jews fighting to establish the new state of Israel. The Valentas jointly run the Institute of Post-Communist Studies and Terrorism, based in Florida. Their essay has just been published in Middle East Quarterly.

After the war, Masaryk had become a central figure in Zionist efforts to rescue Jews in central Europe and help them reach their new homeland in Mandatory Palestine in defiance of the British blockade. He persuaded the Czech government to permit thousands of Jews fleeing anti-Semitism in Poland to enter the country. In five months, 90,000 Jewish refugees were admitted, simply on the statement: “I’m Jewish.”  Many were armed and went on to train in the refugee camps for the coming war in Palestine. The Valentas point out this led to a quiet war between Prague and London, and on one occasion, a shouting war with the British and American ambassadors.

Masaryk was also instrumental in selling vast quantities of arms, left over from Nazi war production in Czechoslovakia, to Hagana, the Jewish paramilitary group fighting for independence. These included Mauser rifles, machine guns, five million bullets and even four locally-built — cobbled together, is more accurate — Messerschmidt ME-109 fighters (one of those planes and pilot Ezer Weizman at right). The shipments, by sea and air, were approved on forged papers as destined for Ethiopia because arms could be sold only to a state, not an unofficial organisation like Hagana. There was a further twist – Stalin, despite his dislike of Zionism and Jewish immigration,  had supported the arms sales as the result of Masaryk’s diplomacy.

The Valentas believe that the Czech communists did not have an incentive to kill Masaryk; likewise, the Soviet secret police did not seem to have anything to do with his death. The key person in the case was Arnost Heidrich, the chief administrator of the Czech foreign ministry, who was the top representative of the British SIS in Prague. Bydzovsky claimed that Heidrich had threatened him and his family if he refused the murder assignment. He said Heidrich had supplied coded messages to take to the foreign minister for action, and the pills to drug Masaryk’s coffee.

A day after the death, Heidrich delivered a prepared document to Prime Minister Gottwald and Masaryks’s deputy, Vladimir Clementis (who succeeded him), demanding that future arms shipments must have “proper authorisations.” Dealings with “our Ethiopian friends” were now out of the question. The move failed. Clementis, a Communist writer-poet, was a determined opponent of British “imperialist” policies in Palestine. He expanded the arms shipments by working with Hagana through General Reicin, head of Czech Defence Intelligence (the OBZ).

On March 30, 1948, the Czech weapons Masaryk had illegally authorised, were flown from Prague to Palestine. The shipment was code-named Balak 1, a reference to Numbers 22.2 in the Jewish bible, where the Moabite King Balak was deterred from attacking the Israelites by the prophet Balaam. More weapons went in the ship Nora, hidden under a mountain of onions. On May 14, 1948, Ben-Gurion proclaimed the establishment of the state of Israel in accordance with the November 1947 U.N. partition resolution.

The Valentas leave no doubt, from their examination of the relevant interests of the great powers, and of the Czechs themselves, that they believe British intelligence was responsible for the murder of Masaryk.  As an explanation, and an epitaph, they quote his own words:

To make a Jewish state, this is one of the greatest political ideas of our times. It is such a great thing that people are missing the imagination to understand it. Even many Jews. But for me, not. I believe in it. I am a Zionist.”

The Czech Office for the Documentation and Investigation of the Crimes of Communism says they have been forced to adjourn the enquiry into Masaryk’s death. Russian authorities refuse access to records which could identify the killers responsible. But there are still Czechs who prefer to think of Masaryk as a martyr to Communism.  His last secretary, Antonin Sum said:

“I am absolutely sure, as all of my late colleagues were sure, that Masaryk offered his life. That is was a very, very great sacrifice, I do not like the word ‘suicide’. It was a sacrifice to protest against the Communist terror and it was the highest sacrifice at that time.”

Geoffrey Luck was an ABC journalist for 26 years