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„Komunismus znamená v pravém a úplném smyslu bludné učení, že nikdo nemá míti žádné jmění, nýbrž aby všechno bylo společné, a každý dostával jenom část zaslouženou a potřebnou k jeho výživě. – Bez všelijakých důkazů a výkladů vidí tedy hned na první pohled každý, že takové učení jest nanejvýš bláznovské, a že se mohlo jen vyrojiti z hlav několika pomatených lidí, kteří by vždy z člověka chtěli učiniti něco buď lepšího neb horšího, ale vždy něco jiného než je člověk.“

Karel Havlíček Borovský ve svém časopise „SLOVAN“ 26.7.1850


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Lauwers BarbaraThis is the story of one Czechoslovak woman who took advantage of a rescue operation organized and financed by the famous Czech industrialist, Jan Antonin Bata.Bata Tomas a JanBata helped thousands of Czechoslovak people to escape from the Nazi through his worldwide organization that was headquartered in Zlin, Czechoslovakia. One historical dokument found at the U.S. Holocaust Museum was written by a Jewish refugee who labeled Bata’s efforts “Operation Salvation.” Other records describe that hundreds of Jewish families numbering about two thousand were deliberately repositioned outside of Czechoslovakia as early as the Austrian Anschluss in mid-1938 throughout 1939 to safe areas all over the world.

Bozena Hauserova / Barbara Lauwers (22 April, 1914 Brno – 16 August, 2009). Bozena Hauserova was a newly trained attorney who had found her first job working for a local attorney from Brno, JUDr. Alois Prazak. Prazak was a well-known attorney connected to Bata’s interests in Czechoslovakia. Ms. Houserova worked as a junior attorney dutiny the first half of 1938 for Prazak working on criminal and civil matters. After the Munich Crisis, Hauserova took her first step towards leaving Czechoslovakia and found a job working as a reporter for Bata in Zlin. Within a few months, Bozena applied for an assignment outside of Czechoslovakia for Bata in the Congo. Hauserova married an American, Charles Lauwers both worked for Bata in the Congo for the next two years.

From the time of her marriage, Bozena Hauserova Americanized her name changing it to Barbara Lauwers. She and her husband moved back to the United States in 1941. After Pearl Harbor, Charles joined the U.S. Air Force as a Lieutenant, serving in the Pacifik theatre. Barbara joined the Czechoslovak Embassy in Washington, D.C. from December 1941 to June 1943 and worked directly under Jan Papanek, the Information Minister and Jan Masaryk, the Foreign Minister. Both men were officials of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile who certainly knew about Barbara’s past work history with Bata and how she had left Czechoslovakia.

In June of 1943, Barbara Lauwers joined the Women's Army Corps. She fluently spoke English, German, Czech, Slovak and French. After basic training, she was selected for the Office of Strategic Services (O.S.S.). Lauwers was responsible for one of the most successful psychological warfare operations during World War II. Operation Sauerkraut resulted in the surrender of more than 600 Czechoslovak soldiers who were fighting for the Germans.

“The multilingual Barbara Lauwers, as she was then known, primarily interrogated prisoners of war from her base in Rome. An antagonistic Nazi sergeant under her questioning in 1944 mentioned that Czechs and Slovaks were

used to doing the Germans' ‘dirty work’ along the Italian front. Lauwers, a private, realized there was an opportunity to flip the loyalties of her former countrymen. She quickly borrowed the Vatican's Czech and Slovak

typewriters and prepared leaflets in both Czech and Slovak languages that urged the conscripts to change sides, telling them that they were being used. ‘Shed this German yoke of shame, cross over to the partisans,’ she implored them. Within a week, many Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been working for the Germans crossed the Allied lines and surrendered. At least 600 had her leaflet in their pockets. Within a week, many Czech and Slovak soldiers who had been working for the Germans crossed the Allied lines and surrendered.

It is clear today that the efforts of Jan Antonin Bata to help his people had a positive impact on the Czechoslovak resistance movement as can been seen though the life of Bozena Hauserova / Barbara Lauwers, a Czech woman who became an OSS agent and who was honored with the Bronze Star at the end of the war.

Who knows what may have happened if the umbrella of Jan Bata’s Operation Salvation had not intervened in her case. There could easily have been a very different outcome. Jan Bata’s assistance may be a small detail, but it in this case it had a huge impact. We need to ask the question why has the connection back to Bata been so difficult to uncover. Information on Barbara Lauwers was declassified through the Freedom of Information Act way back in 2008. Part of the information found in the FOIA documents relating to Barbara Lauwers traces back to her connection to a Czechoslovak attorney named JUDr. Alois Prazak. So, who was JUDr. Prazak and why is he important?

JUDr. Alois Prazak (14 February 1898 Brno - August 5, 1981) was an attorney of the Jewish faith from Brno who defended Jan Antonin Bata during the communist inspired national trial of 1947. Going back earlier in time. After the occupation, JUDr. Prazak was eventually forced to flee from Czechoslovakia. By 1942 he had arrived in London where he joined the Czech resistance movement. Prazak became a leading official of the Ministry of Justice of the Czechoslovak government-in-exile. JUDr. Prazak participated in development of the proposal for what later became known as the Benes Decrees. As a part of a group of attorneys who created the decrees, they were told that the retribution decrees they were developing would be divided into retribution against the Germans and retribution against the so-called traitors. According to the information collected by the exiled government, there were not many Czechoslovak traitors. The exiled government had a list of about 23 people in total who would go to trial. All of Czechs who would be charged would be tried through normal criminal law, and any found guilty would be allowed to appeal.

According to JUDr. Prazak, the retribution decrees were designed for formel Czechoslovak citizens, who were responsible for the breakup and for the occupation of the country, or citizens who had acted as tyrants against other citizens during the occupation. This included former Czechoslovaks who were indisputable traitors like Emanuel Moravec, Krychtalek, Vajtauror, Laznonovsky and a few others.

JUDr. Prazak described that none of the lawyers who worked on the retribution decrees ever dreamt that the decrees would be used for such extensive and baseless accusations with no other purpose than the liquidation of personal grudges, or the removal from leading positions of some of the most competent people in the country as a mechanism to replace them. JUDr. Prazak described how the Benes Decrees had been misused after the war by stating in a letter to Jan Bata: “I am ashamed of my participation upon the preparation of the retribution decree.”

Not long after defending Jan Antonin Bata, JUDr. Prazak again had to flee from his native Czechoslovakia. It is very sad to see that JUDr. Alois Prazak, a man of the law, would be forced to live in exile until his death.

* * *

An Unknown Chapter of the Bata Story - Jan Antonin Bata Czech Patriot

 

J.Š.18.3.2018

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