Alleged Attacks on the “Father of All Workers”

The records of the former State Police tell us that in 1949, two assassination attempts occurred in connection with Prime Minister Antonin Zapotocky’s travels around Eastern Bohemia. The first came in Nachod on 10 January 1949. Early in the morning, bullets were discovered in the streets and in some factories, wrapped in white paper with the inscription “To Zapotocky”. Steps were taken and, as a result, most of the bullets were collected before Zapotocky arrived in the town. The locals allegedly did not notice anything, also because the bullets in the white paper were hard to see in the snow. Zapotocky’s visit could therefore take place according to plan. No culprit was found.

The second attempt, or rather just the preparation for such an attempt, reportedly came approximately as follows: Four men, namely Jaroslav Kral, Stanislav Stary, Josef Militky and Stanislav Madera, made an agreement while in emigration in West Germany that they would like to go back to Czechoslovakia. In June 1949 their journey began, and despite some slight difficulties they entered the country. They strove to get to the region around Nova Paka (East Bohemia) where they still had contacts with the locals. However, Stanislav Madera had different intentions, as he wanted to form a resistance group to somehow damage the ruling communist regime in Czechoslovakia.

After their arrival in the village of Vrchovina, near Nova Paka, on 19 June 1949 and after taking shelter at farmer S. Hanus’s place, Madera contacted his friend Jan Smida, whom he had known since 1946. However, it was this acquaintance which became fatal for the whole group and also those who helped it. By that time Smida had actually been an informer for the Military Counterintelligence for several years, and reported his meeting with Madera to his commander. In order to unveil other of the group’s contacts, they were not arrested immediately.

Smida, who became the leader of the group, used the code name Baron. All four intended to assassinate Prime Minister Antonin Zapotocky, but given the circumstances, their plan was bound to fail. The attempt was planned during the PM’s visit to mark the reopening of a railway tunnel near Nova Paka. The group was armed with guns, but could not get any explosives. Madera informed “Baron” of this plan, but Baron strongly rejected it. On 13 July 1949 he informed the group members that their hideout at farmer Hanus’s place would soon be discovered and that he would find a new place for them. The same day Baron led the whole group to the nearby town of Jicin, where they were arrested in a matter of minutes by the Secret Police from Hradec Kralove.

It is clear from Stary’s testimony from the interrogation that he was behind the idea of an assassination attempt on any official from Prague. Even though he thought that the Prime Minister himself could come to attend the reopening of the railway tunnel in Nova Paka, he had no credible information on the PM’s presence. This therefore raises the question of whether Antonin Zapotocky really was scheduled to come. No answer to this can be found in the chronicles of Nova Paka, lodged today with the State District Archives in Jicin.

The archival materials referring to the aforementioned events are lodged with the following collections: Code B5 – Regional Headquarters of Secret Police in Hradec Kralove, inv. no. 140 and 141; Investigation Files – Hradec Kralove, sign. V-315 HK; Code A8 – Inspection of the Minister of the Interior of the Czechoslovak Republic, inv. no. 396.