AFTERWARD

Submitted by starosta on Tue, 12/04/2018 - 02:54
Autor prispevku

Many of the Legionnaires returned to Czechoslovakia and assumed senior roles in the government and in the army. Fortunes changed in 1939 as many suffered at the hands of the Nazi regime facing imprisonment or execution for actions taken against Germany twenty years earlier. Those that survived then faced the wrath of the Communist Russians who denied them their heroic place in history, denouncing them for fighting against the Bolsheviks. Some ended their days in Siberian prison camps. A bridge honoring the Legion was renamed and statues and tributes removed. The Legionnaires and their families had to hide their history for another 40 years till the iron curtain fell and they could again display their memories with pride. The Legion Bridge got its name back. Even the Good Soldier Švejk was recognized when a giant granite bust of the author Jaroslav Hašek was unveiled to mark the 130th anniversary of his birth in 2013.

A total of fifteen trains sped east in June 1920 with 9,000 strangers absorbing the beauty of the Rocky Mountains, the prairies, the farmlands and the forests of Canada from coast to coast. One wonders how many responded to the posters recruiting settlers for the Canadian West and for Northern Ontario a few years later.
Some Legionnaires returned to Canada and the U.S. where they had been treated with such kindness during the evacuation from Siberia. It would be interesting to determine if any of them found their way back to the Northern Ontario Slovak communities of Tabor (Opasatika), Hunta (Cochrane) or Bradlo (Hearst) where some 130 families settled and rode out the depression.

Both the Ixion and the Protesilaus, steamers that brought the evacuees to Vancouver, were pressed into service by the Allies in World War II and were sunk by German mines or U Boats.

After the Communist takeover of Czechoslovakia in 1948, Major Rudolf Hásek, who was in command of the first special train across Canada in 1920, immigrated to Canada. Forty years later, at the ripe age of ninety-eight, he participated in the 70th anniversary celebrations of the founding of Czechoslovakia in Toronto.

Keystone Press Photo from the author’s collection
On March 30, 1968, Ludvik Svoboda aged 72, a former member of the Czechoslovak Legion, was elected President of Czechoslovakia. He is pictured to the right with veteran members of the Legions of the First World War .

 

The last surviving member of the battle of Zborov, the Legions first major conflict in World War I, Alois Vocasek, died at the age of 107 in 2003.

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