Exceptional Women in the 20th century

3-4 2007 Ostatní English
obálka čísla

Milada Horakova was emprisoned on the basis of legal proceedings which were politically influenced. In one of her letters from the prison, she wrote: "on the day of June 30th, do give, in my place a small bouquet for my mother´s girl friend. She was a lady senator, F. Plaminkova, who was then executed." When Milada Horakova was thereafter executed by the communists, she died, apparently remembering the progressive politician lady, Frantiska Plaminkova.


Frantiska was born on February 5, 1875. She was the youngest of three daughters of a shoemaker master. Since her childhood, she was longing to become a teacher. That is why she was studying at the State Teachers ´ Institute. According to the valid laws, to hold a professional teacher´s post, it was required that the person in question remained celibate. Consequently, Plaminkova cancelled her engagement to a certain medicine student (a passive role of a lady doctor would most probably limit her personal temperament) and she did not marry even later on, because no men fulfilled her very strict criteria. "This is just your own tragedy becasuse you want to exercise an infuence on a man mentally and, at the same time, you attract him by your physical appearance", quoting a statement, expressed by one of her former fiance.

After having spent her studies at the specialized schools in Tabor and Sobeslav, Plaminkova returned to Prague and was teaching at the Girls´ School in Letna (a Prague´s quarter). Later on, one of her students was remembering, how her teacher discovered a satirical poem at one of the student, which was dedicated to the teacher. Instead of an expected explosion of the teacher ´s anger and, consequent punishment, she had simply corrected the orthographic errors and recommended to the yound poetess that she dedicated her talents to another, much more grateful person?

Not only a teacher:

Frantiska Plaminkova was engaging herself first in the Prague Teachers´ Association, where she was vehemently fighting for the cancellantion of celibacy for the teacher ´s profession. Her arguments were those that the society should not forbid intelligent women from engendering offsprings. She maintained that on the contrary, society should require from the women to do so.

When the Women´s Czech Club was established in 1903, the 28 years old Plaminkova had a place in the narrow circle of its management. Two years thereupon, she initiated the foundation of the Committee for Women´s Voting Rights.

Towards the end of the WWT, Plaminkova became a member of the National Socialist Party. Soon, she was elected a member of its chairmanship. She welcomed the creation of the independent Republic with great enthusiasm. In the course of these revolutionary days, she had also achieved by her personal intervention at the Minister of Education, the cancellation of the requirement of celibacy for women teachers. Before long, she was also selected as a member of the Prague Representative Agency.

Women´s Movement in the World

Plaminkova did her pest to use the liberal environment of the First Republic for the creation of a leading body of Women´s Movement in Czechoslovakia. Thus, in 1923, the Women´s National Committee was established. It became an important part of the international women´s movement. Already in 1928, the temperamental woman teacher initiated abroad her activity as regards the women´s voting rights by her participation in the World Congress Alliance, which took place in Amsterdam Hence, Plaminkova regularly participated in the Feminine Congresses all over the world. In the year 1925, she was elected in Washington to be a vice-chairwoman of the International Womens´ Council. However, this consequential woman was strictly criticizing all actions within the "proper files". On the border space of a letter, by which she accepted the vice-chairwomanship, she wrote: "My stomach is turning up whe I see that some of the women are desirous of reforming the world, while in fact, they are introducing only a lot of deceit and deception."

In 1925, she was elected for the first time as a senator. She performed this service until the Senate was cancelled, which happened in 1939. As Head of the Czech Womens ´ Movement, she had simultaneously published a lot of material. She was a friend of long standing of President Masaryk and his family. Mainly, they were meeting quite frequently on the political level. On such occasions, she was endeavoring to convince him that there should be women nominated for the posts of Minister or Ambassador (However, Masaryk rejected such requests, by justifying his standpoint. He initiated that he did not see in the conteporary politcs any person, who would be suitable for performing such a position). Nonetheless in spite of his refusal, she was fond enough of him to keep a large collection of photographs and other illustrations of T. G. M. (Thomas Garrigue Masaryk) in her estate. The latter bears witness that he was her idol in all respects. In the year 1931, Plaminkova was nominated to accept the position as delegate to the Community, of Nations, residing in Geneva.

Feminine politican, who never feared making herself heard

In September 1938, Senator Plaminkova sent an open letter to the German Fuehrer Hitler. She reproached him not only for his offending Czech President, Benes, but she also focused on his historical and geographical errors, which Hitler committed on the occasion of his "famous" speech in Nuerenberg on September 12. She concluded her letter thus: "In my capacity of a dedicated Democrat, I consider it my human obligation to write to you, Mr. Reichskanzler (Cancellor of the Realm), because I am firmly convinced that the truth will, after all, prevail even against the military superiority." She did not hesistate to make herself heard again even upon the occupation of bohemia and Moravia by the Nazis. Her protests were also directed to the State President Hacha. She then reproachfully criticized that no woman was included in the fifty- members management of the Protectorate Party, which was the only one to be allowed. Its establishment was bearing the title of National Co-responsibility. Withal, she rejected the cancellation of the Womens ´ National Council, as it was "recommended" to her by the Protectorate Authorities. In May 1939, she had a chance to emigrate while participating in the Feminine Congress in Copenhagen. However, she returned to Prague although her friends prompted her to emigrate. On the day of September 1, 1939, when World War II broke out, she was taken into custody and imprisoned for six weeks. When she was released from the prison, she was constantly under the supervision of Gestapo (German Secret Police). Consequently, she entrusted Milada Horakova to create an organization with an illegal activity at the Women ´s National Council.

Two days after Heydrich´s assassination, Plaminkova was anew arrested and she was brought to the concentration camp of Terezin. Apparently, they did not even crossexamined her. Analogically as the writer Vladislav Vancura, she was considered as a famous personality and sent directly in front of an Execution Squad. Its main purpose was to deter the whole Czech Community. Accordingly, Plaminkova vas shor at the shooting range in Prague-Kobylisy on June 30., 1942. Thus, her prophetic words were fulfilled, which she said while requested to be portraited: "I do not want that anything remains of myself. After my death, not even my ashes will remain. There will remain only my work." Indeed, the Nazis scattered her ashes into a collective grave.

The Communist February Regime was consistently endeavoring to eradicate any remembrnce of Frantiska Plaminkova. Consequently, even the Prague street bearing her name was changed in 1950s, i. e. after the war, changed, by substituting the name Frantisek (Frank) Krizek, who was an illegal editor of the Communist newspaper Rude Pravo (Red Right). Today, Frantiska Plaminkova has her street name in Prague- Pankrac.

This is an abbreviated text of an article, written by a historian Petr Koura, published on September 8, 2005 in the newspaper MF DNES.

Translated by Charles Opatrny,
Cedar Rapids, Iowa

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