Hasil, freedom fighter dubbed King of Sumava, dies aged 95 | info.cz

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Hasil, freedom fighter dubbed King of Sumava, dies aged 95

Hasil, freedom fighter dubbed King of Sumava, dies aged 95

Josef Hasil, the Czech anti-communist fighter dubbed the King of Sumava, who helped dozens of people cross the Czechoslovak border westwards in the communist era, died in the USA on Friday, aged 95, server Blesk.cz writes today, citing Hasil's son Josef Vavra.

n the late 1940s and early 1950s, Hasil, a former communist police border guard, helped people cross the southwestern border in the Sumava mountains even though this meant a life danger for him.

Not even a stay in the communist prison stopped him from anti-regime activities.

In 2001, then president and former leading dissident Vaclav Havel bestowed a Medal of Heroism on Hasil.

Hasil showed courage to oppose totalitarianism during World War Two already, when he escaped from a labour force facility in Germany and operated as partisans' liaison in Bohemia.

After the war, he joined the police in order to protect the borders. After the communist coup in 1948, he started taking persecuted people across the border.

In October 1948, he was arrested by the border police and sent to prison for almost ten years. He managed to escape after six months in jail.

In Germany, he joined the U.S. intelligence service and became a walking agent in Czechoslovakia, taking people across the border westwards again, and supplying transmitters and other equipment to the Czechoslovak anti-communist resistance movement.

He got involved in shootouts repeatedly. In one of them, a young border guard died in 1949. In another one, Hasil's brother Bohumil died in 1950.

In the mid-1950s, Hasil moved to the USA where he lived until the end of his days.

His life story inspired film makers and writers. At the end of the 1950s, it appeared in Karel Kachyna's film Smugglers of the Death. In Czech, the film's name is Kral Sumavy (the king of Sumava), referring to the Sumava mountain range along the southwestern border between Bohemia and Austria and Bohemia and Bavaria. However, the ideologically tinged film distorted the real events and combined Hasil's story with that of another people smuggler from Sumava, Franz Nowotny.

In 2001, Kristina Vlachova presented her documentary A Report on the King of Sumava (Zprava o Krali Sumavy), and David Jan Zak's book Return of the King of Sumava appeared in 2012.

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