WW2 Memorials – Josef Skalda
There are thousands of memorials in the city and a large number relate to events and characters of World War Two. As I was passing this particular memorial I happened to notice that there was a lot of detail with a word that I had never seen before – SŤAT. When you run this through Google translate it will come out like “state”. What it actually means in Czech is “beheaded”.
I was curious to know the back story of Josef Škalda and how he met his end. This was a man who had trained to be a tailor but at the outbreak of World War One had chosen to leave the country and fight with the French Foreign Legion for the next three years in North Africa (being highly decorated in the process). By 1917 he had joined the Czech Legions fighting on the borders of present-day Hungary and Poland before the borders of Czechoslovakia were defined. Formally discharged from the army in 1921 he became a policeman in Prague.
From the German invasion of March 1939 until November 1939 he helped print and distribute an illegal weekly anti-Nazi magazine called “V Boj” (Into Battle) from his address at 14 Budecská street in Vinohrady where you will find the plaque. They published 29 editions but it was on November 10th 1939 that Josef Škalda and a colleague were betrayed when making a delivery. After being arrested by the Gestapo he eventually ended up in the Berlin Plotensee prison where he was executed on 23rd January 1942.
The Berlin Plotensee prison is in the Charlottenburg area of the city. During World War Two 677 Czech men and women were either hanged, shot or beheaded using a guillotine. When a woman was sentenced to death a Dr Hermann Stieve would be informed so that he could observe the women as part of his ongoing study into the effect of stress on the woman’s reproductive system. Berlin Plotensee is still a working prison mainly for criminals with associated drug addiction. At the time of writing one third of the inmates had been convicted for not paying the fare in the German Public Transport system.