Poděbrady - There is at least one organization that must be jubilant over Czech PM Mirek Topolánek's award to the controversial Mašín brothers at the Czech embassy in Washington - the Czech Confederation of Political Prisoners.
They were repeatedly calling for decorating Josef and Ctirad Mašín and Milan Paumer, all of them staunch anti-communist resistance fighters who shot their way through the Iron Curtain to West Berlin in 1953.
Their anti-communist sabotage activities in the 1950s included stealing guns and attacking police stations, having culminated in killing 6 people and an on-foot escape through the Czechoslovak-East German border.
Heroes or murderers?
For that reason some celebrate the Mašín group, to which Milan Paumer belonged, as heroes who were brave enough to stand up the horrors of the Stalin era times, for others they remain ruthless murderers.
Not being afraid of the Mašíns controversy PM Mirek Topolánek unexpectedly did something not only the Political Prisoner Confederation but also the Mašín brothers, including Milan Paumer, have been waiting for so long.
Milan Paumer is to be decorated as soon as PM Topolánek returns to the Czech Republic.
Paumer in the world
In the meantime, Milan Paumer, being often dubbed "the third one", gave today an online interview to Aktuálně.cz at his home in Poděbrady, some 60 kilometers eastward of Prague.
"We have expected it much earlier," said Paumer, now 76, as a response to Topolánek´s award.
From West Berlin Paumer headed directly to the United States where he soon entered the American army, hoping a war between the West and communist East would break out.
Later he settled in Florida, having worked as a repairman, aviation worker and taxi driver. He retired in 1998.
In 2001 he returned to the Czech Republic and has been living here ever since. He has not seen the Mašín brothers for years now.
The Mašín brothers refused to return and the closest place they ever got to was Slovakia.
The online interview respondents, largely divided into Mašíns´ and Paumer´s admirers or critics, asked direct questions about their anti-resistance activities which Paumer answered equally openly.
Some readers understood the Mašíns´ armed resistance, pointing out to the injustices committedby the communists at that time, some wanted to know why it was necessary to kill an innocent person.
Interestingly enough, no reader asked about the killings of the police officers, the only killing that was brought up was the death of the cashier who was shot on his way to an agricultural co-operative carrying salaries for the employees.
Whenever asked about the killing of the cashier, Paumer recommended the readers to read more about the 1950s and the conditions they happened to be in, only then they would apparently understand. According to Paumer, the best book illuminating the whole Mašín story is Gauntlet written by Barbara Mašín (2006), to which he contributed himself.
Some readers rushed to point out Mirek Topolánek´s parents were active during the communist regime. His mother was allegedly a daughter of a successful regional secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and Topolánek himself studied at a military high school.
Milan Paumer said he would need to confirm the data and he did not mind Topolánek´s background that much. What is more important to him is the fact "Topolánek is dealing with the issue of communism versus democracy".
Mašín brothers´ story
"We are not murderers"
Paumer resolutely refused to be called a murderer, arguing the anti-communist resistance group was not to be blamed for the class war. The group refused to "live under the influence of the Soviet Union forever", therefore they had to take up arms to fight communism.
As for the Czech nation as such, Milan Paumer sees the so called First Republic (1918-1938) as the ideal state, highlighting the heroism of the Czechoslovak legions, among which was also General Josef Mašín, father of Ctirad and Josef Mašín.
Milan Paumer is currently working on enforcing a law that would pardon the third resistancemovement fighters. If that is achieved, they could be decorated as fighters against communism as well.
Mr. Paumer never married, as there had not been "enough Czech girls in the United States", but he still hopes to find the right one here.