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Marie Prokopová (1922) - Biography

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Honest people were being imprisoned

Mrs. Marie Prokopová, née Šmahlová, was born August 18, 1922. She grew up in Hlinsko in the historic neighborhood called Betlém where her parents ran their renowned confectioners shop. She had a sister and a brother, who carried on in the family tradition and became confectioners as well. Mrs. Prokopová learnt the shop assistant's trade, but she was then earning her living as a clerk and as an instrument nurse. Later she began working as a guide in the open-air museum of folk architecture in Veselý Kopec near Hlinsko. She was going there to help with guiding tourists and organizing cultural programs, even in her old age. Since her childhood she has been a member of Sokol and Junák. At first she was in the girls' troop between ages six and ten, which corresponds to present-day Brownies. Her troop was led by Žofie Bláhová at that time. Marie later became the leaders deputy and she became the leader of the whole Brownie troop after the war. In 1946 she organized a camp for them in Milovy near Svratka. Scouting activities were interrupted after the communist coup d'état for nearly twenty years but Marie became a leader of Brownies again in 1968 after the restoration of the Junák organization. The activity of the Scout group in Hlinsko, however, was forcibly interrupted again only two years later.

Before the outbreak of WWII Marie went for a six-month language-exchange program in Trmice near Ústí nad Labem, which was predominantly German-speaking. She planned to start studying at the German trade academy there, but she had to abandon this plan when the Sudetenland became occupied by the German army. Marie met her husband-to-be during the war. Their marriage was childless. After the Nazis banned the activities of Junák, she began camping in a small settlement in Svobodné Hamry near Trhová Kamenice. She was not drafted for forced labour in Germany, but later she was severely affected by the communist persecution after February 1948. Her husband was imprisoned for half a year because he refused to accept the confiscation of his trade by the state. Some Scout officials whom she knew were dismissed from their jobs.

Due to her age she was not involved in the subsequent restoration of Junák after 1989 as intensely as in 1945 and 1968. She has however never ceased being a Scout. In 2003 she received the Medal of Appreciation, which is awarded to long-time members of Junák as a sign of gratitude for their work for the Scouting movement.

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