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Jan Maršálek (1914 - 2011) - Biography

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I was no heroe. If I had been one, I would not have lived now.

Jan Maršálek was born on 19 July 1914 in Vienna in a Czech family. Since childhood he inclined to the political left wing, social democratic and communist organisations. He learnt to be a typographer and worked in a printing office, where only left wing papers were printed. Since 1936 he led an organisation called The Communist Aid, which organised collections to support the families of the imprisoned. In March 1938, after connection of Austria he ought to join the Wehrmacht, but he immigrated back to Czechoslovakia. He first lived in Pilsen and later in Prague helping social democratic and communist revolutionaries and he participated in activities of illegal communist organisation. On October 1941 he was arrested by the gestapo in Prague and being an Austrian citizen he was transferred to Vienna. On 28 September 1942 he was sent to a concentration camp Mauthausen. He became the second camp typist and due to his post and relations with rebellious organisations in a camp he could influence prisoners work positions and placement in the block. He often helped prisoners and saved lives of many. At the end of war he organised returns of the Czech prisoners back to their country. After liberation he returned back to Vienna. He worked at the police and focused on finding former Nazis. In 1946 he married his pre-war love, Anna Vaváková, his co-worker from resistance and a prisoners in a concentration camp Ravensbrück, and together they brought up their son Saša. All his life Jan Maršálek was interested in the history of the Mauthausen concentration camp; in 1947 he published a book called Mauthausen mahnt and since 1963 he worked in the Mauthausen memorial. He died on 9 December 2011 in Vienna.

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