The Masaryk Club of Boston is a nonprofit cultural and social organization for Americans of Czech or Slovak ethnic background living in the New England region. We are successor to the Czechoslovak Club whose building, ‘Slavia Hall’ erected in 1905, still stands on Old Harbor Street in South Boston. The early immigrants were craftsmen of many trades. With then diligent work, they supported English classes in the Club House, where they also conducted many cultural events. They contributed to the richness of the cultural heritage of Boston with their native music and dances, and participated in parades in their national costumes, proud to become patriotic Americans.
After 1939 the United States became a haven for refugees fleeing the terror of Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia. Our men distinguished themselves again on all battlefields help regain freedom for their native land. After World War II, more of our countrymen immigrated to this area to study at prestigious local universities, and to assume responsible positions in intellectual fields.
In 1948 our homeland became separated by the "Iron curtain" from the Western world, and a now wave of refugees from the Communist totalitarian regime arrived here. The Czechoslovak community was always on hand to assist the exiles arriving at these shores. A new Czechoslovak organization was founded under the roof of the International Institute of Boston, named the Masaryk Club after the founder and first President of Czechoslovakia, Thomas Garrique Masaryk, whose wife was an American. All this time, the Masaryk Club fought for restoration of freedom in Czechoslovakia. We continued with our cultural events and social work. We also supported the American Fund for Czechoslovak Refugees in its work of resettling new waves of immigrants to this region after 1968. These bright young people brought with them many skills in the modern technologies for which New England is famous.
When Soviet tanks rolled into Czechoslovakia in 1968, many dissidents had to flee the country while others were arrested. This fate befell even Vaclav Havel whom we honor here today. He literally resurrected Czechoslovakia from the ruins of 41 years of Communist tyranny when he bravely headed the Velvet revolution November of 1989. Now he is among the most respected leaders of the Western world. We love and respect him.
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