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Presentation of the Václav Benda Award to Ms Hebe Charlotte Kohlbrugge

On 18 December 2013 the Václav Benda Award and commemorative medal „For Freedom and Democracy“ was handed over to Ms Hebe Charlotte Kohlbrugge by the Czech Ambassador in The Hague H.E. Mr. Jaroslav Horák. The award is presented annually by the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes of the Czech Republic to those who played a significant role in the fight for the restoration of freedom and democracy of the Czechoslovak Republic during the eras of non-freedom (1938-1945) and Communist totalitarian power (1948-1989). Václav Benda was a famous Czech dissident and politician.

Ms Kohlbrugge, who will turn 100 next year, originally planned to attend the presentation ceremony in Prague but in the last moment she gave up the plan and received the prize at the Czech Embassy in The Hague. Hebe Kohlbrugge is a Dutch theologian who participated in resistance movement during the World War II. She was imprisoned and eventually sent to the Ravensbrück concentration camp where Czech women saved her life. She later established a number of contacts behind the iron curtain and made a lot of friends among then Czechoslovak dissidents. She provided aid in undercover carrying the theological literature into the communist Czechoslovakia and in organizing the so called flat seminars, at that time attended by theologians and philosophy lecturers mainly from the Netherlands. Thanks to her lifelong commitment to faith, truth and liberty important intellectual exchange between East and West Europe was made possible.