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Photo: Milada Kuttelwascherová
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Milada Kuttelwascherová passed away

It is with sadness that we announce that Milada Kuttelwascherová, the last of the three original trustees of VELEHRAD London, passed away on 17 May 2024 at the age of 99.

As a girl in the convent of Svatý Karel Boromejský in České Budějovice, Milada witnessed the night invasion of Hitler's armies. The girls awoke to see swastika flags draped across the windows of the town. Milada then married 2nd Lieutenant Jan Kuttelwascher, who had returned from his years on the French front fighting for his homeland. After just three days of courtship, at the tender age of 18, she accepted his proposal by offering him her hand, which he kissed before jumping onto a departing train. As a young family, they fled together as the Stalinist government overran the country.

With their wounded infant daughter, they made it to safety after hours of night travel through the Bohemian forests, just minutes ahead of the secret police. They arrived in England and with a growing community of Czechoslovak expatriates in London, her skills were soon recognised by Father Jan Lang, who recruited her as the first female trustee of Velehrad. Together with Count Josef Czernin, this team organised VELEHRAD at 22 Ladbroke Square.

Milada Kuttelwascherová passed away

Milada Kuttelwascherová passed away

Together this trio solved challenges for their fellow emigrants. With expanding spiritual, social and cultural activities, it became a formidable 'Raft of Safety' for fellow refugees during the decades of the Cold War: the first Czech school on the roof of the nearby Brompton Oratory Prep School preserved Czechoslovak traditions and values: Weekly Mass in Farm Street, followed by assemblies led by Father Jan Lang.

This team laid the foundations for Velehrad, which still stand today as a testament to all who contributed. They built a bulwark against the communist oppression that imprisoned their families and compatriots behind the Iron Curtain. The doors of Velehrad were open to all faiths and none.