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Transnational Resistance Women

Coded obituary Věra Hynkova-Vejvoda: a transnational biography of resistance

On 6 December 1941, Report no. 1 was dispatched from the Peoples’ Liberation Movement Detachment Headquarters for the Croatian Littoral and Gorski Kotar to the central Croatian Headquarters. Ten pages describe the general situation and partisan actions in the area under Italian occupation. This, as well as most of the other reports in the area of Gorski Kotar at the beginning of war, were signed by Spanish volunteers who came back to join the resistance in Yugoslavia. The person behind the pseudonym “Politkommissar Mijo Vuletić” in the signature of the Report, was Ivo Vejvoda, and behind “Mara” his wife Věra Hynková-Vejvoda, killed a month and a half earlier in the attack on the partisan camp Presika near Delnice. In the form of a coded obituary, Ivo Vejvoda included the biography of his partner and revolutionary companion:

 

“You probably heard about the attack on the Delnice camp, which suffered a heavy blow. We lost two comrades there. Comrade Mara and Šipek. Comrade Mara was a student fighter, a member of the Central Committee of the Student Union, a delegate at the Amsterdam Congress against War and Fascism, twice a student delegate at congresses in Paris, Spanish volunteer, editor of the front magazine, and librarian at the school of officers and political commissars of the Interbrigade in Pozo Ribio, editor and speaker of Madrid radio, administrator in the Service cadre in Barcelona, and finally a partisan in our detachments. In all countries where she worked, she was a member of the Communist Party. When a group of Italian soldiers approached with an officer at the head, she killed the officer, and fell shot by their bullets.”

 

Věra Hynková (Prague, 1915 – Delnice, 1941) joined the progressive student movement and the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia in her youth. As part of her political work, she met her future husband, the Yugoslav communist Ivan (Ivo) Vejvoda. After arriving in Spain at the end of 1937, she was sent to the officer school of the International Brigades, where she would become the manager of the library. In Madrid, she worked as an editor of the newspaper of the Czechoslovak volunteers and an announcer on Radio Madrid. During the retreat of the volunteers, she was interned in the Saint Zacharie camp near Marseille, together with Yugoslav women volunteers Borka Demić and Olga Dragić. Due to her pregnancy, she was released from the camp and after a short stay in Paris, she returned to Croatia/Yugoslavia. She became involved in the work of the Committee for Aid to Yugoslav Volunteers and led a campaign for their return under the names “Mara” and “Španjolka”. Upon his return, she went with Ivo Vejvoda to the mountains of Gorski Kotar and accepted the position of technical manager at the Headquarters of the Delnice Partisan Detachment. She worked on issuing radio news and duplicating directives until October 1941, when she was killed in an attack by the Italian division “Lombardi”. Věra was remembered as the first female partisan to die in the area of Gorski Kotar in Croatia. The site of the death was marked with a memorial plaque, but the transnational nature of her biography still resists both Czech and Croatian national historiographic matrices.

 

Sanja Horvatinčić

Sources / further reading
  • Collection of documents and data on the National Liberation War of the Yugoslav peoples, Volume V, Book 2, Institute of Military History of the Yugoslav People’s Army, Belgrade, 1952, pp. 117-127.
  • Željko Laloš, “Vera Vejvoda-Hynkova – the first female fallen fighter, Croatian partisan”, Lexicon Matica Hrvatske – Delnice, https://maticahrvatska-cabar.hr/delnice-8/
  • Notice VEJVODA Vera [née HYNKOVA Vera, known as REINER Lenka, Mara and Španjolka in the Yugoslav Resistance] by Hervé Lemesle, version posted online on January 6, 2022: https://maitron.fr/spip.php?article244711 ,

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