2018 marks 100 years since the establishment of Czechoslovakia – as well as 25 years since the foundation of the Czech Republic – and numerous events across the country are currently celebrating the anniversaries.
One of those is The Labyrinth of Czech History, an exhibition at Prague Castle’s Imperial Stables. It includes Vladislav’s Privilege, the oldest known preserved Czech document that dates back to 1158.
The exhibition also includes another unusual document. A letter from the first Czechoslovak President Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk thought to be his final words, transcribed by his son and Czech Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk just days before his death.
The letter is especially unusual because it has yet to be opened.
Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk suffered a stroke on September 1, 1937, and died thirteen days later. But at some point during that time, he was able to narrate a final message to his son, who kept it sealed for the next decade.
After Jan Masaryk’s mysterious death in 1948 – now presumed to be murder at the hands of the incoming communist government – his personal secretary Antonín Sum preserved the letter and other personal documents in an archive before they could be destroyed.
The archive was smuggled to Scotland and into the hands of Lumír Soukup, Masaryk’s secretary while in exile during WWII. Sum, meanwhile, was arrested and spent years in a Uranium mine in Příbram.
Some time after the fall of communism in 1989, the archive was returned to Sum. In 2005, a year before his death, he turned it over to the National Archive – along with the unopened letter that represents the final words of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk.
Sum turned over the letter with the stipulation that it not be opened for another 20 years, a timeline he came to after consulting with Masaryk’s granddaughters Anna and Herbeta before their deaths in 1996.
The reason for the delay in opening is unknown.
So, too, is the contents of the envelope. According to Česká televize, archivists have theorized that the letter may contain a final presidential address from TG Masaryk, a statement about the future of the country, or family secrets.
Whatever the contents of Masaryk’s final message, they will be revealed to the public on September 19, 2025.
For now, however, you can see the envelope containing the mysterious final message of T.G. Masaryk at Prague Castle’s Labyrinth of Czech History exhibition, which runs through June. It sits next to the original Czechoslovak Constitution, which was drafted in 1918 and approved two years later.
Admission to the Labyrinth of Czech History exhibition, at Prague Castle’s Imperial Stables, costs 70 crowns.