YMCAs Figures

YMCA’s figures

YMCA is associated with a number of outstanding figures:



Thomas Garrigue Masaryk (1850–1937)

Czech statesman, philosopher and the first president of the Czechoslovakia Republic


 Masaryk was familiar with the work of the YMCA, not only from the USA, but also from the Russian legions. He wanted YMCA to be established in Czechoslovakia, so in 1919 he sent his daughter Alice Masaryk to his friend J. R. Motto (later Nobel Peace Prize winner) in Geneva, who lived at the YMCA World Headquarters, asking for YMCA to start its work in Czechoslovakia. He personally attended the first conference of the Czech Secretaries of YMCA and gave the new YMCA camp in Sázava, which was founded in 1921, the permission to bear the name "Masaryk’s Camp Soběšín". Masaryk was a great supporter of YMCA - and the YMCA drew a lot from his thoughts and ideals, referring to his works and presenting him as a role model, during its work with the youth.






Ing. Václav M. Havel (1897–1979)

Prague construction entrepreneur, the father of president Václav Havel, first chairman of the Prague YMCA


V. Havel Sr. was introduced to the YMCA during his one-year post-war stay in the United States. He was a member of the central committee of the Czechoslovakia YMCA since the beginning of the movement. In 1930 he was unanimously elected chairman of the Prague YMCA Committee. He was a member of the leading bodies of YMCA from its inception until the end in 1951. Together with his brother, he made a significant contribution to equipping the gym in Prague's YMCA Palace. His son, the first post-revolutionary president of our republic, expressed his close relationship with YMCA in his letter that he wrote in 1994. Partially thanks to his father, but he also perceived the ideas of YMCA as an inspiration in his later work.






Jaroslav Šimsa (1900–1945)

Czech journalist and philosopher, secretary of the Czechoslovak YMCA


J. Šimsa worked in the publishing department of YMCA since 1929, then in 1933-38 as a secretary of the Academic YMCA, and then as a program secretary of the Czechoslovakia YMCA. After the beginning of the German occupation in March 1939 he actively participated in the II. Resistance wave, for example, co-founded the petition committee We will stay faithful. In February 1940 he was arrested by the Gestapo, based on the accusation of maintaining contact with Edvard Beneš. He proved the charges to be false, but still wasn’t released. After a series of interrogations, he was escorted to a concentration camp in Terezín, then briefly imprisoned in Prague at the Pankrác prison, and finally transferred to a concentration camp in Dachau. He died as a result of illness on the 8th of February 1945.






Rudolf Mareš (1909–1944)

leader of the democratic resistance against Nazi occupation, secretary of Prague headquarters YMCA


Since 1938 Rudolf Mareš has been employed as the secretary of YMCA and the head of its boys' department in Prague. He was involved in securing radio communication with London, and in the spring of 1940, he was arrested by the Gestapo. He managed to escape and continued to work illegally, however on the night of 11th to the 12th of July 1942, he fell into a trap and was arrested. After almost two years of imprisonment and torture, Rudolf Mareš was executed on Friday, October 20, 1944, at the Pankrác prison in Prague.

  "I am going to eternal peace, and I ask you to live for me and rejoice, for the world is in great pain, but it is also beautiful. (from his last farewell letter)






Jaroslav Valenta (1911–1942)

leader of the democratic resistance against Nazi occupation, secretary of the Academic YMCA


J. Valenta was a member of the Academic YMCA, organized the YMCA’s Liberec program, and in the summer of 1938, he became a secretary of the Academic YMCA. He remained in that position until the 17th of November 1939, when the AY’s activities stopped. He continued to work in the YMCA’s Publishing Department. During the Protectorate he was a member of the illegal organization of the Central Resistance Management (HOME). Together with Jaroslav Šimsa and many others he participated in the creation of the resistance organization petition committee We will remain faithful. Jaroslav Valenta was arrested by the Gestapo during the martial law after the Heydrichade on May 28th 1942, and was interrogated at the Petschkovy Palace. He was assassinated in the Mauthausen concentration camp on October 24, 1942.






Emanuel Rádl (1873–1942)

A prominent Czech biologist and philosopher, member of the first central committee of YMCA


Rádl stood at the establishment of the YMCA in Czechoslovakia and was a member of the first central committee. Together with the theologian J. L. Hromádka he founded a specific offshoot YMCA – an Academic YMCA, concentrating on university students, in 1927. He also initiated the publication of the magazine Christian revue (published to this day). In 1925 he wrote to President Masaryk: "The Czechoslovakia YMCA hopes to contribute with its talent to the re-education of the nation and to support the constructive efforts of our statesmen."


Other significant YMCA members:

    • František Drtina, philosopher, university professor and politician, first chairman of the Czechoslovakia YMCA
    • Joe First, secretary of the YMCA’s headquarters, founder and director of the Sázava camp, first chairman of the Czechoslovakia Volleyball and Basketball Association
    • F. M. Marek, sport promoter, founder and first chief of the Czechoslovak Volleyball and Basketball Association
    • Josef Amos Pípal, promoter of sport, especially athletics (he was an assistant coach of US athletes at the Olympics) and volleyball
    • J. L. Hromádka, representative of the Academic YMCA
    • Václav Velkoborský, Director of the Prague YMCA
    • Fráňa Velkoborský, poet and translator, secretary of YMCA
    • Pavel Hasterlík, secretary of the Prague YMCA in 1930s, program and economics director of the camp in Orava
    • Vaclav Klofáč, Minister, "Man of October 28", member of the YMCA Central Committee
    • Božena Komárková, philosopher, signatory of Charter 77
    • Jan Milíč Lochman, University Professor
    • Zdenka Paková, member of the resistance, executed by the Gestapo
    • Antonin Sum ml., lawyer, resistance participant, personal secretary of Jan Masaryk
    • Jiřina Šiklová, sociologist
    • Jan Tříska, actor
    • Jan Přeučil, actor and teacher

and more.

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In 2017 YMCA volunteers contributed to work with children and youth by donating 188.000 hours of their time, which is over 27.900.000 crowns.