February 6, 2022 by shoenerca
In this scene, Professor Novotny informs Dr. Svoboda, who is currently known as Karel Vanek, that it is already after curfew. Svoboda believes that it is only 6:30. Professor Novotny reiterates that the time is 7:15 and the family invites Vanek to stay for the night. However, it is more than likely that Professor Novotny is lying about the time because he suspects that Vanek is involved with the assassination in some way and wants to help him. This is because earlier in the film Masha informs her father that she believes that she must have seen the assassin and he tells her that she has not seen anyone. Masha then asks her father if he was involved, hinting that Professor Novotny has some experience with revolutionary politics. Professor Novotny’s past along with the knowledge that his daughter saw the assassin means that he likely suspects that the strange man visiting his daughter is involved with the assassination.
Professor Novotny is one of the symbols of resistance in Hangmen Also Die. He is always ready to do whatever it takes to resist the fascist regime occupying his country, including risking his life. He insists on hiding somebody whom he suspects may be involved with the assassination even though he is aware that the Gestapo may kill anyone who aids the assassin. When he is taken as a hostage, he does not even consider giving up information about Vanek. Even when he is selected to die, for the first time, he tells his daughter to tell his son, Beda, that he died in the great fight for freedom. When Professor Novotny is ultimately executed, he is shown holding the very same pocket watch from this scene, thus tying together how this revolutionary gesture and the subsequent refusal to give up Vanek cost him his life but helped save his country.
Despite endless threats made by the Gestapo and great risk to his own life, Professor Novotny aided the assassin and then refused to give up any information. He was never bitter, upset, or angry that he had been put in such a position. He was willing to die alongside his fellow countryman as an act of solidarity with the Czech people. This makes Professor Novotny the ultimate symbol of resistance.