A ceremony was held on Monday at the Cathedral of St. Peter and Paul in the city Brno affirming the beatification of two Czech priests who were killed by the communist regime in the early 1950s. In a laborious process stretching back to 2004, priests Jan Bula and Václav Drbola could ultimately be declared saints by the Vatican.
The first part of the process of beatification of Czech priests Jan Bula and Václav Drbola, who were sentenced to death and executed in 1951, has been completed. The process will now continue in Rome. Eleven men, including the two priests, were executed in one of the most controversial show-trials of the period, which followed the shooting of three communist officials in the village of Babice in South Moravia in July 1951 and which the Stalinist authorities used as an excuse for widespread reprisals.
Several hundred people gathered at a memorial to the victims of communism in Prague on Thursday to pay homage to the memory of Milada Horáková, the only woman ever to be executed for political reasons in the former Czechoslovakia. In a 1950 show trial Horáková was found guilty of treason and espionage, charges which were later proven to be false. The Communist government annulled the verdict in 1968, but it wasn't until the fall of communism, more than 30 years later, that Milada Horáková was fully exonerated. Her execution took place 64 years ago today.
A ceremony was held on Wednesday at Prague's Ďáblice Cemetery to remember those killed or incarcerated by Czechoslovakia's communist regime. Organised by the Confederation of Former Political Prisoners, it was attended by a number of political and religious leaders, who warned that many Czechs were succumbing to a dangerous form of political amnesia.
A documentary drama on a notorious Communist-era state prosecutor and judge is set for general release in the Czech Republic next week. Murderer by Profession: The Suffering of Karel Vaš features a rare interview with Vaš, who was a key player in some of Czechoslovakia’s notorious show trials of the early Communist period and died last year at the age of 96. Among his best-known victims was war hero General Helidor Píka, whose intercession with the Soviet authorities to have Czechoslovak soldiers freed during WWII may well have saved the life of Vaš, who was being held in a Gulag camp. The film is largely the work of historian Pavel Paleček, who wrote, co-directed and produced it. Its makers say they plan to screen the film at schools and to have it shown at festivals.
Communist state prosecutor Karel Vaš, a key player in some of Czechoslovakia’s notorious show trials of the 1950s, died at a Prague nursing home at the weekend. He was 96. Vaš, who remained unrepentant to the last, escaped punishment for his crimes in the post-1989 period – a source of regret to some historians and former political prisoners.
Several dozen people gathered in Prague on Saturday to commemorate post-war politician Milada Horáková and other victims of communism on the weekend before the 62nd anniversary of her execution by the Communist regime. Horáková was executed on charges of treason and conspiracy after a show trial on June 27, 1950. People paid their respects to her and others at the monument to 235 victims of communism in front of Pankrác Prison in Prague, where Horáková and others were imprisoned and killed. Milada Horáková served in the anti-fascist resistance during WWII, before becoming an MP for the National Socialists. She left politics after the Communist coup in 1948 and was arrested the next year. The Supreme Court overturned her conviction in 1968, however she was only exonerated in 1990.
William N. Oatis, an Associated Press correspondent who served in Prague in the hardline 1950s entered cold war history when the communist regime made him confess falsely to espionage and sentenced him to 10 years in jail. Now, fifteen years after his death, recordings of that shameful show trial have unexpectedly been unearthed in the country’s National Archives.
Many people in Czechoslovakia greeted the communist coup of February 1948 with enthusiasm, in the belief that the horrors of the war should never be allowed to happen again. But following the model of Stalin’s Soviet Union, it was not long before a period of political terror began, with thousands of arrests and then a series of political show trials. The most horrific symbol of the period was the trial and execution of Milada Horáková. She had been one of the most enlightened politicians of the pre-war Czechoslovak Republic, a champion of democracy