Until recently Zdeněk Toman was an obscure name to many Czechs. However, his incredible story has now reached a broad audience thanks to an eponymous film about him that was released last autumn. Just this week Toman was nominated for 13 prizes at the upcoming annual Czech Lion awards. I spoke to Martin Šmok, the man who originally discovered his extraordinary story.
The Czech National Archive has taken possession of recently discovered film
and audio recordings of the 1950s show trial of Rudolf Slánský and
others. Since being found the materials had been looked after by the
National Film Archive. The NFA comes under the Ministry of Culture, which
had promised to apply for government funding for their care.
A spokesperson for the National Archive (which comes under the Ministry of the Interior) said however that it should oversee the recordings under Czech law.
The valuable materials were uncovered by chance by insolvency administrators at a factory in Central Bohemia.
It’s been described by one historian as one of the greatest finds about the Czechoslovak communist era. Several kilometres of film and sound were recently discovered at a factory and they cover the show trial of one of the country’s top communist officials. Details of the discovery and plans for the find were revealed on Thursday.
Heda Margolius Kovály was a well-known writer and translator who survived the Auschwitz extermination camp and whose first husband, Rudolf Margolius, a deputy minister of foreign trade, was found guilty in the notorious Slánský show trials in what is one of the darkest chapters of in modern Czechoslovak history. In the 1970s, Heda published a memoir which has been in print ever since, but now, a new publication called “Hitler, Stalin and I”, based on four days of interviews with documentary filmmaker Helena Treštíková in 2000 and made into a film
The country’s Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes on Tuesday launched a new project to commemorate victims of former Czechoslovakia’s communist regime. Called “Last Address”, the idea was inspired by similar initiatives in Russia. Within the project, plaques will be installed at victims’ final addresses – recalling their lives and what they stood for, for which they died.
Communist Party MP Marta Semelová, who shocked many with her comments on the 1968 invasion of Czechoslovakia and the judicial murder of Milada Horáková in the 1950s, will not have to apologize for her words. A Prague district court dismissed the case against her on Wednesday, saying that the complaint was legally unsubstantiated.
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.