Rudolf Slansky

Rudolf Slansky

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Rudolf Slansky was born in Moravia in Czechoslovakia in 1901. He joined the Czechoslovakian Communist Party when it was formed in 1929 and soon became a close associate of its leader, Klement Gottwald.

The German Army marched into the Sudetenland on 1st October, 1938. Slansky fled to the Soviet Union where he remained for most of the Second World War. In 1944 he returned to Czechoslovakia where he assisted the Slovak uprising.

In March 1945 Eduard Benes flew to Moscow and after meeting Joseph Stalin agreed that in his post-war coalition he would accept several Soviet-trained Czechs. Benes and Jan Masaryk accompanied the Russian-sponsored Czechoslovak Corps that liberated the country from Nazi Germany in May 1945. Slansky became Secretary-General of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party. In the 1946 general election the Communist Party won the largest number of parliamentary seats with 38 per cent of the votes. Klement Gottwald set up a National Front government but caused great controversy when under the orders of Joseph Stalin, he rejected Marshall Aid.

In June 1948, when it became clear that Gottwald intended to introduce a Russian-style political system, Eduard Benes resigned as president. Later that year Jan Masaryk was found dead. He had either been murdered or had committed suicide in protest at the imposition of a Stalinist political system.

Slansky refused to follow the orders of Joseph Stalin and in September, 1951, he was arrested and charged with being a follower of Josip Tito of Yugoslavia. Sam Russell, a journalist with the Daily Worker, covered the case. At the time he considered the evidence as genuine but according to Roger Bagley it was an experience which "left a deep scar."

Rudolf Slansky was executed on 2nd December, 1952.

December 3rd, 2007 Headsman

On this date in 1952, eleven high-ranking Czechoslovakian politicians were hanged at Prague’s Pankrac Prison two weeks after a show trial purging unreliable elements from the Communist party.

One of the most infamous show trials in Czechoslovakia saw 14 high-ranking Communists — eleven of them Jews — railroaded for a “Trotskyite-Titoist-Zionist activities in the service of American imperialism”. Three received life sentences. The other eleven went to the gallows.

While the roots of the persecution, especially the undertones of anti-Semitism, sink into the id of the Stalinist Eastern bloc, the most evident proximate cause was the USSR’s assertion of control over its satellite states at a time when Josip Tito was successfully charting a course of independent communism. Purges in Poland, Bulgaria and Hungary had taken place in the years before.

The Soviet agents rounding up suspects for Stalin did not trifle with small game. Rudolf Slansky was General Secretary of the Communist Party and therefore the second-most powerful man in the country by the time he was tried, after a year in prison under torture, he was publicly denouncing himself.

Otto Sling, whose name became synonymous with forbidden heterodoxy, did likewise — “I was a treacherous enemy within the Communist Party … I am justly an object of contempt and deserve the maximum and the hardest punishment.”

And Vladimir Clementis, the Slovak Minister of Foreign Affairs, was erased from a photo taken with the Czechoslovakian President, a circumstance Milan Kundera reflected upon in The Book of Laughter and Forgetting:

In February 1948, the Communist leader Klement Gottwald stepped out on the balcony of a Baroque palace to harangue hundreds of thousands of citizens massed in Old Town Square … Gottwald was flanked by his comrades, with Clementis standing close to him.

The propaganda section made hundreds of thousands of copies of the photograph taken on the balcony where Gottwald, in a fur hat and surrounded by his comrades, spoke to the people. On that balcony the history of Communist Bohemia began. Every child knew that photograph, from seeing it on posters and in schoolbooks and museums.

Four years later, Clementis was charged with treason and hanged. The propaganda section immediately made him vanish from history and, of course, from all photographs. Ever since, Gottwald has been alone on the balcony. Where Clementis stood, there is only the bare palace wall.

The hanged were rehabilitated in 1963.

Artur London, who received a life sentence and was released after rehabilitation, wrote about his experiences in The Confession, subsequently a 1970 Costa-Gavras film. The wife and son of Deputy Minister of Foreign Trade (and Auschwitz survivor) Rudolf Margolius have also both written memoirs covering the trial.

The younger Margolius in particular, who has staunchly defended his father as an essentially apolitical man and not a Communist apparatchik, has been in the thick of present-day disputes in Czechoslovakia’s successor states over whom is due sympathy and recognition for bygone political crimes.

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1. spravedlnosti , Ministerstvo , Proces s vedenίm protistátnίho spikleneckého centra v čele s Rudolfem Slánským ( Prague , 1953 ).Google Scholar

2. NA 749.001/12–55, Oliver L. Troxel.Jr., U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv, to the Department of State, Washington, D.C, 5 December 1951. “The recent arrest of… Slánský is a subject of much speculation and a source of numerous theories. “

3. NA RG 84, Spencer M. King, U.S. Embassy, Prague, to the Department of State, Washington, D.C, 25 November 1951. “Most Czechs … seem believe only explanation lies in use drugs. Emb more inclined rely on psychological if not physical torture as explanation. “

4. The three were Artur London, Vavro Hajdů, and Evžen Löbl.

5. Kotik , Meir , The Prague Trial: The First Anti-Zionist Show Trial in the Communist Bloc ( New York , 1987 )Google Scholar Harap , Louis , The Truth about the Prague Trial ( New York , 1953 )Google Scholar Robinson , Nemiah , The Significance of the Prague Trial ( New York , 1952 )Google Scholar Oschlies , Wolf , Antizionismus in der Tschechoslowakei ( Cologne , 1970 )Google Scholar .

6. See Kopecký , Václav , Antisemitismus poslednίzbranί nacismu ( Prague , 1945 ).Google Scholar

7. NA 749.00 (W)/l 1–2152, Spencer M. King, U.S. Embassy, Prague, to the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 21 November 1952. King identifies the three non-Jewish defendants as Vladimίr Clementis, Josef Frank, and Karel Svab.

8. Murashko , G. P. , “ Delo Slanskogo ,” Voprosy istorii , 1997 , no. 3 : 16 Google Scholar . See also Barton , Paul , Prague á ι'Heure de Moscou. Analyse d'une démocratic populaire ( Paris , 1954 ), 16 Google Scholar , and Kaplan , Karel , Nekrvavá revoluce ( Toronto , 1985 ), 345 .Google Scholar

9. KPR, D 11484/47 and AÚV KSČ 100/24, folder 130, unit 1493. Bulinova , Marie et al. , Československo a Israel v létech 1947–1953: Dokumenty ( Brno , 1993 )Google Scholar , and Dufek , Jiřί et al. , Československo a Izrael v letech 1947–1953 ( Brno , 1993 ).Google Scholar

10. Ulam , Adam B. , Expansion and Coexistence: The History of Soviet Foreign Policy , 1917–1967 ( New York , 1969 ), 584 –85Google Scholar also Bulinova, Ceskoslovensko a Israel, 141–56.

11. See NA 949.61/11–1651, Ellis O. Briggs, U.S. Embassy, Prague, to the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 17 November 1951. Ambassador Briggs reported on a recent speech by the Egyptian chargé d'affaires in Prague who praised improving “relations of Egypt with countries of peace camp, and in first place with Czechoslovakia.” Also Kaplan , Karel , Report on the Murder of the General Secretary ( Columbus , 1990 ), 236 –48.Google Scholar

12. The most recent treatment of this can be found in Mastny , Vojtech , The Cold War and Soviet Insecurity: The Stalin Years ( New York , 1996 )Google Scholar , esp. 30–115. The Yugoslav angle of the Slánský affair is stressed in Hermann Weber and Staritz , Dietrich , Komunisten verfolgen Komunisten: Stalinistischer Terror und “Sduberungen” in den kommunistischen Parteien Europas seit den dreissigerJahren ( Berlin , 1993 )Google Scholar , esp. the chapter by Jan Osers. See also Lowenthal , Richard , “ Why Was Slánský Hanged? ” The Twentieth Century 153 , no. 911 (January-June 1953 ): 18 – 23 .Google Scholar

14. Fond Komise II, vol. 14, unit 382. Slánský apparently possessed a dark sense of humor. When Karel Šváb was about to accept an StB post, Slánsky gave him a book (in German) on Napoleon's notorious top policeman Joseph Fouché. Also Harry Slapnicka, “Der Fall Rudolf Slánský: Ein Aktueller Rückblick auf Gottwalds Schauprozesse,” Osteuropa 13, nos. 11/12 (November-December 1963): 768–71.

15. Péju , Marcel , “ Hier et aujourd'hui: Le sens du procés Slánský ,” Les Temps modernes 8 , no. 90 (May 1953 ): 1775 –90Google Scholar 8, no. 91 (June 1953): 2009–23 9, no. 92 (July 1953): 139–64. Also Briigel , J. W. , “ Gedanken zum Slansky-Prozess: Zwanzigjahre danach ,” Osteuropa 12 , no. 72 ( 1972 ): 916 –20.Google Scholar

16. Ministerstvo spravedlnosti, Proces, 61. The court never attempted to explain how Slánský's desire for a “Czechoslovak path to socialism” fit with the overall charge that the former general secretary was in the pay of western capitalists.

17. TonyJudt , , Past Imperfect: French Intellectuals, 1944–1956 ( Berkeley , 1992 ), 110 .Google Scholar

18. I have chosen to ignore Steven , tSewart , Operation Splinter Factor ( Philadelphia , 1974 )Google Scholar . Steven claims (without providing any evidence) that Slánský's downfall was caused by Allen Dulles and that Stalin was the deceived victim.

19. NA 749.001/12–55, Oliver L. Troxel, Jr., U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv, 5 December 1951, and NA 749.00/11–2052, Spencer M. King, U.S. Embassy, Prague, to the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 20 November 1952. King correctly noted that “Slansky as Zionist was no more plausible than Slansky as potential Tito.” Also Mastny, Cold War, 154.

20. Neue Zürcher Zeitung, 29 November 1951.

21. Kaplan, Nekrvavá revoluce (Toronto, 1985), 342, and Kaplan, Report, 139–51.

22. AÚV KSČ, 100/50, file 1, unit 1.

23. SÚA, Ministry of Interior, 1936–40, X/K/26, 225–1056, Police Directorate to the Ministry, 9 December 1938.

24. On 3 October 1943 the Slánskýs’ youngest child, Nadia, was kidnapped in a Moscow park. Despite the family's interventions with the police and their letters to Soviet authorities, Nadia was never returned to the family. The Slánskýs’ letters went unanswered, and Nadia, the darling of the family, was swallowed up by die vastness of Russia. Although the case was replete with suspicious aspects, Nadia's parents accepted the benign explanation that the kidnapper was a mentally disturbed woman. See Slánský , Josefa , Report on My Husband ( London , 1969 ), 121 –25.Google Scholar

25. RudéPrávo, 10 November 1945.

26. Hanzlik , František , Únor 1948: Vý'sledek nerovného zápasu ( Prague , 1997 )Google Scholar , and Lukes , Igor , “ The Birth of a Police State: The Czechoslovak Ministry of the Interior, 1945–48 ,” Intelligence and National Security 11 (January 1996): 78 – 88 .CrossRefGoogle Scholar

27. AÚVKSČ, 100/50, file 1, unit 2, and AÚVKSČ, 100/50, file 19, units 184 and 185.

28. Slánský was featured in eight articles that appeared in the New York Times in 1948.

29. Fischl , O. , Hovory sjanem Masarykem ( Prague , 1991 ), 37 .Google Scholar

30. Fond Komise I, vol. 2, unit 202.

31. Mrs. Dulce-Ann Steinhardt Sherlock, the daughter of Ambassador Lawrence Steinhardt, the first post-World War II ambassador to Prague, told me that her father “didn't like Gottwald and Fierlinger, but he hated Slánský.” Interview, Chevy Chase, Maryland, 18January 1998. NA 749.00/11–2052, Spencer M. King, U.S. Embassy, Prague, to the Secretary of State, 20 November 1952. King suggested that Slánský was “Czecho's most ruthless Commie and outstanding Moscow servant. “

32. Fond Komise I, vol. 34, unit 866. Slánský chaired the so-called security five (Slánský, Karel Šváb, Václav Nosek, Josef Pavel, and Ladislav Kopřiva). These men, not the courts, decided all capital cases. Before his arrest in November 1951, 1 estimate that Slánský had shared the responsibility for imposing 139 death penalties upon political prisoners. The real number may never be known. Interview with Colonel Adolf Rázek, Institute for the Documentation and Investigation of Communist Crimes, Prague, 14 August 1998. See also AMV, 310–23-1.

33. AÚV KSČ, 100/50, file 1, unit 2, Václav Kopecký, “K 50. narozeninám soudruha Rudolfa Slánského.” According to Rude Právo, 31 July 1951, the presidium of the CPC Central Committee awarded Slánský the Order of Socialism because he fought “on the ramparts … for the application of the Bolshevik line and against opportunistic wreckers and traitors. “

34. Slánský , Rudolf , Za vitězství socialismu , 2 vols. ( Prague , 1951 )Google Scholar . See AÚV KSČ, 100/ 50, file 21, unit 185 Murashko, “Delo Slanskogo,” no. 3: 16. The Soviet Embassy reported that the general secretary was paid rather well for his collected works: he was supposed to have received 1, 200, 000 Kčs. I have not been able to verify this allegation.

35. AÚV KSČ, 100/50, file 22, unit 188.

36. Rudé Právo, 30 July 1946.

37. Fond Komise I, vol. 2, unit 15. On 5 September 1951, the presidium of the Central Committee of the CPC resolved, unanimously, “to recall comrade Slánský from the post of general secretary.” Also NA 749.00/9–1051, Ellis O. Briggs, U.S. Embassy, Prague, to the Secretary of State, Washington, D.C., 10 September 1951.

38. New York Times, 9 September 1951.

39. Fond Komise I, vol. 2, unit 12.

40. Fond Komise II, vol. 14, unit 380.

41. Fond Komise I, vol. 2, unit 12.

42. Hodos , George , Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948–1954 ( New York , 1987 ).Google Scholar

43. NA 749.02/9–1051, Oliver L. Troxel, Jr., second secretary, U.S. Embassy, Tel Aviv, to the Department of State, Washington, D.C., 20 September 1951.

44. Lewis , Flora , Red Pawn: The Story of Noel Field ( Garden City, N.J. , 1965 )Google Scholar . New perspectives can now be discovered in the archives in Prague, Warsaw, and Budapest. In the following, I will rely primarily on AMV, Z-84, Osobni svazek, no. 4528, and AMV, 302–103-3, Trust Fund. For the sake of brevity, this account of the Field affair must bypass the case of Erika Glaser Wallach, born in 1922, the adopted daughter of Noel and Herta Field. See her Light at Midnight (Garden City, N.J., 1967).

45. AFL-BU, box 1, Loy Henderson to Flora Lewis, 22 November 1959.

46. AFL-BU, box 1, Vladimir Sokolin to Flora Lewis, 30 September 1960.

47. AMV, 302–103-3, Noel Field's interrogation in Budapest, 4 January 1950. This is confirmed in the Czech summary of the case in AMV, Z-84, no. 4528. See also AÚV KSČ, 100/24, vol. 62, unit 947. Noel told Ludvik Frejka in Prague that he had been recruited by Soviet intelligence in 1927. In addition, Hermann Field told me (interview on 25 April 1998) that Noel affirmed his work for Soviet intelligence in a manuscript he prepared while in Hungarian prison, a manuscript the Hungarians have made available to Hermann Field. Noel was also identified as a Soviet agent by Hede Massing, the woman who recruited him in Washington, and by her husband, Paul Massing. See AFL-BU, Hede Massing to Flora Lewis, 23 September 1959 and 16 April 1960. Hede Massing identified Noel as a Soviet agent in congressional hearings see United States Senate, Senate Subcommittee to Investigate the Administration of the Internal Security Act of the Committee on the Judiciary, 82d Cong., 2d sess., 2 August 1951, 231–36. Henry Jordan, “Where Is Noel Field?” Argosy Magazine (November 1958) Jordan quotes Walter Krivitsky to the effect that Noel had worked for him while he was employed by die League of Nations. Noel states the same in AMV, Z-84.

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Slansky was born in 1901 in Nezvestice, then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. He became interested in leftist politics as a teenager, and in 1921 was a founding member of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, in whose ranks he rose quickly, together with his friend Klement Gottwald. During the German occupation of Czechoslovakia, beginning in 1938, both men were granted asylum in Moscow.

Slansky was a Stalinist who believed that the political struggle justified all means, and he would do most anything to remain within the party’s good graces: When he was in power, Slansky was as brutal as the regime that later ran roughshod over him.

During the family’s time in Moscow, Slansky's infant daughter, Nadia, was kidnapped, while her 8-year-old brother babysat her in a park. It was clear that the abduction of Nadia, who was never heard from again, was officially sanctioned, but her parents accepted her fate, and kept quiet.

After the coup of February 1948, in which the Communists overthrew their partners in the coalition government, Gottwald became the country’s president, and Slansky was his number two. At the latter’s urging, the state set up political concentration camps and began imprisoning suspected enemies of the party. Although he and Gottwald initially resisted pressure from Moscow to purge the party itself of purported Western agents, eventually they requested Soviet help in rooting out traitors, and, in 1949, built a new interrogation facility for the purpose – Ruzyne prison.

Recent research by historian Igor Lukes revealed that U.S. intelligence, in its effort to destabilize the Czech Communist regime in the early '50s, sent Slansky a message inviting his defection to the West. The message was intercepted before it arrived, but it confirmed Stalin’s own paranoia, and sealed Slansky’s fate. Just months after Slansky’s 50th birthday had been a subject of national celebrations and tributes, his longtime comrade Gottwald ordered his arrest, in November 1951. Historians are divided on whether Gottwald acted out of fear for his own neck, or because of a growing rivalry with Slansky. Another 13 officials were rounded up at the same time, representing nearly every part of the party leadership.

Slansky was imprisoned and subjected to ongoing torture at Ruzyne, the same detention center he had built two years earlier. He and his fellow defendants all eventually confessed to all the charges – of “high treason, espionage, sabotage and military treason” -- with their trial starting a year after the arrest, on November 20, 1952.

Anti-Semitism, in the guise of anti-Zionism and anti-cosmopolitanism, became a central theme in the purge. As Gottwald explained it, “Hitler persecuted the Jews because they went with us but now the Jews are drawn to Anglo-American imperialism, which is supporting Israel and using Zionism as a disintegrative agent….”

Slansky attempted suicide several times during his imprisonment, but without success. In the interim, he and the other defendants spent much of the year being coached to recite the lines assigned them in a carefully written script for their trial.

Slansky confessed to leading a Zionist conspiracy meant to weaken the country’s economy, and attributed his treachery to having been “born into a middle-class Jewish family.”

Slansky grew up as the son of a trader in Pilsen . In 1921, a year after graduating from high school, he joined the Communist Party and was in fact a party official from that time. He joined the radical, Moscow and Comintern-oriented group around Klement Gottwald , which later went down in history under the nickname " Buben von Karlín " ("karlínští kluci"). At the 5th party congress of the CPC in February 1929, these young functionaries took over power in the CPC. Slansky became a member of the Central Committee and the Politburo. From 1935 to 1938 he was a member of parliament , in 1938 he went to Moscow and there became a member of the KSČ's foreign leadership, in which position he also took part in the Slovak National Uprising in 1944 .

In 1945 he returned to Czechoslovakia and in the same year became Secretary General of KSČ. In this role he played a key role in the fight against the bourgeois democratic parties and the communists' seizure of power in February 1948 and was responsible for the persecution of numerous opponents of the communists. On September 8, 1951, he was dismissed as General Secretary and received the post of Deputy Prime Minister. On November 23, 1951, he was arrested in the course of the Field affair and charged with high treason . On the one hand, the motivation can be seen in the fact that Gottwald wanted to get rid of a potential rival, and anti-Semitism, inspired by the Soviet model of an alleged medical conspiracy , also played an important role. Like most of his co-defendants, Slansky was of Jewish origin. In the show trial named after him in November 1952, he was in a show trial before the newly established State Court together with Foreign Minister Vladimír Clementis , Otto Fischl , Josef Frank , Ludvík Frejka , Bedřich Geminder , Vavro Hajdů , Evžen Löbl , Artur London , Rudolf Margolius , Bedřich Reicin , Otto Katz , Otto Sling and Karel Šváb accused as alleged "head of an anti-state conspiracy center", sentenced to death and on December 3, 1952 along with ten other co-defendants by hanging in the Prague prison Pankrác executed . Their bodies were burned. State Security employees scattered the ashes in a field outside of Prague.

On September 8, 1963, Slansky was legally rehabilitated, along with Mordechai Oren , a member of the Israeli Mapam , who had been pardoned after serving three years of a ten-year prison sentence and repatriated to Israel. In 1968 he was rehabilitated by the party in the course of the Prague Spring .


Slánský was born on July 31, 1901 in Nezvěstice near Pilsen, Bohemia. [1] His father was a Jewish merchant. [3] He studied at a public academy in Plzeň. Slánský joined the Czechoslovak Communist Party in 1921, three years after it was formed. [3] In 1924 he was the editor of the Communist Party newspaper, Rude Pravo. [3] He rose in the ranks of the Party becoming a member of the Central Committee. He was in hiding from 1929 to 1935 because the Party was illegal in Czechoslovakia at the time. [3] He became a member of the National Assembly and a close associate of Klement Gottwald.

When the Munich Agreement was signed in 1938, Czechoslovakia’s Sudetenland was taken over by Nazi Germany. [3] When the German army marched into the Sudetenland on October 1, 1938, Slánský fled. He went to the Soviet Union and stayed there during most of World War II. [4] He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1944 and took part in the Slovak National Uprising. [4]

After the war, he was involved in politics. The Communist Party in Czechoslovakia agreed to accept many of Joseph Stalin's trained Czechs. [4] Slánský was made the Secretary-General of the Party in Czechoslovakia. By 1948, it was clear that Gottwald was following the Stalinist style of politics.

Slánský himself had been in charge of purges of several of his associates. When Gottwald thought he might be next, he had Slánský and 13 others arrested. [4] The charges against Slánský included treason, spying and sabotage. [4] Slánský finally confessed after being tortured. Then he had to memorize a speech for the show trial. [4] All of the 14 had confessed. Slánský was one of the 11 who was given a death sentence. [4] Twice Slánský attempted suicide while he was waiting for his execution. [4] Finally, on December 3, 1952, he was hanged at Pankrac Prison. [4]

After Stalin died in 1953, there were fewer purges. In April 1963, Slánský and his fellow victims were cleared of the charges against them. [4] In May, 1968, Slánský and the others were formally exonerated. [4]


Născut la Nezvěstice, acum în districtul Plzeň într-o familie de evrei ce vorbeau limba germană, Slánský a urmat cursurile unei școli secundare comerciale la Plzeň. După sfârșitul Primului Război Mondial, el a mers la Praga, capitala noului stat cehoslovac, unde a intrat în legătură cu o elită intelectuală cu idei socialiste ce se întâlnea în asociații precum Clubul Marxist. În 1921, Slánský a aderat la Partidul Comunist din Cehoslovacia atunci când acesta s-a rupt din Partidul Social Democrat. El a avansat în ierarhia partidului și a devenit un adjunct al liderului Klement Gottwald. La cel de-al cincilea congres al partidului din 1929, Slánský a fost numit membru al Biroului Politic și al Prezidiului, iar Gottwald a devenit secretar general.

Din 1929 și până în 1935, Slánský a trăit ascuns din cauza statutului ilegal al Partidului Comunist. În 1935, după ce partidului i s-a permis să participe la viața politică, atât el, cât și Gottwald au fost aleși în Adunarea Națională. Situația partidului s-a înrăutățit după Acordul de la München din 1938. Când Germania a ocupat regiunea sudetă în octombrie 1938, Slánský, împreună cu mare parte din conducătorii comuniști cehoslovaci, a fugit în Uniunea Sovietică.

La Moscova, Slánský a lucrat la emisiunile Radio Moscova destinate Cehoslovaciei. El a locuit acolo în timpul luptelor de apărare ale Moscovei de atacurile germanilor în timpul iernii anului 1941-1942. Activitatea sa de la Moscova l-a adus în contact cu comuniștii sovietici și cu metodele de multe ori brutale pe care aceștia le foloseau pentru menținerea disciplinei de partid.

În 1943 fiica minoră a lui Slánský, Naďa (Nadia) a fost răpită cu forța din căruciorul ei de către o femeie în timp ce fratele ei de opt ani, Rudolf, a opus rezistență. Femeia știa detalii despre doamna Slánský, inclusiv activitatea ei de la Radio Moscova. Nici Nadia, nici răpitorii nu au fost găsiți vreodată. Văduva lui Slánský a povestit că au fost făcute cereri scrise către poliție și chiar către Stalin, toate acestea rămânând fără răspuns. [8] [9]

În timp ce se afla în exil în Uniunea Sovietică, Slánský a organizat unitățile militare cehoslovace, cu care s-a întors în Cehoslovacia în 1944, pentru a participa la Revolta Națională Slovacă.

În 1945, după cel de-al Doilea Război Mondial, conducătorii Cehoslovaciei s-au întors din exil de la Londra și Moscova, iar Slánský a avut întâlniri care au dus la formarea unui guvern al Frontului Național cu concursul președintelui Edvard Beneš. La cel de-al VIII-lea congres al Partidului Comunist Cehoslovac din martie 1946, Slánský a devenit secretar general al Partidului Comunist. Această alegere l-a făcut omul nr. 2 în partid, după Gottwald, care a devenit conducătorul unui guvern de coaliție după alegerile ce au avut loc în acel an.

În 1948, Partidul Comunist, care nu a fost niciodată capabil să obțină majoritatea voturilor, a preluat puterea în urma loviturii de stat din februarie. Secretarul general Slánský a devenit astfel al doilea cel mai puternic om din țară, după președintele Gottwald. Doi ani mai târziu, Gottwald a acuzat doi colaboratori apropiați ai lui Slánský, Otto Šling și Bedřich Reicin, de crime împotriva Partidului Comunist. Slánský a participat la epurarea lor, pentru că nu avea destulă influență în partid pentru a lupta împotriva acuzațiilor. Slánský a fost acuzat pentru problemele economice și industriale ale țării, pierzând asfel sprijinul popular. Cu toate acestea, el a primit Ordinul Socialismului, o decorație înaltă, pe 30 iulie 1951, iar o carte cu discursurile sale în sprijinul socialismului urma să fie publicată sub titlul Spre victoria socialismului.

În 1945 Agenția Evreiască și aripa sa militară Haganah a inițiat o campanie teroristă de atentate cu bombă și asasinate împotriva funcționarilor și civililor britanici și palestinieni, într-o încercare de a răsturna guvernul britanic din Palestina [10] și de a stabili Statul Israel în ciuda opoziției intense și vocale a majorității palestiniene.

În iunie 1947 Agenția Evreiască (ce a devenit mai târziu guvernul israelian) și-a dat seama că avea nevoie de arme numeroase și mai avansate pentru planificarea Operațiunii Balak, așa că a încercat să cumpere arme în mod clandestin, unele dintre ele fiind arme ale fostei armate germane ce fuseseră capturate de Armata Cehoslovacă pe teritoriul său național. Aceste propuneri au fost respinse de guvernul ceh al președintelui Beneš. Cu toate acestea, la insistențele lui Stalin și a guvernului sovietic care erau, la acel moment, susținători ai sionismului, guvernul ceh a cedat și pe 14 ianuarie 1948, Jan Masaryk, ministrul ceh de externe, a semnat un acord de vânzare de arme supravegheat de Ivan Maisky, un diplomat evreu, care a jucat un rol-cheie în negocierile cu mișcarea sionistă. [11]

După lovitura de stat din februarie 1948 și confiscarea puterii de către Partidul Comunist, aceste transporturi de arme au luat o formă tangibilă și au crescut exponențial în cantitate. A fost livrat un număr mare de tancuri, avioane de luptă și armament greu și ușor, iar guvernul ceh s-a angajat să antreneze un număr mare de soldați sioniști pe teritoriul său. Au fost instruite grupuri mari de voluntari evrei de dimensiunea unei brigăzi (aproximativ 1.300 de oameni), de la 20 august 1948 până la 4 august 1948, precum și numeroși piloți și mecanici de întreținere. [12]

În toată această perioadă, secretarul general Slánský a rămas un susținător entuziast și vocal al acestor politici, fapt care va contribui ulterior la căderea lui și va fi folosit împotriva sa în procesul Slánský.

Aceste arme și asistența unor personalități comuniste cehoslovace au fost menționate de către prim-ministrul israelian David Ben Gurion, care a spus în 1968 că (aceste arme) „au salvat țara . Afacerea cu arme cehe a fost cel mai mare ajutor pe care l-am avut atunci. fără ea, mă îndoiesc foarte mult că am fi putut supraviețui în prima lună”. [13]

În noiembrie 1952 Slánský și alți 13 funcționari comuniști de rang înalt (dintre care 10 erau evrei) au fost arestați și acuzați de a fi titoiști și sioniști, deoarece retorica oficială a URSS se întorsese împotriva sionismului, deși relațiile oficiale nu au fost întrerupte până în 1953.

Retorica partidului a susținut că Slánský ar fi fost spion și că ar fi participat la o conspirație capitalistă internațională pentru a submina socialismul, iar pedepsirea sa ar răzbuna uciderea de către naziști a comuniștilor cehi Jan Šverma și Julius Fučík în timpul celui de-al Doilea Război Mondial.

Unii istorici susțin că Stalin ar fi dorit supunere completă și epurarea partidelor de „național-comuniști”. Conform acestei teorii, Gottwald, temându-se pentru siguranța lui, a decis să-l sacrifice pe vechiul colaborator si asociat Slánský.

Alți istorici afirmă însă că rivalitatea dintre Slánský și Gottwald a escaladat după lovitura de stat din 1948. Slánský a început să-și consolideze puterea în cadrul secretariatului partidului și să-și plaseze susținătorii în funcții guvernamentale, amenințând poziția de președinte a lui Gottwald după demisia lui Beneš. Stalin l-a susținut pe Gottwald pentru că a fost considerat că acesta avea o șansă mai bună de a aduce economia Cehoslovaciei într-o poziție care să-i permită producerea de bunuri necesare pentru Uniunea Sovietică.

În orice caz, Slánský a dobândit o imagine de lider „sionist” (el era evreu, într-o vreme în care, în întregul bloc estic, liderii comuniști evrei care conduceau regimurile instalate de sovietici au fost folosiți ca țapi ispășitori de către Stalin pentru lipsurile și problemele economice). Sprijinul material și diplomatic considerabil acordat Israelului a făcut ca cel puțin unele acuzații să pară credibile.

Aceste evenimente i-au permis fostului aliat al lui Gottwald și ministru al apărării Antonín Zápotocký, ambii populiști, să-l acuze că ar aparține burgheziei. Slánský și aliații săi au fost, de asemenea, nepopulari în rândul vechilor membri ai partidului, ai guvernului și ai Biroului Politic al partidului.

Aflat în închisoare, după arestarea sa, Slánský a fost torturat și a încercat să se sinucidă.

Procesul celor 14 lideri naționali a început la 20 noiembrie 1952, la Tribunalul de Stat, procuror fiind Josef Urválek. A durat opt zile. Au fost aduse acuzații cu puternice conotații antisemite: Slánský și 10 din cei 13 inculpati erau evrei. La fel ca în procesele spectacol de la Moscova de la sfârșitul anilor 1930, inculpații s-au dovedit lași în fața instanței de judecată, recunoscându-și vina și cerând să fie pedepsiți cu moartea. Slánský a fost găsit vinovat de activități „troțkist-titoist-sioniste în slujba imperialismului american” și spânzurat public [14] la închisoarea Pankrác la 3 decembrie 1952. Trupul său a fost incinerat, iar cenușa a fost împrăștiată pe un drum înghețat din afara Pragăi.

După moartea lui Stalin, Slánský a fost acuzat de Antonín Novotný că ar fi introdus metodele de interogare staliniste în Cehoslovacia. Slánský și alte victime ale epurărilor au fost eliberați de acuzații în aprilie 1963 și complet reabilitați și achitați în mai 1968. După Revoluția de Catifea din 1989, noul președinte Václav Havel l-a numit pe fiul lui Slánský, ce se numea tot Rudolf, ca ambasador al Cehiei în Uniunea Sovietică. [15]

Slánský a fost cel mai înalt lider politic executat în perioada regimului comunist din Cehoslovacia. Ulterior, tratamentul la adresa liderilor căzuți în dizgrație a devenit mai civilizat prin comparație: ei au fost pur și simplu demiși din funcțiile deținute și pensionați.

Rudolf Slansky, former Czech dissident and diplomat, dies

I didn't actually know of this man (only of his father, of course, through the history books) - but he sounds like an interesting man, whose life brought a lot of interesting themes together. Dag might have more to add (after she's rested from the shock and awe of her premiere night -)).

Radio Praha
Chris Jarrett

The former Czech diplomat and Communist dissident, Rudolf Slansky junior, passed away on Monday after a serious illness. He was 71. As the son of the famous Czechoslovak Communist Party General Secretary who was executed after a show trial in 1952, Rudolf Slansky junior's participation in the dissident movement after 1968 and his subsequent work in the diplomatic service earned him the respect of many senior figures in Czech politics. [..]

Renowned for his firm principles and tolerance, Rudolf Slansky had a profound impression on all those who he knew, as much through politics and diplomatic work, as in his everyday life. Born in Prague in 1935, he lived in exile between 1938 and 1945 with his family in the USSR, after his father along with much of the Communist leadership of the time, fled to the Soviet Union when German troops occupied the Sudetenland in 1938. He knew a young Cyril Svoboda as a child, whose family had a country cottage in the same village as the Slanskys, and who would become today's Foreign Minister. Pavel Rychetsky is Constitutional Court Chairman and was also a close family friend of Rudolf Slansky.

"I have to say that everyone who knew him knew him as a person who was extraordinarily tolerant as well as kind. I got to know Rudolf Slansky during the period known as the Prague Spring at the beginning of 1968. I was twenty-five at the time, teaching at Prague's Faculty of Law. He was older and represented people who were pushing for basic democratisation and reforms. His strongest personal attribute was empathy and understanding for people and he always tried to find the good in others. At the same time, he was very firm in his beliefs."

Pavel RychetskyAs a school pupil, he studied communist economics and planning, but had to leave school at the time of his father's execution. Rudolf Slansky senior was Secretary General of the Czechoslovak Communist Party and was sentenced to death by hanging by his own party in 1952 when his son was just 17. Pavel Rychetsky describes the effect these events had on Slansky.

"I think he was influenced by a fairly tragic past: as a child he was imprisoned with his mother and sister and his father was executed. All the same, he didn't react with ill-will or lean towards hatred. Even though we were close friends, we never spoke about the execution of his father together. I think it was a great lifelong weight on his shoulders. He knew his father was a victim of various processes, which he himself helped set-off. At the same time, his father was the only intellectual in the Communist leadership before and after the Second World War."

In the 1960s Slansky himself became a member of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, but was expelled in 1969 due to his active participation in the Prague Spring Communist Reform movement in 1968. During the 20 years that followed, the "normalisation" period, he participated in dissident groups and was a signatory of the Charter 77 human rights manifesto. He became the permanent representative of Czechoslovakia at the UN in New York after 1989, before serving as ambassador in Moscow for 6 years. In 1997 he was appointed ambassador to Slovakia, a position which he occupied until 2004. But aside from the mark he made on the political world, he is fondly remembered by those he knew personally. Sociologist Jirina Siklova was a close friend of Rudolf Slansky Jr. and describes her memories of him:

"The best name for him would be a gentleman. Really, the most important thing was that he was gentle. I know that he had perfect contact with people. He never accused anyone. He had a great ability to understand what pain is, what political orientation is, and how important it is to accept other people."

Such warm sentiments remain with many who knew Rudolf Slansky, both professionally and personally. But those by whom he will be missed most sorely are his wife and two sons, for whom the memory of this figure of great political prominence and influence will always remain as a loving and devoted husband and father.

Show of Force

Soon, there will be two films in New York theaters about the experience of Czech Jews during the Holocaust and the Communist terror that followed. Focusing on the Slansky trial of 1952, Zuzana Justman’s A Trial in Prague acts as something of a corrective to the exuberant but oversimplified Fighter, which premiered last month. Fighter opens a can of worms it can’t handle when its titular subject castigates his close friend for having remained a member of the Communist Party while it sent thousands of Czechs—many of them Jewish survivors—to prison and even to the gallows on trumped-up charges. After one heated exchange, the matter is dropped, thus slighting both history and the relationship between the two men.

A Trial in Prague is an account of Fighter‘s great unmentionable, the Czech “show trial” in which the party’s general secretary, Rudolf Slansky, and 13 other high-ranking Communists were imprisoned and tortured into confessing treasonous acts that they did not commit. Eleven were executed. The others were sentenced to hard labor and only released in the mid ’50s, after Stalin’s death. The show trials were Stalin’s way of sending a warning to the Eastern bloc countries not to follow the wayward path of Tito’s Yugoslavia. But as Justman’s documentary points out, the Slansky trial had a specific anti-Zionist tilt at least in part, it was the Soviet reaction to the Cold War alliance between Israel (which had been supported by the Czechs) and the U.S.

Justman weaves the harrowing story largely from first-hand accounts by widows and children of the condemned. At first, the information comes at you pell-mell if you’re not well versed in the history, it could be hard to keep track of who’s talking. The newsreels of the trial, however, are chillingly effective—it’s clear the confessions are made under duress. As Justman’s editing calms down, she allows two voices to dominate the film. One is Heda Margolius Kovály, the widow of Rudolf Margolius—the idealistic Rudolf, who survived the Nazi camps, believing in Communism as the antidote for fascism and anti-Semitism, as opposed to the cynical Slansky, who signed death warrants for many unjustly accused Czech citizens before he was caught in his own web. The other is Lise Ricol London, whose husband, Artur London, survived hard labor to publish the first major account of the period: In prison he’d kept a diary, written on cigarette papers. Lise London was such a fervent believer in the Party that when her husband was arrested, she filed for divorce. It took a face-to-face meeting just before he was shipped to the labor camp to convince her that he was innocent. The film is as compelling for these painful details as for the tough-minded analysis that ties them together.

Bounce: Behind the Velvet Rope is Steven Cantor’s mindless, shoddy (lurching zooms, no color correction, an entire reel out of sync) depiction of some very big guys who work as bouncers in New York and London clubs. In the face of the filmmaker’s condescension, the bouncers manage to articulate varied perspectives on their job. Anyone interested in techniques for crashing hot parties, however, would be advised to look elsewhere.

FILM REVIEW Loyalty to Communism Rewarded by Execution

In 1952 Rudolf Slansky, the former secretary general of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, was put on trial, along with 13 co-defendants, on charges of espionage and treason. Eleven of the defendants were Jewish, and 11 of the defendants, although not all the Jews, were sentenced to death and hanged. As 'ɺ Trial in Prague,'' Zuzana Justman's sensitive, intelligent new documentary makes clear, the accused were not simply victims of communism. They were also passionate believers in it, devoted adherents of the system that betrayed them.

Composing a deft collage from archival material, including radio broadcasts and film clips from the trial and the reminiscences of survivors, Ms. Justman explores the cruel paradoxes that ensnared the defendants and casts light into the moral shadows of communism itself. It was an ideology that rooted its brutal inhumanity in the language of universal human aspirations and cloaked its delusional, paranoid tendencies in the mantle of reason.

Ms. Justman's interview subjects -- mostly widows and children of defendants, as well as one of the three who were spared -- speak matter-of-factly about what drew them into the communist cause. For most it was the most effective way of opposing Nazism. Heda Margolius Karlovy, whose husband, Rudolf Margolius, was executed, ruefully looks back on their mistaken belief that communism was the opposite of fascism, rather than its mirror image. Her husband and his fellow defendants had risked their lives fighting fascism in Spain, in German camps and in the Czech and French resistance movements. They returned to Czechoslovakia hoping to build a future without racial prejudice or economic exploitation.

'ɺ Trial in Prague'' suggests that it was precisely the idealism and dedication of these people that made them perfect targets for public purging. After Yugoslavia strayed from the Soviet bloc, Stalin wanted to ensure that none of his other satellites would follow suit, and he set out to intimidate their captive populations by making examples of leaders like Slansky. Of course Slansky himself had been preparing his own show trial and had been involved in the repression that followed the Communist takeover in 1948.

When Israel gravitated toward the American sphere of influence, the countries of the Warsaw Pact became aggressively anti-Zionist, a development that helped spur a recrudescence of anti-Semitism. One of Ms. Justman's subjects, Eduard Goldstucker, who had been a Czech diplomat in Israel, was accused of being a Zionist agent, as were others of the Slansky defendants. Mr. Goldstucker was sentenced to life and released after Stalin's death. Consistency mattered as little to the prosecutors as truth, and many were also accused of having collaborated with the Nazis and with British and American imperialists.

All 14, after enduring psychological and physical torments, confessed. One of the most painful moments in 'ɺ Trial in Prague'' -- and the one that best captures the murderous absurdity of the era -- comes in the recollections of Lise London, the vivacious, French-born widow of Artur London, one of the survivors. Ms. London believed her husband's confession and wrote a letter to the Czech President, Klement Gottwald, denouncing London's treachery, a letter that she later heard broadcast over the radio. (Perhaps the most remarkable and hopeful detail of this story is that the couple eventually reconciled.)

Ms. Justman's film is moving, but its greatest virtue is that it refrains from treating history as an unambiguous record of heroism or villainy. Her subjects -- especially Mr. Goldstucker, Ms. London, and Marian Sling Fagan, the British-born wife of Otto Sling, one of the executed defendants -- seem more quizzical than apologetic when recalling their early zeal.

Jan Kavan, the current Czech foreign minister, whose father was coerced into testifying at the Slansky trial and was later imprisoned himself, insists on making a distinction between innocent believers in the system and its architects and enforcers. Based on the information Ms. Justman provides, however, it is hard to know how to categorize the Slansky defendants, many of whom were high-ranking government officials in a repressive regime but who also clearly suffered a monstrous injustice. To adapt a phrase from a later moment of Czech history, 'ɺ Trial in Prague,'' which opens today at the Quad Cinema, shows the human face of both communism and its victims, and shows how hard it is to tell the two apart.

Written and directed by Zuzana Justman in English, with some subtitled Czech and French directors of photography, Miro Gabor and Marek Jicha edited by David Charap music by Peter Fish produced by Ms. Justman, Jiri Jezek, Zuzana Cervenkova and Mr. Charap released by Cinema Guild. At the Quad Cinema, 13th Street, west of Fifth Avenue, Greenwich Village. Running time: 83 minutes. This film is not rated.

Watch the video: Škůdci to jsou oni 1952


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