Communist regime stole new-born babies from female prisoners

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On Monday, the newspaper Mlada Fronta Dnes broke the horrifying story of how the Communist authorities stole new-born babies from female prisoners, including political prisoners, at the height of Stalinist repression in the 1950s. Many of the children were snatched from their mothers and given to the families of police officers. Alena Skodova found out more:

Historians have dubbed the babies the "real children of Communism". No-one ever knew about them, and the foster parents who received them for adoption never told anyone who their real mothers were. Otakar Liska is from the Office for Investigation of Communist Crimes:

"The children didn't know anything about where they had come from, because they were given to foster families or placed in children's homes when they were still infants. I myself am working on several cases. I went to a children's home in Kolin and wanted to learn at least the names of the foster parents. I didn't ask about the children themselves. But for the time being the children's home is refusing to talk to us. They say they have to talk to our lawyers first."

These "children" are now in their 40s or 50s. They live their own lives and have parents whom they consider their own. Some of them might have suspected there's something wrong, but most likely they have decided to keep silent and not to open up their past. So my next question for Mr Liska was: Has anybody - children or parents - come to your office to find out more?

"No. In 1994, one group which has been working on the case published several ads in the media for people to come and talk to us, but no one showed up. We only had several demands for a child to be returned to their real families because of their foster parent's alcoholism, or accusations of child abuse. Moreover, many of those concerned don't realise that only now, half a century later, is the Office for Investigation of Communist Crimes dealing with the affair."

Mr Liska told me that he and his colleagues were working with birth register offices throughout the country, and that so far they have recorded 164 such cases. The whole affair came to light when a former prison doctor broke the stunning news that children born in prisons during the Communist era were given up for adoption to families of policemen, members of the communist secret police and prison guards.