Communists cry foul at Czech TV documentary on Horáková show trial

Milada Horáková

The Communist Party has written to complain at a documentary on Czech Television about the show-trial of Milada Horáková – being shown in the run-up to the European Parliament elections. Dr Horáková, a prominent pro-democracy MP, was hanged in 1950 on trumped up charges of conspiracy and treason. The trial was orchestrated by the Communist Party, which took power in February 1948 and soon set about targeting its enemies.

‘Proces H’, or ‘The H Trial’, is a ten-part 2007 documentary on the show trial of Milada Horáková. Using newly-discovered audio recordings that complement existing footage, the documentary recreates the trial of Dr Horáková with commentary by historians. The trial began on May 31st, 1950 and lasted for nine days. Starting May 31st, Czech Television has been showing one 52-minute instalment each day.

But the schedule coincides with the run-up to the European Parliament elections this weekend, and the modern-day Communist Party is demanding the documentary be withdrawn. Václav Exner is a Communist MP:

“For the Communist Party, we see it is not objective because the concept of this documentary is such that it must show the Communists as prosecutors and jurors and so on, but this was a state process, not a Communist process with Milada Horáková.”

With all due respect, you say it shows the Communists as prosecutors and the jury – at that point, Czechoslovakia was run by the Communist Party and the trial was very much inspired and orchestrated by the Communist Party.

“Of course, but the government was not a Communist government. This was a government of the National Front. This National Front consisted of four political parties from the Czech lands and two political parties from Slovakia. It was not only the Communists who were the actors in this process.”

Do you think Czech Television is broadcasting this documentary this week, just before the elections, deliberately - on purpose - to damage the Communist Party?

“We think that it’s very probable. It was possible to show this documentary in a period that was not exactly before the elections.”

So the timing is very unfortunate in other words.

“I think so, yes.”

The head of the Communist Party, Vojtěch Filip, has written to the director of Czech Television claiming that The H Trial violates the public broadcaster’s pre-election code of conduct and is proof that the station is beholden to right-wing parties trying to abuse history for their own political ends. Czech Television has so far given no response to the claims.