Prague to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the execution of Milada Horáková

Milada Horáková took a stand against communism, and paid with her life after a show trial

Raymond Johnston

Written by Raymond Johnston Published on 24.06.2020 15:01:25 (updated on 24.06.2020) Reading time: 3 minutes

Prague is planning to mark the 70th anniversary of the execution of Milada Horáková with banners, broadcasts and an outdoor exhibition.

Horáková, a lawyer and politician who opposed the single-party communist system, was convicted of conspiracy and treason in a show trial. She was executed on June 27, 1950, at 5:35 am at Prague’s Pankrác Prison. Her body was then cremated. The location of her ashes in unknown.

Her trial and execution caused an international outcry, with scientist Albert Einstein taking up the cause and sending a protest telegram to communist leader Klement Gottwald. Winston Churchill and Eleanor Roosevelt also voiced opposition.

The verdict was annulled in 1968, and she was rehabilitated after the Velvet Revolution.

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Memorial for Milada Horáková at Vyšehrad Cemetery / via Raymond Johnston

The street Milady Horákové in Prague’s Letná district was named in her honor in 1990. It had been called Obránců míru, meaning defenders of the peace. She was posthumously awarded the Order of Tomáš Garrigue Masaryk (1st Class) in 1991.

A memorial with a bronze likeness of her head is now at Vyšehrad Cemetery. It is also dedicated to other victims of totalitarianism.

An audio collage of recordings from the trial will be transmitted by sirens and messages in the metro on June 26, the day before the anniversary, as part of the civic initiative called Milada 70: Murdered by Communists (Milada 70: Zavražděna komunisty). The messages will be heard at 10:35 am, 12:35 pm, and 14:35 pm.

“Milada Horáková was assassinated by the communists on the basis of a contrived political process. Requests for clemency from personalities such as Albert Einstein did not help either. She suffered cruelly during the execution. According to historians, she died on the gallows after a long quarter of an hour. There was only one reason for this crime: Dr. Milada Horáková was not indifferent to injustice and had the courage to face it. It is our duty to recall her story and defend it from those for whom the truth is still uncomfortable even today,” Prague Mayor Zdeněk Hřib (Pirates) said.

Prague Deputy Mayor Adam Scheinherr (Praha sobě) said traveling by public transport is a daily matter of course but important milestones in our history should not be a matter of course. “That is why I am glad that we can remind passengers of such important events — similar to last year on the 20th anniversary of the Czech Republic’s accession to NATO, when Mayor Zdeněk Hřib and I prepared a special report for the metro,” he said.

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English version of a banner for Milada Horáková / via Praha.EU

City Councilor Hana Třeštíková (Praha sobě), responsible for culture and tourism,said the street Milady Horákové will be part of the commemorations. “The story of her bravery is still appealing, and I am glad that we can actively participate for the city so that it does not fall into oblivion. On the anniversary of her murder, we will decorate the entire street with her portraits,” she said.

Dozens of banners with a portrait of Milady Horáková and the caption “Zavražděna komunisty” (Murdered by Communists) are being hung on important buildings in Prague for a period of one to two weeks. These sites include the Faculty of Law of Charles University, where Milada Horáková studied, and the buildings of the National Museum, FAMU, the Rudolfinum and Veletržní palác.

Jiří Pospíšil, chairman of the United Force for Prague club, said Horáková has always stood on the side of justice and democratic values and has become a symbol of resistance against totalitarian regimes. “This Saturday marks 70 years since her criminal assassination. We must never forget her victimization. I am therefore glad that we will remember it in this way in the public space. Kampa Museum, in cooperation with the historian Petr Blažek, is launching an outdoor exhibition in Kampa Park this Saturday. It will be dedicated to the fate of this brave woman and human rights activist,” he said.

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Banner for Milada Horáková at FAMU / via Raymond Johnston

Every citizen, institution, school or town hall throughout the country can join the activity by hanging a black banner in the days before June 27 to honor the memory of Horáková and as a reminder of 70 years since the execution.

A Czech-American film called Milada, about the trial and execution of Horáková, was released in 2017.  It won the Czech Lion awards for Best Costumes and Best Makeup.

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