Czech politicians, survivors honor memory of victims of Communism
Politicians and survivors honored the memory of the victims of the Communist regime at a cemetery in the Motol quarter of Prague today. Those attending called on people not to forget the harms caused by the totalitarian era.
Survivors warned of the danger of disparaging or doubting the crimes that were committed in previous decades. The cemetery includes a mass grave of political prisoners, including those who were executed.
According to military historian Eduard Stehlík, during the commemorations of the crimes of the totalitarian regime, one crime in particular tends to be forgotten. That is the regime's successful "erasure of people" from history.
"When I study the files and requisitions, I am aware every day of the terrible extent of what they did to specific people and what an enormous debt we owe to their memory. Anyone here who believes there was no 'third resistance' [1948-1989] to Communism needs to study those files. They include the stories of hundreds and thousands of people. I hope we get their names into the textbooks," Stehlík told the packed ceremonial hall at the Motol Crematorium.
The historian said he believes that "all it takes for evil to triumph is for good people do nothing." Mayor of Prague Tomáš Hudeček (TOP 09) then said people should ask how it is possible for anyone to defend or doubt the crimes committed by the former regime.
"We can't just call this the banality of evil. We must ask what motives led the servants of Communism to turn their left-wing slogans inside out and voluntarily participate in crimes," Hudeček said.
Marie Kousalíková (Civic Democrats - ODS), the Mayor of Prague 6, said it is necessary to "face down the restart of evil". She too considers disparaging history to be dangerous.
"It is not possible for someone to believe what comrade Semelová has just said," Kousalíková said in reference to Communist MP Marta Semelová, who recently doubted whether the 1950 prosecution of Milada Horáková had in fact been a show trial in which Horáková's confession had been forced. Horáková was executed by the regime later that year.
According to the Mayor of Prague 4, Pavel Caldr (independent), some people now idealize the past. "The opinion that it wasn't so bad here then, that totalitarianism was just an authoritarian government, is not a unique one," Caldr pointed out.
Caldr said the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes (Ústav pro studium totalitních režimů) is constantly under attack and that there are attempts to abolish the country's Screening Act (lustrační zákon), which he considers premature. Student representative Jan Formánek also said he sees the past being "forgotten, idealized and minimized, and scepticism about the present."
The Communist regime never returned the remains of its deceased opponents to their loved ones, but stored them in secret locations. The mass grave at Motol was not discovered until 1999.
It has been determined that urns holding the ashes of political prisoners, some of whom had been executed, were gotten rid of at Motol. According to the Confederation of Political Prisoners, the urns were stored in Interior Ministry buildings until 1958, after which they began to be secretly buried.
The boxes of ashes discovered there were only numbered and bore no names of the deceased. "In 1965, at the beginning of May, 78 urns were transported from Pankrác Prison to Motol. We have only managed to determine whose ashes they contained for 25 of them," the Confederation previously reported.
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- † 13. 5. 1995: Tibor Berki