Show Trials in the Czech Republic / by Honza Cervenka

Case Study of Trials with Milada Horáková and Ludmila Brožová-Polednová


In this essay I will first offer an overview of the transitional methods used in Czechoslovakia after the fall of Communism and present some key theories on show trials in a transitional justice setting. I then apply the theories to two specific cases, the trial of Milada Horáková in 1950 and the recent trial of Ludmila Brožová-Polednová. I conclude that while the trial with Horáková was clearly a show trial, the trial with Brožová-Polednová occurred in a “gray area,” with characteristics of both just and show trials, and is best classified as a liberal show trial.


The umbrella term “transitional justice” includes a number of various methods, including criminal trials, which have been used as a method of transitional justice in a vast array of countries around the world, although many scholars have questioned the extent of their contribution. One of the criticisms levied is the high risk for the trials to become unfair and akin to show trials when used as a tool for transition from an oppressive regime to democracy. There is a tendency to view trials as not only a means of punishing an individual for his/her crimes, but also as a method of truth finding and transition for the country as a whole. Some scholars thus argue then whenever a trial exceeds its role of a straightforward punishment of an individual for his/her crimes, however noble and moral the need may be, the trial loses its legitimacy.

Transitional Methods Post-Velvet Revolution

Czechoslovakia was under the rule of the Communist Party from the Soviet-led putsch in February 1948 until the Velvet Revolution in November 1989, when the country formed a new transitional government was formed and the first democratic elections occurred in June 1990. Although Czechoslovakia split into two sovereign countries in 1993, the Czech Republic and Slovak Republic, many of the transitional justice methods were initiated when the countries were still united. They adopted a lustration law1 in 1991, although it was never respected in Slovakia to the extent it was in the Czech Republic. While the former did not extend the law past its initial 5-year life span, the latter prolonged it indefinitely.2

Similarly, file access to archives was at first uniformly coordinated by the Federal Government of Czechoslovakia, who decided not to make the files public. The Federal Premier Marian Čalfa commented on the decision and expressed concern about the effects of such law on collaborators with the past regime: “the government was convinced that the publication […] would expose these persons and their families to harassment, and would therefore be an ill-considered step.”3 However, Petr Cibulka, a former dissident, published a portion of the files in 1992, thus revealing roughly 200,000 alleged StB4 officers and collaborators. The official opening of the files did not occur until 1996 in the Czech Republic5 and 2002 in Slovakia.6

Prosecution of Communist officials soon proved to be even more intricate than lustration and file access. The legal machinery took time to transition properly from the old regime to the new. Nadya Nedelsky argues that “legal continuity with a preceding regime severely complicates the prospect of prosecuting its officials, to the extent that their actions – though unjust or illegal by the new regime’s standards – were legal under the old.”7 The number of potential perpetrators was vast: The StB directly employed approximately 9,000 workers and recruited over 30,000 informers.8 Moreover, “between 1948 and 1989, at least 250,000 people were sentenced for political reasons […] and 243 were executed.”9 Although a number of officials were tried before the dissolution of Czechoslovakia, the vast majority of prosecutions were assessed by the separate governments.

The 1993 Act on the Illegality of the Communist Regime and Resistance to It was a cornerstone legislation that enabled prosecutions of communist officials in the Czech Republic.10 The Act declared the Communist regime criminal and the Czechoslovak Communist Party as a criminal organization. The Act also extended the statutes of limitation for crimes that occurred during the communist regime where the perpetrators were either purposefully not convicted or had their charges lifted for “reasons incompatible with the basic principles of a democratic legal system.”11 The exception applied to crimes committed between 1948 and 1989. This act fundamentally enabled the reformed legal system to try cases that would otherwise have been long statute-barred.

Nonetheless, the prosecution of Communist officials in the Czech Republic was not particularly fruitful. Between 1995 and 2007, the Office of the Documentation and the Investigation of the Crimes of Communism (ÚDV), which was established in order to expose and prosecute criminal acts of Communist officials, investigated over 3,000 cases. However, only 98 of such cases had led to prosecutions, which led to “30 final judgments resulting in prison terms ranging from six months to five years.”12 These low figures were radically inconsistent with the high number of StB officials, let alone members of the Communist Party. Although a number of medium-high officials were prosecuted, such as StB’s chiefs, the highest-ranking officials, such as Miloš Jakeš, the former Communist Party General Secretary, were eventually acquitted.13 As a result, the ÚDV’s prosecution efforts were generally seen as disappointing.

Transitional Trials: Justice v. Utility

Trials are an important feature of many transitional justice mechanisms. Their main purpose is, according to Claire Garbett, to “provide redress to the victims by officially recognizing their harms, establishing the truth and, in some cases, providing reparations to them.”14 Garbett further notes that “[t]he primary purpose of court trials is to prosecute the perpetrators of serious violations,” while the foundation of “an official record or ‘truth’ of the crimes”15 serves a secondary function. That might apply to regular democratic trials, but Martti Koskenniemi reverses the importance of Garbett’s two functions in certain cases: “[T]rials involving genocide or crimes against humanity are less about judging a person than about establishing the truth of the events.”16 Furthermore, “[r]ecording “the truth” and declaring it to the world through the criminal process has been held important for reasons that have little to do with the punishment of the individual.”17 Thus Koskenniemi in fact makes the two functions irreconcilable.

Hannah Arendt, an important political theorist who commented on many post-WWII trials with Nazi officials, noted that “[t]he purpose of the trial is to render justice, and nothing else; even the noblest ulterior purposes […] can only detract from the law’s main business: to weigh the charges brought against the accused, to render judgment and to mete out due punishment.”18 Koskenniemi and Arendt therefore challenge the validity of transitional trials, primarily because they extend the original purpose of a trial, which is to convict a perpetrator, and become a tool for truth-finding. Christina Prusak suggests a label for such trials: “A transitional trial that errs too far toward presenting a specific message is often called a show trial.”19

For the purposes of this paper I will utilize the following definition of the two elements of a show trial:

The first element is increased probability of the defendant’s conviction resulting from the planning and control of the trial. The second element is a focus on the audience outside of the courtroom rather than on the accused–the extent to which the trial is designed or managed for the benefit of external observers rather than for securing justice for the defendant. The first element could be termed the reduction of the “element of risk to the authorities” that the defendant will be acquitted. When there is no risk to the authorities, the content of the trial is predetermined, and the verdict is a foregone conclusion. The second element could be termed the “show.”20

Although the quote is from an article that focused on the analysis of the trial with Hussein, the elements apply generally and are adopted by other scholars as well.21 I will therefore utilize them in my own analysis of the trials of Horáková and Brožová-Polednová. I will first introduce the facts in both trials and then continue with an analysis to establish whether they satisfy the above criteria.

Trial of Milada Horáková

Milada Horáková (née Králová) was born on 25 December 1901 in Prague and graduated from the Charles University with a law degree in 1926.22 She was an active member of the Czechoslovak Red Cross after WWI and attended conferences in the Hague, where she assisted in the crafting of multiple conventions. Soon after the Nazi occupation of Czechoslovakia Horáková was arrested. She was sent to the Terezín Concentration Camp and although a death sentence was originally proposed for her, she was sentenced to 8 years of hard labor.

After the war, the Czechoslovak president Edvard Beneš prompted Horáková to become active in the National Socialist Party.23 She agreed and became a member of the parliament, where she often had to withstand criticism for her strong belief in retributive trials of Nazi collaborators after WWII. Another source of criticism was Horáková belief that that the country should not tie itself exclusively to the USSR, a risky argument given the political developments at the time—she was “a constant source of irritation to communist deputies and others who expounded the idea of “the eternally treacherous West.”24 As a result, the 1948 Communist putsch of Czechoslovakia orchestrated by the USSR had fatal consequences for her.

Horáková resigned from the parliament shortly after the invasion, but remained involved politically, albeit as a dissident. She was involved with the so-called “Political Six,” the illegal leadership of the National Socialist Party. Horáková also participated in meetings of the Social Democrats and the People’s Party as part of a covert opposition. This alarmed the StB, who arrested Horáková on September 27, 1949 based on charges of conspiracy and espionage against the state. The newly established Communist regime was fully aware that any significant resistance could be very harmful in times when the whole of Europe was very turbulent. Inspired by a series of “show trials” in Stalinist USSR, the case of Horáková et al. was also meant to set an important precedent and dampen underground political activities. Horáková was tortured extensively, and forced to adhere to a script during the trial, but remained fundamentally faithful to her beliefs.

The trial with Horáková and her 12 highest-ranking colleagues began on May 31, 1950 and lasted for 8 days.25 The process was broadcast on both television and radio, which was a technical feat for the time and signaled the importance that the regime placed on the trials. Milada Horáková was the first defendant to be interrogated and at times managed to stray away from the prepared script to state her own beliefs, although that made her case even more difficult.

Ludmila Brožová was one of the state prosecutors and concluded the trial with a fiery speech condemning Horáková and others of being archenemies of the state.26 Milada Horáková was sentenced to death together with three others, all of whom were men; the rest of the defendants received varied prison sentences.27 Klement Gottwald, the Czechoslovak president at the time, received pleas for Horáková’s amnesty from a number of international figures, such as Albert Einstein and Eleanor Roosevelt, but he affirmed the judgment.

The death sentences were carried out in the morning of June 27, 1950. Horáková was the last of the four to be executed. Her last words were:

“I fall, I fall, I lost this battle, I leave honorably. I love this country, I love these people, build prosperity for them. I leave without hatred for you. I wish you this, I wish you this…”28

Her last words were a wish for the well being of the country. In contrast, Ludmila Brožová, the prosecutor, who was present at the execution, said just a few moments before the trap door opened to the executioners:

“Don’t break her neck on the noose – suffocate the bitch.”29[30]

Horáková‘s sentence was cancelled post-mortem in 1968, but she was not rehabilitated until 1989 following the fall of the regime that executed her. Václav Havel, the president of post-Velvet Revolution Czechoslovakia, awarded Horáková in 1991 with the Order of the T.G. Masaryk, First Class, in memoriam. People, both in the Czech Republic and abroad, se her as a heroine and the day of her execution is remembered in the Czech Republic as the Commemoration Day of Victims of the Communist Regime.31

Trial of Ludmila Brožová-Polednová

Ludmila Brožová-Polednová32 was born in 1921 into a working class family. After WWII she worked as a typist for the Communist Party and later got the opportunity to study at the Working People’s Law School, which was set up by the Communist Party, who were in dire need of a new generation of soviet-oriented lawyers and judges.33 Brožová was a good candidate given her working class background and enthusiasm for the new regime. The degree took her only one year to complete and Brožová graduated in November 1949, only 6 months before she became involved in the trial with Horáková.

There were two principal reasons why Brožová became the prosecutor in such an important trial despite her young age and severely limited training. First, she had already proven herself useful in an earlier trial with Josef Toufar, a priest in a small church in Číhošť. During one service in December 1949 his parishioners reported that the altar cross moved by itself and celebrated it as a miracle. The communist regime was very anti-religious and any talk of a religious miracle was undesirable. They constructed a show trial where they accused Toufar of secretly moving the cross himself, which was a labeled as a conspiracy against the country. Toufar was extensively tortured and died of related injuries in February 1950. Brožová worked as an assistant to the prosecutor on this case.

Second, and equally important, was the fact that Brožová-Polednová was a woman. The communist regime was aware of the fact that having Horáková, a well-known feminist, tried (and eventually sentenced) by a man could be problematic and cause people to feel sympathy for her. Brožová, a young woman and an enthusiastic communist, was deemed a perfect fit for the prosecution. Two years after Horáková was executed Brožová moved out of the spotlight of the capital and into the provincial town of Plzeň, where she worked for the prosecutor’s office. She retired in the mid–1970s, more than a decade before the Velvet Revolution in 1989.

The recent trial with Brožová-Polednová as the defendant started in 2007, when the ÚDV made a recommendation to convict Brožová because of her participation in the judicial murder of Horáková.34 The key evidence in the case was two-fold: The restored footage of the trial with Horáková et al. that was compiled from the preserved radio and TV footage; and a written document that proved that Horáková’s sentence was unjustly predetermined: “5 days before the start of the trial, the prosecutor and judges […] met to give suggestions about what the final verdict for Horáková et al. should be.”35 The predetermination of the verdicts, a common occurrence in many show trials in that period, was unjust even by the Communist legal code and further rendered the trial itself as a charade. The document also showed that, given the fact that Horáková did not receive her sentence through a fair trial, the people present in the meeting in fact murdered her. Brožová was the only one of the prosecutors and judges who was still alive.

Brožová’s defense relied heavily on the fact that she was young and inexperienced at the time. She lacked proper education and was not aware of the fact that “the trial was in violation of then existing laws.”36 Brožová further argued that as the prosecutor (and not the judge), she did not in fact award the death sentences. Nonetheless, the judge argued that Brožová “was not a mere passive observer,”37 found her guilty, and sentenced her to eight years in prison. Brožová was 86 years old at the time and the judge expressed an opinion that “[s]he will actually never go to prison due to her poor health. We all know that.”38 Brožová did not feel guilty, found the sentence unjust and appealed the verdict: The Prague High City Court subsequently decided that Brožová’s criminal liability was “time-barred under the statute of limitations”39 and canceled the previous decision.

At that point, the Supreme Public Prosecutor Renata Vesecká got involved in the case and appealed the High City Court’s decision to the Supreme Court of the Czech Republic. Vesecká argued that the extension of the statutes of limitation for communist crimes adopted by law in 1993 (see first section) applied to Brožová, thus making the current charges admissible. The Supreme Court agreed and further ruled that “we must respect the fact that a prosecutor argues for one side of the argument, but even then his actions must follow the ethical code”40 and that prosecutors of the show trials in 1950s were as responsible for the proceedings as were the judges.

The case returned back to the High City Court.41 Meanwhile, Brožová filed for a complaint at the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic, but the court upheld the decision of the Supreme Court.42 After the High City Court re-examined the evidence, it decided on September 9, 2008 that Brožová was guilty “of murder as a direct accomplice” and was now sentenced to 6 years in prison.43

In a surprising turn of events, Renata Vesecká, the Supreme Public Prosecutor who previously demanded the case be reopened, sent a request to Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic to issue Brožová a pardon. She explained that her motivations were humanitarian; she did not want the present-day judiciary to mirror the common practice of imprisoning elderly people in 1950s.44 President Klaus decided not to grant the request45 and after further legalities, Brožová entered prison on March 19, 2009 at the age of 87.46 The press were quick to comment that her prison cell, although simple, was quite comfortable and not unlike a student dormitory room.47 Although she had food delivered to her room and a doctor right next door, Brožová complained that the prison cell was inadequate to her health conditions.48

In April 2010, only approximately a year after Brožová entered prison, her sentence was reduced to 3 years given a recent ruling that general amnesties of 1953 and 1990 could be applied in her case.4950 However, this decision soon became irrelevant as president Václav Klaus changed his original opinion and awarded Brožová with a pardon on December 21, 2010.51 He stated that the reasons for the pardon were Brožová’s old age, poor health condition and the fact that she had already served part of the sentence.

Meanwhile, Brožová filed a complaint at the European Court for Human Rights (ECtHR) in Strasbourg that she did not receive a fair trial;52 a rather ironic move by a person who herself had committed crimes against humanity. The court emphasized in their ruling that “no one should show total, blind obedience to orders which so flagrantly infringed not only the principles of national legislation but also internationally recognized human rights, in particular the right to life.”53 Furthermore, the court ruled in July 2011 that her trial was just and fair: “In the [ECtHR]’s view, the Czech courts’ application and interpretation of the provision of criminal law in force at the material time had not been arbitrary in any way and [… were] compatible with Article 7 [of the European Convention on Human Rights].”54

At no point during the lengthy trial or her short prison sentence did Brožová express signs of remorse or regret. She denied any responsibility for the death of Horáková stemming from her role as one of the prosecutors: “It is different now. As a prosecutor you yourself are liable for your work. Back in the day you had to listen and do as you were told, everything was controlled from the top”55 She gave a very melodramatic account of her attendance of Horáková’s execution, shifting the focus from the wrongful death to how Brožová felt unwell on that day.56 Ultimately, she was indifferent to the outcome of the trial; she told the reporters: “I mean, I don’t even care anymore, Jesus Christ, I don’t care if I die in 6 months here or in prison.” Neither happened: Brožová had served a total of 1 year, 9 months and 2 days in jail.57 She was alive in March 2012, when the shortened 3-year sentence would have concluded, and celebrated her 92nd birthday in December 2013.

Show Trials?

The trial of Horáková clearly meets both requirements for a show trial outlined by Peterson. Her sentence was predetermined, the trial was highly staged and the authorities had no risk of Horáková’s acquittal. The focus of the trial was clearly on the audience, i.e. the general public, since the government intended to use the trial as a tool to tame any opposition and enhance its culture of fear and absolute power.

Brožová’s case is significantly more complicated. The trial occurred over 20 years after the Velvet Revolution, which arguably provided the country’s legal system with sufficient time to transition into a modern legal codex of a liberal democracy. The sentence was not predetermined like in Horáková’s case; on the contrary, the trial was appealed a number of times and went through an extensive and legitimate procedure. This was confirmed both by the Constitutional Court of the Czech Republic and the European Court for Human Rights, who both found the procedure sound and fair. The fact that the ECHR found no issues with the trial was particularly significant, because it is a supranational court and an independent party in the process. The case therefore fails to meet the first requirement for a show trial, which is the low risk for the defendant’s acquittal due to the pre-organized nature of the court.

However, the second aspect of a show trial, the focus on the society, is rather prominent in Brožová’s case. Shortly after ÚDV submitted their recommendation in 2007, a number of newspaper articles appeared on the issue, including critical opinions by historians. Tomáš Bursík, a historian for the Ministry of the Interior wrote: “I believe that the sentence for Brožová […] would have a strong moral significance. […][The trial] would also condemn the terror of late 40s and 50s.”58 Once the original sentence was given later that year, Bursík commented that “this amounts to a statement that communism was evil.”59 Bursík thus introduced aspects of the trial that exceeded Brožová’s criminal offense, and entered the arena of public opinion, morality and national reconciliation, which was precisely what Arendt criticized. Václav Klaus, the president of the Czech Republic, was aware of this dilemma when he released the official response to Vesecká’s plea for a pardon for Brožová: “I […] also feel the grand controversy surrounding this case. We must not allow generations of our country’s citizens to use this verdict for one old woman as an easy getaway from their co-responsibility for what happened in this country in the 50s.”60 It is notable that Klaus highlighted Brožová’s gender—just like the regime in 1950s did when selecting her to match Horáková.

The case with Brožová then only fits the second characteristic of a show trial. It cannot be recognized as a pure show trial, but it is not dissimilar to the concept of a liberalshow trial introduced by Peterson: “[L]iberal show trials are ones self-consciously designed to show the merits of liberal morality and […] do so in ways consistent with its very requirements. […] It is possible to have a trial that is designed and managed for the benefit of those outside the courtroom and yet which is still a “liberal” and acceptable one.”61 Brožová’s case fits this definition as it was deemed fair and just. Nevertheless, the “show” aspect of the case still bears potential negative repercussions. The enormous public and critical attention the case received may have exerted a certain degree of pressure on the judge and made the case difficult to argue at the very least.

Nonetheless, Peterson stresses positive aspects of a liberal show trial:

The orchestration of criminal trials for pedagogic purposes–such as the transformation of a society’s collective memory–is not inherently misguided or morally indefensible. The defensibility of the practice depends on the defensibility of the lessons being taught–that is, on the liberal nature of the stories being told.62

Indeed, the critical attention the case attracted spurred many intellectual conversations, opinions and debates inside and outside of the press. Although many victims of the Communist regime were displeased with Brožová’s short sentence and the consequent pardon, the case itself did bring their suffering back to the forefront of the public discourse in the country. Many new documentaries and essays were written on the topic, thus allowing the country to learn from its past.

Arguably, if one were to take Arendt’s stance on trials for granted, trials would automatically have to be dismissed from the transitional justice agenda as a whole. It is difficult to imagine a transitional justice trial without any aspect of a “higher motive,” such as truth seeking or creating statements and judgments of the past, behind it. In this respect Arendt would find an ally in Jon Elster, who also argued against the use of trials in transitional periods, although for different reasons: “[O]ne should target everybody or nobody. And because it is impossible to reach everybody, nobody should be punished and nobody compensated.”63 He would critique the case against Brožová, because it only targeted one prosecutor—the only one who happened to be still alive. There were other prosecutors, judges and communist officials, who had even more blood on their hands and were guiltier than Brožová, yet they managed to escape justice.

However, simply because a transitional justice method cannot be perfect it should not be disregarded: no transitional justice method is bulletproof. Similarly, although the trial with Brožová had some aspects of a show trial and considerations beyond what purists would label as appropriate for a criminal trial were made in her case, her sentence was just and deserved: For a person who has committed crimes against humanity by denying many people a just trial, she herself was treated humanely and fairly.


This essay aimed to determine whether the cases with Milada Horáková and Ludmila Brožová-Polednová were in fact show trials. By first discussing the historical context and definitions, Horáková’s case was clearly identified as a trumped-up show trial. However, Brožová’s case was more complicated, since it only satisfied one of the two criteria for a show trial. It was therefore labeled as a liberalshow trial: it followed the legal procedures of a liberal democracy for a just and fair trial, but still had an educational and public aspect to it. Although Arendt and like-minded theorist would still label it as incoherent with the principle purpose of a criminal trial, the case against Brožová did have positive aspects on the society by bringing the stories of victims of the Communist regime to the forefront of public discourse in the Czech Republic.


An avalanche of hearty thanks goes to Professor Nadya Nedelsky, whose exceptional scholarship and probing questions propelled this article forward. I was fortunate to take four classes with Professor Nedelsky while at Macalester College, including “Transitional Justice” in 2012, which was when I originally wrote this essay.

  1. In its essence, lustration process involves “background checks” for certain government posts to determine if an applicant was associated with the Communist regime or not; the latter being a condition of employment.  ↩

  2. Nadya Nedelsky, “Czechoslovakia and the Czech and Slovak Republics,” in Transitional Justice in Easter Europe and the Former Soviet Union, ed. Lavinia Stan (London and New York: Routledge, 2009), p. 48.  ↩

  3. Ibid., p. 51  ↩

  4. StB stands for Státní Bezpečnost, who were the Czechoslovak secret police.  ↩

  5. Nedelsky, p. 51. The 1996 law allowed people to only open their own files, but access was broadened six years later.  ↩

  6. Ibid.,p. 55.  ↩

  7. Ibid., p. 57.  ↩

  8. Ibid., p. 40.  ↩

  9. Ibid., p. 41.  ↩

  10. “Zákon o protiprávnosti komunistického režimu a odporu proti němu,” Law no. 198/1993, Czech Republic, July 9, 1993, available at the Czech Coordinating Office, accessed May 4, 2012,  ↩

  11. Ibid., Article 5.  ↩

  12. Nedelsky, “Czechoslovakia and the Czech and Slovak Republics,” p. 58.  ↩

  13. Ibid., p. 59.  ↩

  14. Claire Garbett, “Court Trials for Redress,” Encyclopedia of Transitional Justice,eds. Lavinia Stan and Nadya Nedelsky, awaiting publication.  ↩

  15. Ibid.  ↩

  16. Martti Koskenniemi, “Between Impunity and Show Trials,” Max Planck Yearbook of United Nations Law Vol. 6 (2002), p. 3.  ↩

  17. Ibid., p. 4.  ↩

  18. Hannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem(New York: Penguin Books, 1964), p. 253.  ↩

  19. Christina T. Prusak, “The trial of Alberto Fujimori: Navigating the show trial dilemma in pursuit of transitional justice,” New York University Law ReviewVol. 85 (2010), p. 880.  ↩

  20. Jeremy Peterson, “Unpacking Show Trials: Situating the Trial of Saddam Hussein,” Harvard International Law JournalVol. 48 (Winter, 2007), p. 260.  ↩

  21. Christina T. Prusak, “The trial of Alberto Fujimori,” p. 881.  ↩

  22. PhDr. Markéta Doležalová, “Milada Horáková (1901–1950),” The Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes,accessed May 1, 2012,  ↩

  23. Note: This was a liberal democratic party, not a communist party as the name might suggest.  ↩

  24. Doležalová, “Milada Horáková (1901–1950)”  ↩

  25. “27 June 1950 Execution of Milada Horáková,” The Government Information Centre, June 27, 2010, accessed May 1, 2012,–1950-execution-of-milada-horakova–74600/.  ↩

  26. “Závěrečná řeč Ludmily Brožové (Closing speech of Ludmila Brožová with EN subtitles),” YouTube video, 4:58, from the archived TV and radio footage of the trial with Milada Horáková et al., posted by “lift666”, August 8, 2011, accessed April 10, 2012,  ↩

  27. “27 June 1950 Execution of Milada Horáková,” The Government Information Centre  ↩

  28. “Brief Biography of Milada Horáková,” Roy Rosenzweig Center for History and New Media,accessed May 1, 2012,  ↩

  29. Rob Cameron, “Former “people’s prosecutor” enters prison for 1950 judicial murder,” Radio Prague,March 20, 2009, accessed May 1, 2012,–1950-judicial-murder.  ↩

  30. When executing a person by hanging one can choose a process where the neck of the person executed will snap once the trap door opens. This kills the prisoner immediately, thus technically s/he does not die of suffocation. If this method is not chosen, the person executed dies a slow death by suffocation, which is a much more painful death. Horáková died of suffocation.  ↩

  31. “27 June 1950 Execution of Milada Horáková,” The Government Information Centre  ↩

  32. Born Biedermannová; in the early 1950s, as she got more involved with the Communist party, they suggested she changes her last name to a less German sounding name, which is when she adopted her mother’s maiden name, Brožová. Polednová is her married name. From here on referred to as Ludmila Brožová. See Vít Hájek, “Příběh herečky,” (Czech TV, 2012), a documentary in Czech, accessed on April 10, 2012,  ↩

  33. Hájek, “Příběh herečky.”  ↩

  34. “ÚDV navrhl obžalovat prokurátorku z procesu s Horákovou,” Aktuálně.cz,May 4, 2007, accessed May 2, 2012,  ↩

  35. Hájek, “Příběh herečky.”  ↩

  36. Veronika Suchá, “Eight years in prison for judicial murder from 1950,” Aktuálně.cz Czech News,November 11, 2007, accessed May 1, 2012,  ↩

  37. Ibid.  ↩

  38. Ibid.  ↩

  39. “Czech ex-prosecutor not punished for judicial murder,” Aktuálně.cz Czech News, February 11, 2008, accessed May 2, 2012,  ↩

  40. Tomáš Fránek, “Vražda Milady Horákové se dočká nového procesu,” Aktuálně.cz,June 4, 2008, accessed May 3, 2012,  ↩

  41. Ibid.  ↩

  42. Veronika Suchá, “Ústavní soud zamítl stížnost Polednové. Proces nekončí,” Aktuálně.cz,August 11, 2008, accessed May 1, 2012,  ↩

  43. Markéta Chaloupská, “Former prosecutor gets six years for judicial murder,” Aktuálně.cz Czech News,September 9, 2008, accessed May 2 2012,  ↩

  44. Jakub Troníček, “Vesecká žádá Klause o milost pro Ludmilu Polednovou,”, September 19, 2008,  ↩

  45. Pavlína Jeřábková, “Klaus se rozhodl, milost Brožové-Polednové neudělí,”,September 23, 2008, accessed May 2, 2012,  ↩

  46. Markéta Chaloupská, “Brožová-Polednová nastoupila v 87 letech do vězení,” Aktuálně.cz,March 19, 2009, accessed May 2 2012,  ↩

  47. Lenka Nejezchlebová, “Podívejte se, kde bude „bydlet“ uvězněná Ludmila Brožová-Polednová,”,March 11, 2009, accessed May 5 2012,  ↩

  48. Markéta Chaloupská, “Polednová chce z vězení: Cela není pro stare a nemocné,” Aktuálně.cz,May 28, 2009, accessed May 3, 2012,  ↩

  49. Each of the amnesties offered a decrease of the number of years served in prison.  ↩

  50. “Soudy zkrátily Polednové šestiletý trest na polovinu,” Aktuálně.cz,April 1, 2010, accessed April 10, 2012,  ↩

  51. Jaroslav Soukup and Jaroslav Šnajdr, “Klaus udělil milost Brožové-Polednové, ta opustila věznici,”,December 21, 2010, accessed April 18, 2012,  ↩

  52. “Soud ve Štrasburku už otevřel kauzu Brožové-Polednové, tvrdí advokát,”,February 13, 2010, accessed May 1, 2012,–12x-/domaci.aspx?c=A100213_173235_domaci_jan.  ↩

  53. Conviction of the last surviving participant in the 1950 trial of Milada Horáková and other opponents of the communist regime was compatible with the Convention, European Court of Human Rights, ECHR 091 (2011), decision in the case of Polednová v. the Czech Republic, application no. 2615/10, July 6, 2011, accessed May 4, 2012, available at, p. 3.  ↩

  54. Ibid.  ↩

  55. Hájek, “Příběh herečky.”  ↩

  56. Ibid.  ↩

  57. Ibid.  ↩

  58. Veronika Suchá, “Historik: Byl by to rozsudek nad terorem 50. Let,” Aktuálně.cz,October 16, 2007, accessed May 5, 2012,  ↩

  59. Veronika Suchá, “Eight years in prison for judicial murder from 1950,” sopra note 33.  ↩

  60. Pavlína Jeřábková, “Klaus se rozhodl, milost Brožové-Polednové neudělí,” sopra note 41.  ↩

  61. Jeremy Peterson, “Unpacking Show Trials: Situating the Trial of Saddam Hussein,” p. 266.  ↩

  62. Ibid., p. 265.  ↩

  63. Jon Elster, “On Doing What One Can: An Argument Against Post-Communist Restitution and Retribution,” in Transitional Justice Vol. 1: How Emerging Democracies Reckon with Former Regimes, ed. Neil J. Kritz (Washington, DC: United States Institute of Peace Press, 1995), p. 566.  ↩

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