27/6/ - 24/8/ 2020

Milada Horáková
Do Not Forget About Me

Every year, the Museum Kampa– Jan and Meda Mládek Foundation commemorates the lawyer and MP Milada Horáková, whose intransigence in the trumped-up political trial and the subsequent death penalty became a symbol of defiance to all forms of totalitarian regimes. Milada Horáková’s name is a synonym to courage, willingness to fight lawlessness, injustice and manipulation; that is what makes her legacy extremely topical and current.

In addition to the regular commemorative event held on 27 June, the day of Milada Horáková’s execution, the Museum Kampa has also prepared an exhibition mapping her activities, especially those being part of anti-Nazi resistance; her active participation in public life after World War II (presidency of the Union of Czechoslovak Women, etc.); and finally, the fabricated political trial in which she was the only woman sentenced to death for alleged espionage and high treason. The exhibition will also include Milada Horáková’s ‘afterlife’: the annulment of the verdict in 1958 and the rehabilitation of her name in 1990. In general, this exhibition aims at showing the dangers of abusing the political power in totalitarian regimes and the need to oppose all such manifestations of authoritarianism over and over again.

The exhibition is being prepared by Petr Blažek, a historian at the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, which specializes in Czechoslovak history of the second half of the 20th century. The exhibition will be installed in Kampa Park, along the road connecting the Kampa Museum with Werich’s Villa, and will open to the public on 70th anniversary of Milada Horáková’s murder, on 27 June 2020, and will be available until 24 August 2020 free of charge.

Political Trials

After the disintegration of the communist regime, courts rehabilitated around 265,000 people who had been convicted of crimes with political implications in 1948–1989. By 1960 alone, about 240 victims of judicial murders had been executed. The vast majority of them took part in the anti-communist resistance, following the traditions of First (1914–1918) and Second (1939–1945) Czechoslovak Resistance. The repressive nature of the totalitarian system in Czechoslovakia is well documented by the fact that in the early 1950s, there were 422 camps and prisons in which people involved in political trials not only lived in appalling conditions, but were also imprisoned without trial, deprived of their liberties based only on arbitrary decisions of the authorities.

Tailored according to the Soviet model, these political trials took place in all Soviet-seized states in Central and Eastern Europe. Members of various social groups, including members of non-communist political parties, were tried in them. The main decision-making in the large trials was done by the communist ruling clique, which in 1948–1954 consisted of members of the Political Bureau and the Secretariat of the Central Committee of the Communist Party. These people made their decisions mostly on the basis of unwritten reports from the Ministers of National Security and Justice, or instructions coming directly from President Klement Gottwald. ‘State Security’, the communist secret police, played a key role in the investigation. After the communist coup, the State Prosecutor’s Office and State Court were established to handle the crucial political trials delaing with crimes defined under the harsh Act No. 231 from 1948, the so-called Act for the Protection of the People’s Democratic Republic. Many other institutions participated in various propaganda campaigns in various ways.



Public mobilisations and massive propaganda campaigns were typical of Soviet-style political trials. On the left, a view of the courtroom during the trial of Milada Horáková on June 6, 1950 (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus); on the right, a meeting of ‘CKD Stalingrad’ factory workers who vote on June 8, 1950 in favour of strict punishment of the defendants in this trial (CTK, photo: Čestmír Jírů)

On the back seat of the car, the prime minister Klement Gottwald (left) and the general secretary of the Czechoslovak Communist Party Rudolf Slánský arrive on February 25th, 1948 to Wenceslas Square to announce the February communist coup. Both of them will actively participate in the judicial murder of Dr. Milada Horáková and many other victims of the communist regime. Rudolf Slánský himself will finally be crushed by the communist purges and be executed in 1952 (repro: Victorious February Censored)

The Presidium of the Central Committee of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia at the 9th Congress of the CPC in May, 1949 (reproduction: The 9th Congress of the CPC in Photography)


The political trial with Milada Horáková was the first major trial in which the Soviet advisers were involved. They arrived in Czechoslovakia in the autumn of 1949 at the invitation of the President of the Republic Klement Gottwald and the Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Rudolf Slánský in response to the Budapest trial of László Rajk. The advisors played a key role in the preparation of the process with Dr. Milada Horáková, which was to become the first trial consistently conceived as a ‘monster trial’ according to the Soviet model, and which subsequently served as a model for other political processes. The ‘treasonous’ group had been arbitrarily composed of people who knew each other only distantly. The first of them was arrested in the autumn of 1948, the last in February 1950. The investigators received abundant and varied intelligence information from the secret police operatives about some of them, especially Antonia Kleinerová and Milada Horáková, which they used in the investigation regardless of their actual value. As early as the spring of 1949, the State Security intercepted letters from the former Foreign Minister Hubert Ripka, which he sent home from exile.

Dr. Milada Horáková was arrested by members of the State Security on September 27, 1949. Her husband Dr. Bohuslav Horák managed to escape and emigrate later. The investigators focused on Milada Horáková’s political contacts, including her connection with Petr Zenkl, the former Mayor of Prague, who defected in August 1948. In the exile, he became Chairman of the Council of Free Czechoslovakia and the leader of the exiled National Socialist Party. In his messages sent home, Zenkl was rather careful, avoiding any encouragement for the formation of resistance groups. Investigators were also interested in a meeting at the parish in Vinoř, where representatives of non-communist parties met in September, 1948. It is characteristic of the atmosphere at that time that the participants could not agree on a common approach. They only agreed that they would continue to meet individually and pass on information. These political debates were subsequently seen by investigators as evidence of a large-scale treasonous conspiracy which, in fact, they fabricated themselves.



The cover of the investigation file with documents on the arrest and investigation of Dr. Milada Horáková (The Security Services Archive)

Protocol on the arrest of Dr. Milada Horáková (The Security Services Archive)

Milada Horáková wrote her autobiography in prison in April 1950. She also mentioned President Edvard Beneš in it. (The Security Services Archive)


Photograph: President Edvard Beneš’s birthday on May 28th, 1947. Milada Horáková is standing behind the armchair on the right (CTK)


The key role in the preparation of the political trial was assigned to State Security (StB) investigators, who elaborated its scenario in cooperation with the Ministry of Justice. The main part of the interrogations of those arrested took place in November 1949 in the Ruzyně prison. The commander of the investigators was Milan Moučka, a twenty-seven-year-old StB officer. An important role was played by the Soviet advisers who, among other things, brought the method of prefabricated protocols (so-called ‘question protocols’). The investigators used various methods of physical and mental abuse to break the defiance of those under investigation. The most common method of torture was sleep deprivation. The prisoners had to march in their solitary confinements for hours, they could not lie down and were fed poorly. Some were exposed to open physical violence. The interrogators also used threats concerning the relatives and promised to secure milder punishments should the arrested show a supportive attitude. Confrontations with those who had already given up and were willing to testify to the alleged criminal activities of others, were also used.

Investigators gradually fabricated a treasonous gang formed by the arrested and headed by Dr. Horáková, referred to in the documents first as the ‘Centre’, later on the ‘Czechoslovak Resistance Directorate’, and finally the ‘Headquarters of the Sabotage Conspiracy against the Republic’, in which members of non-communist political parties were supposed to be involved. Most of the politicians involved in the monster trial came from the National Socialist Party, with some representatives of the Social Democrats, the (Christian) People’s Party and the ‘Trotskyists’. They were accused of betraying the people’s democratic establishment, jointly with the representatives of ‘treasonous emigration’ and ‘Western reactionaries’. There were also accusations of economic sabotage, preparation for an armed coup, or even cooperation in starting a new world war with the American, British, French, Yugoslav and Vatican secret services. Similarly to the Moscow political trials of the 1930s, the defendants had to memorize the trumped-up scenario, which was approved by the communist leadership.



“The key line in the investigation was to make the defendants confess at all costs, even though we did not receive any material at all or material that was completely worthless from the interrogators. When I raised an objection, I was told by advisers Likhachev, Makarov, Galkin and Vladimir [Boyarsky] that the best material were the defendants themselves and that all it took was to know how to deal with them.”

Testimony of former State Security (StB) investigator Bohumil Doubek (August 30, 1955)


Document: The verdict had been predetermined well before the trial began, as evidenced by one of the preserved documents. The word “výkon” refers to “execution”. (The National Archive)

ID: Personal records of the StB head investigator Milan Moučka (The Security Services Archive)

Photo: Deputy Minister of Justice Karel Klos played a crucial coordinating role in the preparation of the monster trial (The National Archive)


The political trial of Milada Horáková and twelve other defendants took place in the hall of the State Court in Pankrác, Prague, from May 31st to June 8th, 1950. It bore all the hallmarks of a monster trial based on the Soviet model. The verdicts had been established in advance, as were the ‘question’ protocols that the defendants memorized in advance with the investigators. The President of the Court (Senate) was Dr. Karel Trudák; its members (jurors) were Dr. Karol Bedrna, Dr. Otakar Matoušek, and Miloš Kučera and Jan Polanecký as lay justices. The prosecutors were Dr. Josef Urválek, Col. Dr. Juraj Vieska, Dr. Jiří Kepák, Antonín Havelka and Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, née Biedermannová. Some of the defendants tried to go off script, at least in very slight hints: For example, Záviš Kalandra uttered a few ironic words to the judges and answered some questions before they were actually asked.

In the great courtroom, only vetted proven Communist Youth members and Party comrades, who were busy evoking a hateful atmosphere, were present as spectators. Every day after the session had been adjourned, the organizers of the trial met to evaluate its outcomes so far. The investigators did the same with the defendants, some of whom were closely watched by secret police collaborators posing as inmates after being taken back to their cells. In Dr. Horáková’s case, it was a former communist journalist Věra Hložková, who regularly passed on detailed information about Horáková’s mental state to investigators. Closing speeches were delivered on  June 8th, 1950 and then draconian sentences were passed by the court: four death penalties, four life sentences and five sentences of long-term imprisonment. In addition, ancillary sentences for forfeiture of property and deprivation of civil rights were imposed.



Dr. Milada Horáková delivers a closing speech, June 8, 1950 (CTK, photo: Rostislav Novák)

The organizers of the trial had the weapons allegedly gathered by the defendants displayed in the courtroom. As the two pictures show, at the beginning of the first day of the trial, flags with a swastika were part of the exhibition, which was absurd given that almost all the defendants participated in the anti-Nazi resistance (CTK, photo: Rostislav Novák)

The audience was carefully handpicked from well vetted ‘cadres’; June 4, 1950 (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus)

Ludmila Brožová-Polednová, née Biedermannová, was the only co-organizer of the trial ever convicted. On September 11, 2008, the former prosecutor was unconditionally sentenced to six years in prison. She was released after being pardoned by President Václav Klaus in December 2010.

Newspaper cuttings in June 1950 expressing full public support for the trial and the high sentences.

We Demand Death Penalty!

The trial with Milada Horáková and other defendants was accompanied by a hate propaganda campaign, which was unprecedented in its size and sophistication. As part of this, orchestrated by the Communist Party leadership, 6,300 petitions were sent to the State Court in Prague, in which citizens demanded severe punishment for the defendants. The petitions were signed by teachers (and children, on the instructions of teachers) in schools. Thousands of meetings were held, where their participants sometimes even voted for resolutions directly calling for the death penalty for all defendants. The organizers of the monster trial used the press, radio and film in a massive way in the propaganda campaign, which they had been preparing since November 1949. Thousands of articles have been published in various periodicals. The Rudé právo (Red Law), a daily of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, printed the statements of defendants on a daily basis and referred to the defendants as “high traitors”. A scenario of the trial, which had been prepared by the investigators well in advance, was published in a modified form in a book. In the Pankrác courtroom, the trial was recorded on cameras by filmmakers and radio workers under the direction of Přemysl Freiman, who broadcast edited reports with duly hateful comments every evening. In the end, the intended film about the trial was not made, as the result did not turn out as expected by the communist leadership.



“In his report, Comrade Minister Čepička described how it was necessary to proceed so that important trials against the agents were properly exploited used in terms of propaganda and education.”

“Comrade Bareš reminded that when making films about trials, care must be taken in order not to achieve an undesirable effect, as it had been proven that once a defendant appeared to have feelings, people were prone to feel sorry for them.”

“Comrade Dr. Klos stated that the Ministry of Justice would organize the trials in such a way that they also serve propaganda and educational purposes; that it is necessary to show the editors how to write politically correctly about the trials, and then let them do it themselves. It would be useful to organize and encourage discussions with the audience present at the session, especially with the Stakhanovites etc., about how they feel about the trial and what was the response in the society in general.”

The quotations are taken from the minutes of a meeting of the organizers of the trial at the Deputy Secretary General of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Gustav Bareš on March 24th, 1950 (The National Archive)


Photograph: The courtroom in Pankrác Justice Palace during the trial with Milada Horáková and other defendants. Film cameras can be seen on the left (The National Archive)

Book: The cover of the official version of the speech, which was published in 140,000 copies (Martin Vadas’s Archive)

Typed document: The front page of the classified instruction prepared by the clerks of the Central Committee of the Communist Party Marie Švermová and Gustav Bareš to organizers of the propaganda campaign from June 1st, 1950 (The National Archive)

Other documents: A sample of several thousand letters that were received by the State Court in Prague (The National Archive)

We Plead for a Pardon!

All those sentenced to death appealed, and three of them applied for clemency. Only Dr. Milada Horáková refused to send in a plea, although her lawyer urged her to do so. Her application for clemency was eventually filed by her 82-year-old father Čeněk Král and 16-year-old daughter Jana. The Supreme Court, chaired by dr. Stanislav Bartoš, finally dismissed all appeals on June 24th, 1950. Many people tried to save the four convicts, especially from abroad, but unfortunately no democratic government officially supported their efforts. Albert Einstein, Eleanor Roosevelt, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Bernard Cardinal Griffin, UN Secretary-General Trygve Lie and many others sent in their pleas, but to no avail. Compassionate people were also found in Czechoslovakia, although unfortunately there were very few of them. One of them was Zdena Mašínová Sr., widow of the hero of the anti-Nazi resistance Lt. Col. Josef Mašín, and former fellow prisoner of Milada Horáková from the period of Nazi occupation. The most frequently mentioned protest is the letter of Dr. Vlasta Kálalová to the President of the Republic and the Chairman of the Communist Party Klement Gottwald, where she reminded him that during the war the Nazis shot her husband and two children, so she knew exactly how the relatives of the executed would feel. Gottwald pardoned no one and sent the four convicts to the gallows.


Photograph: Vlasta Kálalová M.D. (photographed in 1924) wrote a plea to President Gottwald asking for those sentenced to death to be pardoned. Instead of granting her plea, she was harassed by the State Security, instructed by the Deputy Minister of Justice Dr. Karel Klos (Ilona Borská’s Archive)

Telegram: Albert Einstein sent a telegram to the Prime Minister of Czechoslovakia Antonín Zápotocký on June 13th, 1950 (The National Archive)

Documents: A sample of several pages from a comics published by the National Committee for a Free Europe in the USA in 1951 (The National Archive)


In the early 1950s, executions were performed at dawn in the backyard of the Pankrác prison in Prague. The communist leadership determined that the four convicts would be hanged at this place on 27 June 1950. The day before, the Senate No. 7 of the State Court in Prague met in a closed session to determine the order of executions: “1. Záviš Kalandra, 2. Oldřich Pecl, 3. Jan Buchal, 4. Milada Horáková.” At seven in the evening, the four convicts were visited by Dr. Trudák, who told them that the President had declined to pardon them and that the execution would be carried out the next day at half past four in the morning. Then the convicts made their last wishes, including a meeting with their loved ones. Milada Horáková asked to meet her sister, brother-in-law, and daughter Jana. Among other things, she asked for a priest to visit her and for some photographs and three pressed flowers that she treasured in a handkerchief to be left with the remains. She also asked about the whereabouts of her husband. The judge replied that he knew nothing about him. Around eight o’clock, the convicts met with relatives. On the night before the execution, last letters were written but they never made it to the families.

The executions began at the set time and in the set order; according to the record, the whole thing was over at 5.43 am. Only Jan Buchal and Milada Horáková spoke their last words; Záviš Kalandra and Oldřich Pecl said nothing. They were dying in pain, the doctor stated death only after several minutes in all four cases. In addition to the executioner and his hands, members of the Judicial Commission Trudák, Matoušek and Kruk, the prosecutors Brožová and Havelka, the record keeper Karamazin, the lawyers Vízek, Neumann and Martin, and the doctor Grünwald were also present. The bodies were cremated in the Strašnice crematorium and the urns were not handed over to relatives. Historians later proved that the urns with the ashes of Oldřich Pecl and Jan Buchal were secretly destroyed in the Motol Hospital. No documents have yet been found on the location (or destruction respectively) of the urns with the ashes of Milada Horáková and Záviš Kalandra. Milada Horáková has only a symbolic grave at the Slavín Cemetery; her name has also been added to the tombstone of the family grave at the Olšany Cemetery; and there is another symbolic tombstone at the Ďáblice Cemetery.


“Long live the free Czechoslovakia of Masaryk and Beneš.”

Poslední slova Jana Buchala


“I’m falling… I’m falling; I lost this fight but I’m leaving in an honourable way. I love this country, I love its people; do build prosperity for them. I don’t feel any hatred towards you. I wish you well, I wish you well…”

Milada Horáková’s last words



The spot in the Pankrác prison, where one of the two gallows stood in the early 1950s (The Security Services Archive)

The monument to Milada Horáková was created in 2010 by the sculptor Olbram Zoubek at the evangelical church of the Czech Brethren in Smíchov (Archives of the author, photo: Jan Polák)



The report on the execution was published on 28 June 1950 on the third page of the Rudé právo (The National Museum)

Official document on hiring of executioners. On 23 June 1950 Josef Trojan was hired as the second executioner for executions carried out in the Pankrác prison. It is unclear, though, whether he took part together with his hands in the executions that took place only four days later or whether these were performed only by the already established executioner Vladimír Trunda. (The National Archives)

The ‘Follow-Up’ Trials

After the main trial had ended, another 35 ‘follow-up’ and ‘marginal’ trials took place in the following months in many places all over the country, in which a total of 639 people were prosecuted and tried. The Security Commission of the Central Committee of the Communist Party decided on launching these trials on 28 June 1950, i.e. on the day following the execution of Milada Horáková and three other persons from the main trial. The statistics on the results of these political trials that took place in in the summer of 1950 are absolutely frightening: In total, the judges handed down 10 death sentences, 48 life sentences and other sentences totalling 7,830 years. At the same time, they also imposed fines in the amount of CZK 12,140,000 and confiscated the entire property of almost all convicts. Only 21 defendants were acquitted. These processes were also accompanied by a hate propaganda campaign, organized meetings and numerous petitions from workers calling for severe punishment for the perpetrators. Thousands of people took part in the organization of these ‘follow-up’ processes in various ways, none of whom have been punished for their activities so far.



“When organizing the marginal trials, the experience gained from the trial with Horáková et al. was used, as they were mostly carried out only after the end of the main trial. However, preparation for these trials was not as thorough and careful as for the main trial, as all 35 marginal trials had been planned over a very short period of one month (July 1950). As accusations from individual State Security headquarters had been filed as late as the end of June, or even in the first half of July, 1950, the time allocated for the participating units of the State Prosecutor’s Office and the State Court to process the cases was very short. Extraordinary efforts were needed to make this work a success.”

A quotation from the report of the Ministry of Justice on the trial of M. Horáková and 35 other trials, which was sent to the Secretary General of the Communist Party Rudolf Slánský on 23 November 1950 (The National Archives)


Photograph: The Monument to the Victims of Communism in Prague was created in 2002 by the sculptor Olbram Zoubek. At the foot of the staircase there is the inscription ‘Victims of Communism 1948–1989: 205,486 Convicted – 248 Executed – 4,500 Died in Prisons – 327 Died at the Border – 170,938 Emigrated (Archive of the author, photo: Josef Švec)


In the summer of 1950, another part of their plight began for the nine prisoners with life or long-term sentences. They spent many years in prison, often under very difficult conditions. They could only see their loved ones on exceptional visits. It was often a very difficult test for spouses. None of the convicts broke down in the prison; the documents show that they repeatedly and consistently opposed the totalitarian regime. In 1955, František Přeučil was one of the prisoners that went on strike in the Leopoldov prison. On September 7th, 1957, 70-year-old Vojtěch Dundr died in the said prison. His application for release on medical grounds was repeatedly rejected, the last one in July 1957 on the grounds that ‘he was not in danger of death’. The remaining eight convicts spent at least ten years in prison. Františka Zemínová, Antonie Kleinerová and Zdeněk Peška were released on parole in 1960, then Jiří Hejda in 1962, and Josef Nestával, František Přeučil, Bedřich Hostička and Jiří Křížek a year later.

Until 1968, some of the convicts and their relatives had been trying to achieve rehabilitation, but to no avail. It was not until July 30th, 1968 that the Supreme Court of the Czechoslovak Republic overturned the judgment in its entirety. However, the road to full rehabilitation was blocked only three weeks later by the Soviet occupation of Czechoslovakia. On July 29th, 1975, the General Procurator decided that “the case was adjourned.” The historian Karel Kaplan rightly described the rehabilitation procedure as another trial in which the victims were convicted once again. Only the disintegration of the communist regime in November 1989 paved the way for their full rehabilitation, which, however, only František Přeučil and Bedřich Hostička lived to see. Milada Horáková and some others from the largest political process were awarded posthumously. Many monuments or memorial plaques commemorating their memory have been installed in Prague, Vinoř and other places. A number of streets, squares and schools have also been named after them. In 2004, the 27th day of June was established as Memorial Day for the Victims of the Communist Regime.



Milada Horáková’s daughter, Jana Kánská, was present at the unveiling of the monument to her mother on Pětikostelní Square in Prague on November 16th, 2015

This though-inspiring monument to Milada Horáková was created by sculptor Josef Faltus

The monument is located in close proximity to both Chambers of Parliament of the Czech Republic

(photo: Martin Vadas)


Next Panel:

Dr. Milada Horáková in front of the State Court in Prague (ČTK, photo: Rostislav Novák, Bohuslav Parbus)

Previous Panel:

Dr. Milada Horáková in front of the State Court in Prague (ČTK, photo: Rostislav Novák, Bohuslav Parbus)

Dr. Milada Horáková

(25 December 1901, Prague – Prague, 27 June 1950)

lawyer, social worker, politician

Milada Horáková was born in Královské Vinohrady as Milada Králová in the family of a sales representative Čeňek Král, who had been a supporter of T. G. Masaryk well before the First World War. Her older siblings, Marta and Jiří, died of scarlet fever in 1914. Sister Věra was born in 1916 and Milada took care of her after the death of their mother. Milada studied at a grammar school but was expelled in 1918 for her anti-war speech during the May Day demonstration. Then she went to the girls’ lyceum. She graduated from the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague in 1926. In the same year, she married the economist and journalist Bohuslav Horák, under whose influence she converted to the Czech Brethren Evangelical Church. In 1933, daughter Jana was born. Since 1927, Milada Horáková worked at the Central Social Office of the Capital City of Prague. Two years later, she became a member of the National Socialist Party. She worked in the women’s rights movement and became a collaborator of Senator Františka Plamínková. During the Nazi occupation, she joined the resistance within the Political Headquarters (Politické ústředí) and the Petition Committee ‘We remain faithful’ (Petiční výbor Věrni zůstaneme). In 1940, she and her husband were arrested by the Gestapo and later sentenced to eight years in prison.

After the war, she was elected an MP, the Vice-President of the Union of Liberated Political Prisoners and the chairwoman of the Czechoslovak Women’s Council. She supported the system of the National Front of Czechs and Slovaks and did not openly oppose the Communists until February, 1948. In protest against the violation of democratic principles, she resigned from the Parliament on 10 March 1948. She maintained contacts with a number of friends with whom she debated politics. In September 1948, she attended a meeting of representatives of several political parties in Vinoř. She also had contacts with some of the exiled politicians, especially with Petr Zenkl and Hubert Ripka. On 27 September 1948, she was arrested in a crackdown on former collaborators of ex-President Beneš. She was labelled the head of a fabricated treasonous group and sentenced to death. The verdict had been prearranged by the communist leadership: on 27 June 1950, she was executed. The remains were cremated and the urn is likely to have been destroyed. Her husband Bohuslav managed to escape abroad. Daughter Jana was adopted by Milada’s sister Věra and her family and did not meet her father until 1966, when she left for the USA. Although the sentence was declared null and void in 1968, Horáková’s full rehabilitation did not take place until 1990. In 1991, President Václav Havel awarded Dr. Milada Horáková in memoriam Order of T. G. Masaryk I. class, for Merits in Democracy and Human Rights.


Photographs, left:

Dr. Milada Horáková during her speech at the Women’s Congress on 21 February 1947 (CTK, photo: Emil Bican)

Milada Horáková (second left) and Františka Plamínková (centre) in a meeting of the Women’s National Council, 7 February 1930 (CTK)

Photographs, right:

Anežka Hodinová-Spurná and Milada Horáková in a meeting of the Czechoslovak Women’s Council, 10 September 1947 (CTK)

Foreign Minister Jan Masaryk and Milada Horáková at Prague-Ruzyně Airport, 30 July 1945 (CTK)

Milada Horáková and her family, Christmas 1946 (The National Archive)

Záviš Kalandra

(10 November 1902, Frenštát pod Radhoštěm – Prague, 27 June 1950)

politician, journalist, historian, aesthetician

Záviš Kalandra studied philosophy and classical philology at the Faculty of Arts, Charles University in Prague. In 1921, together with his classmate Oldřich Pecl, he published the magazine Student Revolucionář (Revolutionary Student). Two years later, he joined the Communist Party, in 1926 and 1927 he led the Communist Student Faction (Kostufra) and worked as an editor in the communist press. In 1929, he supported the takeover of the leadership of the Communist Party by Klement Gottwald. In the 1930s, he criticized the Moscow trials. In 1936, he was not issued a Party-member licence, which meant the termination of membership. In 1939–1945, he was imprisoned in Nazi concentration camps. After the war, he wrote for the trade union press and devoted himself to historical work, e.g. his treatise České pohanství (Czech Paganism) 1947. In February 1948, he was ‘actioned-out’ (= expelled) from the Union of Czechoslovak Historians. In November 1949, he was arrested and included as a representative of the ‘Trotskyist’ group in the trial with ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to death and executed on June 27, 1950. The sentence was overturned in 1968, but he was not fully rehabilitated until after 1989. In 1991, he was awarded the Order of T. G. Masaryk Class I in memoriam.

Photograph: A photograph from Světozor magazine in 1937 with a headline mocking the Moscow trials. The satirical article stated that a bandit named Záviš Kalandra had confessed to assassinating King Přemysl Otakar II in Marchfeld in 1278

Dr. Oldřich Pecl

(14 September 1903, Bohuslavice u Kyjova – Prague, 27 June  1950)

lawyer and entrepreneur

Oldřich Pelcl graduated from the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague. He was a member of the Communist Student Faction (Kostufra). He worked in advocacy, then did business in an antique shop. His second wife, Ankica Milić, was the sister of a Yugoslav diplomat. Participant in the anti-Nazi resistance, he was imprisoned by the Gestapo in 1941 for two months. After 1945, he worked as a legal clerk at a Prague company trading in medical supplies. In November 1949, he was arrested and included as a ‘Trotskyist’ and at the same time a ‘former owner of an anthracite mine’ in the ‘Horáková et. al.’ trial. He was sentenced to death and executed on June 27, 1950. The sentence was overturned in 1968, but he was not fully rehabilitated until until after 1989.


Oldřich Pecl and Záviš Kalandra before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Rostislav Novák)

Ankica Peclová (1906–1984) and her husband were arrested in November 1949. She was held in pre-trial custody until February 1951, when she was banished from the country. In 1964, she came to Czechoslovakia to seek (to no avail) her husband’s rehabilitation. The photo was taken in 1950 in prison (The National Archive)

František Přeučil

(9 October 1907, Prague – Černošice, 19 March 1996)

publisher and politician

After having graduated from grammar school, František Přeučil worked as a journalist in Pardubice. Before the war he was a member of the Czechoslovak Traders’Party. He joined the anti-Nazi resistance, cooperating with General Karel Kutlvašr. After the war, he was the owner of the Pamir publishing house. In 1945, he joined the National Socialist Party and was one of its MPs until 1948. He was also a member of its Central Committee and the Trade and Business Department. In February 1948, he was ‘actioned-out’ (= expelled) from the National Socialist parliamentary club. In November 1949, he was arrested for contacts with ‘terrorist groups’ and sentenced to life imprisonment in the ‘Horáková et al.’ political trial. It had not been not until 1963 that he was released on parole. In 1968, he became involved in K 231 (a union of former political prisoners) and KAN (Klub angažovaných nestraníků, Club of Committed Non-Party Members). After 1989, he became socially active once again, he was a co-founder of the Club of Dr. Milada Horáková. His son is the famous Czech theatre and film actor Jan Přeučil. Daughter Marta Jurková is a pastor of the Czechoslovak Hussite Church.

Photograph: František Přeučil before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus, Rostislav Novák)

Jan Buchal

(30 May 1913 Litava u Tišnova – Prague, 27 June 1950)

retired staff sergeant of the communist National Security Corps (SNB) and anti-communist resistance activist

Originally a locksmith, Jan Buchal joined Czechoslovak gendarmerie as a driver in 1938, where he served until 1947, when he was forced to retire for health reasons. From 1946, he was a member of the National Socialist Party. After February 1948, he joined an anti-communist resistance group, which was, however, infiltrated by the State Security. In the summer of 1949, he tried to convince Staff Captain Josef Buršík to join the resistance, who rejected the proposal for fear that it was a provocation. Jan Buchal was arrested in the autumn of 1949 and included in the trial with ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to death and executed on June 27, 1950. His last words were: “Long live the free Czechoslovakia of Masaryk and Beneš!” His daughters were eight and six at the time. In four follow-up trials, another 82 people were sentenced in the Ostrava region, four of them to death.

Document: A facsimile of a letter from Jan Buchal sent abroad to Petr Zenkl (The National Archive)

Photograph: Jan Buchal before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus, Rostislav Novák)

Františka ‘Fráňa’ Zemínová

(15 August 1882, Dolní Chvatliny – Velichovky, 26 September 1962)

editor and politician

Born into a large family, Fráňa Zemínová was the youngest of twelve children. She graduated from business school, then worked until 1918 as an accountant in the publishing house of I. L. Kober. From 1897, she was a member of the National Social Party. She has been involved in the women’s rights movement and has also addressed various social issues. She published articles in the National Socialist press. She did not marry and had no children. In 1918–1939 and 1945–1948, she was a Member of Parliament for the National Socialists and served as Vice-Chair and Chair of the Women’s Club of the National Socialist Party. In 1929, she spoke critically against the well-known parliamentary speech of Klement Gottwald, in which he admitted to “go to Moscow to learn from the Bolsheviks how to wring the bourgeois necks”. In November 1949, she was arrested and included as a ‘traitor of the working class’ in the trial with ‘Horáková et al.’ She was sentenced to twenty years in prison. She was released after two heart attacks in 1960 on the grounds of presidential amnesty and died two years later. In 1992, she was awarded the Order of T. G. Masaryk Class III in memoriam.


MPs Milada Horáková and Františka Zemínová, December 17th, 1947 (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus)

Františka Zemínová before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus, Rostislav Novák)

Prison photographs of Františka ‘Fráňa’ Zemínová (The National Archive)

Antonie Kleinerová

(23 March 1901, Prague – Prague, 23 August 1982)

social worker and politician

After having graduated from business school, Antonie Kleinerová studied at the Philosophical Faculty of Charles University in Prague, but did not complete her studies. In 1927, she married Jaroslav Kleiner, an employee of the Ministry of National Defense and later of Czechoslovak Radio. From 1925 to 1941, she worked for the YWCA. From 1937, she worked at the Ministry of Social Care, where she met Milada Horáková. She and her husband participated in the activities of the resistance group Petiční výbor Věrni zůstaneme (Petition Committee ‘We remain faithful’). They were arrested in 1941. Antonie Kleinerová was deported to a concentration camp, while her husband was executed. After the war, she became involved in the National Socialist Party, and in 1946–1948 she was a Member of Parliament. In November 1949, she was arrested and included as a ‘traitor of the working class’ in the trial with ‘Horáková et al.’ During the interrogation, she was beaten by Deputy Minister of National Security Karel Šváb, who was later executed together with Rudolf Slánský and other former high-ranking communists. She attempted to commit suicide while in custody. She was sentenced to life imprisonment, but was released on presidential amnesty in 1960.

Photograph: Antonie Kleinerová before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus, Rostislav Novák)

Dr. Josef Nestával

(14 December 1900, Prague – Prague, 1 April 1976)

lawyer and politician

In 1918, Josef Nestával interrupted his grammar-school studies and volunteered to defend the newly-established Czechoslovakia in Slovakia, where he fought with the Hungarian Bolsheviks. In 1919, he became a member of the Czechoslovak Socialist Party (temporary name used for the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party). He graduated from the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague, and was the Vice-Chair of the student law association ‘Všehrd’. In the first half of the 1930s, he worked as the Deputy Secretary General in the administration of the National Socialist Party. From 1934, he worked as a legal clerk. In 1935 he was elected to Prague municipal parliament. In the autumn of 1938, he joined the Party of National Unity. The following year, he became active in the anti-Nazi resistance and was in contact with Prague Mayor Otakar Klapka and Lt. Col. Josef Balabán. He was also a senior official of the National Partnership (the only political party allowed in the Protectorate during the Nazi occupation). In July 1940, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment. After the war, he worked as the director of the Central Association of Health Insurance Companies. In February 1948, he was ‘actioned-out’ (=expelled) and became a regular employee. In the summer of 1948, he was approached by Dr. Milada Horáková, who asked him to take over the underground leadership of the National Socialists after the departure of Petr Zenkl. In November 1949, he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment in the ‘Horáková et. al.’ trial. He was released on parole in 1963. In 1968, he joined the Czechoslovak Socialist Party and attempted its revival, which was thwarted by the Soviet occupation in August and subsequent ‘normalization’.

Photograph: Dr. Josef Nestával before the State Court in Prague (The National Archive)

Dr. Jiří Hejda

(25 February 1895, Prague – Prague, 25 April 1985)

journalist, politician, writer

During the First World War, Jiří Hejda fought as an Austrian-Hungarian soldier in Polish Galicia. He graduated from the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague. He then worked as a journalist, focusing on the national economy. In 1926, he became a member of the National Socialist Party. In 1934, he published a book of reports on Nazi Germany. In the years 1937–1939, he was the general secretary of the CKD company. Then he founded a factory manufacturing kitchen equipment. During the Protectorate, he joined the anti-Nazi resistance, he worked in the resistance group Politické ústředí (Political Headquarters) and the Central Headquarters of the Domestic Resistance (the so-called ÚVOD). He hid his wife Louisa, who was of Jewish descent and was the only one of her family to live to see the end of the war. From 1946 to 1948, he was a member of the Central Planning Commission under the Prime Minister’s Office. In December 1949, he was arrested and included as a representative of the ‘bourgeoisie’ in the trial with ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to life imprisonment and a fine of CZK 500,000. He was released in 1962 on presidential amnesty. He then worked as a hand in geodetic survey. He composed sonnets in prison, is the author of the novel Útěk (Escape) and the memoir book Žil jsem zbytečně (I Lived for Nothing).

Photograph: Dr. Jiří Hejda before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus, Rostislav Novák)

Vojtěch Dundr

(25 December 1879, Doksy – Leopoldov, 7 September 1957)

journalist, trade union official, politician

As a locksmith, Vojtěch Dundr worked at the Laurin & Klement car plant in Mladá Boleslav. At the end of the 19th century, he became involved in the Radical Progressive Party. In 1901, he switched to Social Democracy. From 1908, he worked as a journalist in the party press. He was also a member of the Association of Metalworkers. From 1925 on, he was repeatedly elected Senator. Shortly before the abolition of the Senate in 1939, he joined the National Labour Party. During the period of the so-called First Republic (1918–1938), he held important positions in the Social Democratic Party. In 1937, he was elected its Central Secretary. After the occupation, he joined the anti-Nazi resistance and was arrested by the Gestapo in May 1941. He was held in prison until November 1943, when he was acquitted by a court. He was arrested again in August 1944 and imprisoned in the Small Fortress in Terezín. After the war, he was an opponent of Fierlinger’s faction in the Social Democracy (advocating close cooperation with Communists), he belonged to the group of Vojta Beneš (brother of Pres. Beneš). In November 1949, he was arrested and included in the political trial of ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to fifteen years in prison, where he died. In 2001 he was awarded the Order of T. G. Masaryk class II in memoriam.


Vojtěch Dundr before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus)

Photographs of Vojtěch Dundr in prison, where he died after having served almost nine years (The National Archive)


Dr. Zdeněk Peška

(9 May 1900, Prague – Prague, 23 October 1970)

lawyer, university professor, politician

After having graduated from the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague, Zdeněk Peška continued his studies at universities in Strasbourg, Paris and London. At the age of 26, he was appointed associate professor, in 1929 extraordinary and in 1934 full professor in the field of general and Czechoslovak constitutional law at the Faculty of Law, Comenius University in Bratislava, where he was also Dean in 1936 and 1937. At the time of his studies, he was a member of a National Socialist youth organization, and later joined the Social Democrats. After the secession of Slovakia and proclamation of the Slovak State, he was forced to leave for the Protectorate, lecturing first at the Faculty of Law, Masaryk University in Brno, and then at the Czech Technical University in Prague. He joined the anti-Nazi resistance and worked at the Politické ústředí (Political Headquarters). In December 1939, he was arrested by the Gestapo and sentenced to 15 years in prison. After the war, he was appointed professor at the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague. He became a Member of Parliament and participated in the preparation of the new Constitution even after he was not re-elected in the 1946 elections. He strongly opposed the intended merger of the Social Democratic Party with the Communists. He attended the meeting in Vinoř in September 1948. In November 1949, he was arrested and included in the political trial with ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to twenty-five years in prison. He was released on presidential amnesty in May, 1960. He then worked at the State Library of the Czechoslovak Republic (now the National Library) in Prague. In 1968, he took part in the attempts on restoration of the Social Democracy, which ended with the Soviet occupation.

Photograph: Dr. Zdeněk Peška before the State Court in Prague (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus)

Dr. Jiří Křížek

(27 May 1893, Prague – Prague, 5 September 1975)


Jiří Křížek studied at the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague From 1912. After the outbreak of the First World War he enlisted but was severely wounded in 1915 on the Russian front. He worked as an instructor after the recovery. After the establishment of Czechoslovakia, he took part in fighting off the Hungarian intervention in Slovakia. Then he resumed his law studies and moved to Slovakia in 1920, where he first worked as a trainee lawyer and from 1925 as an independent lawyer. In 1939, he and his wife returned to Prague. From 1940 he was active in the anti-Nazi resistance, he was a member of the group of Dr. Lány, who worked for the government in London exile. He took part in the May Uprising. After the war, he became a sought-after lawyer for foreign embassies, especially the British, Austrian and Indian. He also represented aristocratic families (Schwarzenberg, Lobkowicz and Kinski). After 1945, he was appointed a member of the Bar Association Committee as a non-partisan nominated by the Czechoslovak People’s Party. In February 1950, he was arrested as an alleged collaborator of the Western intelligence and included in the political process of ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to twenty-two years in prison. He was not released until December, 1963. After the release, he was denied a pension and worked as a bookseller’s assistant.

Photograph: Dr. Jiří Křížek before the State Court in Prague, 6 April 1950 (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus)

Dr. Bedřich Hostička

(9 April 1914, Prague – Egg, Zurich Canton, Switzerland, 30 May 1996)

lawyer and politician

Bedřich Hostička graduated from the Faculty of Law, Charles University in Prague. In 1945, he became a member of the Czechoslovak People’s Party and worked in its administration, first as a district official, then as an employee of its legal department, and finally as the secretary of the party headquarters. He remained in the People’s Party even after February 1948. In August 1949, he was arrested and included as a ‘Vatican spy’ in the political trial against ‘Horáková et al.’ He was sentenced to twenty-eight years in prison. He was not released until June 1963. After the release he worked as a construction worker. In 1968, he and his family immigrated to Switzerland, for which he was sentenced to five years in prison in absentia. In 1977, he was deprived of Czechoslovak citizenship. He worked in exile associations and contributed to the expatriate press. He lived to see his full rehabilitation in 1990.


Photograph: Dr. Bedřich Hostička before the State Court in Prague, 6 April 1950 (CTK, photo: Bohuslav Parbus)

The Last Letter

Dr. Milada Horáková wrote ten letters between 24 and 27 June 1950, addressed to her loved ones. She wrote the last one only three hours before the execution, shortly after having met her daughter Jana (referred to as Janička in the letter), sister Věra Tůmová (Věruška) and brother-in-law Josef Tůma (Pepíček). The daughter received this letter as late as 1990.


Prague – Pankrác Prison

27 June 1950, 02:30

Dearly beloved,

Here’s a few more words to you. I was extremely relieved being able to meet you all. All I am now concerned with is Věruška and her baby to be born that will come to replace my life. It’s rather peculiar coincidence: when Jana (now Jana Tůmová) was to be born, our mother deceased to make her a place in this world. Now I’m doing the same ‘exchange of lives’ again. Dear, beloved sister, you will become a mother: someone inside you is claiming thei right to see the new world. You have to live for them and only for them now. Don’t let them to be born from under a heart burdened by sadness and decadence stemming from it. Bring the baby into the world as a whole, healthy and beautiful person with strong nerves. Whether it’s a girl or a boy, it must have the heart of a lion! Please, Věruška, I beg you to protect them, for my sake and for the better days to come. In these last moments, I pray for you and your difficult yet happy motherhood. You will have two children now. The rest of you, please do everything to support this new life to come: Pepíček, I rely on you so much. Jana, you are a brave girl and I am so happy for and proud of you; just use your bravery in a positive and not destructive ways.

I am totally calm and ready now. A priest came to see me, and although it was not Dr. Kučera, who could not come, it was a great relief for me. I asked him to give his help to you especially now. Rely on everything and everyone who is willing to help you. Live, live! You are beautiful, marvellous three people. Time wil soothe Grandpa’s sorrow, too; please, stay with him! Grandma Horáková will survive thanks to her faith. My girls from Sadská – Věrka, Anička, Boženka – will also be with you. See, there’s so many of you; I am alone and I have to help myself.

I have never doubted your strength, but you surprised me all the same. It will hurt for a while, but then the pain will die down. Go to the meadows and forests; there, in the scent of flowers, you will find a piece of me; go to the fields, look at the beautiful scenery and we will be together once again. Look at the people around you and you’ll see my image in every one of them. I’m not helpless or desperate; I am not putting on an act, I really keep calm because I my conscience is clean. Request the letter I wrote for you; there is my complete legacy in it. It’s just for you, finally something in my life that belongs to you only and to those I love so much. Everything seems unreal to me at the last moment, and yet it’s only the minutes I count. It’s not that bad – it’s just you who matter, not me. Be strong! I love you so much and such love cannot be lost or fade out. Nothing is lost in the world, everything grows on and somehow comes to life again. Always follow only what is close to life. Stick with and support one another!

I repeat: the new approaching life has reconciled me immensely with what is coming. I’ve finished my act, someone has dropped the curtain, but a new play is starting instantly. In it, let there be only a victorious hero and no more tragedy! I love you so much, so much. I kiss you and hug you. I am with you in mind and in prayers and only with you. I may have played my part badly, but I did my best. You can believe me. I am humble and committed to the will of God it is only a trial He has conceived to test me, and I take this test with one wish only: to fulfil the laws of God and to keep my human name honourable. Don’t cry; don’t mourn too much. It’s better for me to die like this, rather than to decay slowly. My heart would not last long in a world without freedom. Now, I will fly again into the fields and meadows, the hills and the ponds, the mountains and the lowlands. I will be unchained again. What peace! and what tranquillity! Please grant it to me; there was so much to overcome. I want to go now. Don’t try to stop me with your crying. You must live for me now, too. I kiss you, I kiss you. May God be with you. I will return in your son or daughter. I see myself in the world again. May God give you strength to endure; all that matters now is that you show the child what is right in the world. Janička, my darling my daughter; Věra, my beloved sister, Pepíček, Grandpa, Granny, my girls Věra, Anička, Božka, and you, my lost, dearest, beautiful husband – I feel you presence as if you were here with me. Now, let me shake your hands, with a firm grip. The birds start singing, a new day is dawning. I am going with my head held high – one must be fair to admit a defeat. Losing is not a shame. Even an enemy is to be treated with respect if they are true and honest. People die in a fight, and what is life if not a fight? Be strong!

Yours and yours only, Milada


Document: Original of the last letter (National Museum, Archive of Jana Kánská)