The Trial of Milada Horakova

Hülya Karahan:Production Editor

Frana (Frantiska) Zeminova was tried in the “trial of Milada Horakova”, in which four death sentences, four life sentences and other high sentences. She was sentenced to twenty years. Does this historical case have anything to tell us today?

The documentary footage (record from the trial of Dr. Milada Horakova 5 – Frantiska Zeminova) from the trial on May 31, 1950.

She was born in 1882 as the youngest of the twelve children. After graduating from the business school, she worked as an accountant until 1918, but became politically involved, especially for women’s rights, within the National Social Party, with which she had worked closely since 1897 (she was not allowed to be a member at the age of 15).

Together with her older colleague, Frantsska Plaminkova, who was her model, she co-founded the Committee on the Electoral Rights of Women in 1905 and was strongly involved in many women’s movements. The aim was to enable women to obtain education, qualifications and employment in society on an equal footing with men, but without prejudice to motherhood. In this, Plaminkova, a teacher who could not get married because of her profession, continued. Zeminova has been widely published, for example in the Women’s Efforts monthly, in the Czech Word daily, in the List of Czechoslovak Women. She was a member of the National Socialists since 1918 until 1939 and then from 1945 to 1948. She also defended the interests of small farmers and sole traders. She was worried about the poor.

In the autumn of 1949 she was arrested. In his closing speech, frequently interrupted questions and comments of the President of the Senate Dr. Karel Trudak and Prosecutor Juraj Viesek had to defend precisely what she was most involved in: “So what have you actually done for the poor? You mean Zenkl’s beggars? Only when we want to give poor workers equal status in society, you defended it! So what was your policy?

1213425-398506It was judged that she had not coupled herself. Repro Czech Television

Zeminova explained that the Kosice government program was binding on her, and she did that too. And when President Gottwald announced the ‘fast track to socialism’ program, she understood that it would bring about the liquidation of private entrepreneurship and self-employed people, so she sought to defend the interests liquidated under a democratic parliamentary system that should return again. Dr. Trudak argued that all working people know where the development is going, the old parliamentary system will not return as Zenkl or Ripka (who emigrated). Juraj Vieska: “Just say what they are preparing for us in the West?” Zeminova: “Probably nothing else.”

President of the Senate did not lead the process from ideological positions, Zeminova not guilty of the new regime of the Communists, but its political engagement, allowing exploitation, betrayed and harmed directly working people. Although she was trying to do the most she could within the democratic parliamentary system and the post-war economic conditions for the “working people” – and especially women. The expression “communism” or “dictatorship of the proletariat” did not fall into question. She was tried for the conditions she was trying to improve. She was judged for not having coupled herself.

The phrase “working people” populistly replaced the term “communist power”. It occurred to me that on this principle, such a process could still take place today under certain circumstances – even if the majority people agree with “that the  so-called democratic conditions have brought the people more evil than good”, so the culprits need to be to punish and establish a new order of “general, popular prosperity”. And those who were most involved after the coup d’etat in November could be condemned, and if they did not directly participate in “iniquities”, they made it possible.

Surprisingly, the communist process with Zemin is transferable to any democratic situation that can be overturned by destructive or revolutionary forces. And Urvalkov’s theatrical sleeping is not necessary at all.

No congregation of devout butts
The new communist power considered the representatives of the national socialists to be their arch enemies, especially the popular Vladimir Landscape, who was cordially involved in the non-communist resistance. He, Petr Zenkl as party chairman and also popular Hubert Ripka emigrated in time, which probably saved their lives. Perhaps they couldn’t think of the situation their collaborators, who remained. So Zemin played the role of the victim as well, as if she were Zenkle in court. They asked her what Zenkl thought, what he was watching, what he wanted, what he was doing and why. (Petr Zenkl spent the whole war in concentration camp and did not have any illusions about the Communists.)

It is a mistake to think that the communist judges, then the judiciary, were a congregation of butts devoted to communist power. Devotees could or had to, because they had previously served Protectorate Justice, and to blame them for collaboration was obvious. Besides the judges of the people, they were mostly educated lawyers who knew that if they didn’t judge them, someone else would judge them, the evidence against them would surely be found in some drawer somewhere. This is also a fairly portable model when we replace the word collaboration with, for example, the word corruption.

It should also be noted that communist power also had to give something to the poorest “working people” so that it would not soon turn against it. The coup d’etat in February allowed it to solve the most pressing social problems, such as housing and minimum wage levels. (To the detriment of those who have been described as members of the bourgeoisie.) However, we can imagine such an analogy, fortunately, we are not our proletariat, but here working Ukrainians, Bulgarians, Romanians … who have no rights here.