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Footage of Czechoslovak antisemitic show trial unearthed in Prague

Rudolf Slánský and eleven others were executed in 1952 on treason charges

    Rudolf Slánský at the trial in 1952
    Rudolf Slánský at the trial in 1952 (Photo: Wikimedia)

    Footage of an infamous antisemitic show trial in Czechoslovakia has been rediscovered almost three decades after it went missing when the communist regime fell.

    The footage, which contains six hours of film and up to 80 hours of audio, was reportedly hidden immediately after the 1989 Velvet Revolution that ended communist rule.

    It was found along with millions of classified documents in the basement of a bankrupt metal research business near the Czech capital.

    Historians and film experts have helped to verify the authenticity of the recorded material.

    Fourteen men, including eleven Jews, were falsely accused of being part of a Trotskyite-Titoite-Zionist conspiracy against Czechoslavkia and put on trial in November 1952.

    The group included Rudolf Slánský, who up until then had been the General Secretary of the country's Communist Party and is believed to have been tortured into signing a confession for treason.

    He was among eleven defendants who were executed the following month.

    Footage of the Slánský Trial, as it became known, was believed to have been recorded with the plan to make a propaganda movie.

    However, Soviet leader Joseph Stalin and Czechoslovak Communist Party chairman Klement Gottwald died a matter of months later and plans for the film were cancelled.

    From 1968 onwards, in the wake of the Prague Spring, all of those accused were rehabilitated by the Communist party leadership.

    The recovered footage is now being kept in the Czech National Film Archive CFA, The Observer reported.

    The organisation is asking the Czech government for approximately £410,000 to pay for the restoration of the footage, much of which has been damaged.

    A number of prominent Jews within the USSR and its satellite states were put on trial in the 1950s, accused of having Zionist sympathies.

    Stalin had initially supported the creation of the State of Israel, but turned against the country – and the ideology behind its founding – when it failed to embrace communism.

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