June 27, 1950: The Execution of Milada Horáková

Since 2004, the Czech Republic has commemorated June 27th as the Day of the Victims of the Communist Regime.

Exactly 71 years ago, on June 27th, 1950 at 5:35 am in the courtyard of Prague’s Pankrác prison, Milada Horáková, a brave lawyer and a top politician of democratic Czechoslovakia, was hanged by the communist regime.

Her opinions and criticism of the regime had made her a target for the Secret Police, who put her in prison on trumped-up charges of conspiring to overthrow the republic.

After a disgraceful trial, Czechoslovakia’s “first working-class president”, Klement Gottwald signed the order to murder her, despite lots of polite begging to save her life by Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others.

Each defendant was ordered to read from a script during the debacle that was broadcast over the radio. Horáková defended herself instead. She and three of the 12 others received the death penalty.

Milada Horáková was a Czech politician, who was part of underground resistance movement with the German occupation of Czechoslovakia in 1939.

After the liberation in 1945, Horáková returned to Prague and rejoined the Social Democratic party. She was elected a member of the Constituent National Assembly of Czechoslovakia but resigned her seat after the Communist coup. Friends urged her to leave Czechoslovakia, but she remained in the country and continued to be politically active.

As of 2000 Horáková has had a symbolic grave at Prague’s Vyšehrad Cemetery, though the whereabouts of her urn is unknown. Horáková’s remains were never returned to her family.

During 1990 she was fully rehabilitated, and the following year Czechoslovak President Václav Havel awarded her a First Class Order Tomáš G. Masaryk medal in memoriam. Later, Horáková received other awards as well.

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