The Czechoslovak Political Trials of the 1950s: Trauma and Post-memory in the Story of a Political Prisonerâ€™s Son
The article contributes to the historiography of the Czechoslovak communist dictatorship. The Communist takeover and stabilization of the regime were connected with various kinds of oppression including political trials. The biggest political trial in that time was that with the female politician Milada HorÃ¡kovÃ¡ and the twelve members of her resistance group. This trial was followed by dozens of smaller local trials around the country, accusing 627 people altogether. While the main trial was carried publicly and was used extensively in the stateâ€™s propaganda, the local trials remain almost forgotten and outside the interest of Czech public. This paper will focus on one of them and its impact on my narrator and his family.
AntonÃn MÄ›steckÃ½ jr. was a child when his father AntonÃn MÄ›steckÃ½ was imprisoned for 11 years after a local show trial in the city of Hradec KrÃ¡lovÃ© in East Bohemia. The imprisonment of his father was his strongest childhood experience; when his father returned home, the son was already an adult and they both kept silent about the traumatic past. They never discussed what really happened in the time of the fatherâ€™s imprisonment, creating a severe trauma for the son. How can the turning point in someoneâ€™s life be remembered if we have only limited information?
Using the methods of oral history, this paper explores how Mr. MÄ›steckÃ½ tries to deal with this gap in his familyâ€™s history by extending his childhood memories with information told to him by members of his fatherâ€™s resistance group or found in books and archives. In the methodology, I will also reflect on how sharing his story with me constituted bridging the gap. His narrative contains rich accounts of life and survival as well as interesting moments and silences, revealing the complexities of trauma narratives and their effect on the descendants of former political prisoners.
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