A Trial in Prague Source Essay - Baker 1 John J Baker HIST...

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Baker - 1 John J Baker HIST 202 Professor Wilhelm 7 December 2014 The Communist Propaganda Machine: The Slansky Trial as told by A Trial in Prague In the aftermath of World War II, Eastern and Central Europe became susceptible to Communist influence. Josef Stalin, the leader of the Soviet Union at the end of WWII in 1945, expanded his Communist “iron fist” into neighboring countries. One country that embraced Communism was Czechoslovakia. Stalin used everything in his power, including widespread propaganda, in order to instill fear and maintain order in the Communist countries of Eastern and Central Europe. He wished to crush all of his opposition. One example of Stalin’s tactics was the Slansky Trial that occurred on November 20 th , 1952 in Prague, Czechoslovakia. Zuzana Justman’s A Trial in Prague is a 2000 documentary that illustrated the trial’s history, including testimonials from living family members of the defendants. A Trial in Prague portrays the effects of Stalin’s mass propaganda as well as the struggles of the Communist individuals who were betrayed by the very party that they fiercely supported and contributed to. The first thing to consider about this trial, which Justman makes sure to include multiple times, is that all fourteen defendants were innocent of any crimes they were accused of. These individuals, including Rudolf Slansky and Otto Sling were prominent Czech leaders in the Communist Party, working towards the goals of the state. After WWII, Czechoslovakia turned to Communism, mainly as a way to oppose Nazism and Fascism. They imagined a new society that would be free from racism, prejudice, and anti-Semitism. These negative ideals were thought to be products of capitalism. Communism in Czechoslovakia attracted those who wanted to impact the world in a
Baker - 2 positive way. These people included many young Czech Jews that survived the Holocaust. They saw their survival of the Holocaust as a sign that they must work in order to prevent such an atrocity from ever occurring again. The wives in the

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