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Faith and Might



In the fourth part of the original series of the RTVS (Radio and Television Slovakia), which is a co-production created in cooperation with Mandala Pictures, DogDocs and the Divadelná Nitra International Theatre Festival, we will take a journey back in time to 1950s Czechoslovakia. After the coup d’état in February 1948, the Communist Party, strongly supported by the State Security (ŠtB), seized power in Czechoslovakia, the only state which had had a functioning parliamentary democracy before 1938. As early as before the Second World War Klement Gottwald declared: “We are the party of the Czechoslovak proletariat and our general headquarters are in Moscow. And we go to Moscow to learn, and do you know what we learn? We go to Moscow to learn from the Russian Bolsheviks how to wring your necks.” In 1949, Gottwald invited Lichatchev and Makarov, soviet advisors who had helped organise the monster trial of high communist functionary Láslzló Rajk in Hungary, to come to Czechoslovakia. What followed was nationalisation of enterprises, banks and land, intimidation of the population, arrests of political opponents, their liquidation through trials which, following the Soviet model, the Communist Party used for propaganda purposes. One of the key tasks was to solve the so-called Church issue. From the early days of his government, Gottwald was trying to especially weaken the role of the Catholic Church. This was to be achieved by the monster trial of Josef Toufar, Catholic priest in the small village of Číhošť. In 1949, in the middle of one of his Advent sermons, the cross above the altar behind him moved. Those who attended the service concluded it was a miracle. The news spread quickly throughout the whole country and the case caught the attention of the ŠtB. The trial of Toufar actually never happened, because during two-week interrogations at the Valdice prison, he was beaten to death. How did the solving of the Church issue continue? How did the Czechoslovak ŠtB function in the following years of totalitarian dictatorship? It is these questions that the creators of the TV documentary together with the authors of the opera Toufar – The Torture Games Aleš Březina and Petr Zelenka, historiographers Pavel Žáček and Jan Kalous, and journalist Miloš Doležal, are trying to answer. The opera, produced by the Prague National Theatre Opera, is one of the outcomes of the project Parallel Lives – 20th Century Through the Eyes of Secret Police, whose initiator, main organiser and producer is the Divadelná Nitra Association.

Broadcasted on Saturday 1 November 2014 at 21.05 on channel Dvojka

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