Rudolf Slánský

(b. 1901)

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Klement Gottwald (1896—1953)

Joseph Stalin (1879—1953) Soviet statesman, General Secretary of the Communist Party of the USSR 1922–53


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(b. Nezvestice, Moravia, 1901; d. Prague, 3 Dec. 1952)

Czech; secretary-general of the Czechoslovak Communist Party 1945–51 Slánský was the son of middle-class Jewish parents. He belonged to the Czech intelligentsia. He joined the CPCz upon its foundation in 1921 and in 1929 became one of Gottwald's main assistants in Stalinizing the party on Moscow's instructions. He spent most of the Second World War in Moscow and in 1944 was flown to Slovakia to help lead the National Uprising. In 1945 he became Secretary-General of the CPCz— the party leader. In February 1948 he was primarily responsible for the planning of the Communist seizure of power and organized the brutal Sovietization of Czechoslovakia which followed. By the end of 1950 he had lost favour with Moscow and at Soviet instigation Gottwald, the Czechoslovak President, ordered the arrest of a number of Slánský's supporters. In September 1951 he gave up his post as secretary-general, but remained Vice-Premier. On 24 November 1951 Slánský was arrested by the secret police in Prague. Thirteen other senior Communists were also arrested, including the Foreign Minister, Vladimír Clementís; eleven of them were Jews. They were charged with Titoism, Trotskyism, Zionism, and with working for the West. The evidence was obviously fabricated. The real reasons for their arrest were Stalin's obsession with Titoism and his anti-Semitism as well as Gottwald's need for scapegoats to deflect public criticism from the economic failure of his regime. The Slánský Trial took place from 20 to 27 November 1952 amidst great publicity. Slánský was found guilty on all charges. On 2 December 1952 he and all but three of the accused were hanged. The others were sentenced to long terms of imprisonment. In 1963 Slánský was partially rehabilitated.

Subjects: Politics.

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