Sputnik Escalates the Cold War
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Horáková, Milada (1901–1950)

Czech politician, feminist, and dissident. Milada Horáková was born Milada Králová in Prague on 25 December 1901, the daughter of a factory owner. She studied family and labor law at Charles University and in 1927 began working for the welfare department of Prague. Two years later she joined the Czechoslovak National Socialist Party (CSNSP). During the late 1920s and 1930s she championed the rights of children and women, in the process becoming one of the leaders of Czechoslovakia's feminist movement.

After the Nazis occupied Bohemia and Moravia in 1939, Horáková and her husband joined the resistance movement. Arrested in 1940, she was sent to concentration camps where she remained until 1945. After the war, she returned to Prague, rejoined the CSNSP, wrote candid anticommunist newspaper articles, and was elected to parliament, resigning in protest when the communists seized power in February 1948.

The Czechoslovak communist government denounced Horáková and eventually arrested her on trumped-up charges of treason and espionage in September 1949. Horáková, along with twelve other dissidents, was tortured in captivity and was tried in the first Stalinist show trials in Czechoslovakia, a harbinger of the 1952 Slánský Trial. Her brief and perfunctory trial was broadcast on radio, and she and three others were sentenced to death. Despite pleas for clemency from such world figures as Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, and Eleanor Roosevelt, Horáková was executed in Prague on 27 June 1950. Attempts were made to posthumously rehabilitate Horáková's reputation during the 1968 Prague Spring, but full rehabilitation came only in 1990 after the fall of communism in Czechoslovakia.

Gregory C. Ference


Further Reading
Ivanov, Miroslav. Justiční vrañda, aneb, smrt Milady Horákové [A Judicial Murder, or, the Death of Milada Horáková]. Prague: Betty, 1991.
 

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