Záznam z roku 1950. in: Svět ve filmu 21/1968 (KRÁTKÝ FILM PRAHA a.s., 1968)/
Recording from 1950. in: World in the movie 21/1968 (KRÁTKÝ FILM PRAHA a.s., 1968)


  • What kind of speech is this? What is the occasion, the audience, and the main argument?
  • What means of expression does the prosecutor use in his speech? Why do you think he chooses these particular means of expression?
  • Do you think people believed this speech?


This is a clip from the final speech of the prosecutor Josef Urválek during the so-called “Trial of anti-state conspiracy center around Rudolf Slansky”. After a widely publicised show trial, 14 high-ranking officials of the Communist Party were charged, 11 were executed, and three were sentenced to life imprisonment. The most important figure was the general secretary of the Communist Party, Rudolf Slánský, a high-ranking member of a party.

The indictment was the result of a search for “traitors” within the Communist Party and had a strong connection to similar developments in other countries of the Easterns bloc, especially the trial of László Rajk in 1949 in Hungary. The conviction of staunch communists was another part of the communist revolution in all of these countries to strengthen loyalty and party unity. Trials were ordered and organised from Moscow. After the secession of Yugoslavia, the trials were another way of confirming the unity of the Eastern bloc. You can find out more about the background of the trial in the clip Looking for a Traitor.

The prosecutor’s dramatic speech also served to bring about an emotional reaction from the audience, and the trial was widely publicised. To get an idea of how the official version of the trial was perceived by different social groups within society, see Uncertainty. You might notice that we acquired the material from a documentary produced in 1968; during the so-called Prague Spring, the manipulative nature of the show trials was revealed for the first time, and many victims, Rudolf Slánský among them, were rehabilitated. However, after the Soviet invasion, the show trials became taboo once again.