Rewriting History

Vracenky (r. Jan Schmidt, 1990)/ Lenin, the Lord and Mother (dir. Jan Schmidt, 1990)


  • What period do you think the clip depicts?
  • Why could the pupils be tearing pages out of the textbook? What reasons does the teacher give, and what could the hidden reasons be?
  • What is the teacher’s situation? Do you think she believes the accusations? Could she refuse to?
  • Do you know of other examples of “erasure from history”? When and why does it takes place?


Clips from the film Lenin, the Lord and Mother (1990) raise the question of the general public’s reaction to the show trials. Families who were not directly involved in these politically-driven trials got their information from the massive media campaigns. The scenes depict the process of responding to the accused in the so-called “Trial of anti-state conspiracy centred around Rudolf Slánský”, during which 11 high-ranking officials of the Communist Party were executed.

The trial was accompanied by a media campaign that was meant to convince society that the accused were a group of traitors within the state apparatus, and that having high-ranking communists appear in this position was a newly created deterrent. One element of this campaign was pulling out Slánský’s portrait from the textbooks. The clip from a feature film thus thematises the role of schools and the rewriting of history in the communist regime.