From a variety of viewpoints of the socialist past, oppression is usually considered to be one of the main characteristics of the given period. We chose it as one of the axes, because although the situations presented here never concerned the majority of society, human rights violations were characteristic of the socialist countries of Eastern Europe, thus putting them side by side with other non-democratic regimes of the world.

State oppression of its own citizenry varied in scope and dynamics in the communist countries in Europe. The Show Trials chapter maps the better-known chapter of communist terror – the show trials with “enemies of state”. In Czechoslovakia, more than 250 people were executed during these political trials, while others were sentenced to many years in prison (see In the Courtroom). The trials were designed in advance and they were merely the most visible trait of the repressive system. Their aim was to manipulate and intimidate the public. Prearranged trials were part of the repressive mechanism in the collectivization of agriculture, a process that impacted a much greater portion of society. Here we focus on perhaps lesser known yet more common means of oppression, such as Forced eviction.

In the 1960s, some of these trials were investigated, revised, and the victims rehabilitated. Oppression later took the form of the Warsaw Pact armies’ invasion, including the violence committed against the citizens of Czechoslovakia during the days of the invasion as well as the repressions carried out in the following months and years by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia – these subsequent repressions had an impact on most citizens of Czechoslovakia. During Normalization, only small groups of citizens dared to oppose the regime. For this, they were persecuted in a variety of ways, starting with the loss of their job for which they were qualified and ending with imprisonment. Oppression in terms of work and education access was a real threat to every citizen of Czechoslovakia who failed to show his loyalty to the regime (see The Dilemma).

When the citizen protests grew more massive at the end of 1980s, the regime initially tried to suppress them by force (see One sided-fight). Dynamic events, however, swept away the regime built on a complicated mechanism of terror against its own citizens.

Almost Hopeless
Class cleansing
Hot Debate
In the courtroom
Invasion of privacy
One-sided fight
The dilemma