By 1950, two years after the Communists seized control in the “Victorious February” coup, Czechoslovakia was in the grip of a Stalinist terror. The show trials staged there – aimed at intimidating and silencing opponents of the new regime – were the largest in Eastern Europe. Almost a quarter of a million people were convicted on trumped up charges, of whom 178 were executed for political crimes. Milada Horáková, a democratic politician in Masaryk’s First Republic and a resistance figure during the war who had been imprisoned by the Nazis in the Terezín concentration camp, was the sole female political prisoner to be executed.

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