Buchal, Horáková, Kalandra, Pecl. Executed 70 Years Ago

Prague Morning

On this day in 1950, the Czechoslovak communist regime executed Milada Horáková, Jan Buchal, Oldřich Pecl and Záviš Kalandra by hanging after a monster show trial. In total 248 people were executed for political reasons in Czechoslovakia between 1948 and 1960.

On the morning of June 8, 1950, the accused were handed their sentences; four life imprisonment, five sentences from 15‐28 years, and four death sentences. Milada Horáková was given an execution order: death by hanging. Jan Buchal, Dr. Oldřich Pecl, and Zaviš Kalandra also were given the death sentence.

In the days after her verdict, daughter Jana Horáková petitioned Gottwald for her mother’s pardon but her efforts were in vain. All appealed their verdicts and all were dismissed. The sentence would hold. Gottwald signed her verdict despite lots of polite begging to save her life by Albert Einstein, Bertrand Russell, Winston Churchill, Eleanor Roosevelt, and many others.

Days before her execution, Milada Horáková wrote letters to her husband, daughter, and family about her life, the lessons she wanted to live on, and the love she had for them all. Milada wrote for her family about the courage one must possess to live one’s life and how to live with decisions one must take. She discussed the value of life and the reality one must live in – that it would not cater or mother anyone.

On the evening before her execution, she was allowed fifteen minutes with her daughter, younger sister Věra, and brother‐in‐law in the boiler room of Pankrác prison. Milada learned that her husband had managed to escape to Western Germany and was alive.

On the morning of June 27, 1950, the four were led to the inner circle of the prison at 4:30 in the morning.

Milada died last; Zavig Kalandra (1902-1950), Jan Buchal (1913-1950) and Oldrich Pecl (1903-1950) were hanged before her. According to Martin Vadas, the author of the documentary series Proces H, it took each of them, hanged by asphyxiation, approximately seven to eight minutes to die.

Her last words were, “I’m falling, falling. I lost this battle. I leave honorably. I love this land, I love these people, build prosperity for them. I leave without hatred for you. I wish you this, I wish you…

At 5 o’clock and 35 minutes, Milada Horáková’s life ended. She was 48 years old.

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