The Mysterious Crimes of Valdice
September 28, 2014 4:08 PM   Subscribe

Some of the worst brutality of Communist Czechoslovakia happened in a place most people have never heard of. By the 1970s and 1980s torture and murder were not routine tools of the Czechoslovak regime. Except in one place, about which even to this day not much is known. No one knows its victims, and the perpetrators live quietly among us. We decided to revive the forgotten story and to bring back to the map of Czech history a place that shows what great power does to people and how difficult it is to find earthly justice: the Third Department in Valdice. Part 1. Part 2. Part 3.
posted by orrnyereg (6 comments total) 23 users marked this as a favorite
Way to go, Wikipedia!
posted by carping demon at 6:34 PM on September 28, 2014

Somewhat regarding TSOL, and also in general in re the New Europe and the EU etc etc etc, stories like this one fascinate me. In a lot of ways, as someone who was a child when the Berlin Wall fell, modern day Germany and Central/Eastern Europe exist in sort of a parallel universe to their Iron Curtain selves. They are hip or quaint places to take a vacation, not places associated with totalitarian regimes within living memory. (And within the dominant life memories of my parents and grandparents.) It's hard to reconcile a modern country like the Czech Republic, Croatia, or Poland with its former Eastern Bloc identity.

So thanks for this.
posted by Sara C. at 8:11 PM on September 28, 2014

I must be getting old because I wish they would spare all the gory details. I'd like to know the general outline of the situation, but I don't need the torture play-by-play.
posted by salvia at 8:56 PM on September 28, 2014

I'm a Polish citizen whose nationality was illegally revoked during communist times and restored by the post-Solidarity government. The thing about these regimes that gets me is that they did have laws, and courts, and elections. And on paper all of these things looked good. But none of it mattered. Like China today, all of the laws in the world didn't help you if someone in a position of petty power decided to make you suffer. And because of the mass terror that they used to maintain power, if you were so marked no one would help you for fear of being selected themselves.

It's still disappointing that there hasn't been any justice here. But like any other country recovering from dictatorship, a proper accounting would mean throwing a lot of people into jail. And no one has the stomach for it.
posted by 1adam12 at 9:05 PM on September 28, 2014 [9 favorites]

By their prisons you shall know them.
posted by pharm at 1:17 AM on September 29, 2014 [5 favorites]

Good post, thanks.

> Way to go, Wikipedia!

Yes, it's shocking that English Wikipedia does not mention the history of a secret Czechoslovak institution almost entirely unknown to Czechs and Slovaks today, even (according to the article) in the village itself, and which you yourself (I'm willing to bet) never heard of until this post. Instead of posting a bit of lazy snark (as the first comment, no less), you could have edited the Wikipedia article, but I guess that would be too much work.
posted by languagehat at 7:04 AM on September 29, 2014 [6 favorites]

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