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Sources filmiques des procès Horáková et Slánský

De l’occultation à la valorisation (1950-2020)
Filmic sources of the Horáková and Slánský trials: From concealment to valorization (1950-2020)
Françoise Mayer
p. 317-348

Abstracts

Two show trials stand out in the history of the judicial repression of the 1950s in Czechoslovakia, those of Horáková (June 1950) and Slánský (December 1952). If the former had a deep international impact that the latter did not really have, both have this in common, that they were the subject of an extraordinary propaganda campaign. In both cases, (three women and ten men in the Horáková case, eleven men in the Slánský case), all available channels were mobilized to put the spotlight on these alleged traitors to the nation. However, these channels did not all play the same role. The press, the radio and the network of CPC local committees were crucial instruments. Film, however, was not. Despite the imposing filming equipment deployed during the hearings, none of the footage shot at the Pankrác Court in 1950 and 1952 was shown at the time. In 1968, in the context of the Prague Spring, some shots of the Slánský trial resurfaced, which were subsequently used in numerous documentaries. Until 1989, they were the only available archival images of this trial, the memory of which had been mainly conveyed through fiction, Costa-Gavras’s film adaptation of The Confession (1970), Artur London and his wife Lise London’s account of the Slánský trial. After the fall of communism, the rediscovery in 1990 of archival footage of the Horáková trial delivered a profusion of images that showed faces other than Slánský’s or Yves Montand’s (playing London) to recall these trials. The discovery of archival footage of the Slánský trial almost twenty years later heightened historians’ and documentary filmmakers’ interest in this type of source. The intense development of the audiovisual resources of the Horáková and Slánský trials after 1989 contrasts with the use made of them by the Communists in 1950 and 1952. The change in the political context after 1989 alone cannot explain the magnitude of this contrast. The article aims to shed light on the reasons for the uses and non-uses of the film sources of these two trials from the 1950s to the present. In the first part, it addresses the place given to film in the great show trials. Analysis of the concrete aspects of the media coverage of these two trials leads to the identification of the place occupied by the different media and an evaluation of the impact of text, audio and images. In the second part, after a recollection of the conditions in which the filmic traces of the two trials were rediscovered after 1989, the article studies the process of reappropriation of these images and dwells on their concrete content in order to understand how they were shot and edited before being hidden from public view. The third part addresses the reasons for the long concealment of these sources. It aims to understand why these images remained hidden for so long, including in times of revision or during the Thaw, when so many other documents resurfaced and circulated more or less freely.

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Excerpt

Cairn

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Outline

1950-1952 – Procès spectacles à Prague : avec ou sans cinéma ?
Une justice exceptionnelle, ses modalités
Deux procès hyper-médiatisés
Le cinéma : programmé puis écarté
Après 1989 – Réappropriation des films tournés en 1950-1952
Archives cinématographiques du procès Horáková : usages pluriels
Sources audio-visuelles du procès Slánský, récit d’une réapparition accidentelle
Quels types de sources ?
1953-1989 - Images montrées, images manquantes, images de substitution
1953-1968, des révisions sous condition, des sources cinématographiques sous contrôle
1969-1989 : de l’archive aux témoins ou à la fiction
Conclusion

First lines

En mars 2018, à Panenské Břežany, tout près d’un château qui fut la dernière résidence de Reinhard Heydrich avant qu’il ne décède des suites d’un attentat en 1942, plusieurs caisses d’archives audio-visuelles concernant le procès Slánský (1952) firent surface par le plus grand des hasards, à l’occasion d’une liquidation judiciaire. Cette trouvaille insolite fit la une des journaux nationaux pendant plusieurs jours. Plus de sept heures d’images, plus de cent heures de son promettaient de faire revivre les huit journées du procès le plus tristement célèbre de la répression stalinienne en Tchécoslovaquie. Un historien déclara alors que c’était la plus grande découverte archivistique depuis 1989. D’autres voix se firent plus sceptiques : « Que pouvait-on apprendre de plus qu’on ne savait déjà sur le procès Slánský ? ». D’accord ou pas sur le sens à donner à cette découverte, elle faisait sensation. Très vite, de gros moyens furent offerts par le ministère de la Culture pour assurer la r...

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References

Bibliographical reference

Françoise Mayer, “Sources filmiques des procès Horáková et Slánský”Cahiers du monde russe, 61/3-4 | 2020, 317-348.

Electronic reference

Françoise Mayer, “Sources filmiques des procès Horáková et Slánský”Cahiers du monde russe [Online], 61/3-4 | 2020, Online since 02 January 2024, connection on 09 May 2021. URL: http://journals.openedition.org/monderusse/12018; DOI: https://doi.org/10.4000/monderusse.12018

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About the author

Françoise Mayer

Université Montpellier III, francoise.mayer@univ-montp3.fr

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Copyright

© École des hautes études en sciences sociales, Paris.

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