Slovakia holds a day of remembrance for the aggression against monks in communist Czechoslovakia, in an event called the Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day, which is observed each year on April 13. Although it is not a public holiday, some businesses and organizations join Christian communities and governmental bodies in commemorative activities and events. While the country is a mixed blend of all religions and cultures today and has long overthrown its Communist identity, the country still wants to honor every priest and monk who suffered during the Communist Regime in Czechoslovakia.
History of Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day
Post-World War II Czechoslovakia had a stable political scene. Their communist and non-communist parties had a peaceful coalition — called the National Front — and were leading the country towards a higher degree of stability.
By 1946, the country had a pro-Soviet non-communist president and a communist prime minister, Klement Gottwald — who would be a key person in the events that followed. The communist party gradually took over key factions of the previously non-communist-led government, including the police, armed forces, education, agriculture, and civil service.
The conflict between both parties came to a bitter conclusion in 1948 when Czechoslovakia went completely under Communist rule. The ideology at the time was to completely reject all religions, and this would soon include all religious figures as well. Gottwald — who had retained the post of prime minister — attempted to purge dissidence from the population by attacking monasteries of the Catholic Church all over the nation.
On the night of April 13, 1950, the state police broke into 56 monasteries linked to the Catholic Church — all occupied by male monks — and arrested everyone inside. All through that month, more monasteries were raided and over 2000 monks were interred and held in concentration ‘monasteries’ created by the ruling party. A few months on, even female monasteries were targeted, leading to another round of illegal detention for various religious figures.
Monasteries were only allowed to function again in Czechoslovakia in 1968 after the General Prosecutor’s Office decided that there was no law prohibiting monks from doing so. Communist authority was still in effect, and the situation for monks would only improve once communist rule ended in 1989.
Today Czechoslovakia has been split into two — the Czech Republic and Slovakia — and it is only the Slovakians who still observe this holiday.
Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day timeline
On February 25, Czechoslovakian president, Edvard Beneš, accedes to the communist party's demands and appoints a new pro-communist government.
On April 13/14, the leading communist party in Czechoslovakia attempts to quell dissidents by arresting male monks from monasteries all over the country.
Non-violent demonstrations against the leading Communist Party of Czechoslovakia see power being transferred into democratic hands, signaling the fall of a 40-year regime.
The splitting of Czechoslovakia into the Czech Republic and Slovakia is so peaceful that it is unofficially called the 'Velvet Divorce.'
Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day FAQs
Why did Joseph Stalin support a coup in 1948?
Stalin, the former Soviet Union leader, wanted to crack down on reformist trends in Prague and build a bigger Communist bloc. He was also reportedly not interested in provoking a war if he intervened in the Czechoslovakian coup.
Why was Czechoslovakia broken up?
Differing political and social opinions led to a peaceful divide between former Czechoslovakia. The decision to split was voted on by the Federal Assembly of the country.
Why did Czech and Slovak break up?
Both the Slovaks and the Czechs had different opinions about the opposite side, and there was no particular political party that had a majority. So, the two sides split into two nations.
How to Observe Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day
Read about it
Read about the events that inspired the foundation of Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day. You can find information and reading material from various sources, including research papers, books, and articles.
Share your knowledge with the world
Tell people about this day and the history behind it. Commit to spreading awareness about Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day — even if it is to just one other person.
Celebrate the countries behind this day
Both Slovakia and the Czech Republic — even though the latter doesn't celebrate this day — inspired our event. Show your love for these countries by celebrating their culture, food, customs, and traditions. You could even go big and plan a trip to one of these places.
5 Facts About Czechoslovakia And That Day
The plan was called 'Action K'
The letter 'K' was supposed to represent the Czech word for monasteries — ‘kláštery.’
The coup shocked millions
Losing the last remaining democracy in Eastern Europe came as a major blow to the Western countries, and was a precursor to the Cold War era.
There's a special name for that night
The night in question refers to April 1950's events, and is sometimes dubbed 'Barbarian Night.'
NATO was born out of this conflict
To build a joint Western military and prevent another Czechoslovakia, the U.S. and Europe jointly planned a framework at length, which eventually culminated in the establishment of NATO.
Czechs and Slovakians are religiously diverse
A majority of Slovakians — at least 63% — are Catholic, while 72% of Czechs are religiously unaffiliated.
Why Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day is Important
It commemorates a defining moment in Czechoslovakian history. This moment is still remembered today.
It helped the West too
While the coup and the events leading up to it had a major impact on European countries, it also affected Western nations. It was a giant signal to the West that they needed to unify against the Communist bloc — a warning they fortunately heeded.
It became a teachable moment
History is about learning where we come from, and acknowledging that we might not always be perfect. This day and what it commemorates helps us learn from our mistakes, and hopefully, make better choices in the future.
Unfairly Prosecuted Persons Day dates