WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
 
 
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Early in 1971, attacks on Jews increased in Czechoslovakia. The Bratislava Pravda had just attacked "intellectual Jews who have succeeded in getting increasingly important positions in Czechoslovakian cultural life." Radio Prague broadcast the conclusions of the Central Committee of the Czechoslovakian Communist Party on December 10, 1970, in which Zionist elements were accused of having played a sizable part in the incidents that provoked Soviet intervention. When a former leader of Jewish origin was mentioned, the radio adopted the usage of following his name with a "born Ben- . . . ," or added such phrases as "an admirer of Lev Davidovitch Bronstein, better known as Trotsky." A trial of twenty-six young Trotskyites, which had been postponed several times, was held on February 8. They were charged with having tried "to overthrow the socialist regime not only in Czechoslovakia, but in other socialist countries, of which the USSR is one." It was a monumental accusation. About half of the defendants were Jews, and their names, which were frequently repeated, gave the people the idea that "deviationists" from the right or the left were being actually encouraged by "Zionist" elements.

I therefore decided to go into action in court on the day the trial opened. I had noticed in Neues Deutschland that East German Prime Minister Willi Stoph was leaving on February 7 for a rest cure at Karlovy Vary in Czechoslovakia. There was no doubt that Husak, the First Secretary of the Czech Communist Party, who had met me in East Berlin, the Czechs, and especially the Soviet experts who directed their technical bureaus would look to the East Germans for guidance. I was almost certain that they would not want their young people demonstrating on my behalf if I were found guilty and imprisoned. They would not be able to hide the truth because of the television broadcasts that originated in the Federal Republic. And that truth would incite vigorous protests from young East Germans, especially students, for they were very sensitive to the problem of anti-Semitism.

I figured that as Stoph would be right there, he would have something to say, for I knew from a Dutch reporter that until the Polish incident he had been quite appreciative of my efforts. Whatever happened, he and the other East German leaders would have a conflict of conscience to resolve: whether to let a German woman who was speaking the truth go to jail, or intervene in her behalf in spite of all the trouble she was causing them.
    
   
 
WHEREVER THEY MAY BE
© 1972, The Beate Klarsfeld Foundation
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