Tuesday, 30 July 2019

Communist show trial film record to be restored for ten million

20 April 2018

Prague, April 19 (CTK) - The National Film Archive (NFA) estimates the costs of the restoration of the recently discovered film record of the 1952 show trial of Rudolf Slansky in Communist Czechoslovakia to reach up to ten million crowns, NFA director Michal Bregant has told CTK.

In the show trial, Slansky, a former Czechoslovak Communist Party (KSC) general secretary, was sentenced to death and then executed along with another eleven senior KSC members.

Experts are currently working on mildew removal from the most affected parts of the film materials, while the audio part of the records is being re-recorded in the Czech Radio.

The Culture Ministry is going to request a subsidy for its restoration.

It has not been decided yet whether the find is to remain in the NFA or if it is to be kept in the Czech National Archives (NA).

"Under the most effective use of the financial means, we should be able to manage with ten million crowns," Bregant said.

The costs include the archive material's long-term storage, its digitisation and making it accessible to the public," he added.

"Apart from the film recordings, a large portion of the audio records was found, probably the complete records of the process on audio tapes. Each tape has about 21 minutes and there are 177 of them," Dusan Radovanovic, from the Czech Radio, told CTK.

The radio started restoring the tapes without waiting for the subsidy's approval due to the need to take a quick action to save the sensitive material.

"We have taken the first ten samples from the NFA in order to see how quickly they can be processed and in what state they are. We chose randomly from the entire set and found out that they were in a relatively good condition and that we are able to process them relatively quickly," he said.

Each tape containing a 21-minute-record is one kilometre long.

Radovanovic said the Czech Republic could be the only institution in the country that has the technical devices for the cleaning of similar audio records.

The film material, containing both image and audio records, was found in March by an insolvency administrator in 14 metal and six wooden boxes in an old production hall of a disused plant.

Upon the publication of the discovery, Vaclav Hlasek, a representative of the company that had run the plant, claimed to be the owner of the boxes.

Bregant said the archive records belonged to the state and could never have been in private hands.

Hlasek said in the media that he had offered the material to the state, but that there was no interest in it.

According to historian Petr Blazek, who inspected the material in mid-March, this was not possible because scientists in both the NFA and in the NA, who have worked there for a long time, never recalled any such activity.

Historians want the record, just like that of the trial of Milada Horakova (1901-1950), a democratic politician executed by the Communist regime for political reasons, to be declared national heritage.

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