Torture and execution of clergymen in the 1950s

Persecution of the Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia was a process which took place systematically in 19481989. Link to the history of persecution

Persecution related to both the church as a whole and also its individual members. Hundreds of thousands of believers were affected by profound and systematic discrimination in access to higher education and more important positions in society.

In the case of the church as an organisation, this concerned absolute liquidation of the independent church press, suppression of the church in society, liquidation of orders and religious congregations, internment or imprisonment of high-level church dignitaries without legal grounds and making their appointment impossible.

The communist regime also attempted to rewrite and modify the history of the Czech nation, making the Catholic Church come across as negative force. Individuals were subject to judicial and less-institutionalised murderimprisonment and torture (which killed several of its victims or destroyed their health to such an extent that they died shortly after having been released).

Torture of 58 clergymen from the 1950s until 1981

From 1950 until 1981, more than 58 bishops, priests and nuns were murdered, tortured and subsequently died due to the after-effects of imprisonment and neglect to provide medical care. Persecution of the Catholic Church in Czechoslovakia is commonly referred to as persecution in its most cruel form.

Specific cases

Josef Toufar (1902–1950)

a Czech Roman Catholic priest, accused in 1950 of staging the so-called Čihošť Miracle. Spreading news of the miracle attracted the attention of the StB (secret police). Toufar was arrested on 28 January 1950 and taken to the prison in Valdice. There, subject to cruel torture (beating, electric shocks and deprivation of liquids) he was gradually forced to confess to sexual abuse of young children and of secretly moving the cross (see Číhošť Miracle – movement of the cross in the church where Toufar ministered still remains unexplained to this very day).

Jan Bula (24 June 1920 Lukov – 20 May 1952 Jihlava),

a Czech Roman Catholic priest from the parish in Rokytnice nad Rokytnou, was one of the victims of the judicial murders which the communist regime committed within the framework of the so-called Babice Trials. An attack on the meeting of the Municipal National Committee in Babice was staged on 2 July 1951, during which three functionaries were shot. Bula, who had already been in prison for a quarter of a year at this time, was artificially connected to the attack and sentenced to death in a show trial on 15 November 1951 in Třebíč. The whole trial was accompanied by a massive propaganda campaign.

Persecution of Jehovah’s Witnesses

The communist regime targeted all clergymen, not only Catholic priests. Dozens of Jehovah’s Witnesses were imprisoned for obstruction of supervision of churches, which they allegedly committed by producing and distributing their religious literature. Some were tortured to death by the secret police. The government objective in 1948–1989 was to obliterate the Jehovah’s Witness movement and all other religious minorities. Materialistic society did not tolerate any faith.


Posted in English Version.

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