LONDON (Mar. 9)
Hard-line proponents of Communist orthodoxy in Czechoslovakia are attempting, with Soviet encouragement, to infuse the country with anti-Semitism in the guise of anti-Zionism, a tactic that has worked in Poland. But they are meeting determined resistance from Czech liberals and intellectuals who are apparently not cowed by the Soviet-led invasion of their homeland last summer, according to reports reaching here. Anti-Semitism is frequently evident in the Soviet occupation newspaper Zpravy and in clandestine pamphlets believed circulated by pro-Moscow elements. (The Soviet news agency Tass last week featured a summary of an article in a Beirut newspaper that accused leading Czech Jews of conspiring to overthrow Socialism in Czechoslovakia in the interests of Israel.)
The degree of Czech resistance to this type of propaganda was evident in yesterday’s ceremonies at the 15th Century Pinkas Synagogue in Prague where government leaders, Jews and non-Jews officially honored the memory of 3,800 Czech Jews murdered by the Nazis at Auschwitz 25 years ago. Hitherto, the anniversary of the death camp’s liquidation on March 8, 1944 had been officially ignored, but yesterday Czech leaders went out of their way to condemn anti-Semitism of the Hitler and Stalin eras. The principle speaker, Petr Colotka, president of the Czech Parliament, recalled how Jewish children had gone to their deaths in the Auschwitz gas chambers singing the Czech national anthem. He declared that the best way to prevent a new Auschwitz was by passing laws guaranteeing democratic freedoms and rehabilitating the victims of Stalinist injustice, many of them Jews. Earlier Premier Stanislav Razl of the Czech Republic and Evzen Erban, chairman of the National Front and a member of the Communist Party presidium attended the ceremonies.
The Prague newspaper Svobodne Slovo, a leading daily, said on the occasion that the memorial observances proved “that a new spirit of democracy and humanism reigns in our country and that in this country with such profound democratic traditions there is no place for anti-Semitism.”