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Milan Kundera’s Denunciation, part two

A year ago, Respekt published a <a href="http://respekt.cz/respekt-in-english/c1-36380440-milan-kundera-s-denunciation">story</a> about Milan Kundera, a famous Czech-born writer, having denounced in 1950s an agent of Western security services who was then arrested and sentenced to 14 years in prison. The article aroused criticism from many Czech and international intellectuals. The main reason of the criticism was that the alleged denunciation was based on one document, a protocol of the Communist Czechoslovak police. Now a second document was found, mentioning Kundera&rsquo;s name, too.

Repro Respekt
Repro Respekt • Autor: Repro Respekt

It reads, just as the first one does, that on March 3rd 1950 “M.K.” came to the district police station of Prague 6 and “reported that student Eva Militka told his colleague that she met Miroslav Dvoracek who asked her if he could leave his luggage at her place and picked it up later.” “Based on that information,” the document continues, the police raided the place and waited there for Dvoracek, a Czech who fled the country in 1949 and returned home under cover as an agent. When he showed up, police arrested him on the spot.

Repro Respekt
Repro Respekt • Autor: Repro Respekt

The new document clearly rules out that the initial one, mentioning Milan Kundera’s name, was a fake. But what else? The crucial question of the writer’s role remains unclear. Was it him who denounced Dvoracek to the police after being acquianted with Dvoracek’s whereabouts from his colleague, or was it young female student Militka?

It doesn’t prove Kundera’s direct guilt but it doesn’t clear him off suspicion either. Milan Kundera is still a man who went to the police station and reported on Dvoracek’s presence in Prague. Why would he do it if he hadn’t known about Dvoracek’s label as “enemy of the state”?

In was in the dark years of early communist dictatorship in Czechoslovakia, where arrests of political opponents and brutal sentences occurred on daily basis. Milan Kundera, then a film student in his early twenties, was an open admirer of socialism and was bewitched by the USSR. Because of this, did he feel obliged to report on people like Dvoracek? Or did he have a different motive? And what exactly did he say to the police?

We don’t know. The historic documents don’t reveal the entire truth and Milan Kundera, later a disident, an emigrant to France and a world-known author of masterpieces like “The Joke,“ “The Unbearable Lightness of Being” or “Immortality,” cut off communication with the Czech public some 25 years ago. He declines interviews with the press and he didn’t answer questions on his role in Dvoracek’s arrest that Respekt sent him via fax a year ago. He only issued a statement deploring a “campaign against him” but he would not clarify the findings.

Milan Kundera is an icon of modern Czech literature and is loved by many in this country. The attempt to learn more about his past is not a celebrity blood-hunt. It is through those stories that one understands better how the communist regime operated and enslaved heros of the nation. The importance of facing one’s past is obvious – history may backfire, be it individual one or that of a whole state. We all know it.

Milan Kundera's denunciation

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