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Ex-Czech Minister Who Wrote of 1951 'Show Trial' Dies at 71

November 09, 1986|Associated Press

PARIS — Artur London, a former government minister in Communist Czechoslovakia who wrote a book describing his "show trial" there, died in London on Saturday, his family said. He was 71. The cause of death was described as a long illness.

London, a former deputy foreign minister, was author of "The Confession," which told of being brainwashed into admitting his political "errors" in a Stalinist-era trial by a Czechoslovakian court in 1951. He spent five years in prison.

His book was made into the film "L'Aveu" (The Confession) by Greek director Konstantinos Costa-Gavras and starred French actor Yves Montand. London's book and the film were strongly attacked by Communist media internationally.

Communist at Age 14

Born Feb. 1, 1915, London joined the Czechoslovak Communist youth movement at age 14 and was imprisoned several times before going into self-imposed exile in Moscow in 1934.

After fighting in the International Brigade in the Spanish Civil War, London went to France, running the immigrant Communist resistance operation in 1940 and 1941. He was arrested by the Germans and sent to a concentration camp.

London returned to Czechoslovakia after the war, and was named deputy foreign minister by the government in 1949. He held that post until 1951, when he was arrested and sentenced to life imprisonment at hard labor in the trial of 16 leading Communists.

London was "rehabilitated" and released in 1956, settling in France in 1963 and publishing "The Confession" in 1969. A year later, he was stripped of Czechoslovakian citizenship and became a naturalized French citizen.

He was active in human rights affairs, supporting the Czechoslovak Charter 77 and Committee for the Defense of Political Prisoners groups.

London was married and had two children.

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