CHAPTER 15 Blind Justice and Forced-Labor Camps

MOST Europeans and Americans share a basic concept that justice, to merit the name, must be impartial, objective and independent. We believe justice should stand apart and above the affairs of men and we take for granted the classic symbol of Justice, blindfolded, with evenly weighted scales in her hand. This is a common denominator in the Western concept of law, as it has been derived from Roman law or English common law and from the national experience of the various countries of the West.

In Czechoslovakia, culturally a part of the West, this concept went with the system of law inherited from the Austro-Hungarian empire and modified by the Republic. Since February 1948, the Communists have done away with Blind Justice. In the view of the Communist Premier, Antonin Zapotocky, expressed at a lawyers' conference in early 1949, "The old feudal and capitalistic society needed a blind justice, blind against all class lawlessness. But we have dropped the symbol of blind justice. Our people's democratic justice must have opened eyes and must not be afraid to turn even a searchlight onto the speedy removal of old crimes."

If we turn the searchlight onto the Communist concept of justice we find that it is without roots in the life of Czechoslovakia, a thing imported from the Soviet Union where it was developed during the past thirty years, partly on the basis of Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist theory and experience, partly in continuance of strictly Russian traditions. In some cases the Communists have chosen the most recent Soviet legal forms, in others they have chosen earlier forms, but always the model is Soviet Russian. Dr. Vladimir Prochazka, deputy speaker of the National Assembly (later Ambassador to Washington), was pretty frank about this when addressing the lawyers' conference in Prague, in 1949.

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