Central and East Europe photojournalism


The Communism

When he was only nineteen, František Zahrádka received a death sentence. That’s how much the communists hated him.

Frantisek Zahradka (82), former Czechoslovakian political prisoner, decorated in 2012 for anti-communist resistance. In the 1950s, he received a twenty-year hard prison sentence for publishing an anti-communist magazine and leading immigrants across iron curtain borders into Austria. He escaped the death sentence demanded for him by the attorney only thanks to his age, as he was 19 during the trial. Even though his weight was down to measly 45 kilograms after two years of prison and torture, he had to extract uranium for development of Soviet nuclear weapon program under inhuman working conditions as part of a forced labor crew. In 2012 he was officially recognized, compensated and decorated for participating in anti-communist resistance. The most absurd about it being that the state took 22 long years to pass the law. The picture was taken in the correctional facility of the former forced labor camp Vojna, where Zahradka along with thousands of other political prisoners received unusually brutal hazing treatment, here they were imprisoned and forced to extract uranium. At his age of 82, his moral fiber and determination to fight against the regime, which did not even allow him to attend the funeral of his own parents, strike as very impressive and unbelievable. Unfortunately, even despite the efforts made by the last generation of political prisoners to deliver their personal stories to the public, the Communist Party has been gaining more and more say in running of the state.

The photography was awarded with Picture of the Year International POYI and exhibited in Museum of Modern Art, San Francisku. The photography was awarded with Czech Press Photo 2013 a International Photography Award IPA.

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An independent photojournalistic project of a Czech photojournalist Petr Toman covering social issues within East and Central Europe