section Break or continuity? "Anti-Zionism" and anti-Semitism under socialism and afterwards


  • Karel Kachyňa
  • ČSSR
  • 1970
  • 94

Prague, 1952: the deputy minister of construction and his wife return home to find the front door unlocked – has an “ear” been installed in their home? A political drama about the omnipresent fear in Czechoslovakia in the early 1950s, set to the backdrop of the arrest of Rudolf Slánský and a group of fellow politicians, whom were Jewish as well.

The spare key is no longer in its usual place, there would appear to have been a power cut and outside a car with dimmed lights heads into the distance – party official Ludvik and his wife suspect that someone has been in the house. Does the same fate await the deputy minister that only recently befell his boss, the minister who has seemingly just been arrested? Has an “ear” been installed in their home? The couple are increasingly overcome by a fear that they might soon find themselves under surveillance and be arrested. In this atmosphere a vicious argument breaks out, after which the two proceed to shamelessly denounce one another...

With the brief period of liberalisation having ended abruptly after the suppression of the Prague Spring, the film found itself banned immediately after its completion in 1969. It was only in 1990 that THE EAR was finally released - the film alluded too openly to the political oppression of previous years and the arrests, underpinned by anti-Semitic motives and directed from Moscow, that occurred as part of the show trials.

The Slánský trial (officially entitled “Trial of the Leadership of the Anti-State Conspiracy Centre Headed by Rudolf Slánský”), a 1952 show trial, saw fourteen members of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, eleven of whom were Jewish, accused of high treason. Characterised by anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism, the trial ended with 11 death sentences.

Text: Christina Frankenberg
English: Peter Rickerby

Thur 20.6. 18:15
Organized with the support of the European University Viadrina.


original title The EAR

international title The EAR

german title Das Ohr

JFBB section Break or continuity? "Anti-Zionism" and anti-Semitism under socialism and afterwards

  • director Karel Kachyňa

country/countries ČSSR

year 1970

duration 94

Portrait of Karel Kachyňa

Karel Kachyňa