Imagine it… The StB – A false state border within the republic – and a fictional story of people who have crossed it. This is the theme of the the 2006 film Swingtime. It focuses on the so-called akce Kámen (Stone action), during which State Security agents deliberately mystified the citizens of the Czechoslovak Republic. Especially those who attempted to illegally leave the country by creating false borders and false border patrols and interrogating groups of American, German and French authorities.
False border patrols?
But first, let’s look at what State Security or StB / ŠtB was. In short, it was a plainclothes communist secret police force in the former Czechoslovakia from 1945 up until its dissolution in 1990. Serving as an intelligence and counter-intelligence agency, it dealt with any activity that could possibly be considered anti-state or western influence.
It was founded June 30, 1945 by the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia with its headquarters in Prague. It’s parent agency was Sbor národní bezpečnosti with its jurisdiction being the whole of Czechoslovakia.
The Devil’s Idea
During the interrogations of the detainees, members of the State Security confirmed that they had actually crossed the national borders of the Czech Republic and obtained information from unsuspecting people that was subsequently used in criminal proceedings.
Can you imagine? You believe you have crossed and you are on the other side, only to find out that it was a trick… You are still in Czechoslovakia, only now they know you tried to leave.
Almost two thousand citizens of the Czechoslovak Republic were arrested during this event, and most of them learned that they had fallen victim to conspiracy after 1968.
I sure am happy that my parents crossed a real border!
Although the film’s name might seem absolutely logical, and although the film will feature well-known swing melodies, Swingtime will not be about music, said the director of the new film, Jaromír Polišenský.
In this made-for-television film from 2006, written by Jan Drbohlav and directed by Jaromír Polišenský, we get to see how painfully terrible the entire thing was.
The main characters are the musician and bandmaster of the swing band Pavel (Vladimír Dlouhý), his wife Hana (Ingrid Timková), and the smuggler Jiří (Alois Švehlík).
It’s important to note that the music for the film was arranged by Petr Hanzlík, a composer and music producer profiling mainly in the field of jazz.
More excellent performances include Michal Dlouhý as Major and Saša Rašilov as Václav.
Recommended by my father, we were able to order a DVD from our friends at Czech Movie. We watched it last night. We were pulled into this riveting drama from the very beginning.
In 2007, four Elsa Award nominations were given to Swingtime directed by Jaromír Polišenský, including the award for best actor to Vladimír Dlouhý.
The Communist Party used the StB as an instrument of power and repression
State Security spied on and intimidated political opponents of the Party and forged false criminal evidence against them, facilitating the Communists’ rise to power in 1948. Even before Czechoslovakia became a Communist state, the StB forced confessions by means of torture, including the use of drugs, blackmail, and kidnapping. After the coup d’état of 1948, these practices developed under the tutelage of Soviet advisers.
Other common practices included telephone tapping, permanent monitoring of apartments, intercepting private mail, house searches, surveillance, arrests, and indictment for so-called “subversion of the republic”.
The StB’s part in the fall of the regime in 1989 remains uncertain. The reported murder of a student by police during a peaceful demonstration in November 1989 was the catalyst for wider public support and further demonstrations, leading to the overthrow of the Communist regime.
The StB was alleged to have used agent Ludvík Zifčák as the dead student Martin Šmíd. This was based mainly on Zifčák’s testimony. However, in 1992, the Czechoslovak Parliamentary Commission for investigation of events of November 17, 1989 ruled out this version, stating that “the role of former StB lieutenant L. Zifčák was only marginal, without any connection to critical events and without any active effort to influence these events.
Investigation of related circumstances has indisputably proved that L. Zifčák’s testimony that attributes a key role in November’s events to himself is based on facts, which are either technically impossible and unfeasible, or contradict actions of persons mentioned by him, which aimed to completely different goals.”
State Security was dissolved on February 1, 1990. The current intelligence agency of the Czech Republic is the Security Information Service, although it is not a successor to StB. The former employees and associates (informers) of the StB are currently banned from taking certain jobs, such as legislators or police officers.
The Act on Lawlessness of the Communist Regime and on Resistance Against It states that StB, as an organization based on the ideology of the Communist Party, was “aimed to suppress human rights and democracy through its activities” and thus based on a criminal ideology.
This movie will have you at the edge of your seat and then long afterward sitting in disbelief at what this story shared…
Fortunately, you won’t have to go too far to watch it because we found the entire film for you to watch here (only in Czech, no English subtitles).
Settle in, grab a drink or a snack, and enjoy the show…
UPDATE 09/2023 – The film has been removed. We have looked everywhere and it looks like the only opportunity you will have to see this is to buy a DVD. (Sorry!)
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