Ladislav Mňačko was a Slovak writer, poet, playwright and journalist. He was born in Moravia but soon moved with his parents to Slovakia. He was imprisoned in a German concentration camp during the Second World War but managed to escape and later participated in partisan raids against Germans in Moravia. After the war, he became an editor for the Communist newspaper Rudé právo and later for the Slovak Pravda. Mňačko was left-wing oriented and became a convinced Communist after the Second World War, but he was not afraid to express his concerns about politics in Czechoslovakia. Therefore, he became known as a prominent critic of the regime after 1956 and his books, which were popular with Communist functionaries and the public alike, had print runs in their hundreds of thousands. Mňačko’s unique position was described by Frank Osvald, a Danish Czech studies scholar, who saw Mňačko as being “a devoted, loyal Communist and a stubborn searcher for truth and passionate (more than deep) moralist at the same time”. Mňačko emigrated to Israel in 1967 – his emigration was in protest against the antisemitic policies of the Czechoslovak government. He returned to Czechoslovakia in 1968, but following the occupation by the armies of the Warsaw Pact in August he left Czechoslovakia for Austria. After 1990, Mňačko lived in Slovakia and later also in Prague. Ladislav Mňačko is now seen as one of the most important Slovak journalists and political writers of the second half of the twentieth century. Among his most well-known books are his partisan and autobiographical novel Smrt si říká Engelchen (Death is Called Engelchen, 1959), a collection of short proses exposing the political terror of the 1950s Opožděné reportáže (Delayed Reportages, 1963) and in particular the book Jak chutná moc (The Taste of Power, 1967) describing the practices of Communist functionaries. He was also the author of many short stories, plays and reports. His books have been translated into several languages.
- Valašské Klobouky, Czech Republic
Date of death
Author(s) of this page
- Kůželová, Michaela
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Leikert, Jozef. 2007. Taký bol Ladislav Mňačko: v historickom kontexte do roku 1968. Brno: Onufrius.