The reclusive Czech-born author Milan Kundera has been accused of informing on a man who allegedly worked as a spy in the 1950s. According to the Institute for the Study of Totalitarian Regimes, a 1950 document written by the Czech Communist police (an unimpeachable source, to be sure…) claims that Kundera provided information about a spy working against the Communist government, which eventually led to the man’s imprisonment for a period of 14 years.
According to the file, published on the institute’s Web site, Kundera in 1950 informed on Miroslav Dvoracek, who had been recruited in Germany by the Czech emigre intelligence network to work as a spy against [Czechoslovakia’s] Communist regime.
Dvoracek visited a woman in Prague and left a suitcase in her apartment. She told her boyfriend, who later told Kundera, and Kundera went to the police.
Dvoracek was arrested when he came to collect the suitcase. He was later sentenced to 22 years in prison and eventually served 14, working in uranium mines.
According to the CBC website, the allegations have had the effect of bringing the author out of seclusion to make a rare public statement:
“I am totally astonished by something that I did not expect, about which I knew nothing only yesterday, and that did not happen. I did not know the man at all,” Kundera was quoted as saying by the CTK news agency.
Kundera accused the institute and the media of “the assassination of an author.”
Kundera was a member of the Czech Communist Party in his youth, but was expelled when he began publicly criticizing the totalitarian nature of that organization. His most famous book, The Unbearable Lightness of Being, is about the struggles that the artistic community in Prague faced in the wake of the Prague Spring and the Communist invasion. It, along with several other books by the author, were banned in his home country until the Velvet Revolution in 1989.