Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954

By George H. Hodos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 6
PREPARATIONS FOR THE MODEL TRIAL

When Szὂnyi was dragged, handcuffed and blindfolded, into the secret MVD cottage on the outskirts of Budapest, he was met by an illustrious group of people. They included the chief of the AVH, Gábor Péter, his deputy, Colonel Szücs, the Soviet General Fyodor Byelkin, and Byelkin's interpreter. 1

Its mixed Hungarian-Soviet composition existed in appearance only. Péter was recruited by the NKVD in the wartime Hungarian communist underground, and Sziics received Soviet citizenship and was trained by the Soviet security services during his lengthy stay in Moscow. From its inception and first arrests to its final sentences and executions, the Hungarian purge was a purely Soviet affair, and the MVD controlled its every aspect.

Szὂnyi was a good choice as the initial victim of the purge. His wartime connections with Noel Field aroused the suspicions of his captors. They also caused him to feel inner, personal doubts about some of his actions when, during his first interrogation, Field was brought out of an adjoining room and told the Hungarian to his face about his contacts with Allen Dulles, director of the OSS office in Switzerland. If Field had been an American agent, then he, Szὂnyi, was certainly lacking in vigilance; he might even have been used by Field and the United States intelligence services.

The result was that even before the beatings began, Szὂnyi was filled with self-doubt, even before the rubber truncheons were brought into play and he was forced to crawl on the floor, confessing his contacts with Dulles who, in fact, he had never met. 2 The beatings were not intended, however, to extort false confessions from him -- there was time enough for that later -- but rather to prove to him that he was no longer a member of the Central Committee, no longer a party comrade, but now nothing more than a common criminal, a spy, and a traitor, at the absolute mercy of the Hungarian and Soviet security services.

Because of the wide web of his associations and friendships established during many years of undercover work on behalf of the Hungarian communist party and the underground movement in Switzerland and elsewhere, Szὂnyi was an ideal net into which to entrap "enemies" infiltrated into the party. He was forced to write long lists of names of individuals, the members of his "Swiss group," and the names of all communists who, after the war, returned from the West and

-43-

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Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • LIST OF ABBREVIATIONS ix
  • Preface xi
  • Chapter 1 - INTRODUCTION 1
  • Chapter 2 - PRELUDE IN ALBANIA 5
  • Chapter 3 - THE KOSTOV TRIAL IN BULGARIA 13
  • Chapter 4 - THE FIELD CONNECTION 25
  • Chapter 5 - THE ROAD TO THE RAJK TRIAL 33
  • Chapter 6 - PREPARATIONS FOR THE MODEL TRIAL 43
  • Chapter 7 - THE RAJK TRIAL 59
  • Chapter 8 - THE UNLEASHED TERROR IN PRAGUE 73
  • Chapter 9 - THE SLÁNSKÝ TRIAL 83
  • Chapter 10 - THE REINTERPRETED SHOW TRIALS IN ROMANIA 93
  • Chapter 11 - THE INTERRUPTED SHOW TRIALS IN EAST GERMANY 113
  • Chapter 12 - THE POLISH WAY OF SHOW TRIALS 135
  • Chapter 13 - CONSEQUENCES AND CONCLUSIONS 159
  • Notes 165
  • SELECTED BIBLIOGRAPHY 179
  • Index 183
  • About the Author 195
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