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

By George H. Hodos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 11
THE INTERRUPTED SHOW TRIALS IN EAST GERMANY

The Soviet scenario for the Rajk trial left no doubt that there would be a followup in East Germany. On September 19, 1949, in Budapest, Szὂnyi confessed that in Switzerland, during the war, the U.S. master spy Noel Field and the Yugoslavs recruited not only Hungarians, but other exile groups into their service, including "a German Trotzkyist group whose leader was Miss Politzer." 1

This was the first indication that there would be a trial in East Germany. At the same time, it indicated the first confusion in connection with Berlin as Stalin's intended staging area for the satellite purges: There was no Miss Politzer among the leading German emigres in Switzerland. Yet it is inconceivable that Szὂnyi misspoke; every word of his testimony was precisely arranged, every name mentioned was purposefully planned. Szὂnyi had been in close contact with the German exile group and a long list of names of people now prominent in the party and the government, extorted from Szὂnyi and Field, was in the hands of the Soviet security organs in Moscow, Berlin, and Budapest. The fact that Szὂnyi was told not to divulge them demonstrated the uncertainty that Stalin and Beria must have felt in the fall of 1949 about what methods to be used in divided Germany.

Among the communist exiles in Switzerland, the German group was by far the most important." 2 Already in the first years of Nazi rule in Germany, it included several hundred people, and its strength grew rapidly after Hitler's armies destroyed one exile center after another. As Vienna, Prague, Paris, and Marseille came under Gestapo control, neutral Switzerland became its main headquarters in Western Europe. Contacts were established with the resistance movements and with the underground communist cells in Germany itself. Pamphlets, newspapers, and propaganda material were smuggled across the frontier. Among the Politburo members in Western exile, Franz Dalhem was arrested in Paris, Paul Merker escaped to Mexico, and the third one, Paul Bertz, found refuge in Switzerland and took over command.

One of the Swiss group's most important tasks during the years 1940-1942 was to open and maintain communication lines with the exile center in Vichy, France, which was not yet occupied by the Germans. For this highly dangerous mission, their main instrument was Noel Field, whose Unitarian Service Com

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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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