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

By George H. Hodos | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 12
THE POLISH WAY OF SHOW TRIALS

"No show trials of Polish communists were staged," wrote Zbigniew Brzezinski in his scholarly study The Soviet Bloc, 1 a statement that has been repeated in many academic and other works about this period. The statement is incorrect. There were many bloody show trials in Poland, the difference in the Polish experience being that the trial that was intended to be the culmination of the process, that of Wladislaw Gomułka, could be averted. Poland was not an exception to the rule, but a variation of it, a unique and special case.

Poland was the only satellite state in which the Stalinist purge began at the very top, with the fall of the secretary-general of the communist party. This represented a deviation from the usual plan prescribed by Beria, to begin at the second or third ranks of party leaders and then expand the terror into both higher and lower echelons, thus engulfing wider and wider circles of officials. Those at the very top of the satellite regimes, Rákosi, Ulbricht, Gottwald, Gheorghiu-Dej, and even Dimitrov, remained untouched.

Gomułka case was an exception to this formula. In the early summer of 1948, at the height of the conflict with the Yugoslav party, he was seen by Stalin as a menace. Gomułka was no Tito; he never questioned Soviet hegemony in Eastern Europe, but he had his own ideas about Poland's place in the structure. To begin the purge with him was, from Stalin's point of view, an absolute necessity, but given certain facts about the histories of both Poland and its communist party, it became a source of failure as well.

When the ax was directed at the head of the party, the move triggered within the other party leaders, like an experiment in Pavlovian conditioned reflex, a defense mechanism aimed at self-preservation. They felt that if they were to remain alive, the blow must be blunted, diverted. They struck out right and left, but tried to preserve the center; they attempted to postpone the inevitable in a subtle, cunning way, inherited from their forefathers. After five years of procrastination, the evasive maneuvers were no longer necessary. Stalin's death absolved them from trying and executing Gomułka. They saved him, however, at the price of sacrificing hundreds of lower ranked communists, tortured to

-135-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Project items

Items saved from this book

This book has been saved
Highlights (0)
Some of your highlights are legacy items.

Highlights saved before July 30, 2012 will not be displayed on their respective source pages.

You can easily re-create the highlights by opening the book page or article, selecting the text, and clicking “Highlight.”

Citations (0)
Some of your citations are legacy items.

Any citation created before July 30, 2012 will labeled as a “Cited page.” New citations will be saved as cited passages, pages or articles.

We also added the ability to view new citations from your projects or the book or article where you created them.

Notes (0)
Bookmarks (0)

You have no saved items from this book

Project items include:
  • Saved book/article
  • Highlights
  • Quotes/citations
  • Notes
  • Bookmarks
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
Show Trials: Stalinist Purges in Eastern Europe, 1948-1954
Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Full screen
/ 195

matching results for page

Cited passage

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Sign up now to cite pages or passages in MLA, APA and Chicago citation styles.

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

"Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Cited passage

Welcome to the new Questia Reader

The Questia Reader has been updated to provide you with an even better online reading experience.  It is now 100% Responsive, which means you can read our books and articles on any sized device you wish.  All of your favorite tools like notes, highlights, and citations are still here, but the way you select text has been updated to be easier to use, especially on touchscreen devices.  Here's how:

1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
2. Click or tap the last word you want to select.

OK, got it!

Thanks for trying Questia!

Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

For full access in an ad-free environment, sign up now for a FREE, 1-day trial.

Already a member? Log in now.