CHAPTER 33 The Communist Counterreformation

Three men met in a cell of Pankrac prison and began to question each other about why they had been imprisoned.

The first man explained: "I spoke against Slansky."

The second man explained: "I spoke for Slansky."

Then the two turned to the third man, who said: "I'm Slansky."

EVER since the Communists seized power in Czechoslovakia, in February 1948, they have been purging their party. As Pierre Victurnien Vergniaud, the Girondist deputy, said shortly before he was executed by his fellow French revolutionaries in 1793: "The revolution, like Saturn, successively devours all its children."

The Communist purge is, however, a more sinister thing than Vergniaud conceived; it is a continuing process to which fall victim not only the children of the revolution, but the children's children, and so on without end. As the Communists see it, as soon as or even before the external enemies of the Party have been destroyed, the struggle must turn inwards in the form of a purge. The purge is the Communists' method of internal renewal. They have no other.

Yet the later stages of this Czechoslovak purge do not fit into the usual pattern. With the arrest of Rudolf Slansky, secretary-general of the Party, and his associates, it has risen to a strange climax. To be sure, the Czechoslovak purge has been accompanied by all the familiar denunciations and invective previously heaped upon Gomulka in Poland for espousing a national, Polish way to socialism; upon Traicho Kostov in Bulgaria for putting his country's national economic interests ahead of those of the


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