The defendant's compliance during his trial had the double purpose of giving to the Party what was its due and of reuniting him with the Party, abolishing an intolerable isolation.
Such compliance completed and proved the oppositionist's capitulation. As Grinko said in his last plea:
"In the situation in which I found myself there was only one way open to me to prove by my deeds that I have repented, and that was to disclose all the facts of the conspiracy . . . known to me. . . . I have done this to the end."1
For some defendants the emphasis was on capitulation. Thus Bukharin (partly resisting) said in his last plea:
"The confession of the accused is not essential. The confession of the accused is a medieval principle of jurisprudence. But here we also have the internal demolition of the forces of counter-revolution."2
For other defendants, public compliance itself contributed to the undoing of their oppositional past. In his last plea, Piatakov insisted:
". . . I cannot agree, I cannot reconcile myself to the assertion made by the State Prosecutor, namely, that even now I remain a Trotskyite. . . . the sole motive, the only motive, that prompted me to make the statements that I have made, was the desire . . . to get rid of my . . . Trotskyite past."3
Piatakov also seemed to feel more specifically that a major reason for confession was to induce others--and through them himself--to believe in the genuineness of his capitulation. He said, continuing the passage just quoted:
"Citizens Judges. . . .
". . . do not deprive me of the right to feel . . . that even though too late I have nevertheless shaken off this filth, this vileness.
". . . here I stand before you in filth . . . bereft of everything through my own fault, a man who has lost his Party . . . who has lost his very self.
". . . Do not deprive me of the right to feel that in your eyes, too, I have found strength in myself, albeit too late, to break with my criminal past."4
Presumably Piatakov had two feelings about this terminal situation. One was that he could not shake off the "filth" which had affected his very core; the other, that his trial behavior had achieved precisely this result and