The break between the Yugoslav and Soviet Politburos, and the liquidation processes in the leadership of various satellite Communist Parties, have been the occasion for the elaboration of a contemporary Bolshevik image of the Bolshevik traitor-leader;1* an image which diverges in significant ways from the picture presented in the Moscow trials studied in this book.
From 1939 until the end of 1952 Communist allegations about enemy agents within a Communist Party never concerned the Soviet Party. It is true that "terrorism," "wrecking," "diversion," "espionage" became master categories of the public Stalinist view of politics in the later thirties; but they were almost empty boxes in the official self-description of the Soviet Union between the end of the Yezhovshchina in 1938 and the inculpation of the Kremlin physicians on January 13, 1953. On the other hand, recent Eastern European developments have been accompanied by the copious use of these extreme categories, and by new elaborations which allow one to speculate on changes in the esoteric temper of the Stalinist elite between the late thirties and the early fifties.
It is exceedingly doubtful whether the top levels of the Soviet and Eastern European parties do, on the whole, consciously believe the image of agents- in-the-party which they are communicating with such emphasis. But they presumably do believe that these stories have a useful impact on the "masses" outside and inside the Party, and even on the "apparatus" below the top. They probably also feel that what they allege publicly corresponds in some measure to what happened really--if one applies to reality certain rules of translation; rules which adapt a complicated truth to the limited comprehension of men who need extreme stimuli to react properly.
Relatively clear hints of how the presentation of a deposed leader as an enemy agent is arrived at were given in Gottwald's speech on Slansky in the Czechoslovak Central Committee, December 6, 1951.2 Rendering his points more explicit, we may restate them as follows:
(1) The role of the Party after the conquest of power is yet greater than before, and the enemy knows this: