In This Review

Show Trials: Stalinist Purges In Eastern Europe

Show Trials: Stalinist Purges In Eastern Europe
By George H. Hodos
216 pp, Praeger, 1987

Obviously no one can write a definitive history of the purge trials of East European communist leaders in the late Stalin years, since the records of the Soviet and satellite governments of the day have remained closed (except for a brief period in Czechoslovakia during the Prague Spring). George Hodos has done well, however, in gathering material from other sources to show how the trials were conducted in all seven satellite countries, where the pattern differed from one country to another, and how all the threads led back to Stalin. He makes much of the point that Rajk, Kostov, Slansky, Gomulka and the others were not really "national communists," or Titoists, or Zionists, but loyal Stalinists. Some did, however, have a nationalist coloration (particularly Gomulka) and all were potential Titoists in Stalin's eyes. The Rajk trial is the centerpiece of the volume, as the author observed and experienced the purge in Hungary at first hand; his account of his own arrest, trial and imprisonment adds to the impact of the book.