One of the most unique phenomena of the Stalinist political culture was the political trials of leading Communist functionaries that took place in the Soviet Union and the people's democracies from the 1930s to the 1950s, usually culminating with the defendants' executions. The distinctive features of all these miscarriages of justice were the public confessions of the accused to the most heinous felonies against the party and the Socialist regime with which they were charged. What was the reason for this? My article scrutinizes, from the generic perspective, the proceedings of the trial against the general secretary of the Communist Party of Czechoslovakia, Rudolf Slánský, and his thirteen codefendants, which took place in Prague in November 1952, and argues that it was emplotted as a romance. The public confessions, then, functioned as the narrative's “happy ending,” conditio sine qua non of the genre. Through them the malefactors willingly repenting the sins of the past demonstratively returned to the party's fold, and the party, in turn, claimed yet another victory in its ongoing war on the bourgeoisie.
Peter Steiner; Edible Revolutionaries: The Rudolf Slánský Trial as a Romance. Poetics Today 1 March 2016; 37 (1): 1–28. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/03335372-3452598
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