The Theater of Cruelty

After the events in Europe during the past year, it may seem almost quaint to discuss the Stalinist show trials of the early 1950s—trials that presented to the world crimes against communism, socialism, and indeed “humanity” in Hungary, Albania, Bulgaria, and Czechoslovakia—all allegedly committed by high Party members who confessed …

Jamming the Jazz Section

When the Jazz Section of the Czech Musicians’ Union was put on trial in March 1987 and two of its leaders were jailed, there was some confusion in the West about what had actually happened. Was jazz being banned in Czechoslovakia? Was playing jazz the crime of Karel Srp and …

Noise, Fire, and Hunger

Unlike older Soviet writers such as Pasternak who spent their formative years before Soviet power was established, with all its deadly erasings of historical memory, and unlike his younger contemporaries, who were cured of Leninist delusions by the bitter pill of the Gulag, Vasily Grossman was the product of a …