In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2016. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 113–130.
Suspicion, mistrust, scepticism – these are the features which make a good conspirator. In conditions of illegality these attributes can help prevent denunciation and arrest; but they can also turn into paranoia, which makes it difficult recognise reality. It is a matter of an individual’s psychological constitution; yet a conspirator is constantly influenced by their working environment. In the communist movement suspicion was regarded as a virtue. Party members were vetted in different ways. This owed to suspicions that the party could be penetrated from ‘outside’, but also reflected fears that any weakening of revolutionary vigilance could destroy the party. This article describes the psychological impact of suspicion using the example of the Polish Communist Party (1918–38). It analyses changes in the language of politics and the influence of “Bolshevisation”, which was enforced by the Comintern from the middle of the 1920s. In 1937 these suspicions culminated in the disbanding of the Polish Communist Party.