Ute Caumanns: Conspiratorial thinking in the Polish political leadership during the Cold War: Bierut, Berman, Werfel and the “Trial of the Generals”

Abstract

In: Jahrbuch für Historische Kommunismusforschung 2016. Berlin: Metropol Verlag, pp. 181–194.

Unlike in Hungary or Czechoslovakia, there was no show trial of a general secretary or any other leading party members in Poland. However, similar events were stages, bringing people from the most different milieus into the spotlight. Stalin’s party men, who defined Polish politics between 1948 and 1956, not only justified the Moscow Trials of the 1930s, but also justified their own show trials. What was their motivation? Was it only tactical interests in order to secure their political domination or did they believe in the master narrative as staged in the courtroom? Which traditions and attitudes, which experiences were responsible for the decisions the political leadership took during the Cold War? What made them propagate such dramatic conspiracy theories aimed at scandalising the populace? This article seeks to answer these questions with regard to the show trial of General Tatar and other Army officers before the Supreme Military Tribunal in summer 1951. The “Trial of the Generals” came to be a central judicial-media event in Stalinist Poland. Focusing on Bolesław Bierut, Jakub Berman and Roman Werfel, this article focuses on the role of three leading representatives of the regime.

Über die Autorin

Ute Caumanns, Dr. phil., geb. 1960 in Viersen. 1979 bis 1986 Studium der Geschichte, Anglistik und Germanistik; 1989 Stipendiatin des DAAD bei der Polnischen Akademie der Wissenschaften Warschau; 1991 bis 1995 wiss. Bearbeiterin eines Drittmittelprojekts; 1995 Promotion; 1996 bis 2000 wiss. Mitarbeiterin am Deutschen Historischen Institut Warschau; 2001 bis 2003 DFG-Stipendiatin. Seit 2003 wiss. Mitarbeiterin am Institut für Geschichtswissenschaften der Heinrich-Heine-Universität Düsseldorf. Veröffentlichungen u. a.: »Der Teufel in Rot. Trockij und die Ikonographie des ›jüdischen Bolschewismus‹ im polnisch-sowjetischen Krieg, 1919/1920«, in: zeitenblicke 10 (22.12.2011) Nr. 2, http://www.zeitenblicke.de/2011/2/Caumanns/index_html#d57e149; Die polnischen Jesuiten, der Przegląd Powszechny und der politische Katholizismus in der Zweiten Republik. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der katholischen Presse Polens zwischen den Weltkriegen (1918–1939), Dortmund 1996. Mithg.: Wer zog die Drähte? Verschwörungstheorien im Bild, Düsseldorf 2012; Verschwörungstheorien. Anthropologische Konstanten – historische Varianten, Osnabrück 2001.