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Sunday, April 04, 2004
Just finished the mini-autobio "I Was Stalin's Prisoner," by Robert Vogel, an American businessman arrested and tried for "espionage" and other "crimes against the state" of Hungary in 1950. The book is a self-vindication and a description of Vogel's experience after being arrested for unnamed crimes and held incommunicado with the rest of the world for seventeen months. A "Cliffnotes" version of the trial is available here. The upshot - an American businessman was arrested and held without charges for ninety days, faced a show jury in which his lawyer refused to defend him because the "prosecutor" (read the state) had put forth such a solid case, and then was incarcerated for an additional 14 months until the U.S. government ransomed his release.
The book is interesting as another case study of how "justice" and "business" was conducted behind the Iron Curtain, similar to Solzhenitsyn in spirit if not written as well. Volger's story is another example of how neither justice nor business existed in a world without individual freedoms, in a world in which the all-knowing state was always correct and the value of an individual's life was zero. What is driven home everytime I read another story about life behind the Iron Curtain is the number of apologists for Stalin and his cronies and how many of them are unrepentent to this day.
Whenever anyone denies the Holocaust, they are rightfully disregarded as having nothing more to say and are properly disparaged. However, this is not the case whenever someone denies the Gulag, torture, show trials, and daily terrror that a substantial portion of the world's population had to live with for most of the twentieth century. The unwavering belief in the socialist utopia and the denial of the crushing blow it gives rational men is the worst historical legacy of Marx, Lenin, and Stalin.
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