MY MIND ON TRIAL by Eugen Loebl


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Recollections of incarceration in a Czech prison from a survivor who was denounced as ""an enemy of the working class."" In 1949 when he was the Czechoslovak first deputy minister of foreign trade, Loebl appreciated his position as part of the ruling elite. A devoted Socialist from a bourgeois background, he received the Gold Star of February and kudos all around for his work in Washington. With no warning he was called by party security head Svab to write his ""biography""; what followed is the now-familiar form of Communist injustice and the consequent breakdown of his opposition to false accusations. Loebl was a Marxist, loyal and naive enough to believe his innocence would provide a defense. Although he resisted the relentless Kohoutek for fourteen months, knowing that the inquisitor's career depended on his admission of sabotage, despair drove him to fake a confession. He restored his equilibrium by logical exercises, even wrote and memorized a book (published in 1967); he felt little guilt about giving in until forced to confront the man he had implicated, a problem he cleverly circumvented. Prepared for a showcase trial, he played his part, was sentenced to life imprisonment, then released eight years later during a general pardon. He remained in Czechoslovakia, later worked with Dubcek until the 1968 Soviet invasion, now teaches economics at Vassar. Disillusioned, he sees gross insensitivity and brutality built into any Marxist system, and continues to proselytize the truths he discovered in prison. This is neither the first nor the most engrossing record, of persecution for imaginary crimes but it provides a strong analysis of the mentalities in the interrogation room.

Pub Date: Oct. 8th, 1976
Publisher: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich