13 APRIL 1956, Page 17

Letters to the Editor

Distortion with a Difference J. E. M. Arden The Lost Leader Lord Birkenhead, Martin Lindsay, MP, IV. S. Howard An Arrestml Bureaucracy J. M. L. North Judas's Service Rt. Rev. H. L. Hornby Gloucestershire's Laureate F. W. Harvey See What I Mean ? T. L. Littlewood What's in a Name? Robin Morris


8114,—You imply in your 'Portrait of the Week' that Mr. Arthur Koestler has now been shown to have been right when, in Darkness at Noon. he depicted the NKVD promising its victims that, when sufficient time had passed, the truth would be published. This calls for several comments. In the first place it is reasonably certain that the Stalinist political machine could never have made such a promise and Was fully intent on blackening its victims' names permanently. The change that has been taking place is due to the partial disintegration of that machine and, probably, to a desire of some individual leaders to use the past against the others. Secondly, none of those publicly tried in the USSR has (yet at least) been rehabilitated—that has been reserved for army more and vanished Stalinists. Thirdly, and more important, the disappearance of the old falsehoods in these matters does not mean that the. versions being put in their place are neces- sarily true. It is claimed in Hungary, for instance, that the Rajk trial was the sole responsibility of the police chief, Gabor Peter, and not of Rakosi. But it has been fully established (c.g., by Count Karolyi) that Rakosi knew the falsehood of the charges against Rajk. In fact we are now simply being asked to believe in a different set of criminal agents of the West, headed by the imperialist agent and British spy Beria. The only pos- sible sense in which this involves a closer approach to the truth is that it is a falsehood about a much smaller group of • people—to. that. extent, indeed, one must admit that it is an Improvement. (Ironically enough, one of the original accusations against Beria, circu- lated with 'documentary proof' to the foreign C. ommunist Parties, was that he was conspir- ing with Tito.)

It may be noted, incidentally, that several important trials have taken place since the deaths of Stalin and Beria : who, one wonders, will be blamed for the execution of such men "s the 'Titoist' Patrascanu. former Secretary of the Rumanian Communist Party, in 954 ? —Yours faithfully,

London, SW3