5 DECEMBER 1952, Page 3

The Tragic ,Farce at Prague

The execution of the eleven accused Communist leaders has followed immediately on their condemnation, the normal right Of appeal being denied them. The trial having followed with almost fantastic fidelity the pattern set years ago in Moscow and reproduced with hardly a variation in the different satel- lite countries, no comment on it can be based on considerations Of either justice or reason. The real question is what lay behind it. Personal animosities probably enough played some part. Failure of the various Government projects for industry and agriculture no doubt required scapegoats; hence the inclu- sion in the indictment of "economic sabotage." The routine charge of supplying information to Western Powers can be dismissed, if only because there is no information about Czechoslovakia which Western Powers particularly need. The dead men were of course all Communists. Anti- Communists are probably disposed of without the formality of a trial. It is impossible to attach weight to the charges, the evidence or the confessions. All follow the approved model. M. Clementis, no doubt, was suspect as a former colleague of Jan Masaryk. Eight out of the eleven were Jews—a fact which may or may not be relevant. One thing dear is that things are far from well with the Communist Party in Czechoslovakia. That might be expected, for Communism was forced from without on a country to which it was more funClamen tally uncongenial than to some or other Eastern European States Which have been compelled to embrace it. How Czechoslovakia, from being one of the most prosperous and genuinely democratic States in Europe, was reduced to her present condition is a matter of past history, though history which is still in part obscure. How she can be redeemed, fail- ing a Third World War, is impossible to conjecture. Modifica- tion of the regime in the satellite States must inevitably await modification of the regime in Russia. There could hardly be a more sombre prospect.