Popular Opinion of a Cruel Star
Heda Margolius Kovaly was a woman who during her time in Czechoslovakia lived through many harsh periods for not only the country, but people of Jewish heritage as well. Her memoir Under a Cruel Star tells her story of hardship from 1941 to 1968. In this memoir she explains her time in Auschwitz, her escape, as well as life in Communist Czechoslovakia, concentrating more on the hardships of Czechoslovakia after World War II. While Kovaly’s memoir depicts the suffering of the Czechoslovakian people as well as the Slansky trials, which her first husband was a victim of, she never really touches upon the fact that many of the people tried, convicted, and killed were of Jewish decent. However, an article entitled “A ‘Polyphony of Voices’? Czech Popular Opinion and the Slansky Affair,” by Kevin McDermott depicts the suffering of the Czech people as well as the trials in a completely different manner, addressing the anti-Semitic actions of the Czechoslovakian government under the rule of Joseph Stalin and the influence that followed his death.
Both the memoir and the article explain the Slansky Trial, each with a different view. In Kovaly’s memoir her husband was one of the Jewish KSC leaders which were tried during that time. It is explained in text that her husband had no connection to Richard Slansky, but it left him questioning the years of devotion he made to the communist government. While the Kovaly perspective shows an outsiders view of what was happening to Slansky McDermott’s article explains why and how Slansky was brought to trial. The article explains how Slansky was a very powerful leader in the KSC party, “he was effectively second in command to Gottwald, responsible for the day-to-day running of the party machine and co-responsible for formulating policy and strategic direction… He was a member of the party’s top decision-making- bodies.” Stalin sent a letter to Gottwald stating that he had “committed a number of...
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