Politics, Law, and Justice in People’s Poland: The Fieldorf File

SLAVIC REVIEW 73.1 (2014)

Abstract: This article examines the case against the Polish resistance fighter August Emil Fieldorf and his subsequent trial. Judicial officials within, or working intimately with, the Soviet secret police made decisions affecting many lives in Poland in 1944–1956. A consideration of the trial proceedings and the backgrounds of selected judicial officials provide a better understanding of the nature of Stalinist justice. Key issues underpinning the trial, related to political contexts, legal maneuverings, and broader considerations surrounding the defendant through the eyes of his persecutors, shed light on the hidden mechanism of Stalinist justice in operation and what constitutes a judicial crime. While its focus is Fieldorf, this article argues that the Polish case study can be instructive in analyzing the ways in which the law was used as a political weapon in other states and regions with similar experiences of totalitarian rule.