An Ancient Russian Custom
When Mr. Pritt, K.C., was asked to explain why the prisoners in the recent Russian “Terrorist” trial confessed so readily and abjectly, he thought he had answered the question by saying that the Russians do this sort of thing—it is a characteristic of the Russians. Now we learn that a new batch of 21 prisoners have been arrested in Russia, charged and found guilty of military and economic espionage, distributing Fascist literature, and plotting terrorist acts in company with Trotsky. Reuter’s Moscow correspondent states that he was told by M. Litvinov, the Russian Foreign Minister, that the majority of the prisoners “had already confessed to the charges made against them” (Daily Telegraph, November 18th).
The prisoners are not, in this case, Russians, but Germans.
We now await a statement from Mr. Pritt that it is a characteristic of the Germans to confess.
A statement published by the Evening Standard has bearing on this point.
“Certainly a Russian trial bears no relation to democratic ideas of justice. But the Bolshevists, who are cynical in these matters, may point out that German methods of justice differ little from their own. When a Communist, spy, or traitor is tried in Germany the proceedings are secret. No documents are produced, and, as often as not, the public is informed that the victim has confessed to his alleged misdeeds.” (Evening Standard, November 23rd, 1936.)