Die Moskauer Prozesse der Jahre 1936 bis 1938 – Monströse Lehrstücke theatraler Entgrenzung
The relationship between law and literature, especially law and theatre, is as far as their tradition is concerned no doubt just as old as our western-style culture. The fact however that we are at all able to speak about a relationship which intrinsically means distinguishing between law and theatre, politics and aesthetics, and last but not least fact and fiction in a profound way is the specific result of a process of systemic differentiation. In this light the Moscow show trials from 1936 to 1938 contrarily prove to be a paradigm of how the differentiation between law and theatre – regarded as separated parts of society – and their cultural and logical distinction dissolves in favour of a unification that also can be considered as a total amalgamation. An amalgamation characteristic of 1930s Soviet culture in so far as in all of their spheres the boundaries between fact and fiction, theatre and political life, literature and reality disappear. The amalgamation of law and theatre in the Moscow trials can be displayed by focusing on their juridical frameworks in terms of the paradoxical structures of political and juridical ,decisionism‘ (an expression established in jurisprudence by the German Carl Schmitt in the first decades of the 20th century) on one hand and the methods of constructing reality in accordance with the theory of Social Realism on the other including the experiments on stage of the so called agitsudy in the 1920s. Against the background of a double bound theatrically and juridically based non-differentiation of law and theatre in Soviet culture, the Moscow show trials – directed by Stalin and conducted by the general prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky – work as a social-realistic machine to eliminate the self-constructedenemy in the fictitious and actual arranged space of a stage-court and operate as monstrous plays of a theatrical transgression.
EUT Edizioni Università di Trieste
Stephan Kossmann, "Die Moskauer Prozesse der Jahre 1936 bis 1938 – Monströse Lehrstücke theatraler Entgrenzung", in: Slavica Tergestina, 13 (2011), pp. 116-141