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BOOK TRAILS

Democracy's villain

THE SILENT Conspiracy, by Zoltan G Mesko MD, is the eye-witness account of the siege of the Medical School of Comenius University in Bratislava by Soviet-trained political ideologues in post World War II Czechoslovakia.
The book provides a timely instance of political and religious persecution in post-war Czechoslovakia, telling the shocking account of the hijacking of the medical profession (as that is what it amounted to) by Communist apparatchiks determined to purge the medical community of what they saw as "reactionary" influences.

THE SILENT Conspiracy, by Zoltan G Mesko MD, is the eye-witness account of the siege of the Medical School of Comenius University in Bratislava by Soviet-trained political ideologues in post World War II Czechoslovakia.

The book provides a timely instance of political and religious persecution in post-war Czechoslovakia, telling the shocking account of the hijacking of the medical profession (as that is what it amounted to) by Communist apparatchiks determined to purge the medical community of what they saw as "reactionary" influences. The persecution of the professors (and later students) at the Medical School of Bratislava had both religious and political intent, and started immediately following the end of World War II.

The oppression was as much religious as it was political and designed to suppress any inclinations towards independence that the Slovaks may have had.

The book begins with a helpful overview of Slovak history by M Mark Stolarik.

The second chapter is a history of the university between the wars. Comenius University went from being a Hungarian, to a Czechoslovak to a Slovak university in what the author calls a reflection of the "postwar establishment of Czecho-Slovakia and its political hegemony".

Chapter Three, "Under the Red Flag" tells of how, immediately following World War II in 1945, Communist villainy at the Medical School began. The school's professors were subjected to investigation of their pasts, and many eminent specialists were dismissed and given lowly jobs in provincial Slovakia. Dr Filo, for example, a haematologist with an international reputation, was sent to the provinces and later arrested and accused of being a Vatican agent and religious fanatic.

Chapter Four reveals how "democratization" resulted in the persecution of the Catholic student body, the dismissal of the nuns of the university and the eventual closure and dismantling of the university chapel.

This chapter also relates some of Dr Mesko's personal experiences, including the shame he felt when forced to take part in a May Day parade carrying a banner with the words "Forever with the Soviet Union" emblazoned across it.

Chapter Five, "The Eastern Massacre", takes the story to the eastern city of Košice, recounting how various eminent scientists at the university had their phones bugged and were spied upon by the young zealots of the Communist Party at the university. Eventually, non-compliance with the Communist authorities led to their being sidelined, dismissed and even arrested by the secret police.

Chapter Six, "Forty Years of Bolshe Vita", provides a list of examples of "political trickery" - communist ideologues and their fellow travellers, including some former classmates of Dr Mesko, who took advantage of the years of oppression to further their own careers.

The book offers an absorbing account during a critical period of Slovak history, providing specific first-hand witness of communist oppression and the use of political ideology to undermine a whole profession. The English is good, with errors too minor to distract from the narrative flow.

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