HUNGARY: Socialist Legality

In the courtyard of a Budapest prison one chilly October morning in 1949, Laszlo Rajk died Hungarian-fashion. He stood on a low stool while the hangman placed a noose round his neck and pulled the rope taut round a hook overhead. Then the stool was kicked out from under him. At that precise moment, from a ladder behind, the executioner reached a hand round the victim's forehead and pulled backward, breaking his neck. It was the final act of obedience to a cause Laszlo Rajk had ruthlessly served.

Laszlo Rajk was a firebrand Communist who was wounded fighting in...