In Ernest Hemingway’s novel For Whom the Bell Tolls, the hero Robert Jordan, an American fighting on the Republican side in the Spanish Civil War, receives some advice from Karkov, a Russian ‘journalist’ at the unofficial Soviet headquarters in Madrid.
Jordan has been pressing Karkov on whether the Soviets consider the assassination of political opponents a legitimate technique. Musing ironically on the show trials of Stalin’s rivals then under way in Moscow, Karkov parodies the rhetoric used by prosecutor Andrei Vyshinsky: the accused are ‘the dregs of humanity … we execute and destroy such veritable fiends … These are destroyed. They are not assassinated. You see the difference?’