David Kingsley: Darkness at noon
A play based on Arthur Koestler's novel

This theatrical rendition of Koestler's best known novel left him absolutely unsatisified. When the play cam out in the USA, Koestler was already disappointed enough, but when Kingsley moved it to Europe Koestler felt its style would be absolutely inappropriate for the European public, who had a much closer familiarity with the Soviet power nearby.

Koestler made every effort to force Kingsley to change the play, and at the end he sued him. Koestler was found absolutely wrong, as by the contract he had made with Kingsley he had no editorial control on the contents of the play. Kingsley went ahead with his ideas, and Koestler was bitterly disappointed with this.

Alex Weissberg: Conspiracy of Silence
(London: Hamish Hamilton, 1952)

Alex Weissberg, born in Cracow in 1901, was an Austrian physicist. He joined the Austrian Socialist Party when he was only seventeen, an in 1927 he passed to the Communist party. In 1931 he went to work for the Ukrainan Physical Technical Institute in Kharkov. He and Koestler knew since childhood, and when Koestler traveled to the U.S.S.R. passing through Kharkov it was only natural for him to stay at the Weissbergs: it was their guest for a few months.

Weissberg remained in U.S.S.R, and at the beginning of the great purge he was arrested by the GPU and charged (amongst other) of plotting with the Gestapo and the Trotskyists to kill Stalin.

He remained in the GPU jail for three years, three times confessing under hardship and three times recantating what he had confessed. He would probably have disappeared in an administrative execution, if it wheren't for its Austrian nationality (that he had retained) and for the activity of his wife that (helped by Koestler) had letters written to Stalin by eminent physicists (including Einstein and Joliot-Curie) advocating his case.

In 1939, after the beginning of WWI, as a consequence of the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, all the german prisoners in the U.S.S.R. were handed to the Gestapo. Weissberg, as a Communist Jew, did not have an easy life, managed to escape, was in the Warshaw Ghetto and then joined the Polish Resistance, where he managed to survive through the war.

Koestler's Darkness at noon (set in the midst of the Great Purge) was influenced by the news that Weissberg's wife brought him.

His years through the Great Purge are recounted in his Conspiracy of Silence, a first-hand witness about the inner workings of the GPU prisons published much later in 1952 with a preface by Koestler.