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USSR in the 1930s (2)
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USSR in the 1930s (2) 

 

SOLZHENITSYN

 

1918 Was born to an intellectual family in Kavgaz, studied mathematics in Rostov University and finished a radio communication course on literature. Detained in a concentration camp for eight years for criticizing Stalin during World War II.  
1956 Released from the concentration camp and settled down in Ryazan. While teaching mathematics, he began a career as a writer.  
1970 Received Nobel Peace Prize for "the Gulag Archipelago." 
1974 Arrested for anti-Soviet activity and expelled to Germany.
Later, he was settled in USA.  
1994 Returned to Russia after 20 years in exile. 

In Place of Politicals

A tailor laying aside his needle stuck it into a newspaper on the wall so it wouldn't get lost and happened to stick it in the eye of a portrait of Kaganovich. A customer observed this: Article 58, ten years (terrorism).

A saleswoman accepting merchandise from a forwarder noted down on a sheet of newspaper. There was no other paper. The number of pieces of soap happened to fall on the forehead of Comrade Stalin. Article 58, ten years.

A tractor driver of the Znamenka Machinery and Tractor Station lined his thin shoes for warmth with a pamphlet about the candidate for elections to the Supreme Soviet, but a charwoman noticed it was missing (she was responsible for the leaflets) and found out who had it. KRA-Counter-Revolutionary Agitation - ten years.

The village club manager went with his watchman to buy a bust of Comrade Stalin. They bought it. The bust was big and heavy. They ought to have carried it in a hand barrow, both of them together, but the manager's status did not allow him to. "All right, you'll manage it if you take it slowly." And he went off ahead. The old watchman couldn't work out how to do it for a long time. If he tried to carry it at his side, he couldn't get his arm around it. If he tried to carry it in front of him, his back hurt and he was thrown off balance backward. Finally he figured out how to do it. He took off his belt, made a noose for Comrade Stalin, put it around his neck, and in this way carried it over his shoulder through the village. Well, there was nothing here to argue about. It was an open-and-shut case. Article 58-8, terrorism, ten years.

Ellochka Svirskaya sang a ditty at an amateur concert which just barely touched on something sensitive. And this was open rebellion! 58, ten years.

A deaf and dumb carpenter got a term for counterrevolutionary agitation! How? He was laying floors in a club. Everything had been removed from a big hall, and there was no nail or hook anywhere. While he was working, he hung his jacket and his service cap on a bust of Lenin. Someone came in and saw it. 58, ten years.

And in a state farm bookkeeping office the slogan-hung: "Life has become better; life has become more gay. (Stalin)" And someone added a letter in red pencil to Stalin's name, making the slogan read as though life had become more gay for Stalin. They didn't look for the guilty party - but sentenced the entire bookkeeping office.

Nonsensical? Fantastic? Senseless? It's not at all meaningless. For what is just exactly what "terror as a means of persuasion" is. There is a proverb: "Beat the crow and beat the raven - and in the end you'll get to the white swan!" Just keep beating one after another-and in the end you'll hit the one you need. The primary meaning of mass terror lies precisely in this: even the strong and well hidden who could never be ferreted out simply will be caught and perish.

The charge against Grigory Yefimovich Generalov, from Smolensk Province, was that he "used to drink heavily because he hated the Soviet government." (And actually he used to drink heavily because he and his wife got along badly.) He got eight years.

Irina Tuchinskaya (the fiancee of Sofronitsky's son) was arrested while leaving church. (The intention was to arrest their whole family.) And she was charged with having "prayed in church for the death of Stalin." (Who could have heard that prayer?!) Terrorism! Twenty-five years!

... for the most part fantastic accusations were not really required. There existed a very simple standardized collection of charges from which it was enough for the interrogator to pick one or two and stick them like postage stamps on an envelope:

- Discrediting the Leader 
- A negativ attitude toward the collective-farm structure 
- A negative attitude toward state loans (and what normal person could have had a positive attitude!) 
- A negative attitude toward the Stalinist constitution 
- A negative attitude toward whatever was the immediate, particular - measure being carried out by the Party 
- Sympathy for Trotsky 
- Friendliness toward the United States 
- Etc., etc., etc.* 

* Gulag Archipelago by A. Solzhenitsyn, 1976, III, translation by H.S. Kim, Yolin Chaektul, 1995, Seoul, Korea. pp. 328 - 332