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The Gulag Archipelago (1973) Wikipedia - Gulag Archipelago

THE GULAG ARCHIPELAGO
AN EXPERIMENT IN LITERARY INVESTIGATION
SOLZHENITSYN

(BOOK 1 OF 3)

                I dedicate this
to all those who did not live
                to tell it.
And may they please forgive me
                for not having seen it all
                                nor remembered it all,
                for not having divined all of it.

Author's Note

For years I have with reluctant heart withheld from publication this already completed book: my obligation to those still living outweighed my obligation to the dead. But now that State Security has seized the book anyway, I have no alternative but to publish it immediately.

In this book there are no fictitious persons, nor fictitious events. People and places are named with their own names. If they are identified by initials instead of names, it is for personal considerations. If they are not named at all, it is only because human memory has failed to preserve their names. But it all took place just as it is here described.

Contents

Preface

PART I
The Prison Industry

"In the period of dictatorship, surrounded on all sides by enemies, we sometimes manifested unnecessary leniency and unnecessary softheartedness."

KRYLENKO,
speech at the Promparty trial

1. Arrest
2. The History of Our Sewage Disposal System
3. The Interrogation
4. The Bluecaps
5. First Cell, First Love
6. That Spring
7. In the Engine Room
8. The Law as a Child
9. The Law Becomes a Man
10. The Law Matures
11. The Supreme Measure
12. Tyurzak

PART II
Perpetual Motion

And then we see it in the wheels,
                the wheels!
Which never like to rest,
                the wheels! . . .
How heavy are the stones themselves,
                the millstones!
They dance in merry ranks . . .
                the millstones!
W. MÜLLER

1. The Ships of the Archipelago
2. The Ports of the Archipelago
3. The Slave Caravans
4. From Island to Island

Translator's Notes

Glossary:
Names
Institutions and Terms

ILLUSTRATIONS
Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn In the army
In detention After his release from camp

Viktor Petrovich Pokrovsky
Aleksandr Shtrobinder
Vasily Ivanovich Anichkov
Aleksandr Andreyevich Svechin
Mikhail Aleksandrovich Reformatsky
Yelizaveta Yevgenyevna Anichkova

Preface

In 1949 some friends and I came upon a noteworthy news item in Nature, a magazine of the Academy of Sciences. It reported in tiny type that in the course of excavations on the Kolyma River a subterranean ice lens had been discovered which was actually a frozen stream—and in it were found frozen specimens of prehistoric fauna some tens of thousands of years old. Whether fish or salamander, these were preserved in so fresh a state, the scientific correspondent reported, that those present immediately broke open the ice encasing the specimens and devoured them with relish on the spot.

The magazine no doubt astonished its small audience with the news of how successfully the flesh of fish could be kept fresh in a frozen state. But few, indeed, among its readers were able to decipher the genuine and heroic meaning of this incautious report.

As for us, however—we understood instantly. We could picture the entire scene right down to the smallest details: how those present broke up the ice in frenzied haste; how, flouting the higher claims of ichthyology and elbowing each other to be first, they tore off chunks of the prehistoric flesh and hauled them over to the bonfire to thaw them out and bolt them down.

We understood because we ourselves were the same kind of people as those present at that event. We, too, were from that powerful tribe of zeks, unique on the face of the earth, the only people who could devour prehistoric salamander with relish.

And the Kolyma was the greatest and most famous island, the pole of ferocity of that amazing country of Gulag which, though scattered in an Archipelago geographically, was, in the psychological sense, fused into a continent—an almost invisible, almost imperceptible country inhabited by the zek people.

And this Archipelago crisscrossed and patterned that other country within which it was located, like a gigantic patchwork, cutting into its cities, hovering over its streets. Yet there were many who did not even guess at its presence and many, many others who had heard something vague. And only those who had been there knew the whole truth.

But, as though stricken dumb on the islands of the Archipelago, they kept their silence.

By an unexpected turn of our history, a bit of the truth, an insignificant part of the whole, was allowed out in the open. But those same hands which once screwed tight our handcuffs now hold out their palms in reconciliation: "No, don't! Don't dig up the past! Dwell on the past and you'll lose an eye."

But the proverb goes on to say: "Forget the past and you'll lose both eyes."

Decades go by, and the scars and sores of the past are healing over for good. In the course of this period some of the islands of the Archipelago have shuddered and dissolved and the polar sea of oblivion rolls over them. And someday in the future, this Archipelago, its air, and the bones of its inhabitants, frozen in a lens of ice, will be discovered by our descendants like some improbable salamander.

I would not be so bold as to try to write the history of the Archipelago. I have never had the chance to read the documents. And, in fact, will anyone ever have the chance to read them? Those who do not wish to recall have already had enough time—and will have more—to destroy all the documents, down to the very last one.

I have absorbed into myself my own eleven years there not as something shameful nor as a nightmare to be cursed: I have come almost to love that monstrous world, and now, by a happy turn of events, I have also been entrusted with many recent reports and letters. So perhaps I shall be able to give some account of the bones and flesh of that salamander—which, incidentally, is still alive.

This book could never have been created by one person alone. In addition to what I myself was able to take away from the Archipelago—on the skin of my back, and with my eyes and ears—material for this book was given me in reports, memoirs, and letters by 227 witnesses, whose names were to have been listed here.

What I here express to them is not personal gratitude, because this is our common, collective monument to all those who were tortured and murdered.

From among them I would like to single out in particular those who worked hard to help me obtain supporting bibliographical material from books to be found in contemporary libraries or from books long since removed from libraries and destroyed; great persistence was often required to find even one copy which had been preserved. Even more would I like to pay tribute to those who helped me keep this manuscript concealed in difficult periods and then to have it copied.

But the time has not yet come when I dare name them.

The old Solovetsky Islands prisoner Dmitri Petrovich Vitkovsky was to have been editor of this book. But his half a lifetime spent there—indeed, his own camp memoirs are entitled "Half a Lifetime"—resulted in untimely paralysis, and it was not until after he had already been deprived of the gift of speech that he was able to read several completed chapters only and see for himself that everything will be told.

And if freedom still does not dawn on my country for a long time to come, then the very reading and handing on of this book will be very dangerous, so that I am bound to salute future readers as well—on behalf of those who have perished.

When I began to write this book in 1958, I knew of no memoirs nor works of literature dealing with the camps. During my years of work before 1967 I gradually became acquainted with the Kolyma Stories of Varlam Shalamov and the memoirs of Dmitri Vitkovsky, Y. Ginzburg, and O. Adamova-Sliozberg, to which I refer in the course of my narrative as literary facts known to all (as indeed they someday shall be).

Despite their intent and against their will, certain persons provided invaluable material for this book and helped preserve many important facts and statistics as well as the very air they breathed: M. I. Sudrabs-Latsis, N. V. Krylenko, the Chief State Prosecutor for many years, his heir A. Y. Vyshinsky, and those jurists who were his accomplices, among whom one must single out in particular I. L. Averbakh.

Material for this book was also provided by thirty-six Soviet writers, headed by Maxim Gorky, authors of the disgraceful book on the White Sea Canal, which was the first in Russian literature to glorify slave labor.

 

Alexander Solzhennitsyn

Chapter 1
Arrest

How do people get to this clandestine Archipelago? Hour by hour planes fly there, ships steer their course there, and trains thunder off to it—but all with nary a mark on them to tell of their destination. And at ticket windows or at travel bureaus for Soviet or foreign tourists the employees would be astounded if you were to ask for a ticket to go there. They know nothing and they've never heard of the Archipelago as a whole or of any one of its innumerable islands.

Those who go to the Archipelago to administer it get there via the training schools of the Ministry of Internal Affairs.

Those who go there to be guards are conscripted via the military conscription centers.

And those who, like you and me, dear reader, go there to die, must get there solely and compulsorily via arrest.

Arrest! Need it be said that it is a breaking point in your life, a bolt of lightning which has scored a direct hit on you? That it is an unassimilable spiritual earthquake not every person can cope with, as a result of which people often slip into insanity?

The Universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it. Each of us is a center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you: "You are under arrest."

If you are arrested, can anything else remain unshattered by this cataclysm?

But the darkened mind is incapable of embracing these displacements in our universe, and both the most sophisticated and the veriest simpleton among us, drawing on all life's experience, can gasp out only: "Me? What for?"

And this is a question which, though repeated millions and millions of times before, has yet to receive an answer.

Arrest is an instantaneous, shattering thrust, expulsion, somersault from one state into another.

We have been happily borne—or perhaps have unhappily dragged our weary way—down the long and crooked streets of our lives, past all kinds of walls and fences made of rotting wood, rammed earth, brick, concrete, iron railings. We have never given a thought to what lies behind them. We have never tried to penetrate them with our vision or our understanding. But there is where the Gulag country begins, right next to us, two yards away from us. In addition, we have failed to notice an enormous number of closely fitted, well-disguised doors and gates in these fences. All those gates were prepared for us, every last one! And all of a sudden the fateful gate swings quickly open, and four white male hands, unaccustomed to physical labor but nonetheless strong and tenacious, grab us by the leg, arm, collar, cap, ear, and drag us in like a sack, and the gate behind us, the gate to our past life, is slammed shut once and for all.

That's all there is to it! You are arrested!

And you'll find nothing better to respond with than a lamblike bleat: "Me? What for?"

That's what arrest is: it's a blinding flash and a blow which shifts the present instantly into the past and the impossible into omnipotent actuality.

That's all. And neither for the first hour nor for the first day will you be able to grasp anything else.

Except that in your desperation the fake circus moon will blink at you: "It's a mistake! They'll set things right!"

And everything which is by now comprised in the traditional, even literary, image of an arrest will pile up and take shape, not in your own disordered memory, but in what your family and your neighbors in your apartment remember: The sharp night-time ring or the rude knock at the door. The insolent entrance of the unwiped jackboots of the unsleeping State Security operatives. The frightened and cowed civilian witness at their backs. (And what function does this civilian witness serve? The victim doesn't even dare think about it and the operatives don't remember, but that's what the regulations call for, and so he has to sit there all night long and sign in the morning.

[The regulation, purposeless in itself, derives, N.M. recalls, from that strange time when the citizenry not only was supposed to but actually dared to verify the actions of the police.]

For the witness, jerked from his bed, it is torture too—to go out night after night to help arrest his own neighbors and acquaintances.)

The traditional image of arrest is also trembling hands packing for the victim—a change of underwear, a piece of soap, something to eat; and no one knows what is needed, what is permitted, what clothes are best to wear; and the Security agents keep interrupting and hurrying you:

"You don't need anything. They'll feed you there. It's warm there." (It's all lies. They keep hurrying you to frighten you.)

The traditional image of arrest is also what happens afterward, when the poor victim has been taken away. It is an alien, brutal, and crushing force totally dominating the apartment for hours on end, a breaking, ripping open, pulling from the walls, emptying things from wardrobes and desks onto the floor, shaking, dumping out, and ripping apart—piling up mountains of litter on the floor—and the crunch of things being trampled beneath jackboots. And nothing is sacred in a search! During the arrest of the locomotive engineer Inoshin, a tiny coffin stood in his room containing the body of his newly dead child. The "jurists" dumped the child's body out of the coffin and searched it. They shake sick people out of their sickbeds, and they unwind bandages to search beneath them.

[When in 1937 they wiped out Dr. Kazakov's institute, the "commission" broke up the jars containing the lysates developed by him, even though patients who had been cured and others still being treated rushed around them, begging them to preserve the miraculous medicines. (According to the official version, the lysates were supposed to be poisons; in that case, why should they not have been kept as material evidence?)]

Nothing is so stupid as to be inadmissible during a search! For example, they seized from the antiquarian Chetverukhin "a certain number of pages of Tsarist decrees"—to wit, the decree on ending the war with Napoleon, on the formation of the Holy Alliance, and a proclamation of public prayers against cholera during the epidemic of 1830. From our greatest expert on Tibet, Vostrikov, they confiscated ancient Tibetan manuscripts of great value; and it took the pupils of the deceased scholar thirty years to wrest them from the KGB! When the Orientalist Nevsky was arrested, they grabbed Tangut manuscripts—and twenty-five years later the deceased victim was posthumously awarded a Lenin Prize for deciphering them. From Karger they took his archive of the Yenisei Ostyaks and vetoed the alphabet and vocabulary he had developed for this people—and a small nationality was thereby left without any written language. It would take a long time to describe all this in educated speech, but there's a folk saying about the search which covers the subject: They are looking for something which was never put there. They carry off whatever they have seized, but sometimes they compel the arrested individual to carry it. Thus Nina Aleksandrovna Palchinskaya hauled over her shoulder a bag filled with the papers and letters of her eternally busy and active husband, the late great Russian engineer, carrying it into their maw—once and for all, forever.

For those left behind after the arrest there is the long tail end of a wrecked and devastated life. And the attempts to go and deliver food parcels. But from all the windows the answer comes in barking voices: "Nobody here by that name!" "Never heard of him!" Yes, and in the worst days in Leningrad it took five days of standing in crowded lines just to get to that window. And it may be only after half a year or a year that the arrested person responds at all. Or else the answer is tossed out: "Deprived of the right to correspond." And that means once and for all. "No right to correspondence"—and that almost for certain means: "Has been shot."

[In other words, "We live in the cursed conditions in which a human being can disappear into the void and even his closest relatives, his mother and his wife ... do not know for years what has become of him." Is that right or not? That is what Lenin wrote in 1910 in his obituary of Babushkin. But let's speak frankly: Babushkin was transporting arms for an uprising, and was caught with them when he was shot. He knew what he was doing. You couldn't say that about helpless rabbits like us.]

That's how we picture arrest to ourselves.

The kind of night arrest described is, in fact, a favorite, because it has important advantages. Everyone living in the apartment is thrown into a state of terror by the first knock at the door. The arrested person is torn from the warmth of his bed. He is in a daze, half-asleep, helpless, and his judgment is befogged. In a night arrest the State Security men have a superiority in numbers; there are many of them, armed, against one person who hasn't even finished buttoning his trousers. During the arrest and search it is highly improbable that a crowd of potential supporters will gather at the entrance. The unhurried, step-by-step visits, first to one apartment, then to another, tomorrow to a third and a fourth, provide an opportunity for the Security operations personnel to be deployed with the maximum efficiency and to imprison many more citizens of a given town than the police force itself numbers.

In addition, there's an advantage to night arrests in that neither the people in neighboring apartment houses nor those on the city streets can see how many have been taken away. Arrests which frighten the closest neighbors are no event at all to those farther away. It's as if they had not taken place. Along that same asphalt ribbon on which the Black Marias scurry at night, a tribe of youngsters strides by day with banners, flowers, and gay, untroubled songs.

But those who take, whose work consists solely of arrests, for whom the horror is boringly repetitive, have a much broader understanding of how arrests operate. They operate according to a large body of theory, and innocence must not lead one to ignore this. The science of arrest is an important segment of the course on general penology and has been propped up with a substantial body of social theory. Arrests are classified according to various criteria: nighttime and daytime; at home, at work, during a journey; first-time arrests and repeats; individual and group arrests. Arrests are distinguished by the degree of surprise required, the amount of resistance expected (even though in tens of millions of cases no resistance was expected and in fact there was none). Arrests are also differentiated by the thoroughness of the required search;by instructions either to make out or not to make out an inventory of confiscated property or seal a room or apartment; to arrest the wife after the husband and send the children to an orphanage, or to send the rest of the family into exile, or to send the old folks to a labor camp too.

[And there is a separate Science of Searches too. I have had the chance to read a pamphlet on this subject for correspondence-school law students in Alma-Ata. Its author praises highly those police officials who in the course of their searches went so far as to turn over two tons of manure, eight cubic yards of firewood, or two loads of hay; cleaned the snow from an entire collective-farm vegetable plot, dismantled brick ovens, dug up cesspools, checked out toilet bowls, looked into doghouses, chicken coops, birdhouses, tore apart mattresses, ripped adhesive tape off people's bodies and even tore out metal teeth in the search for microfilm. Students were advised to begin and to end with a body search (during the course of the search the arrested person might have grabbed up something that had already been examined). They were also advised to return to the site of a search at a different time of day and carry out the search all over again.]

No, no: arrests vary widely in form. In 1926 Irma Mendel, a Hungarian, obtained through the Comintern two front-row tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre. Interrogator Klegel was courting her at the time and she invited him to go with her. They sat through the show very affectionately, and when it was over he took her—straight to the Lubyanka. And if on a flowering June day in 1927 on Kuznetsky Most, the plump-cheeked, redheaded beauty Anna Skripnikova, who had just bought some navy-blue material for a dress, climbed into a hansom cab with a young man-about-town, you can be sure it wasn't a lovers' tryst at all, as the cabman understood very well and showed by his frown (he knew the Organs don't pay). It was an arrest. In just a moment they would turn on the Lubyanka and enter the black maw of the gates. And if, some twenty-two springs later, Navy Captain Second Rank Boris Burkovsky, wearing a white tunic and a trace of expensive eau de cologne, was buying a cake for a young lady, do not take an oath that the cake would ever reach the young lady and not be sliced up instead by the knives of the men searching the captain and then delivered to him in his first cell. No, one certainly cannot say that daylight arrest, arrest during a journey, or arrest in the middle of a crowd has ever been neglected in our country. However, it has always been clean-cut—and, most surprising of all, the victims, in cooperation with the Security men, have conducted themselves in the noblest conceivable manner, so as to spare the living from witnessing the death of the condemned.

Not everyone can be arrested at home, with a preliminary knock at the door (and if there is a knock, then it has to be the house manager or else the postman). And not everyone can be arrested at work either. If the person to be arrested is vicious, then it's better to seize him outside his ordinary milieu—away from his family and colleagues, from those who share his views, from any hiding places. It is essential that he have no chance to destroy, hide, or pass on anything to anyone. VIP's in the military or the Party were sometimes first given new assignments, ensconced in a private railway car, and then arrested en route. Some obscure, ordinary mortal, scared to death by epidemic arrests all around him and already depressed for a week by sinister glances from his chief, is suddenly summoned to the local Party committee, where he is beamingly presented with a vacation ticket to a Sochi sanatorium. The rabbit is overwhelmed and immediately concludes that his fears were groundless. After expressing his gratitude, he hurries home, triumphant, to pack his suitcase. It is only two hours till train time, and he scolds his wife for being too slow. He arrives at the station with time to spare. And there in the waiting room or at the bar he is hailed by an extraordinarily pleasant young man: "Don't you remember me, Pyotr Ivanich?" Pyotr Ivanich has difficulty remembering: "Well, not exactly, you see, although ..." The young man, however, is overflowing with friendly concern: "Come now, how can that be? I'll have to remind you. . . ." And he bows respectfully to Pyotr Ivanich's wife: "You must forgive us. I'll keep him only one minute." The wife accedes, and trustingly the husband lets himself be led away by the arm—forever or for ten years!

The station is thronged—and no one notices anything. . . . Oh, you citizens who love to travel! Do not forget that in every station there are a GPU Branch and several prison cells.

This importunity of alleged acquaintances is so abrupt that only a person who has not had the wolfish preparation of camp life is likely to pull back from it. Do not suppose, for example, that if you are an employee of the American Embassy by the name of Alexander D. you cannot be arrested in broad daylight on Gorky Street, right by the Central Telegraph Office. Your unfamiliar friend dashes through the press of the crowd, and opens his plundering arms to embrace you: "Saaasha!" He simply shouts at you, with no effort to be inconspicuous. "Hey, pal! Long time no see! Come on over, let's get out of the way." At that moment a Pobeda sedan draws up to the curb. . . . And several days later TASS will issue an angry statement to all the papers alleging that informed circles of the Soviet government have no information on the disappearance of Alexander D. But what's so unusual about that? Our boys have carried out such arrests in Brussels—which was where Zhora Blednov was seized—not just in Moscow.

One has to give the Organs their due: in an age when public speeches, the plays in our theaters, and women's fashions all seem to have come off assembly lines, arrests can be of the most varied kind. They take you aside in a factory corridor after you have had your pass checked—and you're arrested. They take you from a military hospital with a temperature of 102, as they did with Ans Bernshtein, and the doctor will not raise a peep about your arrest—just let him try! They'll take you right off the operating table—as they took N. M. Vorobyev, a school inspector, in 1936, in the middle of an operation for stomach ulcer—and drag you off to a cell, as they did him, half-alive and all bloody (as Karpunich recollects). Or, like Nadya Levitskaya, you try to get information about your mother's sentence, and they give it to you, but it turns out to be a confrontation—and your own arrest! In the Gastronome—the fancy food store—you are invited to the special-order department and arrested there. You are arrested by a religious pilgrim whom you have put up for the night "for the sake of Christ." You are arrested by a meterman who has come to read your electric meter. You are arrested by a bicyclist who has run into you on the street, by a railway conductor, a taxi driver, a savings bank teller, the manager of a movie theater. Any one of them can arrest you, and you notice the concealed maroon-colored identification card only when it is too late.

Sometimes arrests even seem to be a game—there is so much superfluous imagination, so much well-fed energy, invested in them. After all, the victim would not resist anyway. Is it that the Security agents want to justify their employment and their numbers? After all, it would seem enough to send notices to all the rabbits marked for arrest, and they would show up obediently at the designated hour and minute at the iron gates of State Security with a bundle in their hands—ready to occupy a piece of floor in the cell for which they were intended. And, in fact, that's the way collective farmers are arrested. Who wants to go all the way to a hut at night, with no roads to travel on? They are summoned to the village soviet—-and arrested there. Manual workers are called into the office.

Of course, every machine has a point at which it is overloaded, beyond which it cannot function. In the strained and overloaded years of 1945 and 1946, when trainload after trainload poured in from Europe, to be swallowed up immediately and sent off to Gulag, all that excessive theatricality went out the window, and the whole theory suffered greatly. All the fuss and feathers of ritual went flying in every direction, and the arrest of tens of thousands took on the appearance of a squalid roll call: they stood there with lists, read off the names of those on one train, loaded them onto another, and that was the whole arrest.

For several decades political arrests were distinguished in our country precisely by the fact that people were arrested who were guilty of nothing and were therefore unprepared to put up any resistance whatsoever. There was a general feeling of being destined for destruction, a sense of having nowhere to escape from the GPU-NKVD (which, incidentally, given our internal passport system, was quite accurate). And even in the fever of epidemic arrests, when people leaving for work said farewell to their families every day, because they could not be certain they would return at night, even then almost no one tried to run away and only in rare cases did people commit suicide. And that was exactly what was required. A submissive sheep is a find for a wolf.

This submissiveness was also due to ignorance of the mechanics of epidemic arrests. By and large, the Organs had no profound reasons for their choice of whom to arrest and whom not to arrest. They merely had over-all assignments, quotas for a specific number of arrests. These quotas might be filled on an orderly basis or wholly arbitrarily. In 1937 a woman came to the reception room of the Novocherkassk NKVD to ask what she should do about the unfed unweaned infant of a neighbor who had been arrested. They said: "Sit down, we'll find out." She sat there for two hours—whereupon they took her and tossed her into a cell. They had a total plan which had to be fulfilled in a hurry, and there was no one available to send out into the city—and here was this woman already in their hands!

On the other hand, the NKVD did come to get the Latvian Andrei Pavel near Orsha. But he didn't open the door; he jumped out the window, escaped, and shot straight to Siberia. And even though he lived under his own name, and it was clear from his documents that he had come from Orsha, he was never arrested, nor summoned to the Organs, nor subjected to any suspicion whatsoever. After all, search for wanted persons falls into three categories: Ail-Union, republican, and provincial. And the pursuit of nearly half of those arrested in those epidemics would have been confined to the provinces. A person marked for arrest by virtue of chance circumstances, such as a neighbor's denunciation, could be easily replaced by another neighbor. Others, like Andrei Pavel, who found themselves in a trap or an ambushed apartment by accident, and who were bold enough to escape immediately, before they could be questioned, were never caught and never charged; while those who stayed behind to await justice got a term in prison. And the overwhelming majority—almost all—behaved just like that: without any spirit, helplessly, with a sense of doom.

It is true, of course, that the NKVD, in the absence of the person it wanted, would make his relatives guarantee not to leave the area. And, of course, it was easy enough to cook up a case against those who stayed behind to replace the one who had fled.

Universal innocence also gave rise to the universal failure to act. Maybe they won't take you? Maybe it will all blow over? A. I. Ladyzhensky was the chief teacher in a school in remote Kologriv. In 1937 a peasant approached him in an open market and passed him a message from a third person: "Aleksandr Ivanich, get out of town, you are on the list!" But he stayed: After all, the whole school rests on my shoulders, and their own children are pupils here. How can they arrest me? (Several days later he was arrested.) Not everyone was so fortunate as to understand at the age of fourteen, as did Vanya Levitsky: "Every honest man is sure to go to prison. Right now my papa is serving time, and when I grow up they'll put me in too." (They put him in when he was twenty-three years old.) The majority sit quietly and dare to hope. Since you aren't guilty, then how can they arrest you? It's a mistake! They are already dragging you along by the collar, and you still keep on exclaiming to yourself: "It's a mistake! They'll set things straight and let me out!" Others are being arrested en masse, and that's a bothersome fact, but in those other cases there is always some dark area: "Maybe he was guilty . . . ?" But as for you, you are obviously innocent! You still believe that the Organs are humanly logical institutions: they will set things straight and let you out.

Why, then, should you run away? And how can you resist right then? After all, you'll only make your situation worse; you'll make it more difficult for them to sort out the mistake. And it isn't just that you don't put up any resistance; you even walk down the stairs on tiptoe, as you are ordered to do, so your neighbors won't hear.

[And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur—what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked? The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!

If ... if ... We didn't love freedom enough. And even more—we had no awareness of the real situation. We spent ourselves in one unrestrained outburst in 1917, and then we hurried to submit. We submitted with pleasure! (Arthur Ransome describes a workers' meeting in Yaroslavl in 1921. Delegates were sent to the workers from the Central Committee in Moscow to confer on the substance of the argument about trade unions. The representative of the opposition, Y. Larin, explained to the workers that their trade union must be their defense against the administration, that they possessed rights which they had won and upon which no one else had any right to infringe. The workers, however, were completely indifferent, simply not comprehending whom they still needed to be defended against and why they still needed any rights. When the spokesman for the Party line rebuked them for their laziness and for getting out of hand, and demanded sacrifices from them—overtime work without pay, reductions in food, military discipline in the factory administration—this aroused great elation and applause.) We purely and simply deserved everything that happened afterward.]

At what exact point, then, should one resist? When one's belt is taken away? When one is ordered to face into a corner? When one crosses the threshold of one's home? An arrest consists of a series of incidental irrelevancies, of a multitude of things that do not matter, and there seems no point in arguing about any one of them individually—especially at a time when the thoughts of the person arrested are wrapped tightly about the big question: "What for?"—and yet all these incidental irrelevancies taken together implacably constitute the arrest.

Almost anything can occupy the thoughts of a person who has just been arrested! This alone would fill volumes. There can be feelings which we never suspected. When nineteen-year-old Yevgeniya Doyarenko was arrested in 1921 and three young Chekists were poking about her bed and through the underwear in her chest of drawers, she was not disturbed. There was nothing there, and they would find nothing. But all of a sudden they touched her personal diary, which she would not have shown even to her own mother. And these hostile young strangers reading the words she had written was more devastating to her than the whole Lubyanka with its bars and its cellars. It is true of many that the outrage inflicted by arrest on their personal feelings and attachments can be far, far stronger than their political beliefs or their fear of prison. A person who is not inwardly prepared for the use of violence against him is always weaker than the person committing the violence.

There are a few bright and daring individuals who understand instantly. Grigoryev, the Director of the Geological Institute of the Academy of Sciences, barricaded himself inside and spent two hours burning up his papers when they came to arrest him in 1948.

Sometimes the principal emotion of the person arrested is relief and even happiness! This is another aspect of human nature. It happened before the Revolution too: the Yekaterinodar schoolteacher Serdyukova, involved in the case of Aleksandr Ulyanov, felt only relief when she was arrested. But this feeling was a thousand times stronger during epidemics of arrests when all around you they were hauling in people like yourself and still had not come for you; for some reason they were taking their time. After all, that kind of exhaustion, that kind of suffering, is worse than any kind of arrest, and not only for a person of limited courage. Vasily Vlasov, a fearless Communist, whom we shall recall more than once later on, renounced the idea of escape proposed by his non-Party assistants, and pined away because the entire leadership of the Kady District was arrested in 1937, and they kept delaying and delaying his own arrest. He could only endure the blow head on. He did endure it, and then he relaxed, and during the first days after his arrest he felt marvelous. In 1934 the priest Father Irakly went to Alma-Ata to visit some believers in exile there. During his absence they came three times to his Moscow apartment to arrest him. When he returned, members of his flock met him at the station and refused to let him go home, and for eight years hid him in one apartment after another. The priest suffered so painfully from this harried life that when he was finally arrested in 1942 he sang hymns of praise to God.

In this chapter we are speaking only of the masses, the helpless rabbits arrested for no one knows what reason. But in this book we will also have to touch on those who in postrevolutionary times remained genuinely political. Vera Rybakova, a Social Democratic student, dreamed when she was in freedom of being in the detention center in Suzdal. Only there did she hope to encounter her old comrades—for there were none of them left in freedom. And only there could she work out her world outlook. The Socialist Revolutionary—the SR—Yekaterina Olitskaya didn't consider herself worthy of being imprisoned in 1924. After all, Russia's best people had served time and she was still young and had not yet done anything for Russia. But freedom itself was expelling her. And so both of them went to prison—with pride and happiness.

"Resistance! Why didn't you resist?" Today those who have continued to live on in comfort scold those who suffered.

Yes, resistance should have begun right there, at the moment of the arrest itself.

But it did not begin.

And so they are leading you. During a daylight arrest there is always that brief and unique moment when they are leading you, either inconspicuously, on the basis of a cowardly deal you have made, or else quite openly, their pistols unholstered, through a crowd of hundreds of just such doomed innocents as yourself. You aren't gagged. You really can and you really ought to cry out—to cry out that you are being arrested! That villains in disguise are trapping people! That arrests are being made on the strength of false denunciations! That millions are being subjected to silent reprisals! If many such outcries had been heard all over the city in the course of a day, would not our fellow citizens perhaps have begun to bristle? And would arrests perhaps no longer have been so easy?

In 1927, when submissiveness had not yet softened our brains to such a degree, two Chekists tried to arrest a woman on Serpukhov Square during the day. She grabbed hold of the stanchion of a streetlamp and began to scream, refusing to submit. A crowd gathered. (There had to have been that kind of woman; there had to have been that kind of crowd too! Passers-by didn't all just close their eyes and hurry by!) The quick young men immediately became flustered. They can't work in the public eye. They got into their car and fled. (Right then and there she should have gone to a railroad station and left! But she went home to spend the night. And during the night they took her off to the Lubyanka.)

Instead, not one sound comes from your parched lips, and that passing crowd naively believes that you and your executioners are friends out for a stroll.

I myself often had the chance to cry out.

On the eleventh day after my arrest, three SMERSH bums, more burdened by four suitcases full of war booty than by me (they had come to rely on me in the course of the long trip), brought me to the Byelorussian Station in Moscow. They were called a Special Convoy—in other words, a special escort guard —but in actual fact their automatic pistols only interfered with their dragging along the four terribly heavy bags of loot they and their chiefs in SMERSH counterintelligence on the Second Byelorussian Front had plundered in Germany and were now bringing to their families in the Fatherland under the pretext of convoying me. I myself lugged a fifth suitcase with no great joy since it contained my diaries and literary works, which were being used as evidence against me.

Not one of the three knew the city, and it was up to me to pick the shortest route to the prison. I had personally to conduct them to the Lubyanka, where they had never been before (and which, in fact, I confused with the Ministry of Foreign Affairs).

I had spent one day in the counterintelligence prison at army headquarters and three days in the counterintelligence prison at the headquarters of the front, where my cellmates had educated me in the deceptions practiced by the interrogators, their threats and beatings; in the fact that once a person was arrested he was never released; and in the inevitability of a tenner, a ten-year sentence; and then by a miracle I had suddenly burst out of there and for four days had traveled like a free person among free people, even though my flanks had already lain on rotten straw beside the latrine bucket, my eyes had already beheld beaten-up and sleepless men, my ears had heard the truth, and my mouth had tasted prison gruel. So why did I keep silent? Why, in my last minute out in the open, did I not attempt to enlighten the hoodwinked crowd?

I kept silent, too, in the Polish city of Brodnica—but maybe they didn't understand Russian there. I didn't call out one word on the streets of Bialystok—but maybe it wasn't a matter that concerned the Poles. I didn't utter a sound at the Volkovysk Station—but there were very few people there. I walked along the Minsk Station platform beside those same bandits as if nothing at all were amiss—but the station was still a ruin. And now I was leading the SMERSH men through the circular upper concourse of the Byelorussian-Radial subway station on the Moscow circle line, with its white-ceilinged dome and brilliant electric lights, and opposite us two parallel escalators, thickly packed with Muscovites, rising from below. It seemed as though they were all looking at me! They kept coming in an endless ribbon from down there, from the depths of ignorance—on and on beneath the gleaming dome, reaching toward me for at least one word of truth—so why did I keep silent?

Every man always has handy a dozen glib little reasons why he is right not to sacrifice himself.

Some still have hopes of a favorable outcome to their case and are afraid to ruin their chances by an outcry. (For, after all, we get no news from that other world, and we do not realize that from the very moment of arrest our fate has almost certainly been decided in the worst possible sense and that we cannot make it any worse.) Others have not yet attained the mature concepts on which a shout of protest to the crowd must be based. Indeed, only a revolutionary has slogans on his lips that are crying to be uttered aloud; and where would the uninvolved, peaceable average man come by such slogans? He simply does not know what to shout. And then, last of all, there is the person whose heart is too full of emotion, whose eyes have seen too much, for that whole ocean to pour forth in a few disconnected cries.

As for me, I kept silent for one further reason: because those Muscovites thronging the steps of the escalators were too few for me, too few! Here my cry would be heard by 200 or twice 200, but what about the 200 million? Vaguely, unclearly, I had a vision that someday I would cry out to the 200 million.

But for the time being I did not open my mouth, and the escalator dragged me implacably down into the nether world.

And when I got to Okhotny Ryad, I continued to keep silent. Nor did I utter a cry at the Metropole Hotel.

Nor wave my arms on the Golgotha of Lubyanka Square.

Mine was, probably, the easiest imaginable kind of arrest. It did not tear me from the embrace of kith and kin, nor wrench me from a deeply cherished home life. One pallid European February it took me from our narrow salient on the Baltic Sea, where, depending on one's point of view, either we had surrounded the Germans or they had surrounded us, and it deprived me only of my familiar artillery battery and the scenes of the last three months of the war.

The brigade commander called me to his headquarters and asked me for my pistol; I turned it over without suspecting any evil intent, when suddenly, from a tense, immobile suite of staff officers in the corner, two counterintelligence officers stepped forward hurriedly, crossed the room in a few quick bounds, their four hands grabbed simultaneously at the star on my cap, my shoulder boards, my officer's belt, my map case, and they shouted theatrically:

"You are under arrest!"

Burning and prickling from head to toe, all I could exclaim was:

"Me? What for?"

And even though there is usually no answer to this question, surprisingly I received one! This is worth recalling, because it is so contrary to our usual custom. Hardly had the SMERSH men finished "plucking" me and taken my notes on political subjects, along with my map case, and begun to push me as quickly as possible toward the exit, urged on by the German shellfire rattling the windowpanes, than I heard myself firmly addressed—yes! Across the sheer gap separating me from those left behind, the gap created by the heavy-falling word "arrest," across that quarantine line not even a sound dared penetrate, came the unthinkable, magic words of the brigade commander:

"Solzhenitsyn. Come back here."

With a sharp turn I broke away from the hands of the SMERSH men and stepped back to the brigade commander. I had never known him very well. He had never condescended to run-of-the-mill conversations with me. To me his face had always conveyed an order, a command, wrath. But right now it was illuminated in a thoughtful way. Was it from shame for his own involuntary part in this dirty business? Was it from an impulse to rise above the pitiful subordination of a whole lifetime? Ten days before, I had led my own reconnaissance battery almost intact out of the fire pocket in which the twelve heavy guns of his artillery battalion had been left, and now he had to renounce me because of a piece of paper with a seal on it?

"You have . . ."he asked weightily, "a friend on the First Ukrainian Front?"

"It's forbidden! You have no right!" the captain and the major of counterintelligence shouted at the colonel. In the corner, the suite of staff officers crowded closer to each other in fright, as if they feared to share the brigade commander's unbelievable rashness (the political officers among them already preparing to present materials against him). But I had already understood: I knew instantly I had been arrested because of my correspondence with a school friend, and understood from what direction to expect danger.

Zakhar Georgiyevich Travkin could have stopped right there! But no! Continuing his attempt to expunge his part in this and to stand erect before his own conscience, he rose from behind his desk—he had never stood up in my presence in my former life—and reached across the quarantine line that separated us and gave me his hand, although he would never have reached out his hand to me had I remained a free man. And pressing my hand, while his whole suite stood there in mute horror, showing that warmth that may appear in an habitually severe face, he said fearlessly and precisely:

"I wish you happiness, Captain!"

Not only was I no longer a captain, but I had been exposed as an enemy of the people (for among us every person is totally exposed from the moment of arrest). And he had wished happiness—to an enemy?

[ Here is what is most surprising of all: one can be a human being despite everything! Nothing happened to Travkin. Not long ago, we met again cordially, and I really got to know him for the first time. He is a retired general and an inspector of the Hunters' Alliance.]

The panes rattled. The German shells tore up the earth two hundred yards away, reminding one that this could not have happened back in the rear, under the ordinary circumstances of established existence, but only out here, under the breath of death, which was not only close by but in the face of which all were equal.

This is not going to be a volume of memoirs about my own life. Therefore I am not going to recount the truly amusing details of my arrest, which was like no other. That night the SMERSH officers gave up their last hope of being able to make out where we were on the map—they never had been able to read maps anyway. So they politely handed the map to me and asked me to tell the driver how to proceed to counterintelligence at army headquarters. I, therefore, led them and myself to that prison, and in gratitude they immediately put me not in an ordinary cell but in a punishment cell. And I really must describe that closet in a German peasant house which served as a temporary punishment cell.

It was the length of one human body and wide enough for three to lie packed tightly, four at a pinch. As it happened, I was the fourth, shoved in after midnight. The three lying there blinked sleepily at me in the light of the smoky kerosene lantern and moved over, giving me enough space to lie on my side, half between them, half on top of them, until gradually, by sheer weight, I could wedge my way in. And so four overcoats lay on the crushed-straw-covered floor, with eight boots pointing at the door. They slept and I burned. The more self-assured I had been as a captain half a day before, the more painful it was to crowd onto the floor of that closet. Once or twice the other fellows woke up numb on one side, and we all turned over at the same time.

Toward morning they awoke, yawned, grunted, pulled up their legs, moved into various corners, and our acquaintance began.

"What are you in for?"

But a troubled little breeze of caution had already breathed on me beneath the poisoned roof of SMERSH and I pretended to be surprised:

"No idea. Do the bastards tell you?"

However, my cellmates—tankmen in soft black helmets—hid nothing. They were three honest, openhearted soldiers—people of a kind I had become attached to during the war years because I myself was more complex and worse. All three had been officers. Their shoulder boards also had been viciously torn off, and in some places the cotton batting stuck out. On their stained field shirts light patches indicated where decorations had been removed, and there were dark and red scars on their faces and arms, the results of wounds and burns. Their tank unit had, unfortunately, arrived for repairs in the village where the SMERSH counterintelligence headquarters of the Forty-eighth Army was located. Still damp from the battle of the day before, yesterday they had gotten drunk, and on the outskirts of the village broke into a bath where they had noticed two raunchy broads going to bathe. The girls, half-dressed, managed to get away all right from the soldiers' staggering, drunken legs. But one of them, it turned out, was the property of the army Chief of Counterintelligence, no less.

Yes! For three weeks the war had been going on inside Germany, and all of us knew very well that if the girls were German they could be raped and then shot. This was almost a combat distinction. Had they been Polish girls or our own displaced Russian girls, they could have been chased naked around the garden and slapped on the behind—an amusement, no more. But just because this one was the "campaign wife" of the Chief of Counterintelligence, right off some deep-in-the-rear sergeant had viciously torn from three front-line officers the shoulder boards awarded them by the front headquarters and had taken off the decorations conferred upon them by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet. And now these warriors, who had gone through the whole war and who had no doubt crushed more than one line of enemy trenches, were waiting for a court-martial, whose members, had it not been for their tank, could have come nowhere near the village.

We put out the kerosene lamp, which had already used up all the air there was to breathe. A Judas hole the size of a postage stamp had been cut in the door and through it came indirect light from the corridor. Then, as if afraid that with the coming of daylight we would have too much room in the punishment cell, they tossed in a fifth person. He stepped in wearing a newish Red Army tunic and a cap that was also new, and when he stopped opposite the peephole we could see a fresh face with a turned-up nose and red cheeks.

"Where are you from, brother? Who are you?"

"From the other side," he answered briskly. "A shhpy."

"You're kidding!" We were astounded. (To be a spy and to admit it—Sheinin and the brothers Tur had never written that kind of spy story!)

"What is there to kid about in wartime?" the young fellow sighed reasonably. "And just how else can you get back home from being a POW? Well, you tell me!"

He had barely begun to tell us how, some days back, the Germans had led him through the front lines so that he could play the spy and blow up bridges, whereupon he had gone immediately to the nearest battalion headquarters to turn himself in; but the weary, sleep-starved battalion commander hadn't believed his story about being a spy and had sent him off to the nurse to get a pill. And at that moment new impressions burst upon us:

"Out for toilet call! Hands behind your backs!" hollered a master sergeant hardhead as the door sprang open; he was just built for swinging the tail of a 122-millimeter cannon.

A circle of machine gunners had been strung around the peasant courtyard, guarding the path which was pointed out to us and which went behind the barn. I was bursting with indignation that some ignoramus of a master sergeant dared to give orders to us officers: "Hands behind your backs!" But the tank officers put their hands behind them and I followed suit.

Back of the barn was a small square area in which the snow had been all trampled down but had not yet melted. It was soiled all over with human feces, so densely scattered over the whole square that it was difficult to find a spot to place one's two feet and squat. However, we spread ourselves about and the five of us did squat down. Two machine gunners grimly pointed their machine pistols at us as we squatted, and before a minute had passed the master sergeant brusquely urged us on:

"Come on, hurry it up! With us they do it quickly!"

Not far from me squatted one of the tankmen, a native of Rostov, a tall, melancholy senior lieutenant. His face was blackened by a thin film of metallic dust or smoke, but the big red scar stretching across his cheek stood out nonetheless.

"What do you mean, with us? " he asked quietly, indicating no intention of hurrying back to the punishment cell that still stank of kerosene.

"In SMERSH counterintelligence!" the master sergeant shot back proudly and more resonantly than was called for. (The counterintelligence men used to love that tastelessly concocted word "SMERSH," manufactured from the initial syllables of the words for "death to spies." They felt it intimidated people.)

"And with us we do it slowly," replied the senior lieutenant thoughtfully. His helmet was pulled back, uncovering his still untrimmed hair. His oaken, battle-hardened rear end was lifted toward the pleasant coolish breeze.

"Where do you mean, with us? " the master sergeant barked at him more loudly than he needed to.

"In the Red Army," the senior lieutenant replied very quietly from his heels, measuring with his look the cannon-tailer that never was.

Such were my first gulps of prison air.

Chapter 2
The History of Our Sewage Disposal System

When people today decry the abuses of the cult, they keep getting hung up on those years which are stuck in our throats, '37 and '38. And memory begins to make it seem as though arrests were never made before or after, but only in those two years.

Although I have no statistics at hand, I am not afraid of erring when I say that the wave of 1937 and 1938 was neither the only one nor even the main one, but only one, perhaps, of the three biggest waves which strained the murky, stinking pipes of our prison sewers to bursting.

Before it came the wave of 1929 and 1930, the size of a good River Ob, which drove a mere fifteen million peasants, maybe even more, out into the taiga and the tundra. But peasants are a silent people, without a literary voice, nor do they write complaints or memoirs. No interrogators sweated out the night with them, nor did they bother to draw up formal indictments—it was enough to have a decree from the village soviet. This wave poured forth, sank down into the permafrost, and even our most active minds recall hardly a thing about it. It is as if it had not even scarred the Russian conscience. And yet Stalin (and you and I as well) committed no crime more heinous than this.

And after it there was the wave of 1944 to 1946, the size of a good Yenisei, when they dumped whole nations down the sewer pipes, not to mention millions and millions of others who (because of us!) had been prisoners of war, or carried off to Germany and subsequently repatriated. (This was Stalin's method of cauterizing the wounds so that scar tissue would form more quickly, and thus the body politic as a whole would not have to rest up, catch its breath, regain its strength.) But in this wave, too, the people were of the simpler kind, and they wrote no memoirs.

But the wave of 1937 swept up and carried off to the Archipelago people of position, people with a Party past, yes, educated people, around whom were many who had been wounded and remained in the cities . . . and what a lot of them had pen in hand! And today they are all writing, speaking, remembering: "Nineteen thirty-seven!" A whole Volga of the people's grief!

But just say "Nineteen thirty-seven" to a Crimean Tatar, a Kalmyk, a Chechen, and he'll shrug his shoulders. And what's 1937 to Leningrad when 1935 had come before it? And for the second-termers (i.e., repeaters), or people from the Baltic countries—weren't 1948 and 1949 harder on them? And if sticklers for style and geography should accuse me of having omitted some Russian rivers, and of not yet having named some of the waves, then just give me enough paper! There were enough waves to use up the names of all the rivers of Russia!

It is well known that any organ withers away if it is not used. Therefore, if we know that the Soviet Security organs, or Organs (and they christened themselves with this vile word), praised and exalted above all living things, have not died off even to the extent of one single tentacle, but, instead, have grown new ones and strengthened their muscles—it is easy to deduce that they have had constant exercise.

Through the sewer pipes the flow pulsed. Sometimes the pressure was higher than had been projected, sometimes lower. But the prison sewers were never empty. The blood, the sweat, and the urine into which we were pulped pulsed through them continuously. The history of this sewage system is the history of an endless swallow and flow; flood alternating with ebb and ebb again with flood; waves pouring in, some big, some small; brooks and rivulets flowing in from all sides; trickles oozing in through gutters; and then just plain individually scooped-up droplets.

The chronological list which follows, in which waves made up of millions of arrested persons are given equal attention with ordinary streamlets of unremarkable handfuls, is quite incomplete, meager, miserly, and limited by my own capacity to penetrate the past. What is really needed is a great deal of additional work by survivors familiar with the material.

In compiling this list the most difficult thing is to begin, partly because the further back into the decades one goes, the fewer the eyewitnesses who are left, and therefore the light of common knowledge has gone out and darkness has set in, and the written chronicles either do not exist or are kept under lock and key. Also, it is not entirely fair to consider in a single category the especially brutal years of the Civil War and the first years of peacetime, when mercy might have been expected.

But even before there was any Civil War, it could be seen that Russia, due to the makeup of its population, was obviously not suited for any sort of socialism whatsoever. It was totally polluted. One of the first blows of the dictatorship was directed against the Cadets—the members of the Constitutional Democratic Party. (Under the Tsar they had constituted the most dangerous ranks of revolution, and under the government of the proletariat they represented the most dangerous ranks of reaction.) At the end of November, 1917, on the occasion of the first scheduled convening of the Constituent Assembly, which did not take place, the Cadet Party was outlawed and arrests of its members began. At about the same time, people associated with the "Alliance for the Constituent Assembly" and the students enrolled in the "soldiers' universities" were being thrown in the jug.

Knowing the sense and spirit of the Revolution, it is easy to guess that during these months such central prisons as Kresty in Petrograd and the Butyrki in Moscow, and many provincial prisons like them, were filled with wealthy men, prominent public figures, generals and officers, as well as officials of ministries and of the state apparatus who refused to carry out the orders of the new authority. One of the first operations of the Cheka was to arrest the entire committee of the All-Russian Union of Employees.

One of the first circulars of the NKVD, in December, 1917, stated: "In view of sabotage by officials . . . use maximum initiative in localities, not excluding confiscations, compulsion, and arrests."

[Vestnik NKVD (NKVD Herald), 1917, No. 1, p. 4.]

And even though V. I. Lenin, at the end of 1917, in order to establish "strictly revolutionary order," demanded "merciless suppression of attempts at anarchy on the part of drunkards, hooligans, counterrevolutionaries, and other persons"—in other words, foresaw that drunkards and hooligans represented the principal danger to the October Revolution, with counterrevolutionaries somewhere back in third place—he nonetheless put the problem more broadly. In his essay "How to Organize the Competition" (January 7 and 10, 1918), V. I. Lenin proclaimed the common, united purpose of "purging the Russian land of all kinds of harmful insects." And under the term insects he included not only all class enemies but also "workers malingering at their work"—for example, the typesetters of the Petrograd Party printing shops. (That is what time does. It is difficult for us nowadays to understand how workers who had just become dictators were immediately inclined to malinger at work they were doing for themselves.) And then again: "In what block of a big city, in what factory, in what village . . . are there not . . . saboteurs who call themselves intellectuals?" True, the forms of insect-purging which Lenin conceived of in this essay were most varied: in some places they would be placed under arrest, in other places set to cleaning latrines; in some, "after having served their time in punishment cells, they would be handed yellow tickets"; in others, parasites would be shot; elsewhere you could take your pick of imprisonment "or punishment at forced labor of the hardest kind." Even though he perceived and suggested the basic directions punishment should take, Vladimir Ilyich proposed that "communes and communities" should compete to find the best methods of purging.

It is not possible for us at this time fully to investigate exactly who fell within the broad definition of insects; the population of Russia was too heterogeneous and encompassed small, special groups, entirely superfluous and, today, forgotten. The people in the local zemstvo self-governing bodies in the provinces were, of course, insects. People in the cooperative movement were also insects, as were all owners of their own homes. There were not a few insects among the teachers in the gymnasiums. The church parish councils were made up almost exclusively of insects, and it was insects, of course, who sang in church choirs. All priests were insects—and monks and nuns even more so. And all those Tolstoyans who, when they undertook to serve the Soviet government on, for example, the railroads, refused to sign the required oath to defend the Soviet government with gun in hand thereby showed themselves to be insects too. (We will later see some of them on trial.) The railroads were particularly important, for there were indeed many insects hidden beneath railroad uniforms, and they had to be rooted out and some of them slapped down. And telegraphers, for some reason, were, for the most part, inveterate insects who had no sympathy for the Soviets. Nor could you say a good word about Vikzhel, the All-Russian Executive Committee of the Union of Railroad Workers, nor about the other trade unions, which were often filled with insects hostile to the working class.

Just those groups we have so far enumerated represent an enormous number of people—several years' worth of purge activity.

In addition, how many kinds of cursed intellectuals there were—restless students and a variety of eccentrics, truth-seekers, and holy fools, of whom even Peter the Great had tried in vain to purge Russia and who are always a hindrance to a well-ordered, strict regime.

It would have been impossible to carry out this hygienic purging, especially under wartime conditions, if they had had to follow outdated legal processes and normal judicial procedures. And so an entirely new form was adopted: extrajudicial reprisal, and this thankless job was self-sacrificingly assumed by the Cheka, the Sentinel of the Revolution, which was the only punitive organ in human history that combined in one set of hands investigation, arrest, interrogation, prosecution, trial, and execution of the verdict.

In 1918, in order to speed up the cultural victory of the Revolution as well, they began to ransack the churches and throw out the relics of saints, and to carry off church plate. Popular disorders broke out in defense of the plundered churches and monasteries. Here and there the alarm bells rang out, and the true Orthodox believers rushed forth, some of them with clubs. Naturally, some had to be expended right on the spot and others arrested.

In considering now the period from 1918 to 1920, we are in difficulties: Should we classify among the prison waves all those who were done in before they even got to prison cells? And in what classification should we put those whom the Committees of the Poor took behind the wing of the village soviet or to the rear of the courtyard, and finished off right there? Did the participants in the clusters of plots uncovered in every province (two in Ryazan; one in Kostroma, Vyshni Volochek, and Velizh; several in Kiev; several in Moscow; one in Saratov, Chernigov, Astrakhan, Seliger, Smolensk, Bobruisk, the Tambov Cavalry, Chembar, Velikiye Luki, Mstislavl, etc.) at least succeed in setting foot on the land of the Archipelago, or did they not—and are they therefore not related to the subject of our investigations? Bypassing the repression of the now famous rebellions (Yaroslavl, Murom, Rybinsk, Arzamas), we know of certain events only by their names—for instance, the Kolpino executions of June, 1918. What were they? Who were they? And where should they be classified?

There is also no little difficulty in deciding whether we should classify among the prison waves or on the balance sheets of the Civil War those tens of thousands of hostages, i.e., people not personally accused of anything, those peaceful citizens not even listed by name, who were taken off and destroyed simply to terrorize or wreak vengeance on a military enemy or a re- bellious population. After August 30, 1918, the NKVD ordered the localities "to arrest immediately all Right Socialist Revolutionaries and to take a significant number of hostages from the bourgeoisie and military officers."

[Vestnik NKVD, 1918, No. 21-22, p. 1.]

(This was just as if, for example, after the attempt of Aleksandr Ulyanov's group to assassinate the Tsar, not only its members but all the students in Russia and a significant number of zemstvo officials had been arrested.) By a decree of the Defense Council of February 15, 1919—apparently with Lenin in the chair—the Cheka and the NKVD were ordered to take hostage peasants from those localities where the removal of snow from railroad tracks "was not proceeding satisfactorily," and "if the snow removal did not take place they were to be shot."

[Dekrety Sovetskoi Vlasti (Decrees of the Soviet Regime), Vol. 4, Moscow, 1968, p. 627.]

(At the end of 1920, by decree of the Council of People's Commissars, permission was given to take Social Democrats as hostages too.)

But even restricting ourselves to ordinary arrests, we can note that by the spring of 1918 a torrent of socialist traitors had already begun that was to continue without slackening for many years. All these parties—the SR's, the Mensheviks, the Anarchists, the Popular Socialists—had for decades only pretended to be revolutionaries; they had worn socialism only as a mask, and for that they went to hard labor, still pretending. Only during the violent course of the Revolution was the bourgeois essence of these socialist traitors discovered. What could be more natural than to begin arresting them! Soon after the outlawing of the Cadets, the dispersal of the Constituent Assembly, the disarming of the Preobrazhensky and other regiments, they began in a small way to arrest, quietly at first, both SR's and Mensheviks. After June 14, 1918, the day members of these parties were excluded from all the Soviets, the arrests proceeded in a more intensive and more coordinated fashion. From July 6 on, they began to deal with the Left SR's in the same way, though the Left SR's had been cleverer and had gone on pretending longer that they were allies of the one and only consistent party of the proletariat. From then on, it was enough for a workers' protest, a disturbance, a strike, to occur at any factory or in any little town (and there were many of them in the summer of 1918; and in March, 1921, they shook Petrograd, Moscow, and then Kronstadt and forced the inauguration of the NEP), and—coinciding with concessions, assurances, and the satisfaction for the just demands of the workers—the Cheka began silently to pick up Mensheviks and SR's at night as being the people truly to blame for these disorders. In the summer of 1918 and in April and October of 1919, they jailed Anarchists right and left. In 1919 they arrested all the members of the SR Central Committee they could catch—and kept them imprisoned in the Butyrki up to the time of their trial in 1922. In that same year, Latsis, a leading Chekist, wrote of the Mensheviks: "People of this sort are more than a mere hindrance to us. That is why we remove them from our path, so they won't get under our feet. . . . We put them away in a secluded, cozy place, in the Butyrki, and we are going to keep them there until the struggle between capital and labor comes to an end." In 1919, also, the delegates to the Non-Party Workers Congress were arrested; as a result, the Congress never took place.

In 1919, suspicion of our Russians returning from abroad was already having its effect (Why? What was their alleged assignment?)—thus the officers of the Russian expeditionary force in France were imprisoned on their homecoming. In 1919, too, what with the big hauls in connection with such actual and pseudo plots as the "National Center" and the "Military Plot," executions were carried out in Moscow, Petrograd, and other cities on the basis of lists—in other words, free people were simply arrested and executed immediately, and right and left those elements of the intelligentsia considered close to the Cadets were raked into prison. (What does the term "close to the Cadets" mean? Not monarchist and not socialist: in other words, all scientific circles, all university circles, all artistic, literary, yes, and, of course, all engineering circles. Except for the extremist writers, except for the theologians and theoreticians of socialism, all the rest of the intelligentsia, 80 percent of it, was "close to the Cadets.") In that category, for example, Lenin placed the writer Korolenko—"a pitiful petty bourgeois, imprisoned in bourgeois prejudices." He considered it was "not amiss" for such "talents" to spend a few weeks in prison. From Gorky's protests we learn of individual groups that were arrested. On September 15, 1919, Lenin replied to him: "It is clear to us that there were some mistakes." But: "What a misfortune, just think about it! What injustice!" And he advised Gorky "not to waste [his] energy whimpering over rotten intellectuals."

From January, 1919, on, food requisitioning was organized and food-collecting detachments were set up. They encountered resistance everywhere in the rural areas, sometimes stubborn and passive, sometimes violent. The suppression of this opposition gave rise to an abundant flood of arrests during the course of the next two years, not counting those who were shot on the spot.

I am deliberately bypassing here the major part of the grinding done by the Cheka, the Special Branches, and the Revolutionary Tribunals as the front line advanced and cities and provinces were occupied. And that same NKVD directive of August 30, 1918, ordered that efforts be made to ensure "the unconditional execution of all who had been involved in White Guard work." But sometimes it is not clear where to draw the line. By the summer of 1920, for example, the Civil War had not entirely ended everywhere. But it was over on the Don; nonetheless officers were sent from there en masse—from Rostov, and from Novocherkassk—to Archangel, whence they were transported to the Solovetsky Islands, and, it is said, several of the barges were sunk in the White Sea and in the Caspian Sea. Now should this be billed to the Civil War or to the beginning of peacetime reconstruction? In Novocherkassk, in the same year, they shot the pregnant wife of an officer because she had hidden her husband. In what classification should she be put?

In May, 1920, came the well-known decree of the Central Committee "on Subversive Activity in the Rear." We know from experience that every such decree is a call for a new wave of widespread arrests; it is the outward sign of such a wave.

A particular difficulty—and also a particular advantage—in the organization of all these waves was the absence of a criminal code or any system of criminal law whatsoever before. 1922. Only a revolutionary sense of justice (always infallible) guided those doing the purging and managing the sewage system when they were deciding whom to take and what to do with them.

In this survey we are not going to investigate the successive waves of habitual criminals (ugolovniki) and nonpolitical offenders (bytoviki). Therefore we will merely recall that the country-wide poverty and shortages during the period when the government, all institutions, and the laws themselves were being reorganized could serve only to increase greatly the number of thefts, robberies, assaults, bribes, and the resale of merchandise for excessive profit (speculation). Even though these crimes presented less danger to the existence of the Republic, they, too, had to be repressed, and their own waves of prisoners served to swell the waves of counterrevolutionaries. And there was speculation, too, of a purely political character, as was pointed out in the decree of the Council of People's Commissars signed by Lenin on July 22, 1918: "Those guilty of selling, or buying up, or keeping for sale in the way of business food products which have been placed under the monopoly of the Republic [A peasant keeps grains for sale in the way of business. What else is his business anyway?] . . . imprisonment for a term of not less than ten years, combined with the most severe forced labor and confiscation of all their property."

From that summer on, the countryside, which had already been strained to the utmost limits, gave up its harvest year after year without compensation. This led to peasant revolts and, in the upshot, suppression of the revolts and new arrests.

["The hardest-working sector of the nation was positively uprooted." Korolenko, letter to Gorky, August 10, 1921.]

It was in 1920 that we knew (or failed to know) of the trial of the "Siberian Peasants' Union." And at the end of 1920 the repression of the Tambov peasants' rebellion began. There was no trial for them.

But the main drive to uproot people from the Tambov villages took place mostly in June, 1921. Throughout the province concentration camps were set up for the families of peasants who had taken part in the revolts. Tracts of open field were enclosed with barbed wire strung on posts, and for three weeks every family of a suspected rebel was confined there. If within that time the man of the family did not turn up to buy his family's way out with his own head, they sent the family into exile.

[Tukhachevsky, "Borba s Kontrrevolyutsionnymi Vostaniyami" ("The Struggle Against Counterrevolutionary Revolts"), in Voina i Revolyutsiya (War and Revolution), 1926, No. 7/8.]

Even earlier, in March, 1921, the rebellious Kronstadt sailors, minus those who had been shot, were sent to the islands of the Archipelago via the Trubetskoi bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress.

That same year, 1921, began with Cheka Order No. 10, dated January 8: "To intensify the repression of the bourgeoisie." Now, when the Civil War had ended, repression was not to be reduced but intensified! Voloshin has pictured for us in several of his poems how this worked out in the Crimea.

In the summer of 1921, the State Commission for Famine Relief, including Kuskova, Prokopovich, Kishkin, and others, was arrested. They had tried to combat the unprecedented famine in Russia. The heart of the matter, however, was that theirs were the wrong hands to be offering food and could not be allowed to feed the starving. The chairman of this commission, the dying Korolenko, who was pardoned, called the destruction of the commission "the worst of dirty political tricks, a dirty political trick by the government."

[Korolenko's letter to Gorky, September 14, 1921. Korolenko also reminds us of a particularly important situation in the prisons of 1921: "Everywhere they are saturated with typhus." This has been confirmed by Skripnikova and others imprisoned at the time.]

In that same year the practice of arresting students began (for example, the group of Yevgeniya Doyarenko in the Timiryazev Academy) for "criticism of the system" (not in public, merely in conversation among themselves). Such cases, however, were evidently few, because the group in question was interrogated by Menzhinsky and Yagoda personally.

Also in 1921 the arrests of members of all non-Bolshevik parties were expanded and systematized. In fact, all Russia's political parties had been buried, except the victorious one. (Oh, do not dig a grave for someone else!) And so that the dissolution of these parties would be irreversible, it was necessary that their members should disintegrate and their physical bodies too.

Not one citizen of the former Russian state who had ever joined a party other than the Bolshevik Party could avoid his fate. He was condemned unless, like Maisky or Vyshinsky, he succeeded in making his way across the planks of the wreck to the Bolsheviks. He might not be arrested in the first group. He might live on, depending on how dangerous he was believed to be, until 1922, 1932, or even 1937, but the lists were kept; his turn would and did come; he was arrested or else politely invited to an interrogation, where he was asked just one question: Had he been a member of such and such, from then till then? (There were also questions about hostile activity, but the first question decided everything, as is clear to us now, decades later.) From there on his fate might vary. Some were put immediately in one of the famous Tsarist central prisons—fortunately, all the Tsarist central prisons had been well preserved—and some socialists even ended up in the very same cells and with the very same jailers they had had before. Others were offered the opportunity of going into exile—oh, not for long, just for two or three years. And some had it even easier: they were merely given a minus (a certain number of cities were forbidden) and told to pick out a new place of residence themselves, and for the future would they please be so kind as to stay fixed in that one place and await the pleasure of the GPU.

This whole operation was stretched out over many years because it was of primary importance that it be stealthy and unnoticed. It was essential to clean out, conscientiously, socialists of every other stripe from Moscow, Petrograd, the ports, the industrial centers, and, later on, the outlying provinces as well. This was a grandiose silent game of solitaire, whose rules were totally incomprehensible to its contemporaries, and whose outlines we can appreciate only now. Someone's far-seeing mind, someone's neat hands, planned it all, without letting one wasted minute go by. They picked up a card which had spent three years in one pile and softly placed it on another pile. And the person who had been imprisoned in a central prison was thereby shifted into exile—and a good way off. Someone who had served out a "minus" sentence was sent into exile, too, but out of sight of the rest of the "minus" category, or else from exile to exile, and then back again into the central prison—but this time a different one. Patience, overwhelming patience, was the trait of the person playing out the solitaire. And without any noise, without any outcry, the members of all the other parties slipped gradually out of sight, lost all connection with the places and people where they and their revolutionary activities were known, and thus—imperceptibly and mercilessly—was prepared the annihilation of those who had once raged against tyranny at student meetings and had clanked their Tsarist shackles in pride.

[V. G. Korolenko wrote to Gorky, June 29, 1921: "History will someday note that the Bolshevik Revolution used the same means to deal with true revolutionaries and socalists as did the Tsarist regime, in other words, purely police measures."]

In this game of the Big Solitaire, the majority of the old political prisoners, survivors of hard labor, were destroyed, for it was primarily the SR's and the Anarchists—not the Social Democrats—who had received the harshest sentences from the Tsarist courts. They in particular had made up the population of the Tsarist hard-labor political prisons.

There was justice in the priorities of destruction, however; in 1920 they were all offered the chance to renounce in writing their parties and party ideologies. Some declined—and they, naturally, came up first for annihilation. Others signed such renunciations, and thereby added a few years to their lifetimes. But their turn, too, came implacably, and their heads rolled implacably from their shoulders.

[Sometimes, reading a newspaper article, one is astonished to the point of disbelief. In Izvestiya of May 24, 1959, one could read that a year after Hitler came to power Maximilian Hauke was arrested for belonging to none other than the Communist Party. Was he destroyed? No, they sentenced him to two years. After this was he, naturally, sentenced to a second term? No, he was released. You can interpret that as you please! He proceeded to live quietly and build an underground organization, in connection with which the Izvestiya article on his courage appeared.]

In the spring of 1922 the Extraordinary Commission for Struggle Against Counterrevolution, Sabotage, and Speculation, the Cheka, recently renamed the GPU, decided to intervene in church affairs. It was called on to carry out a "church revolution"—to remove the existing leadership and replace it with one which would have only one ear turned to heaven and the other to the Lubyanka. The so-called "Living Church" people seemed to go along with this plan, but without outside help they could not gain control of the church apparatus. For this reason, the Patriarch Tikhon was arrested and two resounding trials were held, followed by the execution in Moscow of those who had publicized the Patriarch's appeal and, in Petrograd, of the Metropolitan Veniamin, who had attempted to hinder the transfer of ecclesiastical power to the "Living Church" group. Here and there in the provincial centers and even further down in the administrative districts, metropolitans and bishops were arrested, and, as always, in the wake of the big fish, followed shoals of smaller fry: archpriests, monks, and deacons. These arrests were not even reported in the press. They also arrested those who refused to swear to support the "Living Church" "renewal" movement.

Men of religion were an inevitable part of every annual "catch," and their silver locks gleamed in every cell and in every prisoner transport en route to the Solovetsky Islands.

From the early twenties on, arrests were also made among groups of theosophists, mystics, spiritualists. (Count Palen's group used to keep official transcripts of its communications with the spirit world.) Also, religious societies and philosophers of the Berdyayev circle. The so-called "Eastern Catholics"—followers of Vladimir Solovyev—were arrested and destroyed in passing, as was the group of A. I. Abrikosova. And, of course, ordinary Roman Catholics—Polish Catholic priests, etc.—were arrested, too, as part of the normal course of events.

However, the root destruction of religion in the country, which throughout the twenties and thirties was one of the most important goals of the GPU-NKVD, could be realized only by mass arrests of Orthodox believers. Monks and nuns, whose black habits had been a distinctive feature of Old Russian life, were intensively rounded up on every hand, placed under arrest, and sent into exile. They arrested and sentenced active laymen. The circles kept getting bigger, as they raked in ordinary believers as well, old people, and particularly women, who were the most stubborn believers of all and who, for many long years to come, would be called "nuns" in transit prisons and in camps.

True, they were supposedly being arrested and tried not for their actual faith but for openly declaring their convictions and for bringing up their children in the same spirit. As Tanya Khodkevich wrote:

You can pray freely
But just so God alone can hear.

(She received a ten-year sentence for these verses.)

A person convinced that he possessed spiritual truth was required to conceal it from his own children! In the twenties the religious education of children was classified as a political crime under Article 58-10 of the Code—in other words, counterrevolutionary propaganda!

True, one was still permitted to renounce one's religion at one's trial: it didn't often happen but it nonetheless did happen that the father would renounce his religion and remain at home to raise the children while the mother went to the Solovetsky Islands. (Throughout all those years women manifested great firmness in their faith.) All persons convicted of religious activity received tenners, the longest term then given.

(In those years, particularly in 1927, in purging the big cities for the pure society that was coming into being, they sent prostitutes to the Solovetsky Islands along with the "nuns." Those lovers of a sinful earthly life were given three-year sentences under a more lenient article of the Code. The conditions in prisoner transports, in transit prisons, and on the Solovetsky Islands were not of a sort to hinder them from plying their merry trade among the administrators and the convoy guards. And three years later they would return with laden suitcases to the places they had come from. Religious prisoners, however, were prohibited from ever returning to their children and their home areas.)

As early as the early twenties, waves appeared that were purely national in character—at first not very large in proportion to the populations of their homelands, especially by Russian yardsticks: Mussavatists from Azerbaijan; Dashnaks from Armenia; Georgian Mensheviks; and Turkmenian Basmachi, who were resisting the establishment of Soviet power in Central Asia. (The first Central Asian Soviets were Russian in makeup by an overwhelming majority, and were therefore seen as outposts of Russian power.) In 1926 the Zionist society of "Hehalutz" was exiled in toto—since it had failed to respond to the all-powerful upsurge of internationalism.

Among subsequent generations, a picture has evolved of the twenties as some kind of holiday of totally unlimited freedom. In this book we shall encounter people who viewed the twenties quite differently. The non-Party students at this time sought "autonomy for higher educational institutions," the right of assembly, and the removal from the curriculum of excessive political indoctrination. Arrests were the answer. These were intensified during holidays—for example, on May 1, 1924. In 1925, about one hundred Leningrad students were sentenced to three years in political detention for reading the Sotsialistichesky Vestnik—the organ of the Mensheviks abroad—and for studying Plekhanov. (In his youth Plekhanov himself had gotten off far more lightly for speaking out against the government in front of Kazan Cathedral.) In 1925 they had already begun to arrest the first (young) Trotskyites. (Two naive Red Army men, remembering the Russian tradition, began to collect funds for the arrested Trotskyites—and they, too, were put in political detention.)

And, of course, it is obvious that the exploiting classes were not spared. Throughout the twenties the hunt continued for former officers who had managed to survive: "Whites" (those who had not already earned execution during the Civil War); "White-Reds," who had fought on both sides; and "Tsarist Reds," Tsarist officers who had gone over to the Red Army but had not served in it for the whole period or who had gaps in their army service records and no documents to account for them. They were truly put through the mill because instead of being sentenced immediately they, too, were put through the solitaire game: endless verifications, limitations on the kind of work they could do and on where they could live; they were taken into custody, released, taken into custody again. And only gradually did they proceed to the camps, from which they did not return.

However, sending these officers to the Archipelago did not end the problem but only set it in motion. After all, their mothers, wives, and children were still at liberty. With the help of unerring social analysis it was easy to see what kind of mood they were in after the heads of their households had been arrested. And thus they simply compelled their own arrest too! And one more wave was set rolling.

In the twenties there was an amnesty for Cossacks who had taken part in the Civil War. Many of them returned from the island of Lemnos to the Kuban, where they were given land. All of them were subsequently arrested.

And, of course, all former state officials had gone into hiding and were likewise liable to be hunted down. They had hidden well and disguised themselves cleverly, making use of the fact that there was as yet no internal passport system nor any unified system of work-books in the Republic—and they managed to creep into Soviet institutions. In such cases, slips of the tongue, chance recognitions, and the denunciations of neighbors helped battle intelligence—so to speak.

(Sometimes sheer accident took a hand. Solely out of a love of order, a certain Mova kept at home a list of all former employees of the provincial judiciary. This was discovered by accident in 1925, and they were all arrested and shot.)

And so the waves rolled on—for "concealment of social origin" and for "former social origin." This received the widest interpretation. They arrested members of the nobility for their social origin. They arrested members of their families. Finally, unable to draw even simple distinctions, they arrested members of the "individual nobility"—i.e., anybody who had simply graduated from a university. And once they had been arrested, there was no way back. You can't undo what has been done! The Sentinel of the Revolution never makes a mistake!

(No. There were a few ways back! The counterwaves were thin, sparse, but they did sometimes break through. The first is worthy of mention right here. Among the wives and daughters of the nobility and the officers there were quite often women of outstanding personal qualities and attractive appearance. Some succeeded in breaking through in a small reverse wave! They were the ones who remembered that life is given to us only once and that nothing is more precious to us than our own life. They offered their services to the Cheka-GPU as informers, as colleagues, in any capacity whatsoever—and those who were liked were accepted. These were the most fertile of all informers! They helped the GPU a great deal, because "former" people trusted them. Here one can name the last Princess Vyazemskaya, a most prominent postrevolutionary informer [as was her son on the Solovetsky Islands]. And Konkordiya Nikolayevna Iosse was evidently a woman of brilliant qualities: her husband was an officer who had been shot in her presence, and she herself was exiled to the Solovetsky Islands. But she managed to beg her way out and to set up a salon near the Big Lubyanka which the important figures of that establishment loved to frequent. She was not arrested again until 1937, along with her Yagoda customers.)

It is strange to recount, but as a result of an absurd tradition the Political Red Cross had been preserved from Old Russia.

There were three branches: the Moscow branch (Y. Peshkova-Vinaver); the Kharkov (Sandormirskaya); and the Petrograd. The one in Moscow behaved itself and was not dissolved until 1937. The one in Petrograd (the old Narodnik Shevtsov, the cripple Gartman, and Kocherovsky) adopted an intolerably impudent stance, mixed into political cases, tried to get support from such former inmates of the Schlüsselburg Prison as Novorussky, who had been convicted in the same case as Lenin's brother, Aleksandr Ulyanov, and helped not only socialists but also KR's—Counter-Revolutionaries. In 1926 it was shut down and its leaders were sent into exile.

The years go by, and everything that has not been freshly recalled to us is wiped from our memory. In the dim distance, we see the year 1927 as a careless, well-fed year of the still untruncated NEP. But in fact it was tense; it shuddered as newspaper headlines exploded; and it was considered at the time, and portrayed to us then, as the threshold of a war for world revolution. The assassination of the Soviet ambassador in Warsaw, which filled whole columns of the papers that June, aroused Mayakovsky to dedicate four thunderous verses to the subject.

But here's bad luck for you: Poland offered an apology; Voikov's lone assassin was arrested there—and so how and against whom was the poet's appeal to be directed?

[Evidently, the monarchist in question assassinated Voikov as an act of private vengeance: it is said that as Urals Provincial Commissar of Foodstuffs, in July, 1918, P. L. Voikov had directed the destruction of all traces of the shooting of the Tsar's family (the dissection and dismemberment of the corpses, the cremation of the remains, and the dispersal of the ashes).]

With cohesion,
construction,
grit,
and repression
Wring the neck
of this gang run riot!

Who was to be repressed? Whose neck should be wrung? It was then that the so-called Voikov draft began. As always happened when there were incidents of disturbance or tension, they arrested former people: Anarchists, SR's, Mensheviks, and also the intelligentsia as such. Indeed, who else was there to arrest in the cities? Not the working class!

But the old "close-to-the-Cadets" intelligentsia had already been thoroughly shaken up, starting in 1919. Had the time not come to shake up that part of the intelligentsia which imagined itself to be progressive? To give the students a once-over? Once again Mayakovsky came to the rescue:

Think
about the Komsomol
for days and for weeks!
Look over
your ranks,
watch them with care.
Are all of them
really
Komsomols?
Or are they
only
pretending to be?

A convenient world outlook gives rise to a convenient juridical term: social prophylaxis. It was introduced and accepted, and it was immediately understood by all. (Lazar Kogan, one of the bosses of the White Sea Canal construction, would, in fact, soon say: "I believe that you personally were not guilty of anything. But, as an educated person, you have to understand that social prophylaxis was being widely applied!") And when else, in fact, should unreliable fellow travelers, all that shaky intellectual rot, be arrested, if not on the eve of the war for world revolution? When the big war actually began, it would be too late.

And so in Moscow they began a systematic search, block by block. Someone had to be arrested everywhere. The slogan was: "We are going to bang our fist on the table so hard that the world will shake with terror!" It was to the Lubyanka, to the Butyrki, that the Black Marias, the passenger cars, the enclosed trucks, the open hansom cabs kept moving, even by day. There was a jam at the gates, a jam in the courtyard. They didn't have time to unload and register those they'd arrested. (And the same situation existed in other cities. In Rostov-on-the-Don during those days the floor was so crowded in the cellar of House 33 that the newly arrived Boiko could hardly find a place to sit down.)

A typical example from this wave: Several dozen young people got together for some kind of musical evening which had not been authorized ahead of time by the GPU. They listened to music and then drank tea. They got the money for the tea by voluntarily contributing their own kopecks. It was quite clear, of course, that this music was a cover for counterrevolutionary sentiments, and that the money was being collected not for tea but to assist the dying world bourgeoisie. And they were all arrested and given from three to ten years—Anna Skripnikova getting five, while Ivan Nikolayevich Varentsov and the other organizers of the affair who refused to confess were shot!

And in that same year, somewhere in Paris, a group of Russian emigre Lycee graduates gathered to celebrate the traditional Pushkin holiday. A report of this was published in the papers. It was clearly an intrigue on the part of mortally wounded imperialism, and as a result all Lycee graduates still left in the U.S.S.R. were arrested, as were the so-called "law students" (graduates of another such privileged special school of prerevolutionary Russia).

Only the size of SLON—the Solovetsky Special Purpose Camp—limited for the time being the scale of the Voikov draft. But the Gulag Archipelago had already begun its malignant life and would shortly metastasize throughout the whole body of the nation.

A new taste had been acquired and a new appetite began to grow. The time had long since arrived to crush the technical intelligentsia, which had come to regard itself as too irreplaceable and had not gotten used to catching instructions on the wing.

In other words, we never did trust the engineers—and from the very first years of the Revolution we saw to it that those lackeys and servants of former capitalist bosses were kept in line by healthy suspicion and surveillance by the workers. However, during the reconstruction period, we did permit them to work in our industries, while the whole force of the class assault was directed against the rest of the intelligentsia. But the more our own economic leadership matured—in VSNKh (the Supreme Council of the Economy) and Gosplan (the State Planning Commission) —the more the number of plans increased, and the more those plans overlapped and conflicted with one another, the clearer became the old engineers' basic commitment to wrecking, their insincerity, slyness, venality. The Sentinel of the Revolution narrowed its eyes with even greater vigilance—and wherever it directed its narrowed gaze it immediately discovered a nest of wreckers.

This therapy continued full speed from 1927 on, and immediately exposed to the proletariat all the causes of our economic failures and shortages. There was wrecking in the People's Commissariat of Railroads—that was why it was hard to get aboard a train, why there were interruptions in supplies. There was wrecking in the Moscow Electric Power System—and interruptions in power. There was wrecking in the oil industry—hence the shortage of kerosene. There was wrecking in textiles—hence nothing for a workingman to wear. In the coal industry there was colossal wrecking—hence no heat! In the metallurgy, defense, machinery, shipbuilding, chemical, mining, gold and platinum industries, in irrigation, everywhere there were these pus-filled boils of wrecking! Enemies with slide rules were on all sides. The GPU puffed and panted in its efforts to grab off and drag off the "wreckers." In the capitals and in the provinces, GPU collegiums and proletarian courts kept hard at work, sifting through this viscous sewage, and every day the workers gasped to learn (and sometimes they didn't learn) from the papers of new vile deeds. They learned about Palchinsky, von Meek, and Velichko, and how many others who were nameless.

[ A. F. Velichko, a military engineer, former professor of the Military Academy of the General Staff, and a lieutenant general, had been in charge of the Administration for Military Transport in the Tsarist War Ministry. He was shot. Oh, how useful he would have been in 1941!]

Every industry, every factory, and every handicraft artel had to find wreckers in its ranks, and no sooner had they begun to look than they found them (with the help of the GPU). If any prerevolutionary engineer was not yet exposed as a traitor, then he could certainly be suspected of being one.

And what accomplished villains these old engineers were! What diabolical ways to sabotage they found! Nikolai Karlovich von Meek, of the People's Commissariat of Railroads, pretended to be terribly devoted to the development of the new economy, and would hold forth for hours on end about the economic problems involved in the construction of socialism, and he loved to give advice. One such pernicious piece of advice was to increase the size of freight trains and not worry about heavier than average loads. The GPU exposed von Meek, and he was shot: his objective had been to wear out rails and roadbeds, freight cars and locomotives, so as to leave the Republic without railroads in case of foreign military intervention! When, not long afterward, the new People's Commissar of Railroads, Comrade Kaganovich, ordered that average loads should be increased, and even doubled and tripled them (and for this discovery received the Order of Lenin along with others of our leaders)—the malicious engineers who protested became known as limiters. They raised the outcry that this was too much, and would result in the breakdown of the rolling stock, and they were rightly shot for their lack of faith in the possibilities of socialist transport.

These limiters were pursued for several years. In all branches of the economy they brandished their formulas and calculations and refused to understand that bridges and lathes could respond to the enthusiasm of the personnel. (These were the years when all the norms of folk psychology were turned inside out: the circumspect folk wisdom expressed in such a proverb as "Haste makes waste" was ridiculed, and the ancient saying that "The slower you go, the farther you'll get" was turned inside out.) The only thing which at times delayed the arrest of the old engineers was the absence of a new batch to take their place. Nikolai Ivanovich Ladyzhensky, chief engineer of defense plants in Izhevsk, was first arrested for "limitation theories" and "blind faith in safety factors" (which explained why he considered inadequate the funds allocated by Ordzhonikidze for factory expansion).

[They say that when Ordzhonikidze used to talk with the old engineers, he would put one pistol on his desk beside his right hand and another beside his left.]

Then they put him under house arrest and ordered him back to work in his old job. Without him the work was collapsing. He put it back in shape. But the funds allocated were just as inadequate as they had been earlier, and so once again he was thrown in prison, this time for "incorrect use of funds": the funds were insufficient, they charged, because the chief engineer had used them inefficiently! Ladyzhensky died in camp after a year of timbering.

Thus in the course of a few years they broke the back of the Old Russian engineers who had constituted the glory of the country, who were the beloved heroes of such writers as Garin-Mikhailovsky, Chekhov, and Zamyatin.

It is to be understood, of course, that in this wave, as in all of them, other people were taken too: for example, those who had been near and dear to and connected with those doomed. I hesitate to sully the shining bronze countenance of the Sentinel of the Revolution, yet I must: they also arrested persons who refused to become informers. We would ask the reader to keep in mind at all times, but especially in connection with the first postrevolutionary decade, this entirely secret wave, which never surfaced in public: at that time people still had their pride, and many of them quite failed to comprehend that morality is a relative thing, having only a narrow class meaning, and they dared to reject the employment offered them, and they were all punished without mercy. In fact, at this time young Magdalena Edzhubova was supposed to act as an informer on a group of engineers, and she not only dared to refuse but also told her guardian (it was against him she was supposed to inform). However, he was arrested soon anyway, and in the course of the investigation he confessed everything. Edzhubova, who was pregnant, was arrested for "revealing an operational secret" and was sentenced to be shot—but subsequently managed to get off with a twenty-five-year string of sentences. In that same year, 1927, though in a completely different milieu, among the leading Kharkov Communists, Nadezhda Vitalyevna Surovets refused to become an informer and spy on members of the Ukrainian government. For this she was arrested by the GPU, and not until a quarter of a century later did she manage to emerge, barely alive, in the Kolyma. As for those who didn't survive—of them we know nothing.

(In the thirties this wave of the disobedient fell off to zero: if they asked you to, then it meant you had to inform—where would you hide? "The weakest go to the wall." "If I don't, someone else will." "Better me than someone bad." Meanwhile there were plenty of volunteers; you couldn't get away from them: it was both profitable and praiseworthy.)

In 1928 in Moscow the big Shakhty case came to trial—big in terms of the publicity it was given, in the startling confessions and self-flagellation of the defendants (though not yet all of them). Two years later, in September, 1930, the famine organizers were tried with a great hue and cry. (They were the ones! There they are!) There were forty-eight wreckers in the food industry. At the end of 1930, the trial of the Promparty was put on with even greater fanfare. It had been faultlessly rehearsed. In this case every single defendant took upon himself the blame for every kind of filthy rubbish—and then, like a monument unveiled, there arose before the eyes of the workers the grandiose, cunningly contrived skein in which all the separate wrecking cases previously exposed were tied into one diabolical knot along with Milyukov, Ryabushinsky, Deterding, and Poincaré.

As we begin to understand our judicial practices, we realize now that the public trials were only the surface indications of the mole's tunnel, and that all the main digging lay beneath the surface. At these trials only a small number of those arrested were produced in court—only those who agreed to the unnatural practice of accusing themselves and others in the hope of getting off more easily. The majority of the engineers, who had the courage and intelligence to reject and refute the interrogators' stupidities, were tried out of earshot. But even though they did not confess, they got the same tenners from the Collegium of the GPU.

The waves flowed underground through the pipes; they provided sewage disposal for the life flowering on the surface.

It was precisely at this moment that an important step was taken toward universal participation in sewage disposal, universal distribution of responsibility for it. Those who had not yet been swept bodily down the sewer hatches, who had not yet been carried through the pipes to the Archipelago, had to march up above, carrying banners praising the trials, and rejoicing at the judicial reprisals. (And this was very farsighted! Decades would pass, and history would have its eyes opened, but the interrogators, judges, and prosecutors would turn out to be no more guilty than you and I, fellow citizens! The reason we possess our worthy gray heads is that in our time we worthily voted "for.")

Stalin carried out the first such effort in connection with the trial of the famine organizers—and how could it not succeed when everyone was starving in bounteous Russia, and everyone was always looking about and asking: "Where did all our dear bread get to?" Therefore, before the court verdict, the workers and employees wrathfully voted for the death penalty for the scoundrels on trial. And by the time of the Promparty trial, there were universal meetings and demonstrations (including even school-children). It was the newspaper march of millions, and the roar rose outside the windows of the courtroom: "Death! Death! Death!"

At this turning point in our history, there were some lonely voices of protest or abstention—and very, very great bravery was required to say "No!" in the midst of that roaring chorus of approval. It is incomparably easier today! (Yet even today people don't very often vote "against") To the extent that we know about them, it was those same spineless, slushy intellectuals. At the meeting of the Leningrad Polytechnic Institute, Professor Dmitri Apollinaryevich Rozhansky abstained (he was an enemy of capital punishment in general, you see; in the language of science, you see, this was an irreversible process), and he was arrested then and there! The student Dima Olitsky abstained and was arrested then and there! Thus all these protests were silenced at the very source.

So far as we know, the gray-mustached working class approved these executions. So far as we know, from the blazing Komsomols right up to the Party leaders and the legendary army commanders, the entire vanguard waxed unanimous in approving these executions. Famous revolutionaries, theoreticians, and prophets, seven years before their own inglorious destruction, welcomed the roar of the crowd, not guessing then that their own time stood on the threshold, that soon their own names would be dragged down in that roar of "Scum!" "Filth!"

In fact, for the engineers the rout soon came to an end. At the beginning of 1931 Iosif Vissarionovich spake his "Six Conditions" for construction. And His Autocracy vouchsafed as the fifth condition: We must move from a policy of destruction of the old technical intelligentsia to a policy of concern for it, of making use of it.

Concern for it! What had happened in the meantime to our just wrath? Where had all our terrible accusations gone to? At this very moment, as it happened, a trial of "wreckers" in the porcelain industry was under way (they had been playing their filthy tricks even there!). All the defendants had damned each other in unison and confessed to everything—and suddenly they cried out in unison again: "We are innocent!" And they were freed!

(There was even a small reverse wave to be remarked in this particular year: some engineers who had already been sentenced or put under interrogation were released. Thus D. A. Rozhansky came back. Should we not say he had won his duel with Stalin? And that if people had been heroic in exercising their civil responsibilities, there would never have been any reason to write either this chapter or this whole book?)

That same year Stalin was still engaged in grinding beneath his hoof the long-since prostrate Mensheviks. (There was a public trial in March, 1931, of the "All-Union Bureau of Mensheviks," Groman, Sukhanov, and Yakubovich, and a certain number of small, scattered, unannounced arrests took place in addition.)

[The Sukhanov referred to here was the same Sukhanov in whose apartment, on the Karpovka, in Petrograd, and with whose knowledge (and the guides there nowadays are lying when they say it was without his knowledge), the Bolshevik Central Committee met on October 10, 1917, and adopted its decision to launch an armed uprising.]

And suddenly Stalin "reconsidered."

The White Sea folk say of the tide, the water reconsiders, meaning the moment just before it begins to fall. Well, of course, it is inappropriate to compare the murky soul of Stalin with the water of the White Sea. And perhaps he didn't reconsider anything whatever. Nor was there any ebb tide. But one more miracle happened that year. In 1931, following the trial of the Promparty, a grandiose trial of the Working Peasants Party was being prepared—on the grounds that they existed (never, in actual fact!) as an enormous organized underground force among the rural intelligentsia, including leaders of consumer and agricultural cooperatives and the more advanced upper layer of the peasantry, and supposedly were preparing to overthrow the dictatorship of the proletariat. At the trial of the Promparty this Working Peasants Party—the TKP—was referred to as if it were already well known and under detention. The interrogation apparatus of the GPU was working flawlessly: thousands of defendants had already fully confessed their adherence to the TKP and participation in its criminal plans. And no less than two hundred thousand "members" altogether were promised by the GPU. Mentioned as "heading" the party were the agricultural economist Aleksandr Vasilyevich Chayanov; the future "Prime Minister" N. D. Kondratyev; L. N. Yurovsky; Makarov; and Aleksei Doyarenko, a professor from the Timiryazev Academy (future Minister of Agriculture).

[He might well have been a better one than those who held the job for the next forty years! But how strange is human fate! As a matter of principle, Doyarenko was always nonpolitical! When his daughter used to bring home fellow students who expressed opinions savoring of Socialist Revolutionary views, he made them leave!]

Then all of a sudden, one lovely night, Stalin reconsidered. Why? Maybe we will never know. Did he perhaps wish to save his soul? Too soon for that, it would seem. Did his sense of humor come to the fore—was it all so deadly, monotonous, so bitter-tasting? But no one would ever dare accuse Stalin of having a sense of humor! Likeliest of all, Stalin simply figured out that the whole countryside, not just 200,000 people, would soon die of famine anyway, so why go to the trouble? And instantly the whole TKP trial was called off. All those who had "confessed" were told they could repudiate their confessions (one can picture their happiness!). And instead of the whole big catch, only the small group of Kondratyev and Chayanov was hauled in and tried.

[Kondratyev, sentenced to solitary confinement, became mentally ill there and died. Yurovsky also died. Chayanov was exiled to Alma-Ata after five years in solitary and was arrested again there in 1948.]

(In 1941, the charge against the tortured Vavilov was that the TKP had existed and he had been its head.)

Paragraph piles on paragraph, year on year—and yet there is no way we can describe in sequence everything that took place (but the GPU did its job effectively! The GPU never let anything get by!). But we must always remember that:

• Religious believers, of course, were being arrested uninterruptedly. (There were, nonetheless, certain special dates and peak periods. There was a "night of struggle against religion" in Leningrad on Christmas Eve, 1929, when they arrested a large part of the religious intelligentsia and held them—not just until morning either. And that was certainly no "Christmas tale."

Then in February, 1932, again in Leningrad, many churches were closed simultaneously, while, at the same time, large-scale arrests were made among the clergy. And there are still more dates and places, but they haven't been reported to us by anyone.)

• Non-Orthodox sects were also under constant attack, even those sympathetic to Communism. (Thus, in 1929, they arrested every last member of the communes between Sochi and Khosta. These communes ran everything—both production and distribution—on a Communist basis, and it was all done fairly and honestly, in a way the rest of the country won't achieve in a hundred years. But, alas, they were too literate; they were well read in religious literature; and atheism was not their philosophy, which combined Baptist and Tolstoyan beliefs with those of Yoga. It appeared that such a commune was criminal and that it could not bring people happiness.)

In the twenties, a large group of Tolstoyans was exiled to the foothills of the Altai and there they established communal settlements jointly with the Baptists. When the construction of the Kuznetsk industrial complex began, they supplied it with food products. Then arrests began—first the teachers (they were not teaching in accordance with the government programs), and the children ran after the cars, shouting. And after that the commune leaders were taken.

• The Big Solitaire game played with the socialists went on and on uninterruptedly—of course.

• In 1929, also, those historians who had not been sent abroad in time were arrested: Platonov, Tarle, Lyubavsky, Gotye, Likhachev, Izmailov, and the outstanding literary scholar M. M. Bakhtin.

• From one end of the country to the other, nationalities kept pouring in. The Yakuts were imprisoned after the revolt of 1928. The Buryat-Mongols were imprisoned after the uprising of 1929—and they say about 35,000 were shot, a figure it has been impossible to verify. The Kazakhs were imprisoned after Budenny's cavalry heroically crushed their revolt in 1930 and 1931. The Union for Liberation of the Ukraine was put on trial at the beginning of 1930 (Professor Yefremov, Chekhovsky, Nikovsky, etc.), and, knowing the ratio in our country of what is public to what is secret, how many others followed in their footsteps? How many were secretly arrested?

Then came the time—slowly, it is true, but surely—when it was the turn of the members of the ruling Party to do time in prison! At first—from 1927 to 1929—it was a question of the "workers' opposition," in other words, the Trotskyites, who had chosen themselves such an unsuccessful leader. They numbered hundreds at the start; soon there would be thousands. But it's the first step that's the hardest! Just as these Trotskyites had observed with approval the arrest of members of other parties, so the rest of the Party now watched approvingly as the Trotskyites were arrested. But everyone would have his turn. The nonexistent "rightist opposition" would come later, and, limb by limb, beginning with its own tail, the ravenous maw would devour itself . . . right up to its head.

From 1928 on, it was time to call to a reckoning those late stragglers after the bourgeoisie—the NEPmen. The usual practice was to impose on them ever-increasing and finally totally intolerable taxes. At a certain point they could no longer pay; they were immediately arrested for bankruptcy, and their property was confiscated. (Small tradesmen such as barbers, tailors, even those who repaired primus stoves, were only deprived of their licenses to ply their trade.)

There was an economic purpose to the development of the NEPmen wave. The state needed property and gold, and there was as yet no Kolyma. The famous gold fever began at the end of 1929, only the fever gripped not those looking for gold but those from whom it was being shaken loose. The particular feature of this new, "gold" wave was that the GPU was not actually accusing these rabbits of anything, and was perfectly willing not to send them off to Gulag country, but wished only to take away their gold by main force. So the prisons were packed, the interrogators were worn to a frazzle, but the transit prisons, prisoner transports, and camps received only relatively minor reinforcements.

Who was arrested in the "gold" wave? All those who, at one time or another, fifteen years before, had had a private "business," had been involved in retail trade, had earned wages at a craft, and could have, according to the GPU's deductions, hoarded gold.

But it so happened that they often had no gold. They had put their money into real estate or securities, which had melted away or been taken away in the Revolution, and nothing remained. They had high hopes, of course, in arresting dental technicians, jewelers, and watch repairmen. Through denunciations, one could learn about gold in the most unexpected places: a veteran lathe worker had somewhere gotten hold of, and held on to, sixty gold five-ruble pieces from Tsarist times. The famous Siberian partisan Muravyev had come to Odessa, bringing with him a small bag full of gold. The Petersburg Tatar draymen all had gold hidden away. Whether or not these things were so could be discovered only inside prison walls. Nothing—neither proletarian origin nor revolutionary services—served as a defense against a gold denunciation. All were arrested, all were crammed into GPU cells in numbers no one had considered possible up to then—but that was all to the good: they would cough it up all the sooner! It even reached a point of such confusion that men and women were imprisoned in the same cells and used the latrine bucket in each other's presence—who cared about those niceties? Give up your gold, vipers! The interrogators did not write up charge sheets because no one needed their papers. And whether or not a sentence would be pasted on was of very little interest. Only one thing was important: Give up your gold, viper! The state needs gold and you don't. The interrogators had neither voice nor strength left to threaten and torture; they had one universal method: feed the prisoners nothing but salty food and give them no water.

Whoever coughed up gold got water! One gold piece for a cup of fresh water!

People perish for cold metal.

This wave was distinguished from those that preceded and followed it because, even though fewer than half its victims held their fate in their own hands, some did. If you in fact had no gold, then your situation was hopeless. You would be beaten, burned, tortured, and steamed to the point of death or until they finally came to believe you. But if you had gold, you could determine the extent of your torture, the limits of your endurance, and your own fate. Psychologically, this situation was, incidentally, not easier but more difficult, because if you made an error you would always be ridden by a guilty conscience. Of course, anyone who had already mastered the rules of the institution would yield and give up his gold—that was easier. But it was a mistake to give it up too readily. They would refuse to believe you had coughed it all up, and they would continue to hold you. But you'd be wrong, too, to wait too long before yielding: you'd end up kicking the bucket or they'd paste a term on you out of meanness. One of the Tatar draymen endured all the tortures: he had no gold! They imprisoned his wife, too, and tortured her, but the Tatar stuck to his story: no gold! Then they arrested his daughter: the Tatar couldn't take it any more. He coughed up 100,000 rubles. At this point they let his family go, but slapped a prison term on him. The crudest detective stories and operas about brigands were played out in real life on a vast national scale.

The introduction of the passport system on the threshold of the thirties also provided the camps with a good-sized draft of reinforcements. Just as Peter I simplified the social structure, sweeping clean all the nooks and crannies of the old Russian class system, so our socialist passport system swept out, in particular, the betwixt-and-between insects. It hit at the clever, homeless portion of the population which wasn't tied down to anything. In the early stages, people made many mistakes with those passports—and those not registered at their places of residence, and those not registered as having left their former places of residence, were raked into the Archipelago, if only for a single year.

And so the waves foamed and rolled. But over them all, in 1929-1930, billowed and gushed the multimillion wave of dispossessed kulaks. It was immeasurably large and it could certainly not have been housed in even the highly developed network of Soviet interrogation prisons (which in any case were packed full by the "gold" wave). Instead, it bypassed the prisons, going directly to the transit prisons and camps, onto prisoner transports, into the Gulag country. In sheer size this nonrecurring tidal wave (it was an ocean) swelled beyond the bounds of anything the penal system of even an immense state can permit itself. There was nothing to be compared with it in all Russian history. It was the forced resettlement of a whole people, an ethnic catastrophe. But yet so cleverly were the channels of the GPU-Gulag organized that the cities would have noticed nothing had they not been stricken by a strange three-year famine—a famine that came about without drought and without war.

This wave was also distinct from all those which preceded it because no one fussed about with taking the head of the family first and then working out what to do with the rest of the family. On the contrary, in this wave they burned out whole nests, whole families, from the start; and they watched jealously to be sure that none of the children—fourteen, ten, even six years old—got away: to the last scrapings, all had to go down the same road, to the same common destruction. (This was the first such experiment—at least in modern history. It was subsequently repeated by Hitler with the Jews, and again by Stalin with nationalities which were disloyal to him or suspected by him.)

This wave included only pathetically few of those kulaks for whom it was named, in order to draw the wool over people's eyes. In Russian a kulak is a miserly, dishonest rural trader who grows rich not by his own labor but through someone else's, through usury and operating as a middleman. In every locality even before the Revolution such kulaks could be numbered on one's fingers. And the Revolution totally destroyed their basis of activity. Subsequently, after 1917, by a transfer of meaning, the name kulakbegan to be applied (in official and propaganda literature, whence it moved into general usage) to all those who in any way hired workers, even if it was only when they were temporarily short of working hands in their own families. But we must keep in mind that after the Revolution it was impossible to pay less than a fair wage for all such labor—the Committees of the Poor and the village Soviets looked after the interests of landless laborers. Just let somebody try to swindle a landless laborer! To this very day, in fact, the hiring of labor at a fair wage is permitted in the Soviet Union.

But the inflation of this scathing term kulak proceeded relentlessly, and by 1930 all strong peasants in general were being so called—all peasants strong in management, strong in work, or even strong merely in convictions. The term kulak was used to smash the strength of the peasantry. Let us remember, let us open our eyes: only a dozen years had passed since the great Decree on the Land—that very decree without which the peasants would have refused to follow the Bolsheviks and without which the October Revolution would have failed. The land was allocated in accordance with the number of "mouths" per family, equally. It had been only nine years since the men of the peasantry had returned from the Red Army and rushed onto the land they had wrested for themselves. Then suddenly there were kulaks and there were poor peasants. How could that be? Sometimes it was the result of differences in initial stock and equipment; sometimes it may have resulted from luck in the mixture of the family. But wasn't it most often a matter of hard work and persistence? And now these peasants, whose breadgrain had fed Russia in 1928, were hastily uprooted by local good-for-nothings and city people sent in from outside. Like raging beasts, abandoning every concept of "humanity," abandoning all humane principles which had evolved through the millennia, they began to round up the very best farmers and their families, and to drive them, stripped of their possessions, naked, into the northern wastes, into the tundra and the taiga.

Such a mass movement could not help but develop subsequent ramifications. It became necessary to rid the villages also of those peasants who had merely manifested an aversion to joining the collective farms, or an absence of inclination for the collective life, which they had never seen with their own eyes, about which they knew nothing, and which they suspected (we now know how well founded their suspicions were) would mean a life of forced labor and famine under the leadership of loafers. Then it was also necessary to get rid of those peasants, some of them not at all prosperous, who, because of their daring, their physical strength, their determination, their outspokenness at meetings, and their love of justice, were favorites with their fellow villagers and by virtue of their independence were therefore dangerous to the leadership of the collective farm.

[This kind of peasant and his fate were portrayed immortally in the character of Stepan Chausov in S. Zalygin's novel.]

Beyond this, in every village there were people who in one way or another had personally gotten in the way of the local activists. This was the perfect time to settle accounts with them of jealousy, envy, insult. A new word was needed for all these new victims as a class—and it was born. By this time it had no "social" or "economic" content whatsoever, but it had a marvelous sound: podkulachnik—"a person aiding the kulaks." In other words, I consider you an accomplice of the enemy. And that finishes you! The most tattered landless laborer in the countryside could quite easily be labeled a podkulachnik.

[ I remember very well that in our youth this term seemed quite logical; there was nothing in the least unclear about it.]

And so it was that these two terms embraced everything that constituted the essence of the village, its energy, its keenness of wit, its love of hard work, its resistance, and its conscience. They were torn up by the roots—and collectivization was accomplished.

But new waves rolled from the collectivized villages: one of them was a wave of agricultural wreckers. Everywhere they began to discover wrecker agronomists who up until that year had worked honestly all their lives but who now purposely sowed weeds in Russian fields (on the instructions, of course, of the Moscow institute, which had now been totally exposed; indeed, there were those same 200,000 unarrested members of the Working Peasants Party, the TKP!). Certain agronomists failed to put into effect the profound instructions of Lysenko—and in one such wave, in 1931, Lorkh, the so-called "king" of the potato, was sent to Kazakhstan. Others carried out the Lysenko directives too precisely and thus exposed their absurdity. (In 1934 Pskov agronomists sowed flax on the snow—exactly as Lysenko had ordered. The seeds swelled up, grew moldy, and died. The big fields lay empty for a year. Lysenko could not say that the snow was a kulak or that he himself was an ass. He accused the agronomists of being kulaks and of distorting his technology. And the agronomists went off to Siberia.) Beyond all this, in almost every Machine and Tractor Station wrecking in the repairing of tractors was discovered—and that is how the failures of the first collective farm years were explained!

There was a wave "for harvest losses" (losses in comparison with the arbitrary harvest figures announced the preceding spring by the "Commission for Determination of the Harvest").

There was a wave "for failure to fulfill obligations undertaken for delivery to the state of breadgrains"—the District Party Committee had undertaken the obligation, and the collective farm had not fulfilled it: go to prison!

There was a wave for snipping ears, the nighttime snipping of individual ears of grain in the field—a totally new type of agricultural activity, a new type of harvesting! The wave of those caught doing this was not small—it included many tens of thousands of peasants, many of them not even adults but boys, girls, and small children whose elders had sent them out at night to snip, because they had no hope of receiving anything from the collective farm for their daytime labor. For this bitter and not very productive occupation (an extreme of poverty to which the peasants had not been driven even in serfdom) the courts handed out a full measure: ten years for what ranked as an especially dangerous theft of socialist property under the notorious law of August 7, 1932—which in prisoners' lingo was known simply as the law of Seven-eighths.

This law of "Seven-eighths" produced another big, separate wave from the construction projects of the First and Second Five-Year Plans, from transport, trade, and industry. Big thefts were turned over to the NKVD. This wave must further be kept in mind as one that kept on flowing steadily for the next fifteen years, until 1947, especially during the war years. (Then in 1947 the original law was expanded and made more harsh.)

Now at last we can catch our breath! Now at last all the mass waves are coming to an end! Comrade Molotov said on May 17, 1933: "We do not see our task as being mass repressions." Whew! At last! Begone, nighttime fears! But what's that dog howling out there? Go get 'em. Go get 'em.

And here we are! The Kirov wave from Leningrad has begun. While it lasted the tension was acknowledged to be so great that special staffs of the NKVD were set up in each and every District Executive Committee of the city and an "accelerated" judicial procedure was introduced. (Even earlier, it had not been famous for being slow.) And there was no right of appeal. (There had been no appeal earlier.) It is also believed that one-quarter of Leningrad was purged—cleaned out—in 1934-1935.

Let this estimate be disproved by those who have the exact statistics and are willing to publish them. (To be sure, this wave took in much more than Leningrad alone. It had a substantial impact on the rest of the country in a form that was consistent though chaotic: the firing from the civil service of all those still left there whose fathers had been priests, all former noble- women, and all persons having relatives abroad.)

Among such lashing waves as this, certain modest, changeless wavelets always got lost; they were little heard of, but they, too, kept flowing on and on:

• There were Schutzbündlers who had lost the class battles in Vienna and had come to the Fatherland of the world proletariat for refuge.

• There were Esperantists—a harmful group which Stalin undertook to smoke out during the years when Hitler was doing the same thing.

• There were the unliquidated remnants of the Free Philosophic Society—illegal philosophical circles.

• There were teachers who disagreed with the advanced laboratory-team system of instruction. (In 1933, for instance, Natalya Ivanovna Bugayenko was arrested by the Rostov GPU—but in the third month of her interrogation, a government decree suddenly announced that the system was a faulty one. And she was let go.)

• There were employees of the Political Red Cross, which, through the efforts of Yekaterina Peshkova, was still defending its existence.

• There were mountain tribes of the North Caucasus who were arrested for their 1935 revolt. And non-Russian nationalities kept rolling in from one area, then another. (On the Volga Canal construction site newspapers were published in four national languages: Tatar, Turkish, Uzbek, and Kazakh. And, of course, there were readers to read them!)

• There were once again believers, who this time were unwilling to work on Sundays. (They had introduced the five and the six-day week.) And there were collective farmers sent up for sabotage because they refused to work on religious feast days, as had been their custom in the era of individual farms.

• And, always, there were those who refused to become NKVD informers. (Among them were priests who refused to violate the secrecy of the confessional, for the Organs had very quickly discovered how useful it was to learn the content of confessions—the only use they found for religion.)

• And members of non-Orthodox sects were arrested on an ever-wider scale.

• And the Big Solitaire game with the socialists went on and on.

And last of all there was a category I have not yet named, a wave that was continually flowing: Section 10, also known as KRA (Counter-Revolutionary Agitation) and also known as ASA (Anti-Soviet Agitation). The wave of Section 10 was perhaps the most constant of all. It never stopped, and whenever there was another big wave, as, for instance, in 1937, 1945, and 1949, its waters became particularly swollen.

[This particular unremitting wave grabbed up anyone at all at any moment. But when it came to outstanding intellectuals in the thirties, they sometimes considered it cleverer to fabricate a case based on some conspicuously shameful violation (like pederasty; or, in the case of Professor Pletnev, the allegation that, left alone with a woman patient, he bit her breast. A national newspaper reports such an incident—and just try to deny it!).]

Paradoxically enough, every act of the all-penetrating, eternally wakeful Organs, over a span of many years, was based solely on one article of the 140 articles of the nongeneral division of the Criminal Code of 1926. One can find more epithets in praise of this article than Turgenev once assembled to praise the Russian language, or Nekrasov to praise Mother Russia: great, powerful, abundant, highly ramified, multiform, wide-sweeping 58, which summed up the world not so much through the exact terms of its sections as in their extended dialectical interpretation.

Who among us has not experienced its all-encompassing embrace? In all truth, there is no step, thought, action, or lack of action under the heavens which could not be punished by the heavy hand of Article 58.

The article itself could not be worded in such broad terms, but it proved possible to interpret it this broadly.

Article 58 was not in that division of the Code dealing with political crimes; and nowhere was it categorized as "political." No. It was included, with crimes against public order and organized gangsterism, in a division of "crimes against the state." Thus the Criminal Code starts off by refusing to recognize anyone under its jurisdiction as a political offender. All are simply criminals.

Article 58 consisted of fourteen sections.

In Section 1 we learn that any action (and, according to Article 6 of the Criminal Code, any absence of action) directed toward the weakening of state power was considered to be counterrevolutionary.

Broadly interpreted, this turned out to include the refusal of a prisoner in camp to work when in a state of starvation and exhaustion. This was a weakening of state power. And it was punished by execution. (The execution of malingerers during the war.)

From 1934 on, when we were given back the term Motherland, subsections were inserted on treason to the Motherland—1a, 1b, 1c, 1d. According to these subsections, all actions directed against the military might of the U.S.S.R. were punishable by execution (1b), or by ten years' imprisonment (1a), but the lighter penalty was imposed only when mitigating circumstances were present and upon civilians only.

Broadly interpreted: when our soldiers were sentenced to only ten years for allowing themselves to be taken prisoner (action injurious to Soviet military might), this was humanitarian to the point of being illegal. According to the Stalinist code, they should all have-been shot on their return home.

(Here is another example of broad interpretation. I remember well an encounter in the Butyrki in the summer of 1946. A certain Pole had been born in Lemberg when that city was part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. Until World War II he lived in his native city, by then located in Poland; then he went to Austria, where he entered the service, and in 1945 he was arrested there by the Russians. Since by this time Austrian Lemberg had become Ukrainian Lvov, he received a tenner under Article 54-1a of the Ukrainian Criminal Code: i.e., for treason to his motherland, the Ukraine! And at his interrogation the poor fellow couldn't prove that treason to the Ukraine had not been his purpose when he went to Vienna! And that's how he conned his way into becoming a traitor.)

One important additional broadening of the section on treason was its application "via Article 19 of the Criminal Code"- -"via intent." In other words, no treason had taken place; but the interrogator envisioned an intention to betray—and that was enough to justify a full term, the same as for actual treason. True, Article 19 proposes that there be no penalty for intent, but only for preparation, but given a dialectical reading one can understand intention as preparation. And "preparation is punished in the same way [i.e., with the same penalty] as the crime itself" (Criminal Code). In general, "we draw no distinction between intention and the crime itself, and this is an instance of the superiority of Soviet legislation to bourgeois legislation."

[A. Y. Vyshinsky (editor), Ot Tyurem k Vospitatelnym Uchrezhdeniyam (From Prisons to Rehabilitative Institutions), a collection of articles published by the Criminal Policy Institute, Moscow, Sovetskoye Zakonodatelstvo Publishing House, 1934.]

Section 2 listed armed rebellion, seizure of power in the capital or in the provinces, especially for the purpose of severing any part of the U.S.S.R. through the use of force. For this the penalties ranged up to and included execution (as in every succeeding section).

This was expanded to mean something which could not be explicitly stated in the article itself but which revolutionary sense of justice could be counted on to suggest: it applied to every attempt of any national republic to act upon its right to leave the U.S.S.R. After all, the word "force" is not defined in terms of whom it applies to. Even when the entire population of a republic wants to secede, if Moscow is opposed, the attempted secession will be forcible. Thus, all Estonian, Latvian, Lithuanian, Ukrainian, and Turkestan nationalists very easily received their tens and their twenty-fives under this section.

Section 3 was "assisting in any way or by any means a foreign state at war with the U.S.S.R."

This section made it possible to condemn any citizen who had been in occupied territory—whether he had nailed on the heel of a German soldier's shoe or sold him a bunch of radishes. And it could be applied to any citizeness who had helped lift the fighting spirit of an enemy soldier by dancing and spending the night with him. Not everyone was actually sentenced under this section—because of the huge numbers who had been in occupied territory. But everyone who had been in occupied territory could have been sentenced under it.

Section 4 spoke about (fantastic!) aid to the international bourgeoisie.

To whom, one wonders, could this possibly refer? And yet, broadly interpreted, and with the help of a revolutionary conscience, it was easy to find categories: All emigres who had left the country before 1920, i.e., several years before the Code was even written, and whom our armies came upon in Europe a quarter-century later—in 1944 and 1945—received 58-4: ten years or execution. What could they have been doing abroad other than aiding the international bourgeoisie? (In the example of the young people's musical society already cited, we have seen that the international bourgeoisie could also be aided from inside the U.S.S.R.) They were, in addition, aided by all SR's, all Mensheviks (the section was drafted with them in mind), and, subsequently, by the engineers of the State Planning Commission and the Supreme Council of the Economy.

Section 5 was inciting a foreign state to declare war against the U.S.S.R.

A chance was missed to apply this section against Stalin and his diplomatic and'military circle in 1940—1941. Their blindness and insanity led to just that. Who if not they drove Russia into shameful, unheard-of defeats, incomparably worse than the defeats of Tsarist Russia in 1904 or 1915? Defeats such as Russia had never known since the thirteenth century.

Section 6 was espionage.

This section was interpreted so broadly that if one were to count up all those sentenced under it one might conclude that during Stalin's time our people supported life not by agriculture or industry, but only by espionage on behalf of foreigners, and by living on subsidies from foreign intelligence services. Espionage was very convenient in its simplicity, comprehensible both to an undeveloped criminal and to a learned jurist, to a journalist and to public opinion.

[And very likely spy mania was not merely the narrow-minded predilection of Stalin alone. It was very useful for everyone who possessed any privileges. It became the natural justification for increasingly widespread secrecy, the withholding of information, closed doors and security passes, fenced-off dachas and secret, restricted special shops. People had no way of penetrating the armor plate of spy mania and learning how the bureaucracy made its cozy arrangements, loafed, blundered, ate, and took its amusements.]

The breadth of interpretation of Section 6 lay further in the fact that people were sentenced not only for actual espionage but also for:

PSh—Suspicion of Espionage—or NSh—Unproven Espionage —for which they gave the whole works.

And even SVPSh—Contacts Leading to (!) Suspicion of Espionage.

In other words, let us say that an acquaintance of an acquaintance of your wife had a dress made by the same seamstress (who was, of course, an NKVD agent) used by the wife of a foreign diplomat.

These 58-6 PSh's and SVPSh's were sticky sections. They required the strict confinement and incessant supervision of those convicted (for, after all, an intelligence service might reach out its tentacles to its protege even in a camp); also, such prisoners could be moved only under convoy—armed escort. In general, all the lettered articles—which were, in fact, not articles of the Code at all but frightening combinations of capital letters (and we shall encounter more of them in this chapter)—always contained a touch of the enigmatic, always remained incomprehensible, and it wasn't at all clear whether they were offshoots of Article 58 or independent and extremely dangerous. In many camps prisoners convicted under the provisions of these lettered articles were subjected to restrictions even more stringent than those of the ordinary 58's.

Section 7 applied to subversion of industry, transport, trade, and the circulation of money.

In the thirties, extensive use was made of this section to catch masses of people—under the simplified and widely understood catchword wrecking. In reality, everything enumerated under Section 7 was very obviously and plainly being subverted daily. So didn't someone have to be guilty of it all? For centuries the people had built and created, always honorably, always honestly, even for serf-owners and nobles. Yet no one, from the days of Ryurik on, had ever heard of wrecking. But now, when for the first time all the wealth had come to belong to the people, hundreds of thousands of the best sons of the people inexplicably rushed off to wreck. (Section 7 did not provide for wrecking in agriculture, but since it was impossible otherwise to explain rationally how and why the fields were choked with weeds, why harvests were falling off, why machines were breaking down, then dialectic sensitivity brought agriculture, too, under its sway.)

Section 8 covered terror (not that terror from above for which the Soviet Criminal Code was supposed to "provide a foundation and basis in legality," but terrorism from below).

Terror was construed in a very broad sense, not simply a matter of putting bombs under governors' carriages, but, for example, smashing in the face of a personal enemy if he was an activist in the Party, the Komsomol, or the police!—that was already terror. The murder of an activist, especially, was always treated more seriously than the murder of an ordinary person (as in the Code of Hammurabi in the eighteenth century B.C.). If a husband killed his wife's lover, it was very fortunate for him if the victim turned out not to be a Party member; he would be sentenced under Article 136 as a common criminal, who was a "social ally" and didn't require an armed escort. But if the lover turned out to have been a Party member, the husband became an enemy of the people, with a 58-8 sentence.

An even more important extension of the concept was attained by interpreting Section 8 in terms of that same Article 19, i.e., intent in the sense of preparation, to include not only a direct threat against an activist uttered near a beer hall ("Just you wait!") but also the quick-tempered retort of a peasant woman at the market ("Oh, drop dead!"). Both qualified as TN—Terrorist Intent—and provided a basis for applying the article in all its severity.

[This sounds like an exaggeration, a farce, but it was not I who invented that farce. I was in prison with these individuals.]

Section 9 concerned destruction or damage by explosion or arson (always with a counterrevolutionary purpose), for which the abbreviated term was "diversion"—in other words, sabotage.

The expansion of this section was based on the fact that the counterrevolutionary purpose could be discerned by the interrogator, who knew best what was going on in the criminal's mind. And every human error, failure, mistake at work or in the production process, remained unforgiven, and was therefore considered to be a case of "diversion."

But there was no section in Article 58 which was interpreted as broadly and with so ardent a revolutionary conscience as Section 10. Its definition was: "Propaganda or agitation, containing an appeal for the overthrow, subverting, or weakening of the Soviet power . . . and, equally, the dissemination or preparation or possession of literary materials of similar content." For this section in peacetime a minimum penalty only was set (not any less! not too light!); no upper limit was set for the maximum penalty.

Such was the fearlessness of the great Power when confronted by the word of a subject.

The famous extensions of this famous section were as follows: The scope of "agitation containing an appeal" was enlarged to include a face-to-face conversation between friends or even between husband and wife, or a private letter. The word "appeal" could mean personal advice. And we say "could mean" because, in fact, it did.

"Subverting and weakening" the government could include any idea which did not coincide with or rise to the level of intensity of the ideas expressed in the newspaper on any particular day. After all, anything which does not strengthen must weaken: Indeed, anything which does not completely fit in, coincide, subverts!

And he who sings not with us today
is against
us!
—MAYAKOVSKY

The term "preparation of literary materials" covered every letter, note, or private diary, even when only the original document existed.

Thus happily expanded, what thought was there, whether merely in the mind, spoken aloud, or jotted down, which was not covered by Section 10?

Section 11 was a special one; it had no independent content of its own, but provided for an aggravating factor in any of the preceding ones: if the action was undertaken by an organization or if the criminal joined an organization.

In actual practice, the section was so broadened that no organization whatever was required. I myself experienced the subtle application of this section. Two of us had secretly exchanged thoughts—in other words we were the beginnings of an organization, in other words an organization!

Section 12 concerned itself closely with the conscience of our citizens: it dealt with the failure to make a denunciation of any action of the types listed. And the penalty for the mortal sin of failure to make a denunciation carried no maximum limit!

This section was in itself such a fantastic extension of everything else that no further extension was needed. He knew and he did not tell became the equivalent of "He did it himself"!

Section 13, presumably long since out of date, had to do with service in the Tsarist secret police—the Okhrana. (A subsequent form of analogous service was, on the contrary, considered patriotic.)

[There are psychological bases for suspecting I. Stalin of having been liable under this section of Article 58 also. By no means all the documents relating to this type of service survived February, 1917, to become matters of public knowledge. V. F. Dzhunkovsky a former Tsarist police director, who died in the Kolyma, declared that the hasty burning of police archives in the first days of the February Revolution was a joint effort on the part of certain self-interested revolutionaries.]

Section 14 stipulated the penalties for "conscious failure to carry out defined duties or intentionally careless execution of same." In brief this was called "sabotage" or "economic counter-revolution"—and the penalties, of course, included execution.

It was only the interrogator who, after consulting his revolutionary sense of justice, could separate what was intentional from what was unintentional. This section was applied to peasants who failed to come across with food deliveries. It was also applied to collective farmers who failed to work the required minimum number of "labor days"; to camp prisoners who failed to complete their work norms; and, in a peculiar ricochet, after the war it came to be applied to members of Russia's organized underworld of thieves, the blatnye or blatari, for escaping from camp. In other words, by an extension, a thief's flight from camp was interpreted as subversion of the camp system rather than as a dash to freedom.

Such was the last rib of the fan of Article 58—a fan whose spread encompassed all human existence.

Now that we have completed our review of this great Article of the Criminal Code, we are less likely to be astounded further on. Wherever the law is, crime can be found.

The damascene steel of Article 58, first tried out in 1927, right after it was forged, was wetted by all the waves of the following decade, and with whistle and slash was used to the full to deal telling blows in the law's attack upon the people in 1937-1938.

Here one has to make the point that the 1937 operation was not arbitrary or accidental, but well planned well ahead of time, and that in the first half of that year many Soviet prisons were re-equipped. Cots were taken out of the cells and continuous one- or two-storied board benches or bunks were built.

[It was similarly not by chance that the "Big House" in Leningrad was finished in 1934, just in time for Kirov's asassination.]

Old prisoners claim to remember that the first blow allegedly took the form of mass arrests, striking virtually throughout the whole country on one single August night. (But, knowing our clumsiness, I don't really believe this.) In that autumn, when people were trustingly expecting a big, nationwide amnesty on the twentieth anniversary of the October Revolution, Stalin, the prankster, added unheard-of fifteen- and twenty-year prison terms to the Criminal Code.

[The twenty-five-year term was added for the thirtieth anniversary of the Revolution in 1947.]

There is hardly any need to repeat here what has already been widely written, and will be written many times more, about 1937: that a crushing blow was dealt the upper ranks of the Party, the government, the military command, and the GPU-NKVD itself.

[These days, as we observe the Chinese Cultural Revolution at the same stage—in the seventeenth year after its final victory—we can begin to consider it very likely that there exists a fundamental law of historical development. And even Stalin himself begins to seem only a blind and perfunctory executive agent.]

There was hardly one province of the Soviet Union in which the first secretary of the Party Committee or the Chairman of the Provincial Executive Committee survived. Stalin picked more suitable people for his purposes.

Olga Chavchavadze tells how it was in Tbilisi. In 1938 the Chairman of the City Executive Committee, his first deputy, department chiefs, their assistants, all the chief accountants, all the chief economists were arrested. New ones were appointed in their places. Two months passed, and the arrests began again: the chairman, the deputy, all eleven department chiefs, all the chief accountants, all the chief economists. The only people left at liberty were ordinary accountants, stenographers, charwomen, and messengers. . . .

In the arrest of rank-and-file members of the Party there was evidently a hidden theme not directly stated anywhere in the indictments and verdicts: that arrests should be carried out predominantly among Party members who had joined before 1924. This was pursued with particular rigor in Leningrad, because all of them there had signed the "platform" of the New Opposition. (And how could they have refused to sign? How could they have refused to "trust" their Leningrad Provincial Party Committee?)

Here is one vignette from those years as it actually occurred. A district Party conference was under way in Moscow Province. It was presided over by a new secretary of the District Party Committee, replacing one recently arrested. At the conclusion of the conference, a tribute to Comrade Stalin was called for. Of course, everyone stood up (just as everyone had leaped to his feet during the conference at every mention of his name). The small hall echoed with "stormy applause, rising to an ovation." For three minutes, four minutes, five minutes, the "stormy applause, rising to an ovation," continued. But palms were getting sore and raised arms were already aching. And the older people were panting from exhaustion. It was becoming insufferably silly even to those who really adored Stalin. However, who would dare be the first to stop? The secretary of the District Party Committee could have done it. He was standing on the platform, and it was he who had just called for the ovation. But he was a newcomer. He had taken the place of a man who'd been arrested. He was afraid! After all, NKVD men were standing in the hall applauding and watching to see who quit first! And in that obscure, small hall, unknown to the Leader, the applause went on—six, seven, eight minutes! They were done for! Their goose was cooked! They couldn't stop now till they collapsed with heart attacks! At the rear of the hall, which was crowded, they could of course cheat a bit, clap less frequently, less vigorously, not so eagerly—but up there with the presidium where everyone could see them? The director of the local paper factory, an independent and strong-minded man, stood with the presidium. Aware of all the falsity and all the impossibility of the situation, he still kept on applauding! Nine minutes! Ten! In anguish he watched the secretary of the District Party Committee, but the latter dared not stop. Insanity! To the last man! With make-believe enthusiasm on their faces, looking at each other with faint hope, the district leaders were just going to go on and on applauding till they fell where they stood, till they were carried out of the hall on stretchers! And even then those who were left would not falter. . . . Then, after eleven minutes, the director of the paper factory assumed a businesslike expression and sat down in his seat. And, oh, a miracle took place! Where had the universal, uninhibited, indescribable enthusiasm gone? To a man, everyone else stopped dead and sat down. They had been saved! The squirrel had been smart enough to jump off his revolving wheel.

That, however, was how they discovered who the independent people were. And that was how they went about eliminating them. That same night the factory director was arrested. They easily pasted ten years on him on the pretext of something quite different. But after he had signed Form 206, the final document of the interrogation, his interrogator reminded him:

"Don't ever be the first to stop applauding!"

[Told me by N. G------ko.]

(And just what are we supposed to do? How are we supposed to stop?)

Now that's what Darwin's natural selection is. And that's also how to grind people down with stupidity.

But today a new myth is being created. Every story of 1937 that is printed, every reminiscence that is published, relates without exception the tragedy of the Communist leaders. They have kept on assuring us, and we have unwittingly fallen for it, that the history of 1937 and 1938 consisted chiefly of the arrests of the big Communists—and virtually no one else. But out of the millions arrested at that time, important Party and state officials could not possibly have represented more than 10 percent. Most of the relatives standing in line with food parcels outside the Leningrad prisons were lower-class women, the sort who sold milk.

The composition of the hordes who were arrested in that powerful wave and lugged off, half-dead, to the Archipelago was of such fantastic diversity that anyone who wants to deduce the rationale for it scientifically will rack his brain a long time for the answer. (To the contemporaries of the purge it was still more incomprehensible.)

The real law underlying the arrests of those years was the assignment of quotas, the norms set, the planned allocations. Every city, every district, every military unit was assigned a specific quota of arrests to be carried out by a stipulated time. From then on everything else depended on the ingenuity of the Security operations personnel.

The former Chekist Aleksandr Kalganov recalls that a telegram arrived in Tashkent: "Send 200!" They had just finished one clean-out, and it seemed as if there was "no one else" to take. Well, true, they had just brought in about fifty more from the districts. And then they had an idea! They would reclassify as 58's all the nonpolitical offenders being held by the police. No sooner said than done. But despite that, they had still not filled the quota. At that precise moment the police reported that a gypsy band had impudently encamped on one of the city squares and asked what to do with them. Someone had another bright idea! They surrounded the encampment and raked in all the gypsy men from seventeen to sixty as 58's! They had fulfilled the plan!

This could happen another way as well: according to Chief of Police Zabolovsky, the Chekists of Ossetia were given a quota of five hundred to be shot in the Republic. They asked to have it increased, and they were permitted another 250.

Telegrams transmitting instructions of this kind were sent via ordinary channels in a very rudimentary code. In Temryuk the woman telegrapher, in holy innocence, transmitted to the NKVD switchboard the message that 240 boxes of soap were to be shipped to Krasnodar the following day. In the morning she learned about a big wave of arrests and guessed the meaning of the message! She told her girl friend what kind of telegram it was—and was promptly arrested herself.

(Was it indeed totally by chance that the code words for human beings were a box of soap? Or were they familiar with soap-making?)

Of course, certain patterns could be discerned.

Among those arrested were:

Our own real spies abroad. (These were often the most dedicated Comintern workers and Chekists, and among them were many attractive women. They were called back to the Motherland and arrested at the border. They were then confronted with their former Comintern chief, for example, Mirov-Korona, who confirmed that he himself had been working for one of the foreign intelligence services—which meant that his subordinates were automatically guilty too. And the more dedicated they were, the worse it was for them.)

Soviet employees of the Chinese Eastern Railroad, the KVZhD, were one and all arrested as Japanese spies, including their wives, children, and grandmothers. But we have to admit these arrests had already begun several years earlier.

Koreans from the Far East were sent into exile in Kazakhstan—the first experiment in mass arrests on the basis of race.

Leningrad Estonians were all arrested on the strength of having Estonian family names and charged with being anti-Communist Estonian spies.

All Latvian Riflemen and all Latvian Chekists were arrested. Yes, indeed, those very Latvians who had been the midwives of the Revolution, who just a short while before had constituted the nucleus and the pride of the Cheka! And with them were taken even those Communists of bourgeois Latvia who had been exchanged in 1921—and been freed thereby from their dreadful Latvian prison terms of two and three years. (In Leningrad, the Latvian Department of the Herzen Institute, the House of Latvian Culture, the Estonian Club, the Latvian Technicum, and the Latvian and Estonian newspapers were all closed down.)

In the midst of the general to-do, the Big Solitaire game was finally wound up. All those not yet taken were raked in. There was no longer any reason to keep it secret. The time had come to write "finis" to the whole game. So now the socialists were taken off to prison in whole "exiles" (for example, the Ufa "exile" and the Saratov "exile"), and they were all sentenced together and driven off in herds to the slaughterhouses of the Archipelago.

Nowhere was it specifically prescribed that more members of the intelligentsia should be arrested than of other groups. But just as the intelligentsia had never been overlooked in previous waves, it was not neglected in this one. A student's denunciation (and this combination of words, "student" and "denunciation," had ceased to sound outlandish) that a certain lecturer in a higher educational institution kept citing Lenin and Marx frequently but Stalin not at all was all that was needed for the lecturer not to show up for lectures any more. And what if he cited no one? All Leningrad Orientalists of the middle and younger generation were arrested. The entire staff of the Institute of the North, except for its NKVD informers, was arrested. They even went after schoolteachers. In Sverdlovsk one case involved thirty secondary schoolteachers and the head of the Provincial Education Department, Perel.

[Five of them died before trial from tortures suffered during interrogation. Twenty-four died in camps. The thirtieth, Ivan Aristaulovich Punich, returned after his release and rehabilitation. (Had he died, we would have known nothing about the thirty, just as we know nothing about millions of others.) And the many "witnesses" who testified against them are still there in Sverdlovsk today—prospering, occupying responsible positions, or living on as special pensioners. Darwinian selection!]

One of the terrible accusations against them was that they had made arrangements to have a New Year's tree in order to burn down the school. And the club fell with the regularity of a pendulum on the heads of the engineers—who by this time were no longer "bourgeois" but a whole Soviet generation of engineers.

Because of an irregularity in the geological strata two mine tunnels which mine surveyor Nikolai Merkuryevich Mikov had calculated would meet failed to do so. He got Article 58-7—twenty years.

Six geologists (the Kotovich group) were sentenced to ten years under 58-7 "for intentionally concealing reserves of tin ore in underground sites in anticipation of the arrival of the Germans." (In other words, they had failed to find the deposits.)

On the heels of the main waves followed an additional, special wave—of wives and the so-called "ChS" (Members of Families). Among them were the wives of important Party leaders and also, in certain places, Leningrad, for example, the wives of all those who had been sentenced to "ten years without the right to correspond"—in other words, those who were no longer among the living. The "ChS," as a rule, all got eights—eight years. (Well, that was still less than the dispossessed kulaks got and their children did not go to the Archipelago.)

Piles of victims! Hills of victims! A frontal assault of the NKVD on the city: In one wave, for example, G. P. Matveyeva saw not only her husband but all three of her brothers arrested, and all in different cases. (Of the four, three never returned.)

An electrician had a high-tension line break in his sector: 58-7—twenty years.

A Perm worker, Novikov, was accused of planning to blow up a Kama River Bridge.

In that same city of Perm, Yuzhakov was arrested during the day, and at night they came for his wife. They presented her with a list of names and demanded that she sign a confession that they had all met in her house at a Menshevik-SR meeting (of course, they had not). They promised in return to let her out to be with her three children. She signed, destroying all those listed, and, of course, she herself remained in prison.

Nadezhda Yudenich was arrested because of her family name. True, they established, after nine months, that she was not related to the White general, and they let her out (a mere trifle: during that time her mother had died of worry).

The film Lenin in October was shown in Staraya Russa. Some-one present noticed the phrase in the film, "Palchinsky must know!" Palchinsky was defending the Winter Palace. But we have a nurse working here named Palchinskaya! Arrest her! They did arrest her. And it turned out that she actually was his wife—who had hidden in the provinces following his execution.

In 1930, as small boys, the three brothers Pavel, Ivan, and Stepan Borushko came to the Soviet Union from Poland to live with their parents. Now as young men they were arrested for PSh—Suspicion of Espionage—and got ten years.

A streetcar motorwoman of Krasnodar was returning on foot late at night from the car depot; on the outskirts of the city, to her misfortune, she passed some people working to free a truck that had gotten stuck. It turned out to be full of corpses—hands and legs stuck out from beneath the canvas. They wrote down her name and the next day she was arrested. The interrogator asked her what she had seen. She told him truthfully. (Darwinian selection!) Anti-Soviet Agitation—ten years.

A plumber turned off the loudspeaker in his room every time the endless letters to Stalin were being read.

[Who remembers them? They went on and on every day for hours! Stupefyingly identical! Levitan. the announcer, probably remembers them well: he used to read them in rolling tones, with great expression!]

His next-door neighbor denounced him. (Where, oh where, is that neighbor today?) He got SOE—"Socially Dangerous Element"—eight years.

A half-literate stovemaker used to enjoy writing his name in his free time. This raised his self-esteem. There was no blank paper around, so he wrote on newspapers. His neighbors found his newspaper in the sack in the communal toilet, with pen-and-ink nourishes across the countenance of the Father and Teacher. Anti-Soviet Agitation—ten years.

Stalin and those close to him loved their portraits and splashed them all over the newspapers and issued them in millions of copies. The flies paid little heed to their sanctity, and it was a pity not to make use of the paper—and how many unfortunates got a term for that!

Arrests rolled through the streets and apartment houses like an epidemic. Just as people transmit an epidemic infection from one to another without knowing it, by such innocent means as a handshake, a breath, handing someone something, so, too, they passed on the infection of inevitable arrest by a handshake, by a breath, by a chance meeting on the street. For if you are destined to confess tomorrow that you organized an underground group to poison the city's water supply, and if today I shake hands with you on the street, that means I, too, am doomed.

Seven years earlier the city had watched while they massacred the countryside and considered it only natural. Now the countryside might have watched them massacre the city, but the countryside itself was too dark for that, and was still undergoing the finishing touches of its own slaughter.

The surveyor (!) Saunin got fifteen years for ... cattle plague (!) in the district and for bad harvests (!) (and the entire leadership of the district was shot for the same reason).

The secretary of a District Party Committee went into the fields to speed up the plowing, and an old peasant asked him whether he knew that for seven years the collective farmers had received not one single ounce of grain in return for their "labor days"—only straw and very little of that. For his question the peasant got ASA—Anti-Soviet Agitation—ten years.

Another peasant, with six children, met a different fate. Because he had six mouths to feed he devoted himself wholeheartedly to collective farm work, and kept hoping he would get some return for his labor. And he did—they awarded him a decoration. They awarded it at a special assembly, made speeches. In his reply, the peasant got carried away. He said, "Now if I could just have a sack of flour instead of this decoration! Couldn't I somehow?" A wolflike laugh rocketed through the hall, and the newly decorated hero went off to exile, together with all six of those dependent mouths.

Should we wrap it all up and simply say that they arrested the innocent? But we omitted saying that the very concept of guilt had been repealed by the proletarian revolution and, at the beginning of the thirties, was defined as rightist opportunism! So we can't even discuss these out-of-date concepts, guilt and innocence.

The reverse wave of 1939 was an unheard-of incident in the history of the Organs, a blot on their record! But, in fact, this reverse wave was not large; it included about 1 to 2 percent of those who had been arrested but not yet convicted, who had not yet been sent away to far-off places and had not yet perished. It was not large, but it was put to effective use. It was like giving back one kopeck change from a ruble, but it was necessary in order to heap all the blame on that dirty Yezhov, to strengthen the newcomer, Beria, and to cause the Leader himself to shine more brightly. With this kopeck they skillfully drove the ruble right into the ground. After all, if "they had sorted things out and freed some people" (and even the newspapers wrote intrepidly about individual cases of persons who had been slandered), it meant that the rest of those arrested were indeed scoundrels! And those who returned kept silent. They had signed pledges not to speak out. They were mute with terror. And there were very few who knew even a little about the secrets of the Archipelago. The distinction was as before: Black Marias at night and demonstrations by day.

But for that matter they soon took that kopeck back—during those same years and via those same sections of the boundless Article 58. Well, who in 1940 noticed the wave of wives arrested for failure to renounce their husbands? And who in Tambov remembers that during that year of peace they arrested an entire jazz orchestra playing at the "Modern" Cinema Theatre because they all turned out to be enemies of the people? And who noticed the thirty thousand Czechs who in 1939 fled from occupied Czechoslovakia to their Slavic kinfolk in the U.S.S.R.? It was impossible to guarantee that a single one of them was not a spy.

They sent them all off to northern camps. (And it was out of those camps that the "Czechoslovak Corps" materialized during the war.) And was it not, indeed, in 1939 that we reached out our helping hands to the West Ukrainians and the West Byelorussians, and, in 1940, to the Baltic states and to the Moldavians? It turned out that our brothers badly needed to be purged, and from them, too, flowed waves of social prophylaxis. They took those who were too independent, too influential, along with those who were too well-to-do, too intelligent, too noteworthy; they took, particularly, many Poles from former Polish provinces. (It was then that ill-fated Katyn was filled up; and then, too, that in the northern camps they stockpiled fodder for the future army of Sikorski and Anders.) They arrested officers everywhere. Thus the population was shaken up, forced into silence, and left with-out any possible leaders of resistance. Thus it was that wisdom was instilled, that former ties and former friendships were cut off.

Finland ceded its isthmus to us with zero population. Nevertheless, the removal and resettlement of all persons with Finnish blood took place throughout Soviet Karelia and in Leningrad in 1940. We didn't notice that wavelet: we have no Finnish blood.

In the Finnish War we undertook our first experiment in convicting our war prisoners as traitors to the Motherland. The first such experiment in human history; and would you believe it?—we didn't notice!

That was the rehearsal—just at that moment the war burst upon us. And with it a massive retreat. It was essential to evacuate swiftly everyone who could be got out of the western republics that were being abandoned to the enemy. In the rush, entire military units—regiments, antiaircraft and artillery batteries—were left behind intact in Lithuania. But they still managed to get out several thousand families of unreliable Lithuanians. (Four thousand of them were subsequently turned over to be plundered by thieves in camp at Krasnoyarsk.) From June 23 on, in Latvia and Estonia, they speeded up the arrests. But the ground was burning under them, and they were forced to leave even faster. They forgot to take whole fortresses with them, like the one at Brest, but they did not forget to shoot down political prisoners in the cells and courtyards of Lvov, Rovno, Tallinn, and many other Western prisons. In the Tartu Prison they shot 192 prisoners and threw their corpses down a well.

How can one visualize it? You know nothing. The door of your cell opens, and they shoot you. You cry out in your death agony, and there is no one to hear your cries or tell of them except the prison stones. They say, however, that there were some who weren't successfully finished off, and we may someday read a book about that too.

In the rear, the first wartime wave was for those spreading rumors and panic. That was the language of a special decree, outside the Code, issued in the first days of the war.

[I myself almost felt the impact of that decree. I was standing in line at the bread store, when a policeman called me out and took me off for the sake of his score. If it had not been for a fortunate intervention, I might have started out in Gulag right away instead of going off to war.]

This was just a trial bloodletting in order to maintain a general state of tension. They gave everyone ten years for it, but it was not considered part of Article 58, and therefore those few who survived the war-time camps were amnestied in 1945.

Then there was a wave of those who failed to turn in radio receivers or radio parts. For one radio tube found (as a result of denunciation) they gave ten years.

Then there was the wave of Germans—Germans living on the Volga, colonists in the Ukraine and the North Caucasus, and all Germans in general who lived anywhere in the Soviet Union. The determining factor here was blood, and even heroes of the Civil War and old members of the Party who were German were sent off into exile.

[They judged blood by family name. The design engineer Vasily Okorokov had found it inconvenient to sign his drawings with his real name. Consequently, in the thirties, when it was still legally possible, he had changed his name to Robert Shtekker. It was elegant, and he was able to work up a good-looking professional signature with it. Now he was arrested as a German—and given no chance to prove he was not. So he was exiled. "Is this your real name? What assignments were you given by the Fascist intelligence service?" Then there was that native of Tambov whose real name was Kaverznev, and who changed it to Kolbe in 1918. At what point did he share Okorokov's fate?]

In essence, the exile of the Germans was similar to the dispossession of the kulaks. But it was less harsh, since the Germans were allowed to take more of their possessions with them and were not sent off to such fatal, deadly areas. As had been the case with the kulaks, the German exile had no juridical basis. The Criminal Code in itself was one thing, and the exile of hundreds of thousands of people was something else entirely. It was the personal edict of a monarch. In addition, this was his first experiment of the sort with an entire nationality, and he found it extremely interesting from a theoretical point of view.

By the end of the summer of 1941, becoming bigger in the autumn, the wave of the encircled was surging in. These were the defenders of their native land, the very same warriors whom the cities had seen off to the front with bouquets and bands a few months before, who had then sustained the heaviest tank assaults of the Germans, and in the general chaos, and through no fault of their own, had spent a certain time as isolated units not in enemy imprisonment, not at all, but in temporary encirclement, and later had broken out. And instead of being given a brotherly embrace on their return, such as every other army in the world would have given them, instead of being given a chance to rest up, to visit their families, and then return to their units—they were held on suspicion, disarmed, deprived of all rights, and taken away in groups to identification points and screening centers where officers of the Special Branches started interrogating them, distrusting not only their every word but their very identity. Identification consisted of cross-questioning, confrontations, pitting the evidence of one against another. Afterward, some of those who had been encircled were restored to their former names, ranks, and responsibilities and went off to military units. Others, fewer in number at the start, constituted the first wave of traitors of the Motherland under 58-1b. But at first, until the standard penalty was finally determined, they got less than ten years.

That was how the active army was kept purged. But there was also an enormous inactive army in the Far East and in Mongolia,

and it was the noble task of the Special Branches to keep that army from growing rusty. And for lack of anything to do, the heroes of Khalkhin-Gol and Khasan began to let their tongues wag, especially after they were permitted to examine the Degtyarev automatic pistols and the regimental mortars, which until then had been kept secret even from Soviet soldiers. With such weapons in their hands, it was hard for them to understand why we were retreating in the west. With all Siberia and the Urals between them and European Russia, it was not easy for them to grasp that in retreating seventy miles a day we were simply repeating the Kutuzov entrapment maneuver. Their comprehension could be helped along only by means of a wave from the Eastern Army. And at that point lips tightened and faith became steely.

It was obvious that a wave had also to roll in high places—of those to blame for the retreat. (After all, it was not the Great Strategist who was at fault!) It was a small wave, just half a hundred men, a generals' wave. They were in Moscow prisons by the summer of 1941, and in October, 1941, they were sent off on a prisoner transport. Most of the generals were from the air force; among them were Air Force Commander Smushkevich and General Ptukhin, who was known to have said: "If I had known, I would have first bombed our Dear Father, and then gone off to prison!" And there were others.

The victory outside Moscow gave rise to a new wave: guilty Muscovites. Looking at things after the event, it turned out that those Muscovites who had not run away and who had not been evacuated but had fearlessly remained in the threatened capital, which had been abandoned by the authorities, were by that very token under suspicion either of subverting governmental authority (58-10); or of staying on to await the Germans (58-la, via 19, a wave which kept on providing fodder for the interrogators of Moscow and Leningrad right up to 1945).

It need hardly be said that 58-10, ASA—Anti-Soviet Agitation—never let up but hovered over the front and in the rear throughout the war. Sentences under 58-10 were handed out to evacuees who talked about the horrors of the retreat (it was clear from the newspapers that the retreat was proceeding according to plan); to those in the rear who were guilty of the slanderous rumor that rations were meager; to those at the front who were guilty of the slanderous rumor that the Germans had excellent equipment; and to those everywhere who, in 1942, were guilty of the slanderous rumor that people were dying of starvation in blockaded Leningrad.

During that same year, after the disasters at Kerch (120,000 prisoners), at Kharkov (even more), and in the course of the big southern retreat to the Caucasus and the Volga, another very important wave of officers and soldiers was pumped through—those who refused to stand to the death and who retreated without permission, the men whom, in the words of Stalin's immortal Order No. 227, the Motherland could not forgive for the shame they had caused her. This wave, however, never reached Gulag: after accelerated processing by divisional tribunals, it was, to a man, herded into punishment battalions, and was soaked up in the red sand of advanced positions, leaving not a trace. Thus was cemented the foundation of the Stalingrad victory, but it has found no place in the usual Russian history and exists only in the private history of the sewage system.

(Incidentally, we are here trying to identify only those waves which came into Gulag from outside. There was, after all, an incessant internal recirculation from reservoir to reservoir, through the system of so-called sentencing in camp, which was particularly rampant during the war years. But we are not considering those in this chapter.)

Conscientiousness requires that we recall also the reverse waves of wartime: the previously mentioned Czechs and Poles who were released; as well as criminals released for service at the front.

From 1943 on, when the war turned in our favor, there began the multimillion wave from the occupied territories and from Europe, which got larger every year up to 1946. Its two main divisions were:

• Civilians who had lived under the Germans or among Germans—hung with a tenner under the letter "a": 58-la.

• Military personnel who had been POW's—who were nailed with a tenner under the letter "b": 58-Ib.

Everyone living under the occupation wanted, of course, to survive, and therefore could not remain with hands folded, and thereby theoretically earned, along with his daily bread, a future sentence—if not for treason to the Motherland, then at least for aiding and abetting the enemy. However, in actual practice, it was enough to note in the passport serial number that a person had been in occupied territory. To arrest all such persons would have been, from the economic point of view, irrational, because it would have depopulated such enormous areas. All that was required in order to heighten the general consciousness was to arrest a certain percentage—of those guilty, those half-guilty, those quarter-guilty, and those who had hung out their footcloths to dry on the same branch as the Germans.

After all, even one percent of just one million fills up a dozen full-blooded camps.

And dismiss the thought that honorable participation in an underground anti-German organization would surely protect one from being arrested in this wave. More than one case proved this. For instance, there was the Kiev Komsomol member whom the underground organization sent to serve in the Kiev police during the German occupation in order to obtain inside information. The boy kept the Komsomol honestly informed about everything, but when our forces arrived on the scene, he got his tenner because he couldn't, while serving in the police, fail to acquire some of the enemy's spirit or to carry out some enemy orders.

Those who were in Europe got the stiffest punishments of all, even though they went there as conscripted German slaves. That was because they had seen something of European life and could talk about it. And their stories, which made unpleasant listening for us (except, of course, for the travel notes of sensible writers), were especially unpleasant during the postwar years of ruin and disorganization; not everyone, after all, was able to report that things in Europe were hopelessly bad and that it was absolutely impossible to live there.

That also was the reason why they sentenced the majority of war prisoners (it was not simply because they had allowed themselves to be captured), particularly those POW's who had seen a little more of the West than a German death camp.

[That was not such a clear-cut decision at the start. Even in 1943 there were certain separate waves which were like no others—like the so-called "Africans," who bore this nickname for a long time at the Vorkuta construction projects. These were Russian war prisoners of the Germans, who had been taken prisoner a second time when the Americans captured them from Rommel's army in Africa (the "Hiwi"). In 1943 they were sent in Studebakers, through Egypt, Iraq, and Iran, to their Motherland. And on a desert gulf of the Caspian, they were immediately put behind barbed wire. The police who received them ripped off their military insignia and liberated them of all things the Americans had given them (keeping them for themselves, of course, not turning them over to the state); then they sent them off to Vorkuta to await special orders, without (due to inexperience) sentencing them to a specific term under any article of the Code. These "Africans" lived in Vorkuta in a betwixt-and-between condition. They were not under guard, but they were given no passes, and without passes they could not take so much as one step in Vorkuta. They were paid wages at the same rate as free workers, but they were treated like prisoners. And the special orders never did come. They were forgotten men.]

This was obvious from the fact that interned persons were sentenced as severely as POW's. For example, during the first days of the war one of our destroyers went aground on Swedish territory. Its crew proceeded to live freely in Sweden during all the rest of the war, and in such comfort and plenty as they had never experienced before and would never experience again. The U.S.S.R. retreated, attacked, starved and died, while those scoundrels stuffed their neutral mugs. After the war Sweden returned them to us along with the destroyer. Their treason to the Motherland was indubitable—but somehow the case didn't get off the ground. They let them go their different ways and then pasted them with Anti-Soviet Agitation for their lovely stories in praise of freedom and good eating in capitalist Sweden. (This was the Kadenko group.)

[What happened to this group later makes an anecdote. In camp they kept their mouths shut about Sweden, fearing they'd get a second term. But people in Sweden somehow found out about their fate and published slanderous reports in the press. By that time the boys were scattered far and near among various camps. Suddenly, on the strength of special orders, they were all yanked out and taken to the Kresty Prison in Leningrad. There they were fed for two months as though for slaughter and allowed to let their hair grow. Then they were dressed with modest elegance, rehearsed on what to say and to whom, and warned that any bastard who dared to squeak out of turn would get a bullet in his skull—and they were led off to a press conference for selected foreign journalists and some others who had known the entire crew in Sweden.

The former internees bore themselves cheerfully, described where they were living, studying, and working, and expressed their indignation at the bourgeois slander they had read about not long before in the Western press (after all, Western papers are sold in the Soviet Union at every corner newsstand!). And so they had written to one another and decided to gather in Leningrad. (Their travel expenses didn't bother them in the least.) Their fresh, shiny appearance completely gave the lie to the newspaper canard. The discredited journalists went off to write their apologies. It was wholly inconceivable to the Western imagination that there could be any other explanation. And the men who had been the subjects of the interview were taken off to a bath, had their hair cut off again, were dressed in their former rags, and sent back to the same camps. But because they had conducted themselves properly, none of them was given a second term.]

Within the over-all wave of those from formerly occupied areas, there followed, one after another, the quick and compact waves of the nationalities which had transgressed:

• In 1943, the Kalmyks, Chechens, Ingush, and Balkars.

• In 1944, the Crimean Tatars.

They would not have been pushed out into eternal exile so energetically and swiftly had it not been that regular army units and military trucks were assigned to help the Organs. The military units gallantly surrounded the auls, or settlements, and, within twenty-four hours, with the speed of a parachute attack, those who had nested there for centuries past found themselves removed to railroad stations, loaded by the trainload, and rushed off to Siberia, Kazakhstan, Central Asia, and the Russian North. Within one day their land and their property had been turned over to their "heirs."

What had happened to the Germans at the beginning of the war now happened to these nationalities: they were exiled solely on the basis of blood. There was no filling out of questionnaires; Party members, Heroes of Labor, and heroes of the still-unfinished war were all sent along with the rest.

During the last years of the war, of course, there was a wave of German war criminals who were selected from the POW camps and transferred by court verdict to the jurisdiction of Gulag.

In 1945, even though the war with Japan didn't last three weeks, great numbers of Japanese war prisoners were raked in for urgent construction projects in Siberia and Central Asia, and the same process of selecting war criminals for Gulag was carried out among them.

[Without knowing the details, I am nevertheless convinced that a great many of these Japanese could not have been sentenced legitimately. It was an act of revenge, as well as a means of holding onto manpower for as long a period as possible.]

At the end of 1944, when our army entered the Balkans, and especially in 1945, when it reached into Central Europe, a wave of Russian emigres flowed through the channels of Gulag. Most were old men, who had left at the time of the Revolution, but there were also young people, who had grown up outside Russia. They usually dragged off the menfolk and left the women and children where they were. It is true that they did not take everyone, but they took all those who, in the course of twenty-five years, had expressed even the mildest political views, or who had expressed them earlier, during the Revolution. They did not touch those who had lived a purely vegetable existence. The main waves came from Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and Czechoslovakia; there were fewer from Austria and Germany. In the other countries of Eastern Europe, there were hardly any Russians.

As if in response to 1945, a wave of emigres poured from Manchuria too. (Some of them were not arrested immediately. Entire families were encouraged to return to the homeland as free persons, but once back in Russia they were separated and sent into exile or taken to prison.)

All during 1945 and 1946 a big wave of genuine, at-long-last, enemies of the Soviet government flowed into the Archipelago.

(These were the Vlasov men, the Krasnov Cossacks, and Moslems from the national units created under Hitler.) Some of them had acted out of conviction; others had been merely involuntary participants.

Along with them were seized not less than one million fugitives from the Soviet government—civilians of all ages and of both sexes who had been fortunate enough to find shelter on Allied territory, but who in 1946-1947 were perfidiously returned by Allied authorities into Soviet hands.

[It is surprising that in the West, where political secrets cannot be kept long, since they inevitably come out in print or are disclosed, the secret of this particular act of betrayal has been very well and carefully kept by the British and American governments. This is truly the last secret, or one of the last, of the Second World War. Having often encountered these people in camps, I was unable to believe for a whole quarter-century that the public in the West knew nothing of this action of the Western governments, this massive handing over of ordinary Russian people to retribution and death. Not until 1973—in the Sunday Oklahoman of January 21—was an article by Julius Epstein published. And I am here going to be so bold as to express gratitude on behalf of the mass of those who perished and those few left alive. One random little document was published from the many volumes of the hitherto concealed case history of forced repatriation to the Soviet Union. "After having remained unmolested in British hands for two years, they had allowed themselves to be lulled into a false sense of security and they were therefore taken completely by surprise. . . . They did not realize they were being re- patriated. . . . They were mainly simple peasants with bitter personal grievances against the Bolsheviks." The English authorities gave them the treatment "reserved in the case of every other nation for war criminals alone: that of being handed over against their will to captors who, incidentally, were not expected to give them a fair trial." They were all sent to destruction on the Archipelago. (Author's note, dated 1973.)]

A certain number of Poles, members of the Home Army, followers of Mikolajczyk, arrived in Gulag in 1945 via our prisons.

There were a certain number of Rumanians and Hungarians.

At war's end and for many years after, there flowed uninterruptedly an abundant wave of Ukrainian nationalists (the "Banderovtsy").

Against the background of this enormous postwar displacement of millions, few paid much attention to such small waves as:

Foreigners' girl friends (in 1946-1947)—in other words, Soviet girls who went out with foreigners. They sentenced these girls under Article 7-35—SOE—Socially Dangerous Element.

Spanish children—the same children who had been taken from their homeland during the Spanish Civil War, but who were adults by the end of World War II. Raised in our boarding schools, they nonetheless fitted very poorly into our life.

Many longed to go "home." They, too, were given 7-35—SOE—Socially Dangerous Element. And those who were particularly stubborn got 58-6—espionage on behalf of America.

(In fairness we must not forget the brief reverse wave of priests in 1947. Yes, a miracle! For the first time in thirty years they freed priests! They didn't actually go about seeking them out in camps, but whenever a priest was known to people in freedom, and whenever a name and exact location could be provided, the individual priests in question were sent out to freedom in order to strengthen the church, which at that time was being revived.)

We have to remind our readers once again that this chapter does not attempt by any means to list all the waves which fertilized Gulag—but only those which had a political coloration. And just as, in a course in physiology, after a detailed description of the circulation of the blood, one can begin over again and describe in detail the lymphatic system, one could begin again and describe the waves of nonpolitical offenders and habitual criminals from 1918 to 1953. And this description, too, would run long.

It would bring to light many famous decrees, now in part forgotten (even though they have never been repealed), which supplied abundant human material for the insatiable Archipelago. One was the Decree on Absenteeism. One was the Decree on Production of Bad Quality Goods. Another was on samogon [moonshine] distilling. Its peak period was 1922—but arrests for this were constant throughout the twenties. And the Decree on the Punishment of Collective Farmers for Failure to Fulfill the Obligatory Norm of Labor Days. And the Decree on the Introduction of Military Discipline on Railroads, issued in April, 1943—not at the beginning of the war, but when it had already taken a turn for the better.

In accordance with the ancient Petrine tradition, these decrees always put in an appearance as the most important element in all our legislation, but without any comprehension of or reference to the whole of our previous legislation. Learned jurists were supposed to coordinate the branches of the law, but they were not particularly energetic at it, nor particularly successful either.

This steady pulse of decrees led to a curious national pattern of violations and crimes. One could easily recognize that neither burglary, nor murder, nor samogon distilling, nor rape ever seemed to occur at random intervals or in random places through-out the country as a result of human weakness, lust, or failure to control one's passions. By no means! One detected, instead, a surprising unanimity and monotony in the crimes committed. The entire Soviet Union would be in a turmoil of rape alone, or murder alone, or samogon distilling alone, each in its turn—in sensitive reaction to the latest government decree. Each particular crime or violation seemed somehow to be playing into the hands of the latest decree so that it would disappear from the scene that much faster! At that precise moment, the particular crime which had just been foreseen, and for which wise new legislation had just provided stricter punishment, would explode simultaneously everywhere.

The Decree on the militarization of railroads crowded the military tribunals with the women and adolescents who did most of the work on the railroads during the war years and who, having received no barracks training beforehand, were those mostly involved in delays and violations. The Decree on Failure to Fulfill the Obligatory Norm of Labor Days greatly simplified the procedure for removing from the scene those collective farmers who were dissatisfied with receiving for their labor mere "labor day" points in the farm account books and wanted produce instead. Whereas previously their cases had required a trial, based on the article of the Code relating to "economic counterrevolution," now it was enough to produce a collective farm decree confirmed by the District Executive Committee. And even then these collective farmers, although they were sent into exile, must have been relieved to know that they were not listed as enemies of the people. The obligatory norm of "labor days" was different in different areas, the easiest of all being among the peoples of the Caucasus—seventy-five "labor days" a year; but despite that, many of them were also sent off to Krasnoyarsk Province for eight years.

As we have said, we are not going to go into a lengthy and lavish examination of the waves of nonpolitical offenders and common criminals. But, having reached 1947, we cannot remain silent about one of the most grandiose of Stalin's decrees. We have already mentioned the famous law of "Seven-Eight" or "Seven-eighths," on the basis of which they arrested people right and left—for taking a stalk of grain, a cucumber, two small potatoes, a chip of wood, a spool of thread—all of whom got ten years.

[In the actual documents of the "spool of thread" case, they wrote down "200 meters of sewing material." The fact remains that they were ashamed to write "a spool of thread."]

But the requirements of the times, as Stalin understood them, had changed, and the tenner, which had seemed adequate on the eve of a terrible war, seemed now, in the wake of a world-wide historical victory, inadequate. And so again, in complete disregard of the Code, and totally overlooking the fact that many different articles and decrees on the subject of thefts and robberies already existed, on June 4, 1947, a decree was issued which outdid them all. It was instantly christened "Four-sixths" by the undismayed prisoners.

The advantages of the new decree lay first of all in its newness. From the very moment it appeared, a torrent of the crimes it specified would be bound to burst forth, thereby providing an abundant wave of newly sentenced prisoners. But it offered an even greater advantage in prison terms. If a young girl sent into the fields to get a few ears of grain took along two friends for company ("an organized gang") or some twelve-year-old youngsters went after cucumbers or apples, they were liable to get twenty years in camp. In factories, the maximum sentence was raised to twenty-five years. (This sentence, called the quarter, had been introduced a few days earlier to replace the death penalty, which had been abolished as a humane act.)

[And the death penalty itself was kept veiled for a brief period only; the veil was removed, amid a show of bared fangs, two and a half years later—in January, 1950.]

And then, at long last, an ancient shortcoming of the law was corrected. Previously the only failure to make a denunciation which qualified as a crime against the state had been in connection with political offenses. But now simple failure to report the theft of state or collective farm property earned three years of camp or seven years of exile.

In the years immediately following this decree, whole "divisions" from the countryside and the cities were sent off to cultivate the islands of Gulag in place of the natives who had died off there. True, these waves were processed through the police and the ordinary courts, and did not clog the channels of State Security, which, even without them, were overstrained in the postwar years.

Stalin's new line, suggesting that it was necessary, in the wake of the victory over fascism, to jail more people more energetically and for longer terms than ever before, had immediate repercussions, of course, on political prisoners.

The year 1948-1949, notable throughout Soviet public life for intensified persecution and vigilance, was marked by one tragicomedy hitherto unheard of even in Stalinist antijustice—that of the repeaters.

That is what, in the language of Gulag, they called those still undestroyed unfortunates of 1937 vintage, who had succeeded in surviving ten impossible, unendurable years, and who in 1947-1948, had timidly stepped forth onto the land of freedom . . .worn out, broken in health, but hoping to live out in peace what little of their lives remained. But some sort of savage fantasy (or stubborn malice, or unsated vengeance) pushed the Victorious Generalissimo into issuing the order to arrest all those cripples over again, without any new charges! It was even disadvantageous, both economically and politically, to clog the meat grinder with its own refuse. But Stalin issued the order anyway. Here was a case in which a historical personality simply behaved capriciously toward historical necessity.

And so it was necessary to take all of them though they had hardly had a chance to attach themselves to new places or new families. They were rounded up with much the same weary indolence they themselves now returned with. They knew beforehand the whole way of the cross ahead. They did not ask "What for?" And they did not say to their families: "I'll be back." They put on their shabbiest rags, poured some makhorka into their camp tobacco pouches, and went off to sign the deposition. (Only one question: "Are you the one who was in prison?" "Yes." "Take ten more.")

At this point the Autocrat decided it wasn't enough to arrest just those who had survived since 1937! What about the children of his sworn enemies? They, too, must be imprisoned! They were growing up, and they might have notions of vengeance. (He may have had a heavy dinner and had a nightmare about those children. ) They went through the lists, looked around, and arrested children—but not very many. They arrested the children of the purged army commanders, but not all the children of Trotskyites. And so the wave of the vengeful children came into being.

(Among such children were seventeen-year-old Lena Kosaryeva and thirty-five-year-old Yelena Rakovskaya.)

By 1948, after the great European displacement, Stalin had succeeded once again in tightly barricading himself in and pulling the ceiling down closer to him: in this reduced space he had recreated the tension of 1937.

And so in 1948, 1949, and 1950 there flowed past:

• Alleged spies (ten years earlier they had been German and Japanese, now they were Anglo-American).

• Believers (this wave non-Orthodox for the most part).

• Those geneticists and plant breeders, disciples of the late Vavilov and of Mendel, who had not previously been arrested.

• Just plain ordinary thinking people (and students, with particular severity) who had not been sufficiently scared away from the West. It was fashionable to charge them with:

• VAT—Praise of American Technology;

• VAD—Praise of American Democracy; and

• PZ—Toadyism Toward the West.

These waves were not unlike those of 1937, but the sentences were different. The standard sentence was no longer the patriarchal ten-ruble bill, but the new Stalinist twenty-five. By now the tenner was for juveniles.

There was a good-sized wave from the new Decree on Revealing State Secrets. (State secrets included such things as: the district harvest; any figure on epidemics; the type of goods produced by any workshop or mini-factory; mention of a civil airport, municipal transport routes, or the family name of any prisoner imprisoned in any camp.) For violations of this decree they gave fifteen years.

The waves of nationalities were not forgotten either. The Ukrainian nationalists, the "Banderovtsy," taken in the heat of struggle from the forests where they fought, kept flowing all this time. Simultaneously, all West Ukrainian country people received tenners and fivers in camps and exile—presumably for having had connections with the partisans: someone had let them spend the night; someone had once fed them; someone had not reported them. For about a year, starting in 1950, a wave of wives of Banderovtsy was under way. They gave them each ten years for failure to make a denunciation—so as to finish off their husbands faster.

By this time resistance in Lithuania and Estonia had already come to an end. But in 1949 new waves of new "social prophylaxis" to assure collectivization kept coming. They took whole trainloads of city dwellers and peasants from the three Baltic republics into Siberian exile. (The historical rhythm was disrupted in these republics: they were forced to recapitulate in brief, limited periods the more extended experience of the rest of the country.)

In 1948 one more nationalist wave went into exile—that of the Greeks who inhabited the areas around the Sea of Azov, the Kuban, and Sukhumi. They had done nothing to offend the Father during the war, but now he avenged himself on them for his failure in Greece, or so it seemed. This wave, too, was evidently the fruit of his personal insanity. The majority of the Greeks ended up in Central Asian exile; those who voiced their discontent were thrown into political prisons.

Around 1950, to avenge the same lost war, or perhaps just to balance those already in exile, the Greek rebels from Markos' army, who had been turned over to us by Bulgaria, were themselves shipped off to the Archipelago.

During the last years of Stalin's life, a wave of Jews became noticeable. (From 1950 on they were hauled in little by little as cosmopolites. And that was why the doctors' case was cooked up. It would appear that Stalin intended to arrange a great massacre of the Jews.)

[It has always been impossible to learn the truth about anything in our country—now, and always, and from the beginning. But, according to Moscow rumors, Stalin's plan was this: At the beginning of March the "doctor-murderers" were to be hanged on Red Square. The aroused patriots, spurred on, naturally, by instructors, were to rush into an anti-Jewish pogrom. At this point the government—and here Stalin's character can be divined, can it not? —would intervene generously to save the Jews from the wrath of the people, and that same night would remove them from Moscow to the Far East and Siberia—where barracks had already been prepared for them.]

But this became the first plan of his life to fail. God told him—apparently with the help of human hands—to depart from his rib cage.

The preceding exposition should have made it clear, one would think, that in the removal of millions and in the populating of Gulag, consistent, cold-blooded planning and never-weakening persistence were at work.

That we never did have any empty prisons, merely prisons which were full or prisons which were very, very overcrowded.

And that while you occupied yourself to your heart's content studying the safe secrets of the atomic nucleus, researching the influence of Heidegger on Sartre, or collecting Picasso reproductions; while you rode off in your railroad sleeping compartment to vacation resorts, or finished building your country house near Moscow—the Black Marias rolled incessantly through the streets and the gaybisty—the State Security men—knocked at doors and rang doorbells.

And I think this exposition proves that the Organs always earned their pay.

Chapter 3
The Interrogation

If the intellectuals in the plays of Chekhov who spent all their time guessing what would happen in twenty, thirty, or forty years had been told that in forty years interrogation by torture would be practiced in Russia; that prisoners would have their skulls squeezed within iron rings; that a human being would be lowered into an acid bath; that they would be trussed up naked to be bitten by ants and bedbugs; that a ramrod heated over a primus stove would be thrust up their anal canal (the "secret brand"); that a man's genitals would be slowly crushed beneath the toe of a jackboot; and that, in the luckiest possible circumstances, prisoners would be tortured by being kept from sleeping for a week, by thirst, and by being beaten to a bloody pulp, not one of Chekhov's plays would have gotten to its end because all the heroes would have gone off to insane asylums.

Yes, not only Chekhov's heroes, but what normal Russian at the beginning of the century, including any member of the Russian Social Democratic Workers' Party, could have believed, would have tolerated, such a slander against the bright future? What had been acceptable under Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich in the seventeenth century, what had already been regarded as barbarism under Peter the Great, what might have been used against ten or twenty people in all during the time of Biron in the mid-eighteenth century, what had already become totally impossible under Catherine the Great, was all being practiced during the flowering of the glorious twentieth century—in a society based on socialist principles, and at a time when airplanes were flying and the radio and talking films had already appeared—not by one scoundrel alone in one secret place only, but by tens of thousands of specially trained human beasts standing over millions of defenseless victims.

Was it only that explosion of atavism which is now evasively called "the cult of personality" that was so horrible? Or was it even more horrible that during those same years, in 1937 itself, we celebrated Pushkin's centennial? And that we shamelessly continued to stage those self-same Chekhov plays, even though the answers to them had already come in? Is it not still more dreadful that we are now being told, thirty years later, "Don't talk about it!"? If we start to recall the sufferings of millions, we are told it will distort the historical perspective! If we doggedly seek out the essence of our morality, we are told it will darken our material progress! Let's think rather about the blast furnaces, the rolling mills that were built, the canals that were dug ... no, better not talk about the canals. . . . Then maybe about the gold of the Kolyma? No, maybe we ought not to talk about that either. . . . Well, we can talk about anything, so long as we do it adroitly, so long as we glorify it. ...

It is really hard to see why we condemn the Inquisition. Wasn't it true that beside the autos-da-fe, magnificent services were offered the Almighty? It is hard to see why we are so down on serfdom. After all, no one forbade the peasants to work every day. And they could sing carols at Christmas too. And for Trinity Day the girls wove wreaths. . . .

The exceptional character which written and oral legend nowadays assigns to the year 1937 is seen in the creation of fabricated charges and tortures. But this is untrue, wrong. Throughout the years and decades, interrogations under Article 58 were almost never undertaken to elicit the truth, but were simply an exercise in an inevitably filthy procedure: someone who had been free only a little while before, who was sometimes proud and always unprepared, was to be bent and pushed through a narrow pipe where his sides would be torn by iron hooks and where he could not breathe, so that he would finally pray to get to the other end. And at the other end, he would be shoved out, an already processed native of the Archipelago, already in the promised land. (The fool would keep on resisting! He even thought there was a way back out of the pipe.)

The more time that passes without anything being written about all this, the harder it becomes to assemble the scattered testimony of the survivors. But they tell us that the creation of fabricated cases began back in the early years of the Organs so their constant salutary activity might be perceived as essential. Otherwise, what with a decline in the number of enemies, the Organs might, in a bad hour, have been forced to wither away. As the case of Kosyrev makes clear, the situation of the Cheka was shaky even at the beginning of 1919.

[Cf. Part I, Chapter 8, below.]

Reading the newspapers of 1918, I ran into the official report of a terrible plot that had just been discovered: A group of ten people wanted to (it seems they only wanted to!) drag cannon onto the roof of an orphanage (let's see—how high was it?) and shell the Kremlin. There were ten of them (including, perhaps, women and youngsters), and it was not reported how many cannon there were to be—nor where the cannon were to come from. Nor what caliber they were. Nor how they were to be carried up the stairs to the attic. Nor how they were to be set up, on the steeply sloping roof, and so they wouldn't recoil when fired! How was it that the Petersburg police, when they were fighting to put down the February Revolution, took nothing heavier than a machine gun up to the roofs? Yet this fantasy, exceeding even the fabrications of 1937, was read and believed! Apparently, it will be proved to us in time that the Gumilyev case of 1921 was also fabricated.

[A. A. Akhmatova told me she was convinced that this was so. She even gave me the name of the Chekist who cooked up the case—Y. Agranov, it seems.]

In that same year, 1921, the Ryazan Cheka fabricated a false case of a "plot" on the part of the local intelligentsia. But the protests of courageous people could still reach Moscow, and they dropped the case. That year, too, the whole Sapropelite Committee, part of the Commission on the Use of Natural Forces, was shot. Familiar enough with the attitude and the mood of Russian scientists at that time, and not being shut off from those years by a smoke screen of fanaticism, we can, indeed, figure out, even without archaeological excavations, the precise validity of that case.

Here is what Y. Doyarenko remembers about 1921: the Lubyanka reception cell for those newly arrested, with forty to fifty trestle beds, and women being brought in one after another all night long. None of them knew what she was supposed to be guilty of, and there was a feeling among them that people were being arrested for no reason at all. Only one woman in the whole cell knew why she was there—she was an SR. The first question asked by Yagoda: "Well, what are you here for?" In other words, you tell me, and help me cook up the case! And they say absolutely the same thing about the Ryazan GPU in 1930! People all felt they were being imprisoned for no reason. There was so little on which to base a charge that they accused I. D. T------v of using a false name. (And even though his name was perfectly real, they handed him three years via a Special Board—OSO—under 58-10.) Not knowing what to pick on, the interrogator asked: "What was your job?" Answer: "A planner." The interrogater: "Write me a statement that explains 'planning at the factory and how it is carried out.' After that I will let you know why you've been arrested." (He expected the explanation to provide the hook on which to hang a charge.)

Here is the way it went in the case of the Kovno Fortress in 1912: Since the fortress served no useful military purpose, it was decided to eliminate it. At that point the fortress command, thoroughly alarmed, arranged a "night attack" simply to prove its usefulness and in order to stay where they were!

The theoretical view of the suspect's guilt was, incidentally, quite elastic from the very beginning. In his instructions on the use of Red Terror, the Chekist M. I. Latsis wrote: "In the interrogation do not seek evidence and proof that the person accused acted in word or deed against Soviet power. The first questions should be: What is his class, what is his origin, what is his education and upbringing? [There is your Sapropelite Committee for you!] These are the questions which must determine the fate of the accused." On November 13, 1920, Dzerzhinsky reported in a letter to the Cheka that "slanderous declarations are often given the green light" in the Cheka.

After so many decades have they not taught us that people do not return from there? Except for the small, brief, intentional reverse wave of 1939, one hears only the rarest, isolated stories of someone being turned loose as the result of an interrogation. And in such cases, the person was either imprisoned soon again or else he was let out so he could be kept under surveillance. That is how the tradition arose that the Organs do not make mistakes. Then what about those who were innocent?

In his Dictionary of Definitions Dal makes the following distinction: "An inquiry is distinguished from an investigation by the fact that it is carried out to determine whether there is a basis for proceeding to an investigation."

On, sacred simplicity! The Organs have never heard of such a thing as an inquiry! Lists of names prepared up above, or an initial suspicion, or a denunciation by an informer, or any anonymous denunciation, were all that was needed to bring about the arrest of the suspect, followed by the inevitable formal charge.

[Article 93 of the Code of Criminal Procedure has this to say: "An anonymous declaration can serve as reason for beginning a criminal case"! (And there is no need to be surprised at the word "criminal" here, since all "politicals" were considered criminals, too, under the Code.)]

The time allotted for investigation was not used to unravel the crime but, in ninety-five cases out of a hundred, to exhaust, wear down, weaken, and render helpless the defendant, so that he would want it to end at any cost.

As long ago as 1919 the chief method used by the interrogator was a revolver on the desk. That was how they investigated not only political but also ordinary misdemeanors and violations. At the trial of the Main Fuels Committee (1921), the accused Makhrovskaya complained that at her interrogation she had been drugged with cocaine. The prosecutor replied: "If she had declared that she had been treated rudely, that they had threatened to shoot her, this might be just barely believable." The frightening revolver lies there and sometimes it is aimed at you, and the interrogator doesn't tire himself out thinking up what you are guilty of, but shouts: "Come on, talk! You know what about!" That was what the interrogator Khaikin demanded of Skripnikova in 1927. That was what they demanded of Vitkovsky in 1929. And twenty-five years later nothing had changed. In 1952 Anna Skripnikova was undergoing her fifth imprisonment, and Sivakov, Chief of the Investigative Department of the Ordzhonikidze State Security Administration, said to her: "The prison doctor reports you have a blood pressure of 240/120. That's too low, you bitch! We're going to drive it up to 340 so you'll kick the bucket, you viper, and with no black and blue marks; no beatings; no broken bones. We'll just not let you sleep." She was in her fifties at the time. And if, back in her cell, after a night spent in interrogation, she closed her eyes during the day, the jailer broke in and shouted: "Open your eyes or I'll haul you off that cot by the legs and tie you to the wall standing up."

As early as 1921 interrogations usually took place at night. At that time, too, they shone automobile lights in the prisoner's face (the Ryazan Cheka—Stelmakh). And at the Lubyanka in 1926 (according to the testimony of Berta Gandal) they made use of the hot-air heating system to fill the cell first with icy-cold and then with stinking hot air. And there was an airtight cork-lined cell in which there was no ventilation and they cooked the prisoners. The poet Klyuyev was apparently confined in such a cell and Berta Gandal also. A participant in the Yaroslavl uprising of 1918, Vasily Aleksandrovich Kasyanov, described how the heat in such a cell was turned up until your blood began to ooze through your pores. When they saw this happening through the peephole, they would put the prisoner on a stretcher and take him off to sign his confession. The "hot" and "salty" methods of the "gold" period are well known. And in Georgia in 1926 they used lighted cigarettes to burn the hands of prisoners under interrogation. In Metekhi Prison they pushed prisoners into a cesspool in the dark.

There is a very simple connection here. Once it was established that charges had to be brought at any cost and despite everything, threats, violence, tortures became inevitable. And the more fantastic the charges were, the more ferocious the interrogation had to be in order to force the required confession. Given the fact that the cases were always fabricated, violence and torture had to accompany them. This was not peculiar to 1937 alone. It was a chronic, general practice. And that is why it seems strange today to read in the recollections of former zeks that "torture was permitted from the spring of 1938 on."

[Y. Ginzburg writes that permission for "physical measures of persuasion" was given in April, 1938. V. Shalamov believes that tortures were permitted from the middle of 1938 on. The old prisoner M------ch is convinced that there was an "order to simplify the questioning and to change from psychological methods to physical methods." Ivanov-Razumnik singles out the middle of 1938 as the "period of the most cruel interrogations."]

There were never any spiritual or moral barriers which could have held the Organs back from torture. In the early postwar years, in the Cheka Weekly, The Red Sword, and Red Terror, the admissibility of torture from a Marxist point of view was openly debated. Judging by the subsequent course of events, the answer deduced was positive, though not universally so.

It is more accurate to say that if before 1938 some kind of formal documentation was required as a preliminary to torture, as well as specific permission for each case under investigation (even though such permission was easy to obtain), then in the years 1937-1938, in view of the extraordinary situation prevailing (the specified millions of admissions to the Archipelago had to be ground through the apparatus of individual interrogation in specified, limited periods, something which had simply not happened in the mass waves of kulaks and nationalities), interrogators were allowed to use violence and torture on an unlimited basis, at their own discretion, and in accordance with the demands of their work quotas and the amount of time they were given. The types of torture used were not regulated and every kind of ingenuity was permitted, no matter what.

In 1939 such indiscriminate authorization was withdrawn, and once again written permission was required for torture, and perhaps it may not have been so easily granted. (Of course, simple threats, blackmail, deception, exhaustion through enforced sleeplessness, and punishment cells were never prohibited.) Then, from the end of the war and throughout the postwar years, certain categories of prisoners were established by decree for whom a broad range of torture was automatically permitted. Among these were nationalists, particularly the Ukrainians and the Lithuanians, especially in those cases where an underground organization existed (or was suspected) that had to be completely uncovered, which meant obtaining the names of everyone involved from those already arrested. For example, there were about fifty Lithuanians in the group of Romualdas Skyrius, the son of Pranus. In 1945 they were charged with posting anti-Soviet leaflets. Because there weren't enough prisons in Lithuania at the time, they sent them to a camp near Velsk in Archangel Province. There some were tortured and others simply couldn't endure the double regime of work plus interrogation, with the result that all fifty, to the very last one, confessed. After a short time news came from Lithuania that the real culprits responsible for the leaflets had been discovered, and none of the first group had been involved at all!In 1950, at the Kuibyshev Transit Prison, I encountered a Ukrainian from Dnepropetrovsk who had been tortured many different ways in an effort to squeeze "contacts" and names out of him. Among the tortures to which he had been subjected was a punishment cell in which there was room only to stand. They shoved a pole inside for him to hold on to so that he could sleep—for four hours a day. After the war, they tortured Corresponding Member of the Academy of Sciences Levina because she and the Alliluyevs had acquaintances in common.

It would also be incorrect to ascribe to 1937 the "discovery" that the personal confession of an accused person was more important than any other kind of proof or facts. This concept had already been formulated in the twenties. And 1937 was just the year when the brilliant teaching of Vyshinsky came into its own. Incidentally, even at that time, his teaching was transmitted only to interrogators and prosecutors—for the sake of their morale and steadfastness. The rest of us only learned about it twenty years later—when it had already come into disfavor—through subordinate clauses and minor paragraphs of newspaper articles, which treated the subject as if it had long been widely known to all.

It turns out that in that terrible year Andrei Yanuaryevich (one longs to blurt out, "Jaguaryevich") Vyshinsky, availing himself of the most flexible dialectics (of a sort nowadays not permitted either Soviet citizens or electronic calculators, since to them yes is yes and no is no), pointed out in a report which became famous in certain circles that it is never possible for mortal men to establish absolute truth, but relative truth only. He then proceeded to a further step, which jurists of the last two thousand years had not been willing to take: that the truth established by interrogation and trial could not be absolute, but only, so to speak, relative. Therefore, when we sign a sentence ordering someone to be shot we can never be absolutely certain, but only approximately, in view of certain hypotheses, and in a certain sense, that we are punishing a guilty person.

[Perhaps Vyshinsky, no less than his listeners, needed this ideological comfort at this time. When he cried out from the prosecutor's platform: "Shoot them all like mad dogs!" he, at least, who was both evil and quick of mind, understood that the accused were innocent. And in all probability he and that whale of Marxist dialectics, the defendant Bukharin, devoted themselves with all the greater passion to the dialectical elaboration of the judicial lie: for Bukharin it was too stupid and futile to die if he was altogether innocent (thus he needed to find his own guilt!); and for Vyshinsky it was more agreeable to see himself as a logician than as a plain downright scoundrel. ]

Thence arose the most practical conclusion: that it was useless to seek absolute evidence—for evidence is always relative—or unchallengeable witnesses—for they can say different things at different times. The proofs of guilt were relative, approximate, and the interrogator could find them, even when there was no evidence and no witness, without leaving his office, "basing his conclusions not only on his own intellect but also on his Party sensitivity, his moral forces" (in other words, the superiority of someone who has slept well, has been well fed, and has not been beaten up) "and on his character" (i.e., his willingness to apply cruelty!).

Of course, this formulation was much more elegant than Latsis' instructions. But the essence of both was the same.

In only one respect did Vyshinsky fail to be consistent and retreat from dialectical logic: for some reason, the executioner's bullet which he allowed was not relative but absolute. . . .

Thus it was that the conclusions of advanced Soviet jurisprudence, proceeding in a spiral, returned to barbaric or medieval standards. Like medieval torturers, our interrogators, prosecutors, and judges agreed to accept the confession of the accused as the chief proof of guilt.

[Compare the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: "Nor shall [any person] be compelled in any criminal case to be a witness against himself." Not be compelled! (The same thing appears in the seventeenth- century Bill of Rights.)]

However, the simple-minded Middle Ages used dramatic and picturesque methods to squeeze out the desired confessions: the rack, the wheel, the bed of nails, impalement, hot coals, etc. In the twentieth century, taking advantage of our more highly developed medical knowledge and extensive prison experience (and someone seriously defended a doctoral dissertation on this theme), people came to realize that the accumulation of such impressive apparatus was superfluous and that, on a mass scale, it was also cumbersome. And in addition . . .

In addition, there was evidently one other circumstance. As always, Stalin did not pronounce that final word, and his subordinates had to guess what he wanted. Thus, like a jackal, he left himself an escape hole, so that he could, if he wanted, beat a retreat and write about "dizziness from success." After all, for the first time in human history the calculated torture of millions was being undertaken, and, even with all his strength and power, Stalin could not be absolutely sure of success. In dealing with such an enormous mass of material, the effects of the experiment might differ from those obtained from a smaller sample. An unforeseen explosion might take place, a slippage in a geological fault, or even world-wide disclosure. In any case, Stalin had to remain innocent, his sacred vestments angelically pure.

We are therefore forced to conclude that no list of tortures and torments existed in printed form for the guidance of interrogators! Instead, all that was required was for every Interrogation Department to supply the tribunal within a specified period with a stipulated number of rabbits who had confessed everything. And it was simply stated, orally but often, that any measures and means employed were good, since they were being used for a lofty purpose; that no interrogator would be made to answer for the death of an accused; and that the prison doctor should interfere as little as possible with the course of the investigation. In all probability, they exchanged experiences in comradely fashion; "they learned from the most successful workers." Then, too, "material rewards" were offered—higher pay for night work, bonus pay for fast work—and there were also definite warnings that interrogators who could not cope with their tasks . . . Even the chief of some provincial NKVD administration, if some sort of mess developed, could show Stalin his hands were clean: he had issued no direct instructions to use torture! But at the same time he had ensured that torture would be used!

Understanding that their superiors were taking precautions for self-protection, some of the rank-and-file interrogators—not, however, those who drank like maniacs—tried to start off with milder methods, and even when they intensified them, they tried to avoid those that left obvious marks: an eye gouged out, an ear torn off, a backbone broken, even bruises all over the body.

That is why in 1937 we observe no general consistency of methods—except for enforced sleeplessness—in the administrations of the various provinces, or for that matter among the different interrogators of a single administration.

[It is common talk that Rostov-on-the-Don and Krasnodar were particularly distinguished for the cruelty of their tortures, but this has not been proved.]

What they did have in common, however, was that they gave precedence to the so-called light methods (we will see what they were immediately). This way was sure. Indeed, the actual boundaries of human equilibrium are very narrow, and it is not really necessary to use a rack or hot coals to drive the average human being out of his mind.

Let us try to list some of the simplest methods which break the will and the character of the prisoner without leaving marks on his body.

Let us begin with psychological methods. These methods have enormous and even annihilating impact on rabbits who have never been prepared for prison suffering. And it isn't easy even for a person who holds strong convictions.

1. First of all: night. Why is it that all the main work of breaking down human souls went on at night? Why, from their very earliest years, did the Organs select the night? Because at night, the prisoner torn from sleep, even though he has not yet been tortured by sleeplessness, lacks his normal daytime equanimity and common sense. He is more vulnerable.

2. Persuasion in a sincere tone is the very simplest method. Why play at cat and mouse, so to speak? After all, having spent some time among others undergoing interrogation, the prisoner has come to see what the situation is. And so the interrogator says to him in a lazily friendly way: "Look, you're going to get a prison term whatever happens. But if you resist, you'll croak right here in prison, you'll lose your health. But if you go to camp, you'll have fresh air and sunlight. ... So why not sign right now?" Very logical. And those who agree and sign are smart, if ... if the matter concerns only themselves! But that's rarely so. A struggle is inevitable.

Another variant of persuasion is particularly appropriate to the Party member. "If there are shortages and even famine in the country, then you as a Bolshevik have to make up your mind: can you admit that the whole Party is to blame? Or the whole Soviet government?" "No, of course not!" the director of the flax depot hastened to reply. "Then be brave, and shoulder the blame yourself!" And he did!

3. Foul language is not a clever method, but it can have a powerful impact on people who are well brought up, refined, delicate. I know of two cases involving priests, who capitulated to foul language alone. One of them, in the Butyrki in 1944, was being interrogated by a woman. At first when he'd come back to our cell he couldn't say often enough how polite she was. But once he came back very despondent, and for a long time he refused to tell us how, with her legs crossed high, she had begun to curse. (I regret that I cannot cite one of her little phrases here.)

4. Psychological contrast was sometimes effective: sudden reversals of tone, for example. For a whole or part of the interrogation period, the interrogator would be extremely friendly, addressing the prisoner formally by first name and patronymic, and promising everything. Suddenly he would brandish a paper-weight and shout: "Foo, you rat! I'll put nine grams of lead in your skull!" And he would advance on the accused, clutching hands outstretched as if to grab him by the hair, fingernails like needles. (This worked very, very well with women prisoners.)

Or as a variation on this: two interrogators would take turns. One would shout and bully. The other would be friendly, almost gentle. Each time the accused entered the office he would tremble—which would it be? He wanted to do everything to please the gentle one because of his different manner, even to the point of signing and confessing to things that had never happened.

5. Preliminary humiliation was another approach. In the famous cellars of the Rostov-on-the-Don GPU (House 33), which were lit by lenslike insets of thick glass in the sidewalk above the former storage basement, prisoners awaiting interrogation were made to lie face down for several hours in the main corridor and forbidden to raise their heads or make a sound. They lay this way, like Moslems at prayer, until the guard touched a shoulder and took them off to interrogation. Another case: At the Lubyanka, Aleksandra O------va refused to give the testimony demanded of her. She was transferred to Lefortovo. In the admitting office, a woman jailer ordered her to undress, allegedly for a medical examination, took away her clothes, and locked her in a "box" naked. At that point the men jailers began to peer through the peephole and to appraise her female attributes with loud laughs. If one were systematically to question former prisoners, many more such examples would certainly emerge. They all had but a single purpose: to dishearten and humiliate.

6. Any method of inducing extreme confusion in the accused might be employed. Here is how F.I.V. from Krasnogorsk, Moscow Province, was interrogated. (This was reported by I. A. P------ev.) During the interrogation, the interrogator, a woman, undressed in front of him by stages (a striptease!), all the time continuing the interrogation as if nothing were going on. She walked about the room and came close to him and tried to get him to give in. Perhaps this satisfied some personal quirk in her, but it may also have been cold-blooded calculation, an attempt to get the accused so muddled that he would sign. And she was in no danger. She had her pistol, and she had her alarm bell.

7. Intimidation was very widely used and very varied. It was often accompanied by enticement and by promises which were, of course, false. In 1924: "If you don't confess, you'll go to the Solovetsky Islands. Anybody who confesses is turned loose." In 1944: "Which camp you'll be sent to depends on us. Camps are different. We've got hard-labor camps now. If you confess, you'll go to an easy camp. If you're stubborn, you'll get twenty-five years in handcuffs in the mines!" Another form of intimidation was threatening a prisoner with a prison worse than the one he was in. "If you keep on being stubborn, we'll send you to Lefortovo" (if you are in the Lubyanka), "to Sukhanovka" (if you are at Lefortovo). "They'll find another way to talk to you there." You have already gotten used to things where you are; the regimen seems to be not so bad; and what kind of torments await you elsewhere? Yes, and you also have to be transported there. . . . Should you give in?

Intimidation worked beautifully on those who had not yet been arrested but had simply received an official summons to the Bolshoi Dom—the Big House. He (or she) still had a lot to lose. He (or she) was frightened of everything—that they wouldn't let him (or her) out today, that they would confiscate his (or her) belongings or apartment. He would be ready to give all kinds of testimony and make all kinds of concessions in order to avoid these dangers. She, of course, would be ignorant of the Criminal Code, and, at the very least, at the start of the questioning they would push a sheet of paper in front of her with a fake citation from the Code: "I have been warned that for giving false testimony . . . five years of imprisonment." (In actual fact, under Article 95, it is two years.) "For refusal to give testimony—five years . . ." (In actual fact, under Article 92, it is up to three months.) Here, then, one more of the interrogator's basic methods has entered the picture and will continue to re-enter it.

8. The lie. We lambs were forbidden to lie, but the interrogator could tell all the lies he felt like. Those articles of the law did not apply to him. We had even lost the yardstick with which to gauge: what does he get for lying? He could confront us with as many documents as he chose, bearing the forged signatures of our kinfolk and friends—and it would be just a skillful interrogation technique.

Intimidation through enticement and lies was the fundamental method for bringing pressure on the relatives of the arrested person when they were called in to give testimony. "If you don't tell us such and such" (whatever was being asked), "it's going to be the worse for him. . . . You'll be destroying him completely." (How hard for a mother to hear that!)

[Under the harsh laws of the Tsarist Empire, close relatives could refuse to testify. And even if they gave testimony at a preliminary investigation, they could choose to repudiate it and refuse to permit it to be used in court. And, curiously enough, kinship or acquaintance with a criminal was never in itself considered evidence.]

"Signing this paper" (pushed in front of the relatives) "is the only way you can save him" (destroy him).

9. Playing on one's affection for those one loved was a game that worked beautifully on the accused as well. It was the most effective of all methods of intimidation. One could break even a totally fearless person through his concern for those he loved. (Oh, how foresighted was the saying: "A man's family are his enemies.") Remember the Tatar who bore his sufferings—his own and those of his wife—but could not endure his daughter's! In 1930, Rimalis, a woman interrogator, used to threaten: "We'll arrest your daughter and lock her in a cell with syphilitics!" And that was a woman!

They would threaten to arrest everyone you loved. Sometimes this would be done with sound effects: Your wife has already been arrested, but her further fate depends on you. They are questioning her in the next room—just listen! And through the wall you can actually hear a woman weeping and screaming. (After all, they all sound alike; you're hearing it through a wall; and you're under terrific strain and not in a state to play the expert on voice identification. Sometimes they simply play a recording of the voice of a "typical wife"—soprano or contralto —a labor-saving device suggested by some inventive genius.) And then, without fakery, they actually show her to you through a glass door, as she walks along in silence, her head bent in grief. Yes! Your own wife in the corridors of State Security! You have destroyed her by your stubbornness! She has already been arrested! (In actual fact, she has simply been summoned in connection with some insignificant procedural question and sent into the corridor at just the right moment, after being told: "Don't raise your head, or you'll be kept here!") Or they give you a letter to read, and the handwriting is exactly like hers: "I renounce you! After the filth they have told me about you, I don't need you any more!" (And since such wives do exist in our country, and such letters as well, you are left to ponder in your heart: Is that the kind of wife she really is?)

The interrogator Goldman (in 1944) was trying to extort testimony against other people from V. A. Korneyeva with the threat: "We'll confiscate your house and toss your old women into the street." A woman of deep convictions, and firm in her faith, Korneyeva had no fear whatever for herself. She was prepared to suffer. But, given our laws, Goldman's threats were all too real, and she was in torment over the fate of her loved ones. When, by morning, after a night of tearing up rejected depositions, Goldman began to write a fourth version accusing Korneyeva alone, she signed it happily and with a feeling of spiritual victory. We fail to hang on to the basic human instinct to prove our innocence when falsely accused. How can we there? We were even glad when we succeeded in taking all the guilt on our own shoulders.

[Today she says: "After eleven years, during rehabilitation proceedings they let me reread those 'depositions,' and I was gripped by a feeling of spiritual nausea. What was there to be proud of?" I myself, during the rehabilitation period, felt the very same way on hearing excerpts from my earlier depositions. As the saying goes: They bent me into a bow, and I became someone else. I did not recognize myself—how could I have signed them and still think I had not gotten off too badly?]

Just as there is no classification in nature with rigid boundaries, it is impossible rigidly to separate psychological methods from physical ones. Where, for example, should we classify the following amusement?

10. Sound effects: The accused is made to stand twenty to twenty-five feet away and is then forced to speak more and more loudly and to repeat everything. This is not easy for someone already weakened to the point of exhaustion. Or two megaphones are constructed of rolled-up cardboard, and two interrogators, coming close to the prisoner, bellow in both ears: "Confess, you rat!" The prisoner is deafened; sometimes he actually loses his sense of hearing. But this method is uneconomical. The fact is that the interrogators like some diversion in their monotonous work, and so they vie in thinking up new ideas.

11. Tickling: This is also a diversion. The prisoner's arms and legs are bound or held down, and then the inside of his nose is tickled with a feather. The prisoner writhes; it feels as though someone were drilling into his brain.

12. A cigarette is put out on the accused's skin (already mentioned above).

13. Light effects involve the use of an extremely bright electric light in the small, white-walled cell or "box" in which the accused is being held—a light which is never extinguished. (The electricity saved by the economies of schoolchildren and house-wives!) Your eyelids become inflamed, which is very painful. And then in the interrogation room searchlights are again directed into your eyes.

14. Here is another imaginative trick: On the eve of May 1, 1933, in the Khabarovsk GPU, for twelve hours—all night—Chebotaryev was not interrogated, no, but was simply kept in a continual state of being led to interrogation. "Hey, you—hands behind your back!" They led him out of the cell, up the stairs quickly, into the interrogator's office. The guard left. But the interrogator, without asking one single question, and sometimes without even allowing Chebotaryev to sit down, would pick up the telephone: "Take away the prisoner from 107!" And so they came to get him and took him back to his cell. No sooner had he lain down on his board bunk than the lock rattled: "Chebotaryev! To interrogation. Hands behind your back!" And when he got there: "Take away the prisoner from 107!"

For that matter, the methods of bringing pressure to bear can begin a long time before the interrogator's office.

15. Prison begins with the box, in other words, what amounts to a closet or packing case. The human being who has just been taken from freedom, still in a state of inner turmoil, ready to explain, to argue, to struggle, is, when he first sets foot in prison, clapped into a "box," which sometimes has a lamp and a place where he can sit down, but which sometimes is dark and constructed in such a way that he can only stand up and even then is squeezed against the door. And he is held there for several hours, or for half a day, or a day. During those hours he knows absolutely nothing! Will he perhaps be confined there all his life? He has never in his life encountered anything like this, and he cannot guess at the outcome. Those first hours are passing when everything inside him is still ablaze from the unstilled storm in his heart. Some become despondent—and that's the time to subject them to their first interrogation. Others become angry—and that, too, is all to the good, for they may insult the interrogator right at the start or make a slip, and it will be all the easier to cook up their case.

16. When boxes were in short supply, they used to have another method. In the Novocherkassk NKVD, Yelena Strutinskaya was forced to remain seated on a stool in the corridor for six days in such a way that she did not lean against anything, did not sleep, did not fall off, and did not get up from it. Six days! Just try to sit that way for six hours!

Then again, as a variation, the prisoner can be forced to sit on a tall chair, of the kind used in laboratories, so that his feet do not reach the floor. They become very numb in this position. He is left sitting that way from eight to ten hours.

Or else, during the interrogation itself, when the prisoner is out in plain view, he can be forced to sit in this way: as far forward as possible on the front edge ("Move further forward! Further still!") of the chair so that he is under painful pressure during the entire interrogation. He is not allowed to stir for several hours. Is that all? Yes, that's all. Just try it yourself!

17. Depending on local conditions, a divisional pit can be substituted for the box, as was done in the Gorokhovets army camps during World War II. The prisoner was pushed into such a pit, ten feet in depth, six and a half feet in diameter; and beneath the open sky, rain or shine, this pit was for several days both his cell and his latrine. And ten and a half ounces of bread, and water, were lowered to him on a cord. Imagine yourself in this situation just after you've been arrested, when you're all in a boil.

Either identical orders to all Special Branches of the Red Army or else the similarities of their situations in the field led to broad use of this method. Thus, in the 36th Motorized Infantry Division, a unit which took part in the battle of Khalkhin-Gol, and which was encamped in the Mongolian desert in 1941, a newly arrested prisoner was, without explanation, given a spade by Chief of the Special Branch Samulyev and ordered to dig a pit the exact dimensions of a grave. (Here is a hybridization of physical and psychological methods.) When the prisoner had dug deeper than his own waist, they ordered him to stop and sit down on the bottom: his head was no longer visible. One guard kept watch over several such pits and it was as though he were surrounded by empty space.

[This, evidently, is a Mongolian theme. In the magazine Niva (March 15, 1914, p. 218) there is a drawing of a Mongolian prison: each prisoner is shut in a separate trunk with a small opening for his head or for food. A jailer patrols between the trunks.]

They kept the accused in this desert with no protection from the Mongolian sun and with no warm clothing against the cold of the night, but no tortures—why waste effort on tortures? The ration they gave was three and a half ounces of bread per day and one glass of water. Lieutenant Chulpenyev, a giant, a boxer, twenty-one years old, spent a month imprisoned this way. Within ten days he was swarming with lice. After fifteen days he was summoned to interrogation for the first time.

18. The accused could be compelled to stand on his knees—not in some figurative sense, but literally: on his knees, without sitting back on his heels, and with his back upright. People could be compelled to kneel in the interrogator's office or the corridor for twelve, or even twenty-four or forty-eight hours. (The interrogator himself could go home, sleep, amuse himself in one way or another—this was an organized system; watch was kept over the kneeling prisoner, and the guards worked in shifts.)

[That, after all, is how somebody's career was launched—standing guard over a prisoner on his knees. And now, in all probability, that somebody has attained high rank and his children are already grown up.]

What kind of prisoner was most vulnerable to such treatment? One already broken, already inclined to surrender. It was also a good method to use with women. Ivanov-Razumnik reports a variation of it: Having set young Lordkipanidze on his knees, the interrogator urinated in his face! And what happened? Unbroken by anything else, Lordkipanidze was broken by this. Which shows that the method also worked well on proud people. . . .

19. Then there is the method of simply compelling a prisoner to stand there. This can be arranged so that the accused stands only while being interrogated—because that, too, exhausts and breaks a person down. It can be set up in another way—so that the prisoner sits down during interrogation but is forced to stand up between interrogations. (A watch is set over him, and the guards see to it that he doesn't lean against the wall, and if he goes to sleep and falls over he is given a kick and straightened up.) Sometimes even one day of standing is enough to deprive a person of all his strength and to force him to testify to anything at all.

20. During all these tortures which involved standing for three, four, and five days, they ordinarily deprived a person of water.

The most natural thing of all is to combine the psychological and physical methods. It is also natural to combine all the preceding methods with:

21. Sleeplessness, which they quite failed to appreciate in medieval times. They did not understand how narrow are the limits within which a human being can preserve his personality intact. Sleeplessness (yes, combined with standing, thirst, bright light, terror, and the unknown—what other tortures are needed!?) befogs the reason, undermines the will, and the human being ceases to be himself, to be his own "I." (As in Chekhov's "I Want to Sleep," but there it was much easier, for there the girl could lie down and slip into lapses of consciousness, which even in just a minute would revive and refresh the brain.) A person deprived of sleep acts half-unconsciously or altogether unconsciously, so that his testimony cannot be held against him.

[Just picture a foreigner, who knows no Russian, in this muddled state, being given something to sign. Under these conditions the Bavarian Jupp Aschenbrenner signed a document admitting that he had worked on wartime gas vans. It was not until 1954, in camp, that he was finally able to prove that at the time he had been in Munich, studying to become an electric welder.]

They used to say: "You are not truthful in your testimony, and therefore you will not be allowed to sleep!" Sometimes, as a refinement, instead of making the prisoner stand up, they made him sit down on a soft sofa, which made him want to sleep all the more. (The jailer on duty sat next to him on the same sofa and kicked him every time his eyes began to shut.) Here is how one victim—who had just sat out days in a box infested with bedbugs—describes his feelings after this torture: "Chill from great loss of blood. Irises of the eyes dried out as if someone were holding a red-hot iron in front of them. Tongue swollen from thirst and prickling as from a hedgehog at the slightest movement. Throat racked by spasms of swallowing."

Sleeplessness was a great form of torture: it left no visible marks and could not provide grounds for complaint even if an inspection—something unheard of anyway—were to strike on the morrow.

[Inspection, by the way, was so totally impossible and had so emphatically never taken place that in 1953, when real inspectors entered the cell of former Minister of State Security Abakumov, himself a prisoner by that time, he roared with laughter, thinking their appearance was a trick intended to confuse him.]

"They didn't let you sleep? Well, after all, this is not supposed to be a vacation resort. The Security officials were awake too!" (They would catch up on their sleep during the day.) One can say that sleeplessness became the universal method in the Organs. From being one among many tortures, it became an integral part of the system of State Security; it was the cheapest possible method and did not require the posting of sentries. In all the interrogation prisons the prisoners were forbidden to sleep even one minute from reveille till taps. (In Sukhanovka and several other prisons used specifically for interrogation, the cot was folded into the wall during the day; in others, the prisoners were simply forbidden to lie down, and even to close their eyes while seated.) Since the major interrogations were all conducted at night, it was automatic: whoever was undergoing interrogation got no sleep for at least five days and nights. (Saturday and Sunday nights, the interrogators themselves tried to get some rest.)

22. The above method was further implemented by an assembly line of interrogators. Not only were you not allowed to sleep, but for three or four days shifts of interrogators kept up a continuous interrogation.

23. The bedbug-infested box has already been mentioned. In the dark closet made of wooden planks, there were hundreds, maybe even thousands, of bedbugs, which had been allowed to multiply. The guards removed the prisoner's jacket or field shirt, and immediately the hungry bedbugs assaulted him, crawling onto him from the walls or falling off the ceiling. At first he waged war with them strenuously, crushing them on his body and on the walls, suffocated by their stink. But after several hours he weakened and let them drink his blood without a murmur.

24. Punishment cells. No matter how hard it was in the ordinary cell, the punishment cells were always worse. And on return from there the ordinary cell always seemed like paradise. In the punishment cell a human being was systematically worn down by starvation and also, usually, by cold. (In Sukhanovka Prison there were also hot punishment cells.) For example, the Lefortovo punishment cells were entirely unheated. There were radiators in the corridor only, and in this "heated" corridor the guards on duty walked in felt boots and padded jackets. The prisoner was forced to undress down to his underwear, and sometimes to his undershorts, and he was forced to spend from three to five days in the punishment cell without moving (since it was so confining). He received hot gruel on the third day only. For the first few minutes you were convinced you'd not be able to last an hour. But, by some miracle, a human being would indeed sit out his five days, perhaps acquiring in the course of it an illness that would last him the rest of his life.

There were various aspects to punishment cells—as, for instance, dampness and water. In the Chernovtsy Prison after the war, Masha G. was kept barefooted for two hours and up to her ankles in icy water—confess! (She was eighteen years old, and how she feared for her feet! She was going to have to live with them a long time.)

25. Should one consider it a variation of the punishment cell when a prisoner was locked in an alcove? As long ago as 1933 this was one of the ways they tortured S. A. Chebotaryev in the Khabarovsk GPU. They locked him naked in a concrete alcove in such a way that he could neither bend his knees, nor straighten up and change the position of his arms, nor turn his head. And that was not all! They began to drip cold water onto his scalp—a classic torture—which then ran down his body in rivulets. They did not inform him, of course, that this would go on for only twenty-four hours. It was awful enough at any rate for him to lose consciousness, and he was discovered the next day apparently dead. He came to on a hospital cot. They had brought him out of his faint with spirits of ammonia, caffeine, and body massage. At first he had no recollection of where he had been, or what had happened. For a whole month he was useless even for interrogation. (We may be so bold as to assume that this alcove and dripping device had not been devised for Chebotaryev alone. In 1949 my Dnepropetrovsk acquaintance had been similarly confined, without the dripping attachment, however. On a line joining Khabarovsk and Dnepropetrovsk, and over a period of sixteen years, were there not other such points as well?)

26. Starvation has already been mentioned in combination with other methods. Nor was it an unusual method: to starve the prisoner into confession. Actually, the starvation technique, like interrogation at night, was an integral element in the entire system of coercion. The miserly prison bread ration, amounting to ten and a half ounces in the peacetime year of 1933, and to one pound in 1945 in the Lubyanka, and permitting or prohibiting food parcels from one's family and access to the commissary, were universally applied to everyone. But there was also the technique of intensified hunger: for example, Chulpenyev was kept for a month on three and a half ounces of bread, after which—when he had just been brought in from the pit—the interrogator Sokol placed in front of him a pot of thick borscht, and half a loaf of white bread sliced diagonally. (What does it matter, one might ask, how it was sliced? But Chulpenyev even today will insist that it was really sliced very attractively.) However, he was not given a thing to eat. How ancient it all is, how medieval, how primitive! The only thing new about it was that it was applied in a socialist society! Others, too, tell about such tricks. They were often tried. But we are going to cite another case involving Chebotaryev because it combined so many methods. They put him in the interrogator's office for seventy-two hours, and the only thing he was allowed was to be taken to the toilet. For the rest, they allowed him neither food nor drink—even though there was water in a carafe right next to him. Nor was he permitted to sleep. Throughout there were three interrogators in the office, working in shifts. One kept writing something—silently, without disturbing the prisoner. The second slept on the sofa, and the third walked around the room, and as soon as Chebotaryev fell asleep, beat him instantly. Then they switched roles. (Maybe they themselves were being punished for failure to deliver.) And then, all of a sudden, they brought Chebotaryev a meal: fat Ukrainian borscht, a chop, fried potatoes, and red wine in a crystal carafe. But because Chebotaryev had had an aversion to alcohol all his life, he refused to drink the wine, and the interrogator couldn't go too far in forcing him to, because that would have spoiled the whole game. After he had eaten, they said to him: "Now here's what you have testified to in the presence of two witnesses. Sign here." In other words, he was to sign what had been silently composed by one interrogator in the presence of another, who had been asleep, and a third, who had been actively working. On the very first page Chebotaryev learned he had been on intimate terms with all the leading Japanese generals and that he had received espionage assignments from all of them. He began to cross out whole pages. They beat him up and threw him out. Blaginin, another Chinese Eastern Railroad man, arrested with him, was put through the same thing; but he drank the wine and, in a state of pleasant intoxication, signed the confession—and was shot. (Even one tiny glass can have an enormous effect on a famished man—and that was a whole carafe.)

27. Beatings—of a kind that leave no marks. They use rubber truncheons, and they use wooden mallets and small sandbags. It is very, very painful when they hit a bone—for example, an interrogator's jackboot on the shin, where the bone lies just beneath the skin. They beat Brigade Commander Karpunich-Braven for twenty-one days in a row. And today he says: "Even after thirty years all my bones ache—and my head too." In recollecting his own experience and the stories of others, he counts up to fifty-two methods of torture. Here is one: They grip the hand in a special vise so that the prisoner's palm lies flat on the desk—and then they hit the joints with the thin edge of a ruler. And one screams! Should we single out particularly the technique by which teeth are knocked out? They knocked out eight of Karpunich's.

[In the case of the Secretary of the Karelian Provincial Party Committee, G. Kupriyanov, arrested in 1949, some of the teeth they knocked out were just ordinary ones, of no particular account, but others were gold. At first they gave him a receipt that said his gold teeth were being kept for him. And then they caught themselves just in time and took away his receipt.]

As everyone knows, a blow of the fist in the solar plexus, catching the victim in the middle of a breath, leaves no mark whatever. The Lefortovo Colonel Sidorov, in the postwar period, used to take a "penalty kick" with his overshoes at the dangling genitals of male prisoners. Soccer players who at one time or another have been hit in the groin by a ball know what that kind of blow is like. There is no pain comparable to it, and ordinarily the recipient loses consciousness.

[In 1918 the Moscow Revolutionary Tribunal convicted the former Tsarist jailer Bondar. The most extreme measure of his cruelty that was cited was the accusation that "in one case he had struck a political prisoner with such force that his eardrum had burst." (Krylenko, op. cit., p. 16.)]

28. In the Novorossisk NKVD they invented a machine for squeezing fingernails. As a result it could be observed later at transit prisons that many of those from Novorossisk had lost their fingernails.

29. And what about the strait jacket?

30. And breaking the prisoner's back? (As in that same Khabarovsk GPU in 1933.)

31. Or bridling (also known as "the swan dive")? This was a Sukhanovka method—also used in Archangel, where the interrogator Ivkov applied it in 1940. A long piece of rough toweling was inserted between the prisoner's jaws like a bridle; the ends were then pulled back over his shoulders and tied to his heels. Just try lying on your stomach like a wheel, with your spine breaking—and without water and food for two days!

Is it necessary to go on with the list? Is there much left to enumerate? What won't idle, well-fed, unfeeling people invent?

Brother mine! Do not condemn those who, finding themselves in such a situation, turned out to be weak and confessed to more than they should have. ... Do not be the first to cast a stone at them.

But here's the point! Neither these methods nor even the "lightest" methods of all are needed to wring testimony from the majority ... for iron jaws to grip lambs who are unprepared and longing to return to their warm hearths. The relationship of forces to situations is too unequal.

Oh, in how new a light does our past life appear when re-examined in the interrogator's office: abounding in dangers, like an African jungle. And we had considered it so simple!

You, A, and your friend, B, have known each other for years and have complete faith in one another. When you met, you spoke out boldly about political matters large and small. No one else was present. There was no one who could have overheard you. And you have not denounced each other—not at all.

But at this point, for some reason, you, A, have been marked, hauled out of the herd by the ears, and arrested. And for some reason—well, maybe not without a denunciation on somebody's part, and not without your apprehensions as to the fate of your loved ones, and not without a certain lack of sleep, and not without a bit of punishment cell—you have decided to write yourself off but at the same time not to betray anyone else at any price.

You have therefore confessed in four depositions, and signed them—declaring yourself to be a sworn enemy of Soviet power—because you used to tell jokes about the Leader, because you thought there should be a choice of candidates at elections, because you went into the voting booth only in order to cross out the name of the only candidate and would have done so except there was no ink in the inkwell, and because there was a 16-meter band on your radio on which you tried to catch parts of Western broadcasts through the jamming. Your own tenner has been assured, yet your ribs have remained whole, and so far you have not caught pneumonia. You have not sold anyone out; and it seems to you that you have worked things out sensibly. You have already informed your cellmates that in your opinion your interrogation is probably coming to an end.

But lo and behold! Admiring his own handwriting, and with deliberation, the interrogator begins to fill out deposition No. 5. Question: Were you friendly with B? Answer: Yes. Question: Were you frank with him about politics? Answer: No, no, I did not trust him. Question: But you met often? Answer: Not very. Question: What does that mean, not very? According to testimony from your neighbors, he was at your house on such and such a day, and on such and such, and on such and such just in the past month. Was he? Answer: Maybe. Question: And it was observed that on these occasions, as always, you did not drink, you did not make any noise, you spoke very quietly, and you couldn't be overheard even in the corridor? (Well, friends, drink up! Break bottles! Curse at the top of your lungs! On that basis you will be considered reliable.) Answer: Well, what of it? Question: And you used to visit him too. And you said to him on the phone, for example: "We spent such an interesting evening." Then they saw you on the street at an intersection. You were standing there together in the cold for half an hour, and you both had gloomy faces and dissatisfied expressions; in fact, they even took photographs of you during that meeting. (The technological resources of agents, my friends, the technology of agents!) So what did you talk about during these meetings?

What about? That's a leading question! Your first idea is to say that you've forgotten what you talked about. Are you really obliged to remember? So! You've forgotten your first conversation. And the second one too? And the third? And even your interesting evening? And that time at the intersection? And your conversations with C? And your conversations with D? No, you think: "I forgot" is not the way out; you will be unable to maintain that position. And your mind, still shocked by your arrest, in the grip of fear, muddled by sleeplessness and hunger, seeks a way out: how to play it shrewdly in a manner that will have some verisimilitude and outsmart the interrogator.

What about? It is fine if you talked about hockey—that, friends, is in all cases the least troublesome! Or about women, or even about science. Then you can repeat what was said. (Science is not too far removed from hockey, but in our time everything to do with science is classified information and they may get you for a violation of the Decree on Revealing State Secrets.) But what if you did in actual fact talk about the latest arrests in the city? Or about the collective farms? (Of course, critically—for who has anything good to say about them?) Or about reducing the rate of pay for piecework? The fact remains that you frowned for half an hour at the intersection—what were you talking about there?

Maybe B has already been arrested. The interrogator assures you that he has been, and that he has already given evidence against you, and that they are about to bring him in for a confrontation with you. Maybe he is sitting home very calmly and quietly, but they might very well bring him in for questioning and then they will find out from him what you were frowning about for half an hour at that intersection.

At this point, too late, you have come to understand that, because of the way life is, you and he ought to have reached an agreement every time you parted and remembered clearly what you were going to say if you were asked what you had talked about that day. Then, regardless of interrogations, your testimony and his would agree. But you had not made any such agreement. You had unfortunately not understood what kind of a jungle you lived in.

Should you say that you were talking about going on a fishing trip? But then B might say that there was never any discussion of fishing, that you talked about correspondence-school courses. In that case, instead of causing the investigation to ease up a bit, you would only tie the noose tighter: what about, what about, what about?

And the idea flashes through your mind—is it a brilliant or a fatal one?—that you ought to come as close as you can to the truth of what was actually said—of course rounding off the sharp edges and skipping the dangerous parts. After all, people say that when you lie you should always stay as close to the truth as possible. And maybe B will guess what's up and say approximately the same thing and then your testimony will coincide in some respects and they will leave you in peace.

Many years later you will come to understand that this was not really a wise idea, and that it is much smarter to play the role of someone so improbably imbecile that he can't remember one single day of his life even at the risk of being beaten. But you have been kept awake for three days. You have hardly strength enough to follow the course of your own thoughts and to maintain an imperturbable expression. And you don't have even a minute to think things over. Suddenly two interrogators—for they enjoy visiting one another—are at you: What were you talking about? What about? What about?

And you testify: We were talking about collective farms—to the effect that not everything had as yet been set to rights on them but it soon would be. We talked about the lowering of piece rates. . . . And what in particular did you say about them? That you were delighted they had been reduced? But that wasn't the way people normally talked—it was too implausible. And so as to make it seem an altogether believable conversation, you concede that you complained just a little that they were putting on the squeeze a bit with piece rates.

The interrogator writes down the deposition himself, translating it into his own language: At this meeting we slandered Party and government policy in the field of wages.

And someday B is going to accuse you: "Oh, you blabbermouth, and I said we were making plans to go fishing."

But you tried to outsmart your interrogator! You have a quick, abstruse mind. You are an intellectual! And you outsmarted yourself. . . .

In Crime and Punishment, Porfiri Petrovich makes a surprisingly astute remark to Raskolnikov, to the effect that he could have been found out only by someone who had himself gone through that same cat-and-mouse game—implying, so to speak: "I don't even have to construct my own version with you intellectuals. You will put it together yourselves and bring it to me all wrapped up." Yes, that's so! An intellectual cannot reply with the delightful incoherence of Chekhov's "Malefactor." He is bound to try to build up in logical form the whole story he is being accused of, no matter how much falsehood it contains.

But the interrogator-butcher isn't interested in logic; he just wants to catch two or three phrases. He knows what he wants. And as for us—we are totally unprepared for anything.

From childhood on we are educated and trained—for our own profession; for our civil duties; for military service; to take care of our bodily needs; to behave well; even to appreciate beauty (well, this last not really all that much!). But neither our education, nor our upbringing, nor our experience prepares us in the slightest for the greatest trial of our lives: being arrested for nothing and interrogated about nothing. Novels, plays, films (their authors should themselves be forced to drink the cup of Gulag to the bottom!) depict the types one meets in the offices of interrogators as chivalrous guardians of truth and humanitarianism, as our loving fathers. We are exposed to lectures on everything under the sun—and are even herded in to listen to them. But no one is going to lecture to us about the true and extended significance of the Criminal Code; and the codes themselves are not on open shelves in our libraries, nor sold at newsstands; nor do they fall into the hands of the heedless young.

It seems a virtual fairy tale that somewhere, at the ends of the earth, an accused person can avail himself of a lawyer's help. This means having beside you in the most difficult moment of your life a clear-minded ally who knows the law.

The principle of our interrogation consists further in depriving the accused of even a knowledge of the law.

An indictment is presented. And here, incidentally, is how it's presented: "Sign it." "It's not true." "Sign." "But I'm not guilty of anything!" It turns out that you are being indicted under the provisions of Articles 58-10. Part 2, and 58-11 of the Criminal Code of the Russian Republic. "Sign!" "But what do these sections say? Let me read the Code!" "I don't have it." "Well, get it from your department head!" "He doesn't have it either. Sign!" "But I want to see it." "You are not supposed to see it. It isn't written for you but for us. You don't need it. I'll tell you what it says: these sections spell out exactly what you are guilty of. And anyway, at this point your signature doesn't mean that you agree with the indictment but that you've read it, that it's been presented to you."

All of a sudden, a new combination of letters, UPK, flashes by on one of the pieces of paper. Your sense of caution is aroused. What's the difference between the UPK and the UK—the Criminal Code? If you've been lucky enough to catch the interrogator when he is in a good mood, he will explain it to you: the UPK is the Code of Criminal Procedure. What? This means that there are two distinct codes, not just one, of whose contents you are completely ignorant even as you are being trampled under their provisions.

Since that time ten years have passed; then fifteen. The grass has grown thick over the grave of my youth. I served out my term and even "eternal exile" as well. And nowhere—neither in the "cultural education" sections of the camps, nor in district libraries, nor even in medium-sized cities, have I seen with my own eyes, held in my own hands, been able to buy, obtain, or even ask for the Code of Soviet law!

[Those familiar with our atmosphere of suspicion will understand why it was impossible to ask for the Code in a people's court or in the District Executive Committee. Your interest in the Code would be an extraordinary phenomenon: you must either be preparing to commit a crime or be trying to cover your tracks.]

And of the hundreds of prisoners I knew who had gone through interrogation and trial, and more than once too, who had served sentences in camp and in exile, none had ever seen the Code or held it in his hand!

It was only when both codes were thirty-five years old and on the point of being replaced by new ones that I saw them, two little paperback brothers, the UK or Criminal Code, and the UPK or Code of Criminal Procedure, on a newsstand in the Moscow subway (because they were outdated, it had been decided to release them for general circulation).

I read them today touched with emotion. For example, the UPK—the Code of Criminal Procedure:

"Article 136: The interrogator does not have the right to extract testimony or a confession from an accused by means of compulsion and threats." (It was as though they had foreseen it!)

"Article 111: The interrogator is obliged to establish clearly all the relevant facts, both those tending toward acquittal and any which might lessen the accused's measure of guilt."

But it was I who helped establish Soviet power in October! It was I who shot Kolchak! I took part in the dispossession of the kulaks! I saved the state ten million rubles in lowered production costs! I was wounded twice in the war! I have three orders and decorations.

"You're not being tried for that!" History ... the bared teeth of the interrogator: "Whatever good you may have done has nothing to do with the case."

"Article 139: The accused has the right to set forth his testimony in his own hand, and to demand the right to make corrections in the deposition written by the interrogator."

Oh, if we had only known that in time! But what I should say is: If that were only the way it really was! We were always vainly imploring the interrogator not to write "my repulsive, slanderous fabrications" instead of "my mistaken statements," or not to write "our underground weapons arsenal" instead of "my rusty Finnish knife."

If only the defendants had first been taught some prison science! If only interrogation had been run through first in rehearsal, and only afterward for real. . . . They didn't, after all, play that interrogation game with the second-termers of 1948: it would have gotten them nowhere. But newcomers had no experience, no knowledge! And there was no one from whom to seek advice.

The loneliness of the accused! That was one more factor in the success of unjust interrogation! The entire apparatus threw its full weight on one lonely and inhibited will. From the moment of his arrest and throughout the entire shock period of the interrogation the prisoner was, ideally, to be kept entirely alone. In his cell, in the corridor, on the stairs, in the offices, he was not supposed to encounter others like himself, in order to avoid the risk of his gleaning a bit of sympathy, advice, support from someone's smile or glance. The Organs did everything to blot out for him his future and distort his present: to lead him to believe that his friends and family had all been arrested and that material proof of his guilt had been found. It was their habit to exaggerate their power to destroy him and those he loved as well as their authority to pardon (which the Organs didn't even have). They pretended that there was some connection between the sincerity of a prisoner's "repentance" and a reduction in his sentence or an easing of the camp regimen. (No such connection ever existed.) While the prisoner was still in a state of shock and torment and totally beside himself, they tried to get from him very quickly as many irreparably damaging items of evidence as possible and to implicate with him as many totally innocent persons as possible. Some defendants became so depressed in these circumstances that they even asked not to have the depositions read to them. They could not stand hearing them. They asked merely to be allowed to sign them, just to sign and get it over with. Only after all this was over would the prisoner be released from solitary into a large cell, where, in belated desperation, he would discover and count over his mistakes one by one.

How was it possible not to make mistakes in such a duel? Who could have failed to make a mistake?

We said that "ideally he was to be kept alone." However, in the overcrowded prisons of 1937, and, for that matter, of 1945 as well, this ideal of solitary confinement for a newly arrested defendant could not be attained. Almost from his first hours, the prisoner was in fact in a terribly overcrowded common cell.

But there were virtues to this arrangement, too, which more than made up for its flaws. The overcrowding of the cells not only took the place of the tightly confined solitary "box" but also assumed the character of a first-class torture in itself . . . one that was particularly useful because it continued for whole days and weeks—with no effort on the part of the interrogators. The prisoners tortured the prisoners! The jailers pushed so many prisoners into the cell that not every one had even a piece of floor; some were sitting on others' feet, and people walked on people and couldn't even move about at all. Thus, in the Kishinev KPZ's —Cells for Preliminary Detention—in 1945, they pushed eighteen prisoners into a cell designed for the solitary confinement of one person; in Lugansk in 1937 it was fifteen.

[And the interrogation there lasted eight to ten months at a time. "Maybe Klim [Voroshilov] had one of thes; to himself," said the fellows there. (Was he, in fact, ever imprisoned?)]

And in 1938 Ivanov-Razumnik found one hundred forty prisoners in a standard Butyrki cell intended for twenty-five—with toilets so overburdened that prisoners were taken to the toilet only once a day, sometimes at night; and the same thing was true of their outdoor walk as well.

[That same year in the Butyrki, those newly arrested, who had already been processed through the bath and the boxes, sat on the stairs for several days at a stretch, waiting for departing prisoner transports to leave and release space in the cells. T------v had been imprisoned in the Butyrki seven years earlier, in 1931, and says that it was overcrowded under the bunks and that prisoners lay on the asphalt floor. I myself was imprisoned seven years later, in 1945, and it was just the same. But recently I received from M. K. B------ch valuable personal testimony about overcrowding in the Butyrki in 1918. In October of that year—during the second month of the Red Terror—it was so full that they even set up a cell for seventy women in the laundry. When, then, was the Butyrki not crowded?]

It was Ivanov-Razumnik who in the Lubyanka reception "kennel" calculated that for weeks at a time there were three persons for each square yard of floor space (just as an experiment, try to fit three people into that space!) .

[But this, too, is no miracle: in the Vladimir Internal Prison in 1948, thirty people had to stand in a cell ten feet by ten feet in size! (S. Potapov.)]

In this "kennel" there was neither ventilation nor a window, and the prison- ers' body heat and breathing raised the temperature to 40 or 45 degrees Centigrade—104 to 113 degrees Fahrenheit—and everyone sat there in undershorts with their winter clothing piled beneath them. Their naked bodies were pressed against one another, and they got eczema from one another's sweat. They sat like that for weeks at a time, and were given neither fresh air nor water—except for gruel and tea in the morning.

[By and large there is a good deal in Ivanov-Razumnik's book that is superficial and personal, and there are many exhaustingly monotonous jokes. But the real life of the cells in the 1937-1938 period is very well described there.]

And if at the same time the latrine bucket replaced all other types of toilet (or if, on the other hand, there was no latrine bucket for use between trips to an outside toilet, as was the case in several Siberian prisons); and if four people ate from one bowl, sitting on each other's knees; and if someone was hauled out for interrogation, and then someone else was pushed in beaten up, sleepless, and broken; and if the appearance of such broken men was more persuasive than any threats on the part of the interrogators; and if, by then, death and any camp whatever seemed easier to a prisoner who had been left unsummoned for months than his tormented current situation—perhaps this really did replace the theoretically ideal isolation in solitary. And you could not always decide in such a porridge of people with whom to be forthright; and you could not always find someone from whom to seek advice. And you would believe in the tortures and beatings not when the interrogator threatened you with them but when you saw their results on other prisoners.

You could learn from those who had suffered that they could give you a salt-water douche in the throat and then leave you in a box for a day tormented by thirst (Karpunich). Or that they might scrape the skin off a man's back with a grater till it bled and then oil it with turpentine. (Brigade Commander Rudolf Pintsov underwent both treatments. In addition, they pushed needles under his nails, and poured water into him to the bursting point—demanding that he confess to having wanted to turn his brigade of tanks against the government during the November parade.)

[In actual fact, he did lead his brigade at the parade, but for some reason he did not turn it against the government. But this was not taken into account. However, after these most varied tortures, he was sentenced to ten years by the OSO. To that degree, the gendarmes themselves had no faith in their achievements.]

And from Aleksandrov, the former head of the Arts Section of the All-Union Society for Cultural Relations with Foreign Countries, who has a broken spinal column which tilts to one side, and who cannot control his tear ducts and thus cannot stop crying, one can learn how Abakumov himself could beat—in 1948.

Yes, yes, Minister of State Security Abakumov himself did not by any means spurn such menial labor. (A Suvorov at the head of his troops!) He was not averse to taking a rubber truncheon in his hands every once in a while. And his deputy Ryumin was even more willing. He did this at Sukhanovka in the "Generals' " interrogation office. The office had imitation-walnut paneling on the walls, silk portieres at the windows and doors, and a great Persian carpet on the floor. In order not to spoil all this beauty, a dirty runner bespattered with blood was rolled out on top of the carpet when a prisoner was being beaten. When Ryumin was doing the beating, he was assisted not by some ordinary guard but by a colonel. "And so," said Ryumin politely, stroking his rubber truncheon, which was four centimeters—an inch and a half—thick, "you have survived trial by sleeplessness with honor." (Alexander D. had cleverly managed to last a month "without sleep" by sleeping while he was standing up.) "So now we will try the club. Prisoners can't take more than two or three sessions of this. Let down your trousers and lie down on the runner." The colonel sat down on the prisoner's back. A.D. was going to count the blows. He didn't yet know about a blow from a rubber truncheon on the sciatic nerve when the buttocks have disappeared as a consequence of prolonged starvation. The effect is not felt in the place where the blow is delivered—it explodes inside the head. After the first blow the victim was mad with pain and broke his nails on the carpet. Ryumin beat away, trying to hit accurately. The colonel pressed down on A.D.'s torso—this was just the right sort of work for three big shoulder-board stars, assisting the all-powerful Ryumin! (After the beating the prisoner could not walk and, of course, was not carried. They just dragged him along the floor. What was left of his buttocks was soon so swollen that he could not button his trousers, and yet there were practically no scars. He was hit by a violent case of diarrhea, and, sitting there on the latrine bucket in solitary, A.D. guffawed. He went through a second and a third session, and his skin cracked, and Ryumin went wild, and started to beat him on the stomach, breaking through the intestinal wall and creating an enormous hernia through which A.D.'s intestines protruded. The prisoner was taken off to the Butyrki hospital with a case of peritonitis, and for the time being their attempts to compel him to commit a foul deed were suspended.)

That is how they can torture you too! After that it could seem a simple fatherly caress when the Kishinev interrogator Danilov beat Father Viktor Shipovalnikov across the back of the head with a poker and pulled him by his long hair. (It is very convenient to drag a priest around in that fashion; ordinary laymen can be dragged by the beard from one corner of the office to the other. And Richard Ohola—a Finnish Red Guard, and a participant in the capture of British agent Sidney Reilly, and commander of a company during the suppression of the Kronstadt revolt—was lifted up with pliers first by one end of his great mustaches and then by the other, and held for ten minutes with his feet off the floor.)

But the most awful thing they can do with you is this: undress you from the waist down, place you on your back on the floor, pull your legs apart, seat assistants on them (from the glorious corps of sergeants!) who also hold down your arms; and then the interrogator (and women interrogators have not shrunk from this) stands between your legs and with the toe of his boot (or of her shoe) gradually, steadily, and with ever greater pressure crushes against the floor those organs which once made you a man. He looks into your eyes and repeats and repeats his questions or the betrayal he is urging on you. If he does not press down too quickly or just a shade too powerfully, you still have fifteen seconds left in which to scream that you will confess to everything, that you are ready to see arrested all twenty of those people he's been demanding of you, or that you will slander in the newspapers everything you hold holy. . . .

And may you be judged by God, but not by people. . . .

"There is no way out! You have to confess to everything!" whisper the stoolies who have been planted in the cell.

"It's a simple question: hang onto your health!" say people with common sense.

"You can't get new teeth," those who have already lost them nod at you.

"They are going to convict you in any case, whether you confess or whether you don't," conclude those who have got to the bottom of things.

"Those who don't sign get shot!" prophesies someone else in the corner. "Out of vengeance! So as not to risk any leaks about how they conduct interrogations."

"And if you die in the interrogator's office, they'll tell your relatives you've been sentenced to camp without the right of correspondence. And then just let them look for you."

If you are an orthodox Communist, then another orthodox Communist will sidle up to you, peering about with hostile suspicion, and he'll begin to whisper in your ear so that the uninitiated cannot overhear:

"It's our duty to support Soviet interrogation. It's a combat situation. We ourselves are to blame. We were too softhearted; and now look at all the rot that has multiplied in the country. There is a vicious secret war going on. Even here we are surrounded by enemies. Just listen to what they are saying! The Party is not obliged to account for what it does to every single one of us—to explain the whys and wherefores. If they ask us to, that means we should sign."

And another orthodox Communist sidles up:

"I signed denunciations against thirty-five people, against all my acquaintances. And I advise you too: Drag along as many names as you can in your wake, as many as you can. That way it will become obvious that the whole thing is an absurdity and they'll let everyone out!"

But that is precisely what the Organs need. The conscientiousness of the orthodox Communist and the purpose of the NKVD naturally coincide. Indeed, the NKVD needs just that arched fan of names, that fat multiplication of them. That is the mark of quality of their work, and these are also new patches of woods in which to set out snares. "Your accomplices, accomplices! Others who share your views!" That is what they keep pressing to shake out of everyone. They say that R. Ralov named Cardinal Richelieu as one of his accomplices and that the Cardinal was in fact so listed in his depositions—and no one was astonished by this until Ralov was questioned about it at his rehabilitation proceedings in 1956.

Apropos of the orthodox Communists, Stalin was necessary, for such a purge as that, yes, but a Party like that was necessary too: the majority of those in power, up to the very moment of their own arrest, were pitiless in arresting others, obediently destroyed their peers in accordance with those same instructions and handed over to retribution any friend or comrade-in-arms of yesterday. And all the big Bolsheviks, who now wear martyrs' halos, managed to be the executioners of other Bolsheviks (not even taking into account how all of them in the first place had been the executioners of non-Communists). Perhaps 1937 was needed in order to show how little their whole ideology was worth—that ideology of which they boasted so enthusiastically, turning Russia upside down, destroying its foundations, trampling everything it held sacred underfoot, that Russia where they themselves had never been threatened by such retribution. The victims of the Bolsheviks from 1918 to 1946 never conducted themselves so despicably as the leading Bolsheviks when the lightning struck them. If you study in detail the whole history of the arrests and trials of 1936 to 1938, the principal revulsion you feel is not against Stalin and his accomplices, but against the humiliatingly repulsive defendants—nausea at their spiritual baseness after their former pride and implacability.

So what is the answer? How can you stand your ground when you are weak and sensitive to pain, when people you love are still alive, when you are unprepared?

What do you need to make you stronger than the interrogator and the whole trap?

From the moment you go to prison you must put your cozy past firmly behind you. At the very threshold, you must say to yourself: "My life is over, a little early to be sure, but there's nothing to be done about it. I shall never return to freedom. I am condemned to die—now or a little later. But later on, in truth, it will be even harder, and so the sooner the better. I no longer have any property whatsoever. For me those I love have died, and for them I have died. From today on, my body is useless and alien to me. Only my spirit and my conscience remain precious and important to me."

Confronted by such a prisoner, the interrogation will tremble.

Only the man who has renounced everything can win that victory.

But how can one turn one's body to stone?

Well, they managed to turn some individuals from the Berdyayev circle into puppets for a trial, but they didn't succeed with Berdyayev. They wanted to drag him into an open trial; they arrested him twice; and (in 1922) he was subjected to a night interrogation by Dzerzhinsky himself. Kamenev was there too (which means that he, too, was not averse to using the Cheka in an ideological conflict). But Berdyayev did not humiliate himself. He did not beg or plead. He set forth firmly those religious and moral principles which had led him to refuse to accept the political authority established in Russia. And not only did they come to the conclusion that he would be useless for a trial, but they liberated him.

A human being has a point of view!

N. Stolyarova recalls an old woman who was her neighbor on the Butyrki bunks in 1937. They kept on interrogating her every night. Two years earlier, a former Metropolitan of the Orthodox Church, who had escaped from exile, had spent a night at her home on his way through Moscow. "But he wasn't the former Metropolitan, he was the Metropolitan! Truly, I was worthy of receiving him." "All right then. To whom did he go when he left Moscow?" "I know, but I won't tell you!" (The Metropolitan had escaped to Finland via an underground railroad of believers.) At first the interrogators took turns, and then they went after her in groups. They shook their fists in the little old woman's face, and she replied: "There is nothing you can do with me even if you cut me into pieces. After all, you are afraid of your bosses, and you are afraid of each other, and you are even afraid of killing me." (They would lose contact with the underground railroad.) "But I am not afraid of anything. I would be glad to be judged by God right this minute."

There were such people in 1937 too, people who did not return to their cell for their bundles of belongings, who chose death, who signed nothing denouncing anyone.

One can't say that the history of the Russian revolutionaries has given us any better examples of steadfastness. But there is no comparison anyway, because none of our revolutionaries ever knew what a really good interrogation could be, with fifty-two different methods to choose from.

Sheshkovsky did not subject Radishchev to torture. And because of contemporary custom, Radishchev knew perfectly well that his sons would serve as officers in the imperial guard no matter what happened to him, and that their lives wouldn't be cut short. Nor would anyone confiscate Radishchev's family estate. Nonetheless, in the course of his brief two-week interrogation, this outstanding man renounced his beliefs and his book and begged for mercy.

Nicholas I didn't have enough imagination to arrest the wives of the Decembrists and compel them to scream in the interrogation room next door, or even to torture the Decembrists themselves. But in any case he didn't need to. Even Ryleyev "answered fully, frankly, and hid nothing." Even Pestel broke down and named comrades (who were still free) assigned to bury Russkaya Pravda and the very place where it had been buried.

[In part, the reason for this was the same as in the case of Bukharin many years later. They were, after all, being interrogated by their social equals, their class brothers, and so their desire to explain everything was only natural.]

There were very few who, like Lunin, expressed disdain and contempt for the investigating commission. The majority behaved badly and got one another more deeply involved. Many of them begged abjectly to be pardoned! Zavalishin put all the blame on Ryleyev. Y. P. Obolensky and S. P. Trubetskoi couldn't wait to slander Griboyedov—which even Nicholas I didn't believe.

Bakunin in his Confessions abjectly groveled before Nicholas I—thereby avoiding execution. Was this wretchedness of soul? Or revolutionary cunning?

One would think that those who decided to assassinate Alexander II must have been people of the highest selflessness and dedication. After all, they knew what the stakes were! Grinevitsky shared the fate of the Tsar, but Rysakov remained alive and was held for interrogation. And that very day he blabbed on the participants in the plot and identified their secret meeting places. Out of fear for his young life he rushed to give the government more information than he could ever have been suspected of having. He nearly choked with repentance; he proposed to "expose all the secrets of the Anarchists."

At the end of the last century and the beginning of this one, the Tsarist interrogator immediately withdrew his question if the prisoner found it inappropriate or too intimate. But in Kresty Prison in 1938, when the old political hard-labor prisoner Zelensky was whipped with ramrods with his pants pulled down like a small boy, he wept in his cell: "My Tsarist interrogator didn't even dare address me rudely."

Or, for example, we learn from recently published research that the Tsarist gendarmes seized the manuscript of Lenin's essay "What Are Our Ministers Thinking Of?" but were unable to get at its author:

"At the interrogation the gendarmes, just as one might have expected, learned very little from the student Vaneyev. [The italics here and throughout this quotation are my own.] He informed them only that the manuscripts found at his place had been brought to him in one package for safekeeping several days before the search by a certain person whom he did not wish to name. Therefore the interrogator's sole alternative was to turn the manuscripts over for expert analysis." The experts learned nothing. (What did he mean—his "sole alternative"? What about icy water up to the ankles? Or a salt-water douche? Or Ryumin's truncheon?) It would seem that the author of this article, R. Peresvetov, himself served time for several years and might easily have enumerated what "alternatives" the interrogator actually had when confronting the guardian of Lenin's "What Are Our Ministers Thinking Of?"

As S. P. Melgunov recollects: "That was a Tsarist prison, a prison of blessed memory, which political prisoners nowadays can only recall with a feeling almost of gladness."

But that is a case of displaced concepts. The yardstick is totally different. Just as oxcart drivers of Gogol's time could not have imagined the speed of a jet plane, those who have never gone through the receiving-line meat grinder of Gulag cannot grasp the true possibilities of interrogation.

We read in Izvestiya for May 24, 1959, that Yuliya Rumyantseva was confined in the internal prison of a Nazi camp while they tried to find out from her the whereabouts of her husband, who had escaped from that same camp. She knew, but she refused to tell! For a reader who is not in the know this is a model of heroism. For a reader with a bitter Gulag past it's a model of inefficient interrogation: Yuliya did not die under torture, and she was not driven insane. A month later she was simply released—still very much alive and kicking.

All these thoughts about standing firm as a rock were quite unknown to me in February, 1945. Not only was I not in the least prepared to cut my cozy ties with earth, I was even quite angry for a long time because a hundred or so Faber pencils had been taken away from me when I was arrested. Looking back on my interrogation from my long subsequent imprisonment, I had no reason to be proud of it. I might have borne myself more firmly; and in all probability I could have maneuvered more skillfully. But my first weeks were characterized by a mental blackout and a slump into depression. The only reason these recollections do not torment me with remorse is that, thanks be to God, I avoided getting anyone else arrested. But I came close to it.

Although we were front-line officers, Nikolai V. and I, who were involved in the same case, got ourselves into prison through a piece of childish stupidity. He and I corresponded during the war, between two sectors of the front; and though we knew perfectly well that wartime censorship of correspondence was in effect, we indulged in fairly outspoken expressions of our political outrage and in derogatory comments about the Wisest of the Wise, whom we labeled with the transparently obvious nickname of Pakhan or Ringleader of the Thieves. (When, later on, I reported our case in various prisons, our naivete aroused only laughter and astonishment. Other prisoners told me that two more such stupid jackasses couldn't exist. And I became convinced of it myself. Then suddenly, one day, reading some documents on the case of Aleksandr Ulyanov, Lenin's elder brother, I learned that he and his confederates got caught in exactly the same way—a careless exchange of letters. And that was the only reason Alexander III didn't die on March 1, 1887.)

[A member of the group, Andreyushkin sent a frank letter to his friend in Kharkov: "I am firmly convinced that we are going to have the most merciless terror—and in the fairly near future too. . . . Red Terror is my hobby. ... I am worried about my addressee. ... If he gets it, then I may get it too, and that will be unfortunate because I will drag in a lot of very effective people." It was not the first such letter he had written! And the unhurried search this letter initiated continued for five weeks, via Kharkov, in order to discover who in St. Petersburg had written it. Andreyushkin's identity was not established until February 28. On March 1, the bomb throwers, bombs in hand, were arrested on Nevsky Prospekt just before the attempted assassination.]

The office of my interrogator, I.I.. Yezepov, was high-ceilinged, spacious and bright, with an enormous window. (The Rossiya Insurance Company had not been built with torture in mind.) And, putting to use its seventeen feet of height, a full-length, vertical, thirteen-foot portrait of that powerful Sovereign hung there, toward whom I, grain of sand that I was, had expressed my hatred. Sometimes the interrogator stood in front of the portrait and declaimed dramatically: "We are ready to lay down our lives for him! We are ready to lie down in the path of oncoming tanks for his sake!" Face to face with the altarlike grandeur of that portrait, my mumbling about some kind of purified Leninism seemed pitiful, and I myself seemed a blasphemous slanderer deserving only death.

The contents of our letters provided more than enough, in keeping with the standards of those times, to sentence us both. Therefore my interrogator did not have to invent anything. He merely tried to cast his noose around everyone I had ever written to or received a letter from. I had expressed myself vehemently in letters to friends my own age and had been almost reckless in spelling out seditious ideas, but my friends for some reason had continued to correspond with me! And some suspicious phrases could be found in their replies to my letters.

[One of our school friends was nearly arrested because of me at this time. It was an enormous relief to me to learn later that he was still free! But then, twenty-two years later, he wrote to me: "On the basis of your published works I conclude that you take a one-sided view of life. . . . Objectively speaking, you have become the standard-bearer of Fascist reactionaries in the West, in West Germany and the United States, for example. . . . Lenin, whom, I'm convinced, you love and honor just as much as you used to, yes, and old Marx and Engels, too, would have condemned you in the severest fashion. Think about that!" Indeed, I do think about that: How sorry I am that you didn't get arrested then! How much you lost!]

And then Yezepov, like Porfiri Petrovich, demanded that I explain it all in a coherent way: if we had expressed ourselves in such a fashion in letters that we knew were subject to censorship, what could we have said to each other face to face? I could not convince him that all my fire-eating talk was confined to my letters. And at that point, with muddled mind, I had to undertake to weave something credible about my meetings with my friends—meetings referred to in my letters. What I said had to jibe with the letters, in such a way as to be on the very edge of political matters and yet not fall under that Criminal Code. Moreover, these explanations had to pour forth quickly, all in one breath, so as to convince this veteran interrogator of my naivete, my humility, my total honesty. The main thing was not to provoke my lazy interrogator to any interest in looking through that accursed load of stuff I had brought in my accursed suitcase—including many notebooks of my "War Diary," written in hard, light pencil in a needle-thin handwriting, with some of the notes already partially washed out. These diaries constituted my claim to becoming a writer. I had not believed in the capacities of our amazing memory, and throughout the war years I had tried to write down everything I saw. That would have been only half a catastrophe: I also wrote down everything I heard from other people. But opinions and stories which were so natural in front-line areas seemed to be treasonable here in the rear and reeked of raw imprisonment for my front-line comrades. So to prevent that interrogator from going to work on my "War Diary" and mining from it a whole case against a free front-line tribe, I repented just as much as I had to and pretended to see the light and reject my political mistakes. I became utterly exhausted from this balancing on a razor's edge, until I recognized that no one was being hauled in for a confrontation with me and distinguished the clear signs that the interrogation was drawing to an end .. . until, in the fourth month, all the notebooks of my "War Diary" were cast into the hellish maw of the Lubyanka furnace, where they burst into flame—the red pyre of one more novel which had perished in Russia—and flew out of the highest chimney in black butterflies of soot.

We used to walk in the shadow of that chimney, our exercise yard a boxlike concrete enclosure on the roof of the Big Lubyanka, six floors up. The walls rose around us to approximately three times a man's height. With our own ears we could hear Moscow—automobile horns honking back and forth. But all we could see was that chimney, the guard posted in a seventh-floor tower, and that segment of God's heaven whose unhappy fate it was to float over the Lubyanka.

Oh, that soot! It kept falling on and on in that first postwar May. So much of it fell during each of our walks that we decided the Lubyanka must be burning countless years of files. My doomed diary was only one momentary plume of that soot. I recalled a frosty sunny morning in March when I was sitting in the interrogator's office. He was asking his customary crude questions and writing down my answers, distorting my words as he did so. The sun played in the melting latticework of the frost on the wide window, through which at times I felt very much like jumping, so as to flash through Moscow at least in death and smash onto the sidewalk five floors below, just as, in my childhood, my unknown predecessor had jumped from House 33 in Rostov-on-the-Don. In the gaps where the frost had melted, the rooftops of Moscow could be seen, rooftop after rooftop, and above them merry little puffs of smoke. But I was staring not in that direction but at a mound of piled-up manuscripts—someone else's—covering the entire center of the floor in this half-empty room, thirty-six square yards in area, manuscripts which had been dumped there a little while before and had not yet been examined. In notebooks, in file folders, in homemade binders, in tied and untied bundles, and simply in loose pages. The manuscripts lay there like the burial mound of some interred human spirit, its conical top rearing higher than the interrogator's desk, almost blocking me from his view. And brotherly pity ached in me for the labor of that unknown person who had been arrested the previous night, these spoils from the search of his premises having been dumped that very morning on the parquet floor of the torture chamber, at the feet of that thirteen-foot Stalin. I sat there and I wondered: Whose extraordinary life had they brought in for torment, for dismemberment, and then for burning?

Oh, how many ideas and works had perished in that building—a whole lost culture? Oh, soot, soot, from the Lubyanka chimneys! And the most hurtful thing of all was that our descendants would consider our generation more stupid, less gifted, less vocal than in actual fact it was.

One needs to have only two points in order to draw a straight line between them.

In 1920, as Ehrenburg recalls, the Cheka addressed him as follows:

"You prove to us that you are not Wrangel's agent."

And in 1950, one of the leading colonels of the MGB, Foma Fomich Zheleznov, said to his prisoners: "We are not going to sweat to prove the prisoner's guilt to him. Let him prove to us that he did not have hostile intent."

And along this cannibalistically artless straight line lie the recollections of countless millions.

What a speed-up and simplification of criminal investigation previously unknown to mankind! The Organs altogether freed themselves of the burden of obtaining proof! Trembling and pale, the rabbit who had been caught, deprived of the right to write anyone, phone anyone, bring anything with him from freedom, deprived too of sleep, food, paper, pencils, and even buttons, seated on a bare stool in the corner of an office, had to try to find out for himself and display to that loafer of an interrogator proof that he did not have hostile intentions. If he could not discover such proof (and where would he find it?), by that very failure he provided the interrogation with approximate proof of his guilt!

I knew of a case in which a certain old man who had been a prisoner in Germany managed nonetheless, sitting there on his bare stool and gesturing with his cold fingers, to prove to his monster of an interrogator that he did not betray his Motherland and even that he did not have any such intention! It was a scandal! And what happened? Did they free him? Of course not —after all, he told me about this in Butyrki and not on Tverskoi Boulevard in the middle of Moscow. At that point a second interrogator joined the first and they spent a quiet evening reminisc- ing with the old man. Then the two interrogators signed witnesses' affidavits stating that in the course of the evening the hungry, sleepy old man had engaged in anti-Soviet propaganda! Things were said innocently—but they weren't listened to innocently. The old man was then turned over to a third interrogator, who quashed the treason indictment and neatly nailed him with that very same tenner for Anti-Soviet Agitation during his interrogation.

Given that interrogations had ceased to be an attempt to get at the truth, for the interrogators in difficult cases they became a mere exercise of their duties as executioners and in easy cases simply a pastime and a basis for receiving a salary.

And easy cases always existed, even in the notorious year 1937. For example, Borodko was accused of having visited his parents in Poland sixteen years before without having a passport for foreign travel. (His papa and mama lived all of ten versts—six miles—-away, but the diplomats had signed away that part of Byelorussia to Poland, and in 1921 people had not yet gotten used to that fact and went back and forth as they pleased.) The interrogation took just an hour.

Question: Did you go there?
Answer: I did.
Question: How?
Answer: Horseback, of course.
Conclusion: Take ten years for KRD.

[KRD = Counter-Revolutionary Activity.]

But that sort of pace smells of the Stakhanovite movement, a movement which found no disciples among the bluecaps. According to the Code of Criminal Procedure every interrogation was supposed to take two months. And if it presented difficulties, one was allowed to ask the prosecutor for several continuations of a month apiece (which, of course, the prosecutors never refused). Thus it would have been stupid to risk one's health, not to take advantage of these postponements, and, speaking in factory terms, to raise one's work norms. Having worked with voice and fist in the initial assault week of every interrogation, and thereby expended one's will and character (as per Vyshinsky), the interrogators had a vital interest in dragging out the remainder of every case as long as possible. That way more old, subdued cases were on hand and fewer new ones. It was considered just indecent to complete a political interrogation in two months.

The state system itself suffered from its own lack of trust and from its rigidity. These interrogators were selected personnel, but they weren't trusted either. In all probability they, too, were required to check in on arriving and check out on leaving, and the prisoners were, of course, checked in and out when called for questioning. What else could the interrogators do to keep the bookkeepers' accounts straight? They would summon one of their defendants, sit him down in a corner, ask him some terrifying question—and then forget about him while they themselves sat for a long time reading the paper, writing an outline for a political indoctrination course or personal letters, or went off to visit one another, leaving guards to act as watchdogs in their place. Peacefully batting the breeze on the sofa with a colleague who had just dropped in, the interrogator would come to himself once in a while, look threateningly at the accused, and say:

"Now there's a rat! There's a real rat for you! Well, that's all right, we'll not be stingy about his nine grams!"

My interrogator also made frequent use of the telephone. For example, he used to phone home and tell his wife—with his sparkling eyes directed at me—that he was going to be working all night long so she mustn't expect him before morning. (My heart, of course, fell. That meant he would be working me over all night long!) But then he would immediately dial the phone number of his mistress and, in purring tones, make a date with her for the night. (So: I would be able to get some sleep! I felt relieved.)

Thus it was that the faultless system was moderated only by the shortcomings of those who carried it out.

Certain of the more curious interrogators used to enjoy using "empty" interrogations to broaden their knowledge of life. They might ask the accused prisoner about the front (about those very German tanks beneath which they never quite managed to find the time to throw themselves). Or perhaps about the customs of European countries and lands across the sea which the prisoner had visited: about the stores and the merchandise sold in them, and particularly about procedures in foreign whorehouses and about all kinds of adventures with women.

The Code of Criminal Procedure provided that the prosecutor was to review continuously the course of every interrogation to ensure its being conducted correctly. But no one in our time ever saw him face to face until the so-called "questioning by the prosecutor," which meant the interrogation was nearing its end. I, too, was taken to such a "questioning." Lieutenant Colonel Kotov, a calm, well-nourished, impersonal blond man, who was neither nasty nor nice but essentially a cipher, sat behind his desk and, yawning, examined for the first time the file on my case. He spent fifteen minutes acquainting himself with it while I watched. (Since this "questioning" was quite unavoidable and since it was also recorded, there would have been no sense at all in his studying the file at some earlier, unrecorded time and then having had to remember details of the case for a certain number of hours.) Finally, he raised his indifferent eyes to stare at the wall and asked lazily what I wanted to add to my testimony.

He was required by law to ask what complaints I had about the conduct of the interrogation and whether coercion had been used or any violations of my legal rights had occurred. But it had been a long time since prosecutors asked such questions. And what if they had? After all, the existence of that entire Ministry building with its thousands of rooms, and of all five thousand of the Ministry's other interrogation buildings, railroad cars, caves, and dugouts scattered throughout the Soviet Union, was based on violations of legal rights. And it certainly wasn't up to Lieutenant Colonel Kotov and me to reverse that whole process.

Anyway, all the prosecutors of any rank at all held their positions with the approval of that very same State Security which . . . they were supposed to check up on.

His own wilted state, his lack of combativeness, and his fatigue from all those endless stupid cases were somehow transmitted to me. So I didn't raise questions of truth with him. I requested only that one too obvious stupidity be corrected: two of us had been indicted in the same case, but our interrogations were conducted in different places—mine in Moscow and my friend's at the front. Therefore I was processed singly, yet charged under Section 11—in other words, as a group, an organization. As persuasively as possible, I requested him to cancel this additional charge under Section 11.

He leafed through the case for another five minutes, sighed, spread out his hands, and said:

"What's there to say? One person is a person and two persons are ... people."

But one person and a half—is that an organization?

And he pushed the button for them to come and take me away. Soon after that, late one evening in late May, in that same office with a sculptured bronze clock on the marble mantel, my interrogator summoned me for a "206" procedure. This was, in accordance with the provisions of the Code of Criminal Procedure, the defendant's review of the case before his final signature. Not doubting for one moment that I would sign, the interrogator was already seated, writing the conclusion of the indictment.

I opened the cover of the thick file, and there, on the inside of the cover in printed text, I read an astonishing statement. It turned out that during the interrogation I had had the right to make written complaints against anything improper in its conduct, and that the interrogator was obliged to staple these complaints into my record! During the interrogation! Not at its end.

Alas, not one of the thousands with whom I was later imprisoned had been aware of this right.

I turned more pages. I saw photocopies of my own letters and a totally distorted interpretation of their meaning by unknown commentators (like Captain Libin). I saw the hyperbolized lie in which Captain Yezepov had wrapped up my careful testimony. And, last but not least, I saw the idiocy whereby I, one individual, was accused as a "group"!

"I won't sign," I said, without much firmness. "You conducted the interrogation improperly."

"All right then, let's begin it all over again!" Maliciously he compressed his lips. "We'll send you off to the place where we keep the Polizei."

He even stretched out his hand as though to take the file away from me. (At that point I held onto it.)

Somewhere outside the fifth-floor windows of the Lubyanka, the golden sunset sun glowed. Somewhere it was May. The office windows, like all the windows facing outward, were tightly closed and had not yet been unsealed after the winter—so that fresh air and the fragrance of things in bloom should not creep into those hidden rooms. The bronze clock on the mantel, from which the last rays of the sun had disappeared, quietly chimed.

Begin all over again? It seemed to me it would be easier to die than to begin all over again. Ahead of me loomed at least some kind of life. (If I had only known what kind!) And then what about that place where they kept the Polizei? And, in general, it was a bad idea to make him angry. It would influence the tone in which he phrased the conclusion of the indictment.

And so I signed. I signed it complete with Section 11, the significance of which I did not then know. They told me only that it would not add to my prison term. But because of that Section 11 I was later put into a hard-labor camp. Because of that Section 11 I was sent, even after "liberation," and without any additional sentence, into eternal exile.

Maybe it was all for the best. Without both those experiences, I would not have written this book.

My interrogator had used no methods on me other than sleeplessness, lies, and threats—all completely legal. Therefore, in the course of the "206" procedure, he didn't have to shove at me—as did interrogators who had made a mess of things and wanted to play safe—a document on nondisclosure for me to sign: that I, the undersigned, under pain of criminal penalty, swore never to tell anyone about the methods used in conducting my interrogation. (No one knows, incidentally, what article of the Code this comes under.)

In several of the provincial administrations of the NKVD this measure was carried out in sequence: the typed statement on nondisclosure was shoved at a prisoner along with the verdict of the OSO. And later a similar document was shoved at prisoners being released from camp, whereby they guaranteed never to disclose to anyone the state of affairs in camp.

And so? Our habit of obedience, our bent (or broken) backbone, did not suffer us either to reject this gangster method of burying loose ends or even to be enraged by it.

We have lost the measure of freedom. We have no means of determining where it begins and where it ends. We are an Asiatic people. On and on and on they go, taking from us those endless pledges of nondisclosure—everyone not too lazy to ask for them.

By now we are even unsure whether we have the right to talk about the events of our own lives.

Chapter 4
The Bluecaps

Throughout the grinding of our souls in the gears of the great Nighttime Institution, when our souls are pulverized and our flesh hangs down in tatters like a beggar's rags, we suffer too much and are too immersed in our own pain to rivet with penetrating and far-seeing gaze those pale night executioners who torture us. A surfeit of inner grief floods our eyes.

Otherwise what historians of our torturers we would be! For it is certain they will never describe themselves as they actually are. But alas! Every former prisoner remembers his own interrogation in detail, how they squeezed him, and what foulness they squeezed out of him —but often he does not even remember their names, let alone think about them as human beings. So it is with me. I can recall much more—and much more that's interesting—about any one of my cellmates than I can about Captain of State Security Yezepov, with whom I spent no little time face to face, the two of us alone in his office.

There is one thing, however, which remains with us all as an accurate, generalized recollection: foul rot—a space totally infected with putrefaction. And even when, decades later, we are long past fits of anger or outrage, in our own quieted hearts we retain this firm impression of low, malicious, impious, and, possibly, muddled people.

There is an interesting story about Alexander II, the Tsar surrounded by revolutionaries, who were to make seven attempts on his life. He once visited the House of Preliminary Detention on Shpalernaya—the uncle of the Big House—where he ordered them to lock him up in solitary-confinement cell No. 227. He stayed in it for more than an hour, attempting thereby to sense the state of mind of those he had imprisoned there.

One cannot but admit that for a monarch this was evidence of moral aspiration, to feel the need and make the effort to take a spiritual view of the matter.

But it is impossible to picture any of our interrogators, right up to Abakumov and Beria, wanting to slip into a prisoner's skin even for one hour, or feeling compelled to sit and meditate in solitary confinement.

Their branch of service does not require them to be educated people of broad culture and broad views—and they are not. Their branch of service does not require them to think logically—and they do not. Their branch of service requires only that they carry out orders exactly and be impervious to suffering—and that is what they do and what they are. We who have passed through their hands feel suffocated when we think of that legion, which is stripped bare of universal human ideals.

Although others might not be aware of it, it was clear to the interrogators at least that the cases were fabricated. Except at staff conferences, they could not seriously say to one another or to themselves that they were exposing criminals. Nonetheless they kept right on producing depositions page after page to make sure that we rotted. So the essence of it all turns out to be the credo of the blatnye—the underworld of Russian thieves: "You today; me tomorrow."

They understood that the cases were fabricated, yet they kept on working year after year. How could they? Either they forced themselves not to think (and this in itself means the ruin of a human being), and simply accepted that this was the way it had to be and that the person who gave them their orders was always right. . .

But didn't the Nazis, too, it comes to mind, argue that same way?

[There is no way of sidestepping this comparison: both the years and the methods coincide too closely. And the comparison occurred even more naturally to those who had passed through the hands of both the Gestapo and the MGB. One of these was Yevgeny Ivanovich Divnich, an emigre and preacher of Orthodox Christianity. The Gestapo accused him of Communist activities among Russian workers in Germany, and the MGB charged him with having ties to the international bourgeoisie. Divnich's verdict was unfavorable to the MGB. He was tortured by both, but the Gestapo was nonetheless trying to get at the truth, and when the accusation did not hold up, Divnich was released. The MGB wasn't interested in the truth and had no intention of letting anyone out of its grip once he was arrested.]

Or else it was a matter of the Progressive Doctrine, the granite ideology. An interrogator in awful Orotukan—sent there to the Kolyma in 1938 as a penalty assignment—was so touched when M. Lurye, former director of the Krivoi Rog Industrial Complex, readily agreed to sign an indictment which meant a second camp term that he used the time they had thus saved to say: "You think we get any satisfaction from using persuasion?

[An affectionate term for torture.]

We have to do what the Party demands of us. You are an old Party member. Tell me what would you do in my place?" Apparently Lurye nearly agreed with him, and it may have been the fact that he had already been thinking in some such terms that led him to sign so readily. It is after all a convincing argument.

But most often it was merely a matter of cynicism. The bluecaps understood the workings of the meat grinder and loved it. In the Dzhida camps in 1944, interrogator Mironenko said to the condemned Babich with pride in his faultless logic: "Interrogation and trial are merely judicial corroboration. They cannot alter your fate, which was previously decided. If it is necessary to shoot you, then you will be shot even if you are altogether innocent. If it is necessary to acquit you, then no matter how guilty you are you will be cleared and acquitted."

[This evidently refers to their own people.]

Kushnaryev, Chief of the First Investigation Department of the West Kazakhstan Provincial State Security Administration, laid it on the line in just that way to Adolf Tsivilko. "After all, we're not going to let you out if you're a Leningrader!" (In other words, a Communist Party member with seniority.)

"Just give us a person—and we'll create the case!" That was what many of them said jokingly, and it was their slogan. What we think of as torture they think of as good work. The wife of the interrogator Nikolai Grabishchenko (the Volga Canal Project) said touchingly to her neighbors: "Kolya is a very good worker. One of them didn't confess for a long time—and they gave him to Kolya. Kolya talked with him for one night and he confessed."

What prompted them all to slip into harness and pursue so zealously not truth but totals of the processed and condemned? Because it was most comfortable for them not to be different from the others. And because these totals meant an easy life, supplementary pay, awards and decorations, promotions in rank, and the expansion and prosperity of the Organs themselves. If they ran up high totals, they could loaf when they felt like it, or do poor work or go out and enjoy themselves at night. And that is just what they did. Low totals led to their being kicked out, to the loss of their feedbag. For Stalin could never be convinced that in any district, or city, or military unit, he might suddenly cease to have enemies.

That was why they felt no mercy, but, instead, an explosion of resentment and rage toward those maliciously stubborn prisoners who opposed being fitted into the totals, who would not capitulate to sleeplessness or the punishment cell or hunger. By refusing to confess they menaced the interrogator's personal standing. It was as though they wanted to bring him down. In such circumstances all measures were justified! If it's to be war, then war it will be! We'll ram the tube down your throat—swallow that salt water!

Excluded by the nature of their work and by deliberate choice from the higher sphere of human existence, the servitors of the Blue Institution lived in their lower sphere with all the greater intensity and avidity. And there they were possessed and directed by the two strongest instincts of the lower sphere, other than hunger and sex: greed for power and greed for gain. (Particularly for power. In recent decades it has turned out to be more important than money.)

Power is a poison well known for thousands of years. If only no one were ever to acquire material power over others! But to the human being who has faith in some force that holds dominion over all of us, and who is therefore conscious of his own limitations, power is not necessarily fatal. For those, however, who are unaware of any higher sphere, it is a deadly poison. For them there is no antidote.

Remember what Tolstoi said about power? Ivan Ilyich had accepted an official position which gave him authority to destroy any person he wanted to! All without exception were in his hands, and anyone, even the most important, could be brought before him as an accused. (And that is just where our blueboys are! There is nothing to add to the description.) The consciousness of this power (and "the possibilities of using it mercifully"—so Tolstoi qualifies the situation, but this does not in any way apply to our boys) constituted for Ivan Ilyich the chief interest and attraction of the service.

But attraction is not the right word—it is intoxication! After all, it is intoxicating. You are still young—still, shall we say parenthetically, a sniveling youth. Only a little while ago your parents were deeply concerned about you and didn't know where to turn to launch you in life. You were such a fool you didn't even want to study, but you got through three years of that school—and then how you took off and flew! How your situation changed! How your gestures changed, your glance, the turn of your head! The learned council of the scientific institute is in session. You enter and every-one notices you and trembles. You don't take the chairman's chair. Those headaches are for the rector to take on. You sit off to one side, but everyone understands that you are head man there. You are the Special Department. And you can sit there for just five minutes and then leave. You have that advantage over the professors. You can be called away by more important business—but later on, when you're considering their decision, you will raise your eyebrows or, better still, purse your lips and say to the rector:

"You can't do that. There are special considerations involved."

That's all! And it won't be done. Or else you are an osobist—a State Security representative in the army—a SMERSH man, and a mere lieutenant; but the portly old colonel, the commander of the unit, stands up when you enter the room and tries to flatter you, to play up to you. He doesn't even have a drink with his chief of staff without inviting you to join them. The fact that you have only two tiny stars on your shoulder boards doesn't mean a thing; it is even amusing. After all, your stars have a very different weight and are measured on a totally different scale from those of ordinary officers. (On special assignments you are sometimes even authorized to wear major's insignia, for example, which is a sort of incognito, a convention.) You have a power over all the people in that military unit, or factory, or district, incomparably greater than that of the military commander, or factory director, or secretary of the district Communist Party. These men control people's military or official duties, wages, reputations, but you control people's freedom. And no one dares speak about you at meetings, and no one will ever dare write about you in the newspaper—not only something bad but anything good! They don't dare. Your name, like that of a jealously guarded deity, cannot even be mentioned. You are there; everyone feels your presence; but it's as though you didn't exist. From the moment you don that heavenly blue service cap, you stand higher than the publicly acknowledged power. No one dares check up on what you do. But no one is exempt from your checking up on him. And therefore, in dealing with ordinary so-called citizens, who for you are mere blocks of wood, it is altogether appropriate for you to wear an ambiguous and deeply thoughtful expression. For, of course, you are the one—and no one else—who knows about the special considerations. And therefore you are always right.

There is just one thing you must never forget. You, too, would have been just such a poor block of wood if you had not had the luck to become one of the little links in the Organs—that flexible, unitary organism inhabiting a nation as a tapeworm inhabits a human body. Everything is yours now! Everything is for you! Just be true to the Organs! They will always stand up for you! They will help you swallow up anyone who bothers you! They will help move every obstacle from your path! But—be true to the Organs! Do everything they order you to! They will do the thinking for you in respect to your functions too: today you serve in a special unit; tomorrow you will sit in an interrogator's armchair; and then perhaps you will travel to Lake Seliger as a folklorist, partly, it may be, to get your nerves straightened out.

[Ilin in 1931.]

And next you may be sent from a city where you are too well known to the opposite end of the country as a Plenipotentiary in Charge of Church Affairs.

[The violent Yaroslavl interrogator Volkopyalov, appointed Plenipotentiary in Charge of Church Affairs in Moldavia.]

Or perhaps you will become Executive Secretary of the Union of Soviet Writers.

[Another Ilin—this one Viktor Nikolayevich, a former lieutenant general of State Security.]

Be surprised at nothing. People's true appointments and true ranks are known only to the Organs. The rest is merely play-acting. Some Honored Artist or other, or Hero of Socialist Agriculture, is here today, and tomorrow, puff! he's gone.

["Who are you?" asked General Serov in Berlin of the world-renowned biologist Timofeyev-Ressovsky, offensively using the familiar form of address. And the scientist, who was undismayed and who possessed a Cossack's hereditary daring, replied, using the same familiar form: "And who are you?" Serov corrected himself and, this time using the formal and correct form, asked: "Are you a scientist?"]

The duties of an interrogator require work, of course: you have to come in during the day, at night, sit for hours and hours—but not split your skull over "proof." (Let the prisoner's head ache over that.) And you don't have to worry whether the prisoner is guilty or not but simply do what the Organs require. And everything will be all right. It will be up to you to make the interrogation periods pass as pleasurably as possible and not to get overly fatigued. And it would be nice to get some good out of it—at least to amuse yourself. You have been sitting a long time, and all of a sudden a new method of persuasion occurs to you! Eureka! So you call up your friends on the phone, and you go around to other offices and tell them about it—what a laugh! Who shall we try it on, boys? It's really pretty monotonous to keep doing the same thing all the time. Those trembling hands, those imploring eyes, that cowardly submissiveness—they are really a bore. If you could just get one of them to resist! "I love strong opponents! It's such fun to break their backs!" said the Leningrad interrogator Shitov to G. G------v.

And if your opponent is so strong that he refuses to give in, all your methods have failed, and you are in a rage? Then don't control your fury! It's tremendously satisfying, that outburst! Let your anger have its way; don't set any bounds to it! Don't hold yourself back! That's when interrogators spit in the open mouth of the accused! And shove his face into a full cuspidor!

[As happened with Vasilyev, according to Ivanov-Razumnik.]

That's the state of mind in which they drag priests around by their long hair! Or urinate in a kneeling prisoner's face! After such a storm of fury you feel yourself a real honest-to-God man!

Or else you are interrogating a "foreigner's girl friend." So you curse her out and then you say: "Come on now, does an American have a special kind of ——? Is that it? Weren't there enough Russian ones for you?" And all of a sudden you get an idea: maybe she learned something from those foreigners. Here's a chance not to be missed, like an assignment abroad! And so you begin to interrogate her energetically: How? What positions? More! In detail! Every scrap of information! (You can use the information yourself, and you can tell the other boys too!) The girl is blushing all over and in tears. "It doesn't have anything to do with the case," she protests. "Yes, it does, speak up!" That's power for you! She gives you the full details. If you want, she'll draw a picture for you. If you want, she'll demonstrate with her body. She has no way out. In your hands you hold the punish- ment cell and her prison term.

And if you have asked for a stenographer to take down the questions and answers, and they send in a pretty one, you can shove your paw down into her bosom right in front of the boy being interrogated.

[Interrogator Pokhilko, Kemerovo State Security Administration.]

He's not a human being after all, and there is no reason to feel shy in his presence.

In fact, there's no reason for you to feel shy with anyone. And if you like the broads—and who doesn't?—you'd be a fool not to make use of your position. Some will be drawn to you because of your power, and others will give in out of fear. So you've met a girl somewhere and she's caught your eye? She'll belong to you, never fear; she can't get away! Someone else's wife has caught your eye? She'll be yours too! Because, after all, there's no prob- lem about removing the husband.

[For a long time I've been hanging on to a theme for a story to be called "The Spoiled Wife." But it looks as though I will never get the chance to write it, so here it is. In a certain Far Eastern aviation unit before the Korean War, a certain lieutenant colonel returned from an assignment to find his wife in a hospital. The doctors did not hide the truth from him: her sexual organs had been injured by perverted sexual practices. The lieutenant colonel got in to see his wife and wrung from her the admission that the man responsible was the osobist in their unit, a senior lieutenant. (It would seem, by the way, that this incident had not occurred without some cooperation on her part.) In a rage the lieutenant colonel ran to the osobist's office, took out his pistol, and threatened to kill him. But the senior lieutenant very quickly forced him to back down and leave the office defeated and pitiful. He threatened to send the lieutenant colonel to rot in the most horrible of camps, where he'd pray to be released from life without further torment, and he ordered him to take his wife back just as he found her—with an injury that was to some extent incurable— and to live with her, not to dare get a divorce, and not to dare complain. And all this was the price for not being arrested! The lieutenant colonel did just as he was ordered. (I was told the story by the osobist's chauffeur.)

There must have been many such cases, because the abuse of power was par- ticularly attractive in this area. In 1944, another gaybist—State Security officer —forced the daughter of an army general to marry him by threatening to arrest her father. The girl had a fiance, but to save her father she married the gaybist. She kept a diary during her brief marriage, gave it to her true love, and then committed suicide.]

No, indeed! To know what it meant to be a bluecap one had to experience it! Anything you saw was yours! Any apartment you looked at was yours! Any woman was yours! Any enemy was struck from your path! The earth beneath your feet was yours! The heaven above you was yours—it was, after all, like your cap, sky blue!

The passion for gain was their universal passion. After all, in the absence of any checking up, such power was inevitably used for personal enrichment. One would have had to be holy to refrain!

If we were able to discover the hidden motivation behind in- dividual arrests, we would be astounded to find that, granted the rules governing arrests in general, 75 percent of the time the particular choice of whom to arrest, the personal cast of the die, was determined by human greed and vengefulness; and of that 75 percent, half were the result of material self-interest on the part of the local NKVD (and, of course, the prosecutor too, for on this point I do not distinguish between them).

How, for example, did V. G. Vlasov's nineteen-year-long journey through the Archipelago begin? As head of the District Consumer Cooperatives he arranged a sale of textiles for the activists of the local Party organization. (These materials were of a sort and quality which no one nowadays would even touch.) No one was bothered, of course, by the fact that this sale was not open to the general public. But the prosecutor's wife was unable to buy any: She wasn't there at the time; Prosecutor Rusov him- self had been shy about approaching the counter; and Vlasov hadn't thought to say: "I'll set some aside for you." (In fact, given his character, he would never have said this anyway.) Further- more, Prosecutor Rusov had invited a friend to dine in the re- stricted Party dining room—such restricted dining rooms used to exist in the thirties. This friend of his was not high enough in rank to be admitted there, and the dining room manager refused to serve him. The prosecutor demanded that Vlasov punish the man- ager, and Vlasov refused. Vlasov also managed to insult the dis- trict NKVD, and just as painfully. And he was therefore added to the rightist opposition.

The motivations and actions of the bluecaps are sometimes so petty that one can only be astounded. Security officer Senchenko took a map case and dispatch case from an officer he'd arrested and started to use them right in his presence, and, by manipu- lating the documentation, he took a pair of foreign gloves from another prisoner. (When the armies were advancing, the bluecaps were especially irritated because they got only second pick of the booty.) The counterintelligence officer of the Forty-ninth Army who arrested me had a yen for my cigarette case—and it wasn't even a cigarette case but a small German Army box, of a tempting scarlet, however. And because of that piece of shit he carried out a whole maneuver: As his first step, he omitted it from the list of belongings that were confiscated from me. ("You can keep it.") He thereupon ordered me to be searched again, knowing all the time that it was all I had in my pockets. "Aha! what's that? Take it away!" And to prevent my protests: "Put him in the punish- ment cell!" (What Tsarist gendarme would have dared behave that way toward a defender of the Fatherland?)

Every interrogator was given an allowance of a certain number of cigarettes to encourage those willing to confess and to reward stool pigeons. Some of them kept all the cigarettes for themselves.

Even in accounting for hours spent in interrogating, they used to cheat. They got higher pay for night work. And we used to note the way they wrote down more hours on the night interroga- tions than they really spent.

Interrogator Fyodorov (Reshety Station, P. O. Box No. 235) stole a wristwatch while searching the apartment of the free person Korzukhin. During the Leningrad blockade Interrogator Nikolai Fyodorovich Kruzhkov told Yelizaveta Viktorovna Strakhovich, wife of the prisoner he was interrogating, K. I. Strakhovich: "I want a quilt. Bring it to me!" When she replied: "All our warm things are in the room they've sealed," he went to her apart- ment and, without breaking the State Security seal on the lock, unscrewed the entire doorknob. "That's how the MGB works," he explained gaily. And he went in and began to collect the warm things, shoving some crystal in his pocket at the same time. She herself tried to get whatever she could out of the room, but he stopped her. "That's enough for you!"—and he kept on raking in the booty.

[In 1954, although her husband, who had forgiven them everything, in- cluding a death sentence that had been commuted, kept trying to persuade her not to pursue the matter, this energetic and implacable woman testified against Kruzhkov at a trial. Because this was not Kruzhkov's first offense, and because the interests of the Organs had been violated, he was given a twenty-five-year sentence. Has he really been in the jug that long?]

There's no end to such cases. One could issue a thousand "White Papers" (and beginning in 1918 too). One would need only to question systematically former prisoners and their wives. Maybe there are and were bluecaps who never stole anything or appropriated anything for themselves—but I find it impossible to imagine one. I simply do not understand: given the bluecaps' philosophy of life, what was there to restrain them if they liked some particular thing? Way back at the beginning of the thirties, when all of us were marching around in the German uniforms of the Red Youth Front and were building the First Five-Year Plan, they were spending their evenings in salons like the one in the apartment of Konkordiya losse, behaving like members of the nobility or Westerners, and their lady friends were showing off their foreign clothes. Where were they getting those clothes?

Here are their family names—and one might almost think they were hired because of those names. For example, in the Kemerovo Provincial State Security Administration, there were: a prosecutor named Trutnev, "drone"; a chief of the interroga- tion section Major Shkurkin, "self-server"; his deputy, Lieutenant Colonel Balandin, "soupy"; and an interrogator Skorokhvatov, "quick-grabber." When all is said and done, one could not invent names more appropriate. And they were all right there together! (I need hardly bother to mention again Volkopyalov—"wolf- skin-stretcher"—or Grabishchenko—"plunderer.") Are we to assume that nothing at all is expressed in people's family names and such a concentration of them?

Again the prisoner's faulty memory. I. Korneyev has forgotten the name of the colonel of State Security who was also Kon- kordiya Iosse's friend (they both knew her, it turned out), who was in the Vladimir Detention Prison at the same time as Korneyev. This colonel was a living embodiment of the instincts for power and personal gain. At the beginning of 1945, during the height of the "war booty" period, he got himself assigned to that section of the Organs, headed by Abakumov himself, which was supposed to keep watch over the plundering—in other words, they tried to grab off as much as possible for themselves, not for the state. (And succeeded brilliantly.) Our hero pulled in whole freight car loads and built several dachas, one of them in Klin. After the war he operated on such a scale that when he arrived at the Novosibirsk Station he ordered all the customers chased out of the station restaurant and had girls and women rounded up and forced to dance naked on the tables to entertain him and his drinking companions. He would have gotten away with this too, but he violated another important rule. Like Kruzh- kov, he went against his own kind. Kruzhkov deceived the Organs. And this colonel did perhaps even worse. He laid bets on which wives he could seduce, and not just ordinary wives, but the wives of his colleagues in the Security police. And he was not forgiven! He was sentenced to a political prison under Article 58, and was serving out his time fuming at their having dared to arrest him. He had no doubt they would change their minds. (And perhaps they did.)

That dread fate—to be thrown into prison themselves—was not such a rarity for the bluecaps. There was no genuine insur- ance against it. But somehow these men were slow to sense the les- sons of the past. Once again this was probably due to their hav- ing no higher powers of reason; their low-grade intellect would tell them: It happens only rarely; very few get caught; it may pass me by; my friends won't let me down.

Friends, as a matter of fact, did try not to leave their friends in a bad spot. They had their own unspoken understanding: at least to arrange favorable conditions for friends. (This was the case, for example, with Colonel I. Y. Vorobyev in the Marfino Special Prison, and with the same V. N. Ilin who was in the Lubyanka for more than eight years.) Thanks to this caste spirit, those arrested singly, as a result of only personal shortcomings, usually did not do too badly. And that was how they were able to justify their sense of immunity from punishment in their day- to-day work in the service. But there were several known cases when camp Security officers were tossed into ordinary camps to serve out their sentences. There were even instances when as prisoners they ran into zeks who had once been under their thumb and came off badly in the encounter. For example, Security of- ficer Munshin, who cherished a particularly violent hatred toward the 58's in camp and had relied heavily on the support of the blatnye, the habitual thieves, was driven right under the board bunks by those very same thieves. However, we have no way to learn more details about these cases in order to be able to explain them.

But those gaybisty—the State Security officers—who got caught in a wave were in very serious danger. (They had their own waves!) A wave is a natural catastrophe and is even more power- ful than the Organs themselves. In this situation, no one was going to help anyone else lest he be drawn into the same abyss him- self.

The possibility did exist, however, if you were well informed and had a sharp Chekist sensitivity, of getting yourself out from under the avalanche, even at the last minute, by proving that you had no connection with it. Thus it was that Captain Sayenko (not the Kharkov Chekist carpenter of 1918-1919, who was famous for executing prisoners with his pistol, punching holes in bodies with his saber, breaking shinbones in two, flattening heads with weights, and branding people with hot irons, but, perhaps, a rel- ative) was weak enough to marry for love an ex-employee of the Chinese Eastern Railroad named Kokhanskaya. And suddenly he found out, right at the beginning of the wave, that all the Chinese Eastern Railroad people were going to be arrested. At this time he was head of the Security Operations Department of the Arch- angel GPU. He acted without losing a moment. How? He arrested his own beloved wife! And not on the basis of her being one of the Chinese Eastern Railroad people—but on the basis of a case he himself cooked up. Not only did he save himself, but he moved up and became the Chief of the Tomsk Province NKVD.

[This, too, is a theme for a story—and how many more there are in this field! Maybe someone will make use of them someday.]

The waves were generated by the Organs' hidden law of self- renewal—a small periodic ritual sacrifice so that the rest could take on the appearance of being purified. The Organs had to change personnel faster than the normal rate of human growth and aging would ensure. Driven by that same implacable urgency that forces the sturgeon to swim upriver and perish in the shallows, to be replaced by schools of small fry, a certain number of "schools" of gaybisty had to sacrifice themselves. This law was easily apparent to a higher intelligence, but the bluecaps them- selves did not want to accept the fact of its existence and make provision for it. Yet, at the hour appointed in their stars, the kings of the Organs, the aces of the Organs, and even the minis- ters themselves laid their heads down beneath their own guil- lotine.

Yagoda took one such school of fish along with him. No doubt many of those whose glorious names we shall come to admire when we come to the White Sea Canal were taken in this school and their names thenceforward expunged from the poetic eulogies.

Very shortly, a second school accompanied the short-lived Yezhov. Some of the finest cavaliers of 1937 vanished in this one. (Yet one ought not to exaggerate their number. It did not by any means include all the best.) Yezhov himself was beaten during his interrogation. He was pitiful. And Gulag was orphaned dur- ing this wave of arrests. For example, arrested with Yezhov were the Chief of the Financial Administration of Gulag, the Chief of the Medical Administration of Gulag, the Chief of the Guard Service of Gulag (VOKhR), [VOKhR: Militarized Guard Service, formerly the Internal Guard Service of the Republic. ] and even the Chief of the Security Operations Department of Gulag, who oversaw the work of the camp "godfathers."

And later there was the school of Beria.

The corpulent, conceited Abakumov had fallen earlier, sepa- rately.

Someday—if the archives are not destroyed—the historians of the Organs will recount all this step by step, with all the figures and all the glittering names.

Therefore, I am going to write only briefly about Ryumin and Abakumov, a story I learned only by chance. I will not repeat what I have already written about them in The First Circle.

Ryumin had been raised to the heights by Abakumov and was very close to him. At the end of 1952, he came to Abakumov with the sensational report that Professor Etinger, a physician, had confessed to intentional malpractice when treating Zhdanov and Shcherbakov, with the purpose of killing them. Abakumov re- fused to believe him. He knew the whole cookery and decided Ryumin was getting too big for his britches. (But Ryumin had a better idea of what Stalin wanted!) To verify the story, they arranged to cross-question Etinger that very evening. But each of them drew different conclusions from his testimony. Abakumov concluded that there was no such thing as a "doctors' case." And Ryumin concluded that there was. A second attempt at verifica- tion was to take place the following morning, but, thanks to the miraculous attributes of the Nighttime Institution, Etinger died that very night! In the morning, Ryumin, bypassing Abakumov and without his knowledge, telephoned the Central Committee and asked for an appointment with Stalin! (My own opinion, however, is that this was not his most decisive step. Ryumin's decisive action, following which his life hung in the balance, was in not going along with Abakumov earlier. And perhaps in hav- ing Etinger killed that same night. Who knows the secrets of those courtyards! Had Ryumin's contact with Stalin begun earlier perhaps?) Stalin received Ryumin, set in motion the "doctors' case" and arrested Abakumov. From that point on it would seem that Ryumin conducted the "doctors' case" independently of and even despite Beria! There were signs before Stalin's death that Beria was in danger—and perhaps it was he who arranged to have Stalin done away with. One of the first acts of the new government was to dismiss the "doctors' case." At that time Ryumin was arrested (while Beria was still in power), but Abakumov was not released! At the Lubyanka a new order of things was introduced. And for the first time in its entire existence a prosecutor crossed its threshold—D. Terekhov. Imprisoned, Ryumin was fidgety and subservient: "I am not guilty. I am here for no reason." He asked to be interrogated. As was his custom, he was sucking a hard candy at the time, and when Terekhov rebuked him for it, he spat it out on the palm of his hand. "Pardon me." As we have already reported, Abakumov roared with laugh- ter: "Hocus-pocus!" Terekhov showed him the document author- izing him to inspect the Internal Prison of the Ministry of State Security. Abakumov brushed it away: "You can forge five hun- dred of those!" As an organizational "patriot," he was principally offended not by being in prison but by this encroachment on the power of the Organs, which could not be subordinate to anything in the world! In July, 1953, Ryumin was tried in Moscow and shot. And Abakumov remained in prison! During one interroga- tion he said to Terekhov: "Your eyes are too beautiful. I am going to be sorry to have to shoot you! Leave my case alone. Leave it while you still have time."

[This is true. On the whole, D. Terekhov is a man of uncommon strength of will and courage (which were what was required in bringing the big Stalinists to justice in an uneasy situation). And he evidently has a lively mind as well. If Khrushchev's reforms had been more thoroughgoing and consistent, Tere- khov might have excelled in carrying them out. That is how historic leaders fail to materialize in our country.]

On another occasion Terekhov called him in and handed him the newspaper which carried the announcement of Beria's exposure. At the time this was virtually a cosmic upheaval. Abakumov read it and, with not so much as the twitch of an eyebrow, he turned the page and started to read the sports news! On another occasion, during an interrogation in the presence of a high-ranking gaybist who had, in the recent past, been his subordinate, Abakumov asked him: "How could you have permitted the investigation of the Beria case to be con- ducted by the prosecutor's office instead of by the MGB?" (Every- thing in his own domain kept nagging him.) He went on: "Do you really believe they are going to put me, the Minister of State Security, on trial?" The answer was "Yes." And he replied: "Then put on your top hat! The Organs are finished!" (He was, of course, too pessimistic, uneducated courier that he was.) But when he was in the Lubyanka, Abakumov was not afraid of being tried; he was afraid of being poisoned. (This, too, showed what a worthy son of the Organs he was!) He started to reject the prison food altogether and would eat only eggs that he bought from the prison store. (In this case, he simply lacked technical imagination. He thought one couldn't poison eggs.) The only books he borrowed from the well-stocked Lubyanka library were the works of, believe it or not, Stalin! (Who had imprisoned him.) But in all likelihood this was for show rather than the result of any calculation that Stalin's adherents would gain power. He spent two years in prison. Why didn't they release him? The question is not a na'ive one. In terms of his crimes against humanity, he was over his head in blood. But he was not the only one! And all the others came out of it safe and sound. There is some hidden secret here too: there is a vague rumor that in his time he had personally beaten Khrushchev's daughter-in-law Lyuba Sedykh, the wife of Khru- shchev's older son, who had been condemned to a punishment bat- talion in Stalin's time and who died as a result. And, so goes the rumor, this was why, having been imprisoned by Stalin, he was tried—in Leningrad—under Khrushchev and shot on December 18, 1954.

[Here is one more of his eccentricities as a VIP: he used to change into civilian clothes and walk around Moscow with Kuznetsov, the head of his bodyguard, and whenever he felt like it, he would hand out money from the Cheka operations funds. Does not this smell of Old Russia—charity for the sake of one's soul?]

But Abakumov had no real reason to be depressed: the Organs still didn't perish because of that. As the folk saying goes: If you speak for the wolf, speak against him as well. Where did this wolf-tribe appear from among our people?

Does it really stem from our own roots? Our own blood?

It is our own.

And just so we don't go around flaunting too proudly the white mantle of the just, let everyone ask himself: "If my life had turned out differently, might I myself not have become just such an ex- ecutioner?"

It is a dreadful question if one really answers it honestly.

I remember my third year at the university, in the fall of 1938. We young men of the Komsomol were summoned before the Dis- trict Komsomol Committee not once but twice. Scarcely bothering to ask our consent, they shoved an application form at us: You've had enough physics, mathematics, and chemistry; it's more im- portant to your country for you to enter the NKVD school. (That's the way it always is. It isn't just some person who needs you; it is always your Motherland. And it is always some official or other who speaks on behalf of your Motherland and who knows what she needs.)

One year before, the District Committee had conducted a drive among us to recruit candidates for the air force schools. We avoided getting involved that time too, because we didn't want to leave the university—but we didn't sidestep recruitment then as stubbornly as we did this time.

Twenty-five years later we could think: Well, yes, we under- stood the sort of arrests that were being made at the time, and the fact that they were torturing people in prisons, and the slime they were trying to drag us into. But it isn't true! After all, the Black Marias were going through the streets at night, and we were the same young people who were parading with banners during the day. How could we know anything about those arrests and why should we think about them? All the provincial leaders had been removed, but as far as we were concerned it didn't mat- ter. Two or three professors had been arrested, but after all they hadn't been our dancing partners, and it might even be easier to pass our exams as a result. Twenty-year-olds, we marched in the ranks of those born the year the Revolution took place, and because we were the same age as the Revolution, the brightest of futures lay ahead.

It would be hard to identify the exact source of that inner intuition, not founded on rational argument, which prompted our refusal to enter the NKVD schools. It certainly didn't derive from the lectures on historical materialism we listened to: it was clear from them that the struggle against the internal enemy was a crucial battlefront, and to share in it was an honorable task. Our decision even ran counter to our material interests: at that time the provincial university we attended could not promise us any- thing more than the chance to teach in a rural school in a remote area for miserly wages. The NKVD school dangled before us special rations and double or triple pay. Our feelings could not be put into words—and even if we had found the words, fear would have prevented our speaking them aloud to one another. It was not our minds that resisted but something inside our breasts. Peo- ple can shout at you from all sides: "You must!" And your own head can be saying also: "You must!" But inside your breast there is a sense of revulsion, repudiation. I don't want to. It makes me feel sick. Do what you want without me; I want no part of it.

This came from very far back, quite likely as far back as Lermontov, from those decades of Russian life when frankly and openly there was no worse and no more vile branch of the service for a decent person than that of the gendarmerie. No, it went back even further. Without even knowing it ourselves, we were ran- somed by the small change in copper that was left from the golden coins our great-grandfathers had expended, at a time when moral- ity was not considered relative and when the distinction between good and evil was very simply perceived by the heart.

Still, some of us were recruited at that time, and I think that if they had really put the pressure on, they could have broken everybody's resistance. So I would like to imagine: if, by the time war broke out, I had already been wearing an NKVD officer's insignia on my blue tabs, what would I have become? Nowadays, of course, I can console myself by saying that my heart wouldn't have stood it, that I would have objected and at some point slammed the door. But later, lying on a prison bunk, I began to look back over my actual career as an officer and I was horrified.

I did not move in one stride from being a student worn out by mathematics to officer's rank. Before becoming an officer I spent a half-year as a downtrodden soldier. And one might think I would have gotten through my thick skull what it was like always to obey people who were perhaps not worthy of your obedience and to do it on a hungry stomach to boot. Then for another half- year they tore me to pieces in officer candidate school. So I ought to have grasped, once and for all, the bitterness of service as a rank-and-file soldier and remembered how my hide froze and how it was flayed from my body. But did I? Not at all. For consolation, they pinned two little stars on my shoulder boards, and then a third, and then a fourth. And I forgot every bit of what it had been like!

Had I at least kept my student's love of freedom? But, you see, we had never had any such thing. Instead, we loved forming up, we loved marches.

I remember very well that right after officer candidate school I experienced the happiness of simplification, of being a military man and not having to think things through; the happiness of being immersed in the life everyone else lived, that was accepted in our military milieu; the happiness of forgetting some of the spiritual subtleties inculcated since childhood.

We were constantly hungry in that school and kept looking around to see where we could grab an extra bite, and we watched one another enviously to see who was the cleverest. But most of all we were afraid we wouldn't manage to stay in until the time came to graduate and receive our officer's insignia. (They sent those who failed to the battle for Stalingrad.) And they trained us like young beasts, so as to infuriate us to the point where we would later want to take it out on someone else. We never got enough sleep because after taps, as punishment, we might be forced to go through the drill alone under the eyes of a sergeant. Or the entire squad might be routed out at night and made to form up because of one uncleaned boot: there he is, the bastard, and he'll keep on cleaning it, and until he gets a shine on it you're all going to stay standing there.

In passionate anticipation of those insignia, we developed a tigerlike stride and a metallic voice of command.

Then the officer's stars were fastened on our tabs. And only one month later, forming up my battery in the rear, I ordered a careless soldier named Berbenyev to march up and down after taps under the eyes of my insubordinate Sergeant Metlin. (And do you know, I had forgotten all about it until now. I honestly forgot about it for years! Only now, seated in front of this sheet of paper, have I remembered.) Some elderly colonel, who was an inspector, happened to be there, and he called me in and put me to shame. And I (and this after I'd left the university!) tried to justify my action on the grounds that it was what we had been taught in school. In other words, I meant: What humane views can there be, given the fact that we are in the army?

(And the more so in the Organs.)

Pride grows in the human heart like lard on a pig.

I tossed out orders to my subordinates that I would not allow them to question, convinced that no orders could be wiser. Even at the front, where, one might have thought, death made equals of us all, my power soon convinced me that I was a superior human being. Seated there, I heard them out as they stood at attention. I interrupted them. I issued commands. I addressed fathers and grandfathers with the familiar, downgrading form of address— while they, of course, addressed me formally. I sent them out to repair wires under shellfire so that my superiors should not re- proach me. (Andreyashin died that way.) I ate my officer's ration of butter with rolls, without giving a thought as to why I had a right to it, and why the rank-and-file soldiers did not. I, of course, had a personal servant assigned to me—in polite terms, an "orderly"—whom I badgered one way or another and ordered to look after my person and prepare my meals separately from the soldiers'. (After all, the Lubyanka interrogators don't have order- lies—that's one thing you can't say about them.) I forced my soldiers to put their backs into it and dig me a special dugout at every new bivouac and to haul the heaviest beams to support it so that I should be as comfortable and safe as possible. And wait a minute, yes, my battery always had a guardhouse too. What kind of guardhouse could there be in the woods? It was a pit, of course, although a better one than those at the Gorokhovets division camps which I have described, because it had a roof and the man confined got a soldier's ration. Vyushkov was imprisoned there for losing his horse and Popkov for maltreating his carbine. Yes, just a moment, I can remember more. They sewed me a map case out of German hide—not human, but from a car seat. But I didn't have a strap for it, and I was unhappy about that. Then all of a sudden they saw some partisan commissar, from the local District Party Committee, wearing just the right kind of strap— and they took it away from him: we are the army; we have sen- iority! (Remember Senchenko, the Security officer, who stole a map case and a dispatch case?) Finally, I coveted that scarlet box, and I remember how they took it away and got it for me.

That's what shoulder boards do to a human being. And where have all the exhortations of grandmother, standing before an ikon, gone! And where the young Pioneer's daydreams of future sacred Equality!

And at the moment when my life was turned upside down and the SMERSH officers at the brigade command point tore off those cursed shoulder boards, and took my belt away and shoved me along to their automobile, I was pierced to the quick by worrying how, in my stripped and sorry state, I was going to make my way through the telephone operator's room. The rank and file must not see me in that condition!

The day after my arrest my march of penance began: the most recent "catch" was always sent from the army counterintelligence center to the counterintelligence headquarters of the front. They herded us on foot from Osterode to Brodnica.

When they led me out of the punishment cell, there were al- ready seven prisoners there in three and a half pairs standing with their backs to me. Six of them had on well-worn Russian Army overcoats which had been around for a long time, and on their backs had been painted, in indelible white paint, "SU," meaning "Soviet Union." I already knew that mark, having seen it more than once on the backs of our Russian POW's as they wandered sadly and guiltily toward the army that was approach- ing to free them. They had been freed, but there was no shared happiness in that liberation. Their compatriots glowered at them even more grimly than at the Germans. And as soon as they crossed the front lines, they were arrested and imprisoned.

The seventh prisoner was a German civilian in a black three- piece suit, a black overcoat, and black hat. He was over fifty, tall, well groomed, and his white face had been nurtured on gentleman's food.

I completed the fourth pair, and the Tatar sergeant, chief of the convoy, gestured to me to pick up my sealed suitcase, which stood off to one side: It contained my officer's equipment as well as all the papers which had been seized as evidence when I was arrested.

What did he mean, carry my suitcase? He, a sergeant, wanted me, an officer, to pick up my suitcase and carry it? A large, heavy object? Despite the new regulations? While beside me six men from the ranks would be marching empty-handed? And one representative of a conquered nation?

I did not express this whole complex set of ideas to the sergeant. I merely said: "I am an officer. Let the German carry it."

None of the prisoners turned around at my words: turning around was forbidden. Only my mate in the fourth pair, also an "SU," looked at me in astonishment. (When he had been cap- tured, our army wasn't yet like that.)

But the sergeant from counterintelligence was not surprised. Even though I was not, of course, an officer in his eyes, still his indoctrination and mine coincided. He summoned the innocent German and ordered him to carry the suitcase. It was just as well the latter had not understood our conversation.

The rest of us put our hands behind our backs. The former POW's did not have even one bag among them. They had left the Motherland with empty hands and that is exactly how they re- turned to her. So our column marched off, four pairs in file. We did not converse with our convoy. And it was absolutely forbid- den to talk among ourselves whether on the march, during a halt, or at overnight stops. As accused prisoners we were required to move as though separated by invisible partitions, as though suf- focated, each in his own solitary-confinement cell.

The early spring weather was changeable. At times a thin mist hung in the air, and even on the firm highway the liquid mud squelched dismally beneath our boots. At times the heavens cleared and the soft yellow sun, still uncertain of its talent, warmed the already thawing hillocks and showed us with perfect clarity the world we were about to leave. At times a hostile squall flew to the attack and tore from the black clouds a snow that was not really even white, which beat icily on faces and backs and feet, soaking through our overcoats and our footcloths.

Six backs ahead of me, six constant backs. There was more than enough time to examine and re-examine the crooked, hide- ous brands "SU" and the shiny black cloth on the German's back. There was more than enough time to reconsider my former life and to comprehend my present one. But I couldn't. I had been smashed on the head with an oak club—but I still didn't com- prehend.

Six backs! There was neither approval nor condemnation in their swing.

The German soon tired. He shifted the suitcase from hand to hand, grabbed at his heart, made signs to the convoy that he couldn't carry it any further. At that point his neighbor in the pair, a POW who only a little while before had experienced God knows what in German captivity (but, perhaps, mercy too), took the suitcase of his own free will and carried it.

After that the other POW's carried it in turn, also without being ordered to; and then the German again.

All but me.

And no one said a word to me.

At one point we met a long string of empty carts. The drivers studied us with interest, and some of them jumped up to full height on top of the carts and stared. I understood very quickly that their stares and their malice were directed toward me. I was very sharply set off from the others: my coat was new, long, and cut to fit my figure snugly. My tabs had not yet been torn off, and in the filtered sunlight my buttons, also not cut off, burned with the glitter of cheap gold. It was easy to see I was an officer, with a look of newness, too, and newly taken into custody. Per- haps this very fall from the heights stimulated them and gave them pleasure, suggesting some gleam of justice, but more likely they could not get it into their heads, stuffed with political in- doctrination, that one of their own company commanders could be arrested in this way, and they all decided unanimously I had come from the other side.

"Aha, the Vlasov bastard got caught, did he! Shoot the rat!"

They were vehement in their rear-line wrath (the most intense patriotism always flourishes in the rear), and they added a good deal more in mother oaths.

They regarded me as some kind of international operator who had, nonetheless, been caught—and as a result the advance at the front would move along faster and the war would come to an end sooner.

How was I to answer them? I was forbidden to utter a single word, and I would have had to explain my entire life to each and every one of them. What could I do to make them understand that I was not a spy, a saboteur? That I was their friend? That it was because of them that I was here? I smiled. Looking up at them, I smiled at them from a column of prisoners under escort! But my bared teeth seemed to them the worst kind of mockery, and they shook their fists and bellowed insults at me even more violently than before.

I smiled in pride that I had been arrested not for stealing, nor treason, nor desertion, but because I had discovered through my power of reasoning the evil secrets of Stalin. I smiled at the thought that I wanted, and might still be able, to effect some small remedies and changes in our Russian way of life.

But all that time my suitcase was being carried by others.

And I didn't even feel remorseful about it! And if my neighbor, whose sunken cheeks were already covered with a soft two-week growth of beard and whose eyes were filled to overflowing with suffering and knowledge, had then and there reproached me in the clearest of clear Russian words for having disgraced the honor of a prisoner by appealing to the convoy for help and had accused me of haughtiness, of setting myself above the rest of them, I would not have understood him! I simply would not have under- stood what he was talking about. I was an officer!

And if seven of us had to die on the way, and the eighth could have been saved by the convoy, what was to keep me from crying out: "Sergeant! Save me. I am an officer!"

And that's what an officer is even when his shoulder boards aren't blue!

And if they are blue? If he has been indoctrinated to believe that even among other officers he is the salt of the earth? And that he knows more than others and is entrusted with more res- ponsibility than others and that, consequently, it is his duty to force a prisoner's head between his legs, and then to shove him like that into a pipe . . .

Why shouldn't he?

I credited myself with unselfish dedication. But meanwhile I had been thoroughly prepared to be an executioner. And if I had gotten into an NKVD school under Yezhov, maybe I would have matured just in time for Beria.

So let the reader who expects this book to be a political expose slam its covers shut right now.

If only it were all so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were neces- sary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good and evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of his own heart?

During the life of any heart this line keeps changing place; sometimes it is squeezed one way by exuberant evil and some- times it shifts to allow enough space for good to flourish. One and the same human being is, at various ages, under various cir- cumstances, a totally different human being. At times he is close to being a devil, at times to sainthood. But his name doesn't change, and to that name we ascribe the whole lot, good and evil.

Socrates taught us: Know thyself!

Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way things worked out that they were the executioners and we weren't.

If Malyuta Skuratov had summoned us, we, too, probably would have done our work well!

From good to evil is one quaver, says the proverb.

And correspondingly, from evil to good.

From the moment when our society was convulsed by the reminder of those illegalities and tortures, they began on all sides to explain, to write, to protest: Good people were there too —meaning in the NKVD-MGB!

We know which "good" people they are talking about: they were the ones who whispered to the old Bolsheviks: "Don't weaken," or even sneaked a sandwich in to them, and who kicked all the rest around wherever they found them. But weren't there also some who rose above the Party—who were good in a general, human sense?

Broadly speaking, they should not have been there. The Organs avoided employing such people, eliminating them at the recruit- ment stage. And such people played their hand shrewdly so as to get out of it.

[ During the war, a certain Leningrad aviator, after being discharged from the hospital in Ryazan, went to a TB clinic and begged: "Please find something wrong with me! I'm under orders to go into the Organs!" The radiologists dreamed up a touch of TB for him—and the Organs dropped him posthaste.]

Whoever got in by mistake either adjusted to the milieu or else was thrown out, or eased out, or even fell across the rails himself. Still . . . were there no good people left there?

In Kishinev, a young lieutenant gaybist went to Father Viktor Shipovalnikov a full month before he was arrested: "Get away from here, go away, they plan to arrest you!" (Did he do this on his own, or did his mother send him to warn the priest?) After the arrest, this young man was assigned to Father Viktor as an escort guard. And he grieved for him: "Why didn't you go away?"

Or here's another. I had a platoon commander named Lieuten- ant Ovsyannikov. At the front no one was closer to me than he was. During half the war we ate from the same pot; even under enemy shellfire we would gulp down our food between explosions, so the stew wouldn't get cold. He was a peasant lad with a clean soul and a view of life so undistorted that neither officer candidate school nor being an officer had spoiled him in any degree. He even did what he could to soften my hard edges in many ways. Throughout his service as an officer he concentrated on one thing only: preserving the lives and strength of his soldiers, many of whom were no longer young. He was the first to tell me what the Russian villages were like then and what the collective farms were like. He talked about all this without resentment, without protest, very simply and straightforwardly—just as a forest pool reflects the image of a tree and all its branches, even the smallest. He was deeply shocked by my arrest. He wrote me a combat reference containing the highest praise and got the divisional commander to sign it. After he was demobilized he continued to try to help me, through my relatives. And this, mind you, was in 1947, which was not very different from 1937. At my interrogation I had many reasons to be afraid on his account, especially lest they read my "War Diary," which contained the stories he'd told me. When I was rehabilitated in 1957, I very much wanted to find him. I remembered his village address and wrote once, and then again, but there was no reply. I discovered one thread I could follow— that he had graduated from the Yaroslavl Pedagogical Institute. When I inquired there, they replied: "He was sent to work in the Organs of State Security." Fine! All the more interesting! I wrote to him at his city address, but there was no reply. Several years passed and Ivan Denisovich was published. Well, I thought, now he'll turn up. No! Three years later I asked one of my Yaroslavl correspondents to go to him and personally hand him a letter. My correspondent did as I asked and wrote me: "Evidently he has never read Ivan Denisovich." And truly, why should they know how things go with prisoners after they've been sentenced? This time Ovsyannikov couldn't keep silent any longer. He wrote: "After the Institute they offered me work in the Organs, and it seemed to me I would be just as successful there." (What did he mean, successful?) "I cannot say that I have prospered remark- ably in my new walk of life. There are some things I did not like, but I work hard, and, if I am not mistaken, I shall not let my comrades down." (And that's the justification—comradeship!) He ended: "I no longer think about the future."

And that is all. Allegedly, he had not received my previous letters. Evidently, he doesn't want to see me. (But if we had met, I think this would have been a better chapter.) In Stalin's last years he had already become an interrogator—during those very years when they handed out a twenty-five-year sentence to every- one who came along. How did everything in his consciousness recircuit itself? How did everything black out? But remembering the once selfless, dedicated boy, as fresh as spring water, can I possibly believe that everything in him changed beyond recall, that there are no living tendrils left?

When the interrogator Goldman gave Vera Korneyeva the "206" form on nondisclosure to sign, she began to catch on to her rights, and then she began to go into the case in detail, involy- ing as it did all seventeen members of their "religious group." Goldman raged, but he had to let her study the file. In order not to be bored waiting for her, he led her to a large office, where half a dozen employees were sitting, and left her there. At first she read quietly, but then a conversation began—perhaps because the others were bored—and Vera launched aloud into a real religious sermon. (One would have had to know her to ap- preciate this to the full. She was a luminous person, with a lively mind and a gift of eloquence, even though in freedom she had been no more than a lathe operator, a stable girl, and a housewife.) They listened to her impressively, now and then ask- ing questions in order to clarify something or other. It was catch- ing them from an unexpected side of things. People came in from other offices, and the room filled up. Even though they were only typists, stenographers, file clerks, and not interrogators, in 1946 this was still their milieu, the Organs. It is impossible to recon- struct her monologue. She managed to work in all sorts of things, including the question of "traitors of the Motherland." Why were there no traitors in the 1812 War of the Fatherland, when there was still serfdom? It would have been natural to have traitors then! But mostly she spoke about religious faith and religious believers. Formerly, she declared, unbridled passions were the basis for everything—"Steal the stolen goods"—and, in that state of affairs, religious believers were naturally a hindrance to you. But now, when you want to build and prosper in this world, why do you persecute your best citizens? They represent your most precious material: after all, believers don't need to be watched, they do not steal, and they do not shirk. Do you think you can build a just society on a foundation of self-serving and envious people? Everything in the country is falling apart. Why do you spit in the hearts of your best people? Separate church and state properly and do not touch the church; you will not lose a thing thereby. Are you materialists? In that case, put your faith in education—in the possibility that it will, as they say, disperse religious faith. But why arrest people? At this point Goldman came in and started to interrupt rudely. But everyone shouted at him: "Oh, shut up! Keep quiet! Go ahead, woman, talk." (And how should they have addressed her? Citizeness? Comrade? Those forms of address were forbidden, and these people were bound by the conventions of Soviet life. But "woman"—that was how Christ had spoken, and you couldn't go wrong there.) And Vera continued in the presence of her interrogator.

So there in the MGB office those people listened to Korneyeva —and why did the words of an insignificant prisoner touch them so near the quick?

That same D. Terekhov I mentioned earlier remembers to this day the first prisoner he sentenced to death. "I was sorry for him." His memory obviously clings to something that came from his heart. (But after that first one, he forgot many and no longer kept count any more.)

[An episode with Terekhov: Attempting to prove to me the fairness of the judicial system under Khrushchev, he energetically struck the plate-glass desk top with his hand and cut his wrist on the edge. He rang for help. His subordi- nates were at the ready. The senior officer on duty brought him iodine and hydrogen peroxide. Continuing the conversation, he helplessly held dampened cotton to the wound: it appears that his blood coagulates poorly. And thus God showed him clearly the limitations of the human being! And he had de- livered verdicts, imposed death sentences on others.]

No matter how icy the jailers in the Big House in Leningrad, the innermost nucleus of the nucleus of the heart—for a nucleus has its own nucleus—had to continue to exist, did it not? N. P------va recalls the time when she was being taken to inter- rogation by an impassive, silent woman guard with unseeing eyes —when suddenly the bombs began to explode right next to the Big House and it sounded as if at the next moment they would fall directly on them. The terrified guard threw her arms around her prisoner and embraced her, desperate for human companion- ship and sympathy. Then the bombing stopped. And her eyes became unseeing again. "Hands behind your back! Move along."

Well, of course, there was no great merit in that—to become a human being at the moment of death. Similarly, loving one's own children is no proof of virtue. (People often try to excuse scoundrels by saying: "He's a good family man!") The Chairman of the Supreme Court, I. T. Golyakov, is praised: he enjoyed digging in his garden, he loved books, he used to browse around used- and rare-book stores, he knew the work of Tolstoi, Koro- lenko, and Chekhov. Well, what did he learn from them? How many thousands did he destroy? Or, for example, that colonel, Konkordiya Iosse's friend, who had roared with laughter in the Vladimir Detention Prison at the memory of locking up a group of old Jews in an ice-filled root cellar, had been afraid of one thing only during all his debaucheries: that his wife might find out about them. She believed in him, regarded him as noble, and this faith of hers was precious to him. But do we dare accept that feeling as a bridgehead to virtue in his heart?

And why is it that for nearly two hundred years the Security forces have hung onto the color of the heavens? That was what they wore in Lermontov's lifetime—"and you, blue uniforms!" Then came blue service caps, blue shoulder boards, blue tabs, and then they were ordered to make themselves less conspicuous, and the blue brims were hidden from the gratitude of the people and everything blue on heads and shoulders was made narrower —until what was left was piping, narrow rims . . . but still blue.

Is this only a masquerade?

Or is it that even blackness must, every so often, however rarely, partake of the heavens?

It would be beautiful to think so. But when one learns, for example, the nature of Yagoda's striving toward the sacred . . . An eyewitness from the group around Gorky, who was close to Yagoda at the time, reports that in the vestibule of the bathhouse on Yagoda's estate near Moscow, ikons were placed so that Yagoda and his comrades, after undressing, could use them as targets for revolver practice before going in to take their baths.

Just how are we to understand that? As the act of an evildoer? What sort of behavior is it? Do such people really exist?

We would prefer to say that such people cannot exist, that there aren't any. It is permissible to portray evildoers in a story for children, so as to keep the picture simple. But when the great world literature of the past—Shakespeare, Schiller, Dickens—in- flates and inflates images of evildoers of the blackest shades, it seems somewhat farcical and clumsy to our contemporary per- ception. The trouble lies in the way these classic evildoers are pictured. They recognize themselves as evildoers, and they know their souls are black. And they reason: "I cannot live unless I do evil. So I'll set my father against my brother! I'll drink the vic- tim's sufferings until I'm drunk with them!" lago very precisely identifies his purposes and his motives as being black and born of hate.

But no; that's not the way it is! To do evil a human being must first of all believe that what he's doing is good, or else that it's a well-considered act in conformity with natural law. Fortunately, it is in the nature of the human being to seek a justification for his actions.

Macbeth's self-justifications were feeble—and his conscience devoured him. Yes, even Iago was a little lamb too. The imagina- tion and the spiritual strength of Shakespeare's evildoers stopped short at a dozen corpses. Because they had no ideology.

Ideology—that is what gives evildoing its long-sought justifica- tion and gives the evildoer the necessary steadfastness and deter- mination. That is the social theory which helps to make his acts seem good instead of bad in his own and others' eyes, so that he won't hear reproaches and curses but will receive praise and honors. That was how the agents of the Inquisition fortified their wills: by invoking Christianity; the conquerors of foreign lands, by extolling the grandeur of their Motherland; the colonizers, by civilization; the Nazis, by race; and the Jacobins (early and late), by equality, brotherhood, and the happiness of future generations.

Thanks to ideology, the twentieth century was fated to experi- ence evildoing on a scale calculated in the millions. This cannot be denied, nor passed over, nor suppressed. How, then, do we dare insist that evildoers do not exist? And who was it that de- stroyed these millions? Without evildoers there would have been no Archipelago.

There was a rumor going the rounds between 1918 and 1920 that the Petrograd Cheka, headed by Uritsky, and the Odessa Cheka, headed by Deich, did not shoot all those condemned to death but fed some of them alive to the animals in the city zoos. I do not know whether this is truth or calumny, or, if there were any such cases, how many there were. But I wouldn't set out to look for proof, either. Following the practice of the bluecaps, I would propose that they prove to us that this was impossible. How else could they get food for the zoos in those famine years? Take it away from the working class? Those enemies were going to die anyway, so why couldn't their deaths support the zoo economy of the Republic and thereby assist our march into the future? Wasn't it expedient?

That is the precise line the Shakespearean evildoer could not cross. But the evildoer with ideology does cross it, and his eyes remain dry and clear.

Physics is aware of phenomena which occur only at threshold magnitudes, which do not exist at all until a certain threshold encoded by and known to nature has been crossed. No matter how intense a yellow light you shine on a lithium sample, it will not emit electrons. But as soon as a weak bluish light begins to glow, it does emit them. (The threshold of the photoelectric effect has been crossed.) You can cool oxygen to 100 degrees below zero Centigrade and exert as much pressure as you want; it does not yield, but remains a gas. But as soon as minus 183 degrees is reached, it liquefies and begins to flow.

Evidently evildoing also has a threshold magnitude. Yes, a human being hesitates and bobs back and forth between good and evil all his life. He slips, falls back, clambers up, repents, things begin to darken again. But just so long as the threshold of evildoing is not crossed, the possibility of returning remains, and he himself is still within reach of our hope. But when, through the density of evil actions, the result either of their own extreme degree or of the absoluteness of his power, he suddenly crosses that threshold, he has left humanity behind, and without, perhaps, the possibility of return.

From the most ancient times justice has been a two-part concept: virtue triumphs, and vice is punished.

We have been fortunate enough to live to a time when virtue, though it does not triumph, is nonetheless not always tormented by attack dogs. Beaten down, sickly, virtue has now been allowed to enter in all its tatters and sit in the corner, as long as it doesn't raise its voice.

However, no one dares say a word about vice. Yes, they did mock virtue, but there was no vice in that. Yes, so-and-so many millions did get mowed down—but no one was to blame for it. And if someone pipes up: "What about those who ..." the answer comes from all sides, reproachfully and amicably at first: "What are you talking about, comrade! Why open old wounds?"

[Even in connection with One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich, the retired bluecaps living on pensions objected because the book might reopen the wounds of those who had been imprisoned in camp. Allegedly, they were the ones to be protected.]

Then they go after you with an oaken club: "Shut up! Haven't you had enough yet? You think you've been rehabilitated!"

In that same period, by 1966, eighty-six thousand Nazi crimi- nals had been convicted in West Germany.22

[Meanwhile, in East Germany, nothing of the sort is to be heard. Which means that there they have been shod with new shoes; they are valued in the service of the state.]

And still we choke with anger here. We do not hesitate to devote to the subject page after newspaper page and hour after hour of radio time. We even stay after work to attend protest meetings and vote: "Too few! Eighty-six thousand are too few. And twenty years is too little! It must go on and on."

And during the same period, in our own country (according to the reports of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court) about ten men have been convicted.

What takes place beyond the Oder and the Rhine gets us all worked up. What goes on in the environs of Moscow and behind the green fences near Sochi, or the fact that the murderers of our husbands and fathers ride through our streets and we make way for them as they pass, doesn't get us worked up at all, doesn't touch us. That would be "digging up the past."

Meanwhile, if we translate 86,000 West Germans into our own terms, on the basis of comparative population figures, it would become one-quarter of a million.

But in a quarter-century we have not tracked down anyone. We have not brought anyone to trial. It is their wounds we are afraid to reopen. And as a symbol of them all, the smug and stupid Molotov lives on at Granovsky No. 3, a man who has learned nothing at all, even now, though he is saturated with our blood and nobly crosses the sidewalk to seat himself in his long, wide automobile.

Here is a riddle not for us contemporaries to figure out: Why is Germany allowed to punish its evildoers and Russia is not? What kind of disastrous path lies ahead of us if we do not have the chance to purge ourselves of that putrefaction rotting inside our body? What, then, can Russia teach the world?

In the German trials an astonishing phenomenon takes place from time to time. The defendant clasps his head in his hands, refuses to make any defense, and from then on asks no conces- sions from the court. He says that the presentation of his crimes, revived and once again confronting him, has filled him with revulsion and he no longer wants to live.

That is the ultimate height a trial can attain: when evil is so utterly condemned that even the criminal is revolted by it.

A country which has condemned evil 86,000 times from the rostrum of a court and irrevocably condemned it in literature and among its young people, year by year, step by step, is purged of it.

What are we to do? Someday our descendants will describe our several generations as generations of driveling do-nothings. First we submissively allowed them to massacre us by the mil- lions, and then with devoted concern we tended the murderers in their prosperous old age.

What are we to do if the great Russian tradition of penitence is incomprehensible and absurd to them? What are we to do if the animal terror of hearing even one-hundredth part of all they subjected others to outweighs in their hearts any inclination to justice? If they cling greedily to the harvest of benefits they have watered with the blood of those who perished?

It is clear enough that those men who turned the handle of the meat grinder even as late as 1937 are no longer young. They are fifty to eighty years old. They have lived the best years of their lives prosperously, well nourished and comfortable, so that it is too late for any kind of equal retribution as far as they are con- cerned.

But let us be generous. We will not shoot them. We will not pour salt water into them, nor bury them in bedbugs, nor bridle them into a "swan dive," nor keep them on sleepless "stand-up" for a week, nor kick them with jackboots, nor beat them with rubber truncheons, nor squeeze their skulls in iron rings, nor push them into a cell so that they lie atop one another like pieces of baggage—we will not do any of the things they did! But for the sake of our country and our children we have the duty to seek them all out and bring them all to trial! Not to put them on trial so much as their crimes. And to compel each one of them to announce loudly:

"Yes, I was an executioner and a murderer."

And if these words were spoken in our country only one- quarter of a million times (a just proportion, if we are not to fall behind West Germany), would it, perhaps, be enough?

It is unthinkable in the twentieth century to fail to distinguish between what constitutes an abominable atrocity that must be prosecuted and what constitutes that "past" which "ought not to be stirred up."

We have to condemn publicly the very idea that some people have the right to repress others. In keeping silent about evil, in burying it so deep within us that no sign of it appears on the surface, we are implanting it, and it will rise up a thousandfold in the future. When we neither punish nor reproach evildoers, we are not simply protecting their trivial old age, we are thereby ripping the foundations of justice from beneath new generations. It is for this reason, and not because of the "weakness of indoc- trinational work," that they are growing up "indifferent." Young people are acquiring the conviction that foul deeds are never punished on earth, that they always bring prosperity.

It is going to be uncomfortable, horrible, to live in such a country!

Chapter 5
First Cell, First Love

How is one to take the title of this chapter? A cell and love in the same breath? Ah, well, probably it has to do with Lenin- grad during the blockade—and you were imprisoned in the Big House. In that case it would be very understandable. That's why you are still alive—because they shoved you in there. It was the best place in Leningrad—not only for the interrogators, who even lived there and had offices in the cellars in case of shelling. Joking aside, in Leningrad in those days no one washed and everyone's face was covered with a black crust, but in the Big House prisoners were given a hot shower every tenth day. Well, it's true that only the corridors were heated—for the jailers. The cells were left unheated, but after all, there were water pipes in the cells that worked and a toilet, and where else in Leningrad could you find that? And the bread ration was just like the ration outside—barely four and a half ounces. In addition, there was broth made from slaughtered horses once a day! And thin gruel once a day as well!

It was a case of the cat's being envious of the dog's life! But what about punishment cells? And what about the "supreme measure"—execution? No, that isn't what the chapter title is about.

Not at all.

You sit down and half-close your eyes and try to remember them all. How many different cells you were imprisoned in during your term! It is difficult even to count them. And in each one there were people, people. There might be two people in one, 150 in another. You were imprisoned for five minutes in one and all summer long in another.

But in every case, out of all the cells you've been in, your first cell is a very special one, the place where you first encountered others like yourself, doomed to the same fate. All your life you will remember it with an emotion that you otherwise experience only in remembering your first love. And those people, who shared with you the floor and air of that stone cubicle during those days when you rethought your entire life, will from time to time be recollected by you as members of your own family.

Yes, in those days they were your only family.

What you experience in your first interrogation cell parallels nothing in your entire previous life or your whole subsequent life. No doubt prisons have stood for thousands of years before you came along, and may continue to stand after you too— longer than one would like to think—but that first interrogation cell is unique and inimitable.

Maybe it was a terrible place for a human being. A lice-laden, bedbug-infested lock-up, without windows, without ventilation, without bunks, and with a dirty floor, a box called a KPZ in the village soviet, at the police station, in the railroad station, or in some port. (The KPZ's and the DPZ's are scattered across the face of our land in the greatest abundance. There are masses of prisoners in them. )

[KPZ = Cell for Preliminary Detention. DPZ == House of Preliminary Detention. In other words, where interrogations are conducted, not where sentences are served.]

Or maybe it was "solitary" in the Archangel prison, where the glass had been smeared over with red lead so that the only rays of God's maimed light which crept in to you were crimson, and where a 15-watt bulb burned constantly in the ceiling, day and night. Or "solitary" in the city of Choibalsan, where, for six months at a time, fourteen of you were crowded onto seven square yards of floor space in such a way that you could only shift your bent legs in unison. Or it was one of the Lefortovo "psychological" cells, like No. 111, which was painted black and also had a day-and-night 25-watt bulb, but was in all other respects like every other Lefortovo cell: asphalt floor; the heating valve out in the corridor where only the guards had access to it; and, above all, that interminable irritating roar from the wind tunnel of the neighboring Central Aero- and Hydrodynamics Institute—a roar one could not believe was unintentional, a roar which would make a bowl or cup vibrate so violently that it would slip off the edge of the table, a roar which made it useless to converse and during which one could sing at the top of one's lungs and the jailer wouldn't even hear. And then when the roar stopped, there would ensue a sense of relief and felicity superior to freedom itself.

But it was not the dirty floor, nor the murky walls, nor the odor of the latrine bucket that you loved—but those fellow prisoners with whom you about-faced at command, and that something which beat between your heart and theirs, and their sometimes astonishing words, and then, too, the birth within you, on that very spot, of free-floating thoughts you had so recently been unable to leap up or rise to.

And how much it had cost you to last out until that first cell! You had been kept in a pit, or in a box, or in a cellar. No one had addressed a human word to you. No one had looked at you with a human gaze. All they did was to peck at your brain and heart with iron beaks, and when you cried out or groaned, they laughed.

For a week or a month you had been an abandoned waif, alone among enemies, and you had already said good-bye to reason and to life; and you had already tried to kill yourself by "falling" from the radiator in such a way as to smash your brains against the iron cone of the valve. Then all of a sudden you were alive again, and were brought in to your friends. And reason returned to you.

That's what your first cell is!

You waited for that cell. You dreamed of it almost as eagerly as of freedom. Meanwhile, they kept shoving you around between cracks in the wall and holes in the ground, from Lefortovo into some legendary, diabolical Sukhanovka.

Sukhanovka was the most terrible prison the MGB had. Its very name was used to intimidate prisoners; interrogators would hiss it threateningly. And you'd not be able to question those who had been there: either they were insane and talking only discon- nected nonsense, or they were dead.

Sukhanovka was a former monastery, dating back to Catherine the Great. It consisted of two buildings—one in which prisoners served out their terms, and the other a structure that contained sixty-eight monks' cells and was used for interrogations. The journey there in a Black Maria took two hours, and only a hand- ful of people knew that the prison was really just a few miles from Lenin's Gorki estate and near the former estate of Zinaida Volkonskaya. The countryside surrounding it was beautiful.

There they stunned the newly arrived prisoner with a stand-up punishment cell again so narrow that when he was no longer able to stand he had to sag, supported by his bent knees propped against the wall. There was no alternative. They kept prisoners thus for more than a day to break their resistance. But they ate tender, tasty food at Sukhanovka, which was like nothing else in the MGB—because it was brought in from the Architects' Rest Home. They didn't maintain a separate kitchen to prepare hogwash. However, the amount one architect would eat—includ- ing fried potatoes and meatballs—was divided among twelve prisoners. As a result the prisoners were not only always hungry but also exceedingly irritable.

The cells were all built for two, but prisoners under interroga- tion were usually kept in them singly. The dimensions were five by six and a half feet.

[To be absolutely precise, they were 156 centimeters by 209 centimeters. How do we know? Through a triumph of engineering calculation and a strong heart that even Sukhanovka could not break. The measurements were the work of Alexander D., who would not allow them to drive him to madness or despair. He resisted by striving to use his mind to calculate distances. In Lefortovo he counted steps, converted them into kilometers, remembered from a map how many kilometers it was from Moscow to the border, and then how many across all Europe, and how many across the Atlantic Ocean. He was sustained in this by the hope of returning to America. And in one year in Lefortovo solitary he got, so to speak, halfway across the Atlantic. Thereupon they took him to Su- khanovka. Here, realizing how few would survive to tell of it—and all our in- formation about it comes from him—he invented a method of measuring the cell. The numbers 10/22 were stamped on the bottom of his prison bowl, and he guessed that "10" was the diameter of the bottom and "22" the diameter of the outside edge. Then he pulled a thread from a towel, made himself a tape measure, and measured everything with it. Then he began to invent a way of sleeping standing up, propping his knees against the small chair, and of deceiv- ing the guard into thinking his eyes were open. He succeeded in this deception, and that was how he managed not to go insane when Ryumin kept him sleepless for a month.]

Two little round stools were welded to the stone floor, like stumps, and at night, if the guard unlocked a cylinder lock, a shelf dropped from the wall onto each stump and remained there for seven hours (in other words, during the hours of interrogation, since there was no daytime interrogation at Sukhanovka at all), and a little straw mattress large enough for a child also dropped down. During the day, the stool was exposed and free, but one was forbidden to sit on it. In addition, a table lay, like an ironing board, on four upright pipes. The "fortochka" in the window—the small hinged pane for ventilation —was always closed except for ten minutes in the morning when the guard cranked it open. The glass in the little window was reinforced. There were never any exercise periods out of doors. Prisoners were taken to the toilet at 6 A.M. only—i.e., when no one's stomach needed it. There was no toilet period in the eve- ning. There were two guards for each block of seven cells, so that was why the prisoners could be under almost constant in- spection through the peephole, the only interruption being the time it took the guard to step past two doors to a third. And that was the purpose of silent Sukhanovka: to leave the prisoner not a single moment for sleep, not a single stolen moment for privacy. You were always being watched and always in their power.

But if you endured the whole duel with insanity and all the trials of loneliness, and had stood firm, you deserved your first cell! And now when you got into it, your soul would heal.

If you had surrendered, if you had given in and betrayed every- one, you were also ready for your first cell. But it would have been better for you not to have lived until that happy moment and to have died a victor in the cellar, without having signed a single sheet of paper.

Now for the first time you were about to see people who were not your enemies. Now for the first time you were about to see others who were alive, who were traveling your road, and whom you could join to yourself with the joyous word "we."

[And if this was in the Big House in Leningrad during the siege, you may also have seen cannibals. Those who had eaten human flesh, those who had traded in human livers from dissecting rooms, were for some reason kept by the MGB with the political prisoners.]

Yes, that word which you may have despised out in freedom, when they used it as a substitute for your own individuality ("All of us, like one man!" Or: "We are deeply angered!" Or: "We demand!" Or: "We swear!"), is now revealed to you as something sweet: you are not alone in the world! Wise, spiritual beings—human beings—still exist.

I had been dueling for four days with the interrogator, when the jailer, having waited until I lay down to sleep in my blindingly lit box, began to unlock my door. I heard him all right, but before he could say: "Get up! Interrogation!" I wanted to lie for another three-hundredths of a second with my head on the pillow and pretend I was sleeping. But, instead of the familiar command, the guard ordered: "Get up! Pick up your bedding!"

Uncomprehending, and unhappy because this was my most precious time, I wound on my footcloths, put on my boots, my overcoat, my winter cap, and clasped the government-issue mat- tress in my arms. The guard was walking on tiptoe and kept signaling me not to make any noise as he led me down a corridor silent as the grave, through the fourth floor of the Lubyanka, past the desk of the section supervisor, past the shiny numbers on the cells and the olive-colored covers of the peepholes, and unlocked Cell 67. I entered and he locked it behind me immediately.

Even though only a quarter of an hour or so had passed since the signal to go to sleep had been given, the period allotted the prisoners for sleeping was so fragile, and undependable, and brief that, by the time I arrived, the inhabitants of Cell 67 were already asleep on their metal cots with their hands on top of the blankets.

[New measures of oppression, additions to the traditional prison regula- tions, were invented only gradually in the internal prisons of the GPU-NKVD- MGB. At the beginning of the twenties, prisoners were not subjected to this particular measure, and lights were turned off at night as in the ordinary world. But they began to keep the lights on, on the logical grounds that they needed to keep the prisoners in view at all times. (When they used to turn the lights on for inspection, it had been even worse.) Arms had to be kept outside the blanket, allegedly to prevent the prisoner from strangling himself beneath the blanket and thus escaping his just interrogation. It was demonstrated experi- mentally that in the winter a human being always wants to keep his arms under the bedclothes for warmth; consequently the measure was made permanent.]

At the sound of the door opening, all three started and raised their heads for an instant. They, too, were waiting to learn which of them might be taken to interrogation.

And those three lifted heads, those three unshaven, crumpled pale faces, seemed to me so human, so dear, that I stood there, hugging my mattress, and smiled with happiness. And they smiled. And what a forgotten look that was—after only one week!

"Are you from freedom?" they asked me. (That was the question customarily put to a newcomer.)

"Nooo," I replied. And that was a newcomer's usual first reply.

They had in mind that I had probably been arrested recently, which meant that I came from freedom. And I, after ninety-six hours of interrogation, hardly considered that I was from "free- dom." Was I not already a veteran prisoner? Nonetheless I was from freedom. The beardless old man with the black and very lively eyebrows was already asking me for military and political news. Astonishing! Even though it was late February, they knew nothing about the Yalta Conference, nor the encirclement of East Prussia, nor anything at all about our own attack below Warsaw in mid-January, nor even about the woeful December retreat of the Allies. According to regulations, those under inter- rogation were not supposed to know anything about the outside world. And here indeed they didn't!

I was prepared to spend half the night telling them all about it—with pride, as though all the victories and advances were the work of my own hands. But at this point the duty jailer brought in my cot, and I had to set it up without making any noise. I was helped by a young fellow my own age, also a military man. His tunic and aviator's cap hung on his cot. He had asked me, even before the old man spoke, not for news of the war but for tobacco. But although I felt openhearted toward my new friends, and although not many words had been exchanged in the few minutes since I joined them, I sensed something alien in this front-line soldier who was my contemporary, and, as far as he was concerned, I clammed up immediately and forever.

(I had not yet even heard the word "nasedka"—"stool pigeon" —nor learned that there had to be one such "stool pigeon" in each cell. And I had not yet had time to think things over and conclude that I did not like this fellow, Georgi Kramarenko. But a spiritual relay, a sensor relay, had clicked inside me, and it had closed him off from me for good and all. I would not bother to recall this event if it had been the only one of its kind. But soon, with astonishment, and alarm, I became aware of the work of this internal sensor relay as a constant, inborn trait. The years passed and I lay on the same bunks, marched in the same forma- tions, and worked in the same work brigades with hundreds of others. And always that secret sensor relay, for whose creation I deserved not the least bit of credit, worked even before I remem- bered it was there, worked at the first sight of a human face and eyes, at the first sound of a voice—so that I opened my heart to that person either fully or just the width of a crack, or else shut myself off from him completely. This was so consistently un- failing that all the efforts of the State Security officers to employ stool pigeons began to seem to me as insignificant as being pestered by gnats: after all, a person who has undertaken to be a traitor always betrays the fact in his face and in his voice, and even though some were more skilled in pretense, there was always something fishy about them. On the other hand, the sensor relay helped me distinguish those to whom I could from the very begin- ning of our acquaintance completely disclose my most precious depths and secrets—secrets for which heads roll. Thus' it was that I got through eight years of imprisonment, three years of exile, and another six years of underground authorship, which were in no wise less dangerous. During all those seventeen years I recklessly revealed myself to dozens of people—and didn't make a misstep even once. (I have never read about this trait anywhere, and I mention it here for those interested in psy- chology. It seems to me that such spiritual sensors exist in many of us, but because we live in too technological and rational an age, we neglect this miracle and don't allow it to develop.)

We set up the cot, and I was then ready to talk—in a whisper, of course, and lying down, so as not to be sent from this cozy nest into a punishment cell. But our third cellmate, a middle- aged man whose cropped head already showed the white bristles of imminent grayness, peered at me discontentedly and said with characteristic northern severity: "Tomorrow! Night is for sleep- ing."

That was the most intelligent thing to do. At any minute, one of us could have been pulled out for interrogation and held until 6 A.M., when the interrogator would go home to sleep but we were forbidden to.

One night of undisturbed sleep was more important than all the fates on earth!

One more thing held me back, which I didn't quite catch right away but had felt nonetheless from the first words of my story, although I could not at this early date find a name for it: As each of us had been arrested, everything in our world had switched places, a 180-degree shift in all our concepts had oc- curred, and the good news I had begun to recount with such enthusiasm might not be good news for us at all.

My cellmates turned on their sides, covered their eyes with their handkerchiefs to keep out the light from the 200-watt bulb, wound towels around their upper arms, which were chilled from lying on top of the blankets, hid their lower arms furtively beneath them, and went to sleep.

And I lay there, filled to the brim with the joy of being among them. One hour ago I could not have counted on being with anyone. I could have come to my end with a bullet in the back of my head—which was what the interrogator kept promising me—without having seen anyone at all. Interrogation still hung over me, but how far it had retreated! Tomorrow I would be telling them my story (though not talking about my case, of course) and they would be telling me their stories too. How interesting tomorrow would be, one of the best days of my life! (Thus, very early and very clearly, I had this consciousness that prison was not an abyss for me, but the most important turning point in my life.)

Every detail of the cell interested me. Sleep fled, and when the peephole was not in use I studied it all furtively. Up there at the top of one wall was a small indentation the length of three bricks, covered by a dark-blue paper blind. They had al- ready told me it was a window. Yes, there was a window in the cell. And the blind served as an air-raid blackout. Tomorrow there would be weak daylight, and in the middle of the day they would turn off the glaring light bulb. How much that meant—to have daylight in daytime!

There was also a table in the cell. On it, in the most con- spicuous spot, were a teapot, a chess set, and a small pile of books. (I was not yet aware why they were so conspicuously positioned. It turned out to be another example of the Lubyanka system at work. During his once-a-minute peephole inspection, the jailer was supposed to make sure that the gifts of the prison administration were not being misused: that the teapot was not being used to break down the wall; that no one was swallowing the chessmen and thereby possibly cashing in his chips and ceasing to be a citizen of the U.S.S.R.; and that no one was starting a fire with the books in the hope of burning down the whole prison. And a prisoner's eyeglasses were considered so potentially dangerous that they were not allowed to remain on the table during the night; the prison administration took them away until morning.)

What a cozy life! Chess, books, cots with springs, decent mattresses, clean linen. I could not remember having slept like this during the whole war. There was a worn parquet floor. One could take nearly four strides from window to door in the aisle between the cots. No, indeed! This central political prison was a real resort.

And no shells were falling. I remembered their sounds: the high-pitched sobbing way up overhead, then the rising whistle, and the crash as they burst. And how tenderly the mortar shells whistled. And how everything trembled from the four blasts of what we called "Dr. Goebbels' mortar-rockets." And I remem- bered the wet snow and mud near Wormditt, where I had been arrested, which our men were still wading through to keep the Germans from breaking out of our encirclement.

All right then, the hell with you; if you don't want me to fight, I won't.

Among our many lost values there is one more: the high worth of those people who spoke and wrote Russian before us. It is odd that they are almost undescribed in our prerevolutionary litera- ture. Only very rarely do we feel their breath—from Marina Tsvetayeva, or from "Mother Mariya" (in her Recollections of Blok). They saw too much to settle on any one thing. They reached toward the sublime too fervently to stand firmly on the earth. Before societies fall, just such a stratum of wise, thinking people emerges, people who are that and nothing more. And how they were laughed at! How they were mocked! As though they stuck in the craw of people whose deeds and actions were single- minded and narrow-minded. And the only nickname they were christened with was "rot." Because these people were a flower that bloomed too soon and breathed too delicate a fragrance. And so they were mowed down.

These people were particularly helpless in their personal lives: they could neither bend with the wind, nor pretend, nor get by; every word declared an opinion, a passion, a protest. And it was just such people the mowing machine cut down, just such people the chaff-cutter shredded.

[I am almost fearful of saying it, but it seems as though on the eve of the 1970's these people are emerging once again. That is surprising. It was almost too much to hope for.]

They had passed through these very same cells. But the cell walls—for the wallpaper had long since been stripped off, and they had been plastered, whitewashed, and painted more than once—gave off nothing of the past. (On the contrary, the walls now tried to listen to us with hidden microphones.) Nowhere is anything written down or reported of the former inhabitants of these cells, of the conversations held in them, of the thoughts with which earlier inmates went forth to be shot or to imprison- ment on the Solovetsky Islands. And now such a volume, which would be worth forty freight car loads of our literature, will in all probability never be written.

Those still alive recount to us all sorts of trivial details: that there used to be wooden trestle beds here and that the mattresses were stuffed with straw. That, way back in 1920, before they put muzzles over the windows, the panes were whitewashed up to the top. By 1923 "muzzles" had been installed (although we unanimously ascribed them to Beria). They said that back in the twenties, prison authorities had been very lenient toward pris- oners communicating with each other by "knocking" on the walls: this was a carry-over from the stupid tradition in the Tsarist prisons that if the prisoners were deprived of knocking, they would have no way to occupy their time. And another thing: back in the twenties all the jailers were Latvians, from the Latvian Red Army units and others, and the food was all handed out by strapping Latvian women.

All this was trivial detail, but it was certainly food for thought. I myself had needed very badly to get into this main Soviet political prison, and I was grateful that I had been sent here: I thought about Bukharin a great deal and I wanted to picture the whole thing as it had actually been. However, I had the impres- sion that we were by now merely the remnants, and that in this respect we might just as well have been in any provincial "internal" prison.

[One attached to a State Security headquarters.]

Still, there was a good deal of status in being here.

And there was no reason to be bored with my companions in my new cell. They were people to listen to and people with whom to compare notes.

The old fellow with the lively eyebrows—and at sixty-three he in no way bore himself like an old man—was Anatoly Ilyich Fastenko. He was a big asset to our Lubyanka cell—both as a keeper of the old Russian prison traditions and as a living history of Russian revolutions. Thanks to all that he remembered, he somehow managed to put in perspective everything that had taken place in the past and everything that was taking place in the present. Such people are valuable not only in a cell. We badly need them in our society as a whole.

Right there in our cell we read Fastenko's name in a book about the 1905 Revolution. He had been a Social Democrat for such a long, long time that in the end, it seemed, he had ceased to be one.

He had been sentenced to his first prison term in 1904 while still a young man, but he had been freed outright under the "manifesto" proclaimed on October 17, 1905.

[Who among us has not learned by heart from our school history courses, as well as from the Short Course in the history of the Soviet Communist Party, that this "provocative and foul manifesto" was a mockery of freedom, that the Tsar had proclaimed: "Freedom for the dead, and prison for the living"? But the epigram was bogus. The manifesto declared that all political parties were to be tolerated and that a State Duma was to be convened, and it provided for an amnesty which was honest and extremely extensive. (The fact that it had been issued under duress was something else again.) Indeed, under its terms none other than all political prisoners without exception were to be released without reference to the term and type of punishment they had been sentenced to. Only criminals remained imprisoned. The Stalin amnesty of July 7, 1945— true, it was not issued under duress—was exactly the opposite. All the political prisoners remained imprisoned.]

His story about that amnesty was interesting. In those years, of course, there were no muzzles on the prison windows, and from the cells of the Belaya Tserkov Prison in which Fastenko was being held the prisoners could easily observe the prison courtyard and the street, and all arrivals and departures, and they could shout back and forth as they pleased to ordinary citizens outside. During the day of October 17, these outsiders, having learned of the amnesty by telegraph, announced the news to the prisoners. In their happiness the political prisoners went wild with joy. They smashed windowpanes, broke down doors, and demanded that the prison warden release them immediately. And were any of them kicked right in the snout with jackboots? Or put in punishment cells? Or was anyone deprived of library and commissary privileges? Of course not! In his distress, the warden ran from cell to cell and implored them: "Gentlemen! I beg of you, please be reasonable! I don't have the authority to release you on the basis of a telegraphed report. I must have direct orders from my superiors in Kiev. Please, I beg of you. You will have to spend the night here." And in actual fact they were most barbarously kept there for one more day.

[After Stalin's amnesty, as I will recount later, those amnestied were held in prison for another two or three months and were forced to slog away just as before. And no one considered this illegal.]

On getting back their freedom, Fastenko and his comrades immediately rushed to join the revolution. In 1906 he was sentenced to eight years at hard labor, which meant four years in irons and four in exile. He served the first four years in the Sevastopol Central Prison, where, incidentally, during his stay, a mass escape was organized from outside by a coalition of revolutionary parties: the SR's, the Anarchists, and the Social Democrats. A bomb blew a hole in the prison wall big enough for a horse and rider to go through, and two dozen prisoners— not everyone who wanted to escape, but those who had been chosen ahead of time by their parties and, right inside the prison, had been equipped with pistols by the jailers—fled through the hole and escaped. All but one: Anatoly Fastenko was selected by the Russian Social Democratic Party not to escape but to cause a disturbance in order to distract the attention of the guards.

On the other hand, when he reached exile in the Yenisei area, he did not stay there long. Comparing his stories (and later those of others who had survived) with the well-known fact that under the Tsar our revolutionaries escaped from exile by the hundreds and hundreds, and more and more of them went abroad, one comes to the conclusion that the only prisoners who did not escape from Tsarist exile were the lazy ones—-because it was so easy. Fastenko "escaped," which is to say, he simply left his place of exile without a passport. He went to Vladivostok, ex- pecting to get aboard a steamer through an acquaintance there. Somehow it did not work out. So then, still without a passport, he calmly crossed the whole of Mother Russia on a train and went to the Ukraine, where he had been a member of the Bolshevik underground and where he had first been arrested. There he was given a false passport, and he left to cross the Austrian border. That particular step was so routine, and Fastenko felt himself so safe from pursuit, that he was guilty of an astonishing piece of carelessness. Having arrived at the border, and having turned in his passport to the official there, he suddenly discovered he could not remember his new name. What was he to do? There were forty passengers altogether and the official had already begun to call off their names. Fastenko thought up a solution. He pretended to be asleep. He listened as the passports were handed back to their owners, and he noted that the name Makarov was called several times without anyone responding. But even at this point he was not absolutely certain it was his name. Finally, the dragon of the imperial regime bent down to the underground revolutionary and politely tapped him on the shoulder: "Mr. Makarov! Mr. Makarov! Please, here is your passport!"

Fastenko headed for Paris. There he got to know Lenin and Lunacharsky and carried out some administrative duties at the Party school at Longjumeau. At the same time he studied French, looked around him, and decided that he wanted to travel farther and see the world. Before the war he went to Canada, where he worked for a while, and he spent some time in the United States as well. He was astonished by the free and easy, yet solidly established life in these countries, and he concluded that they would never have a proletarian revolution and even that they hardly needed one.

Then, in Russia, the long-awaited revolution came, sooner than expected, and everyone went back to Russia, and then there was one more Revolution. Fastenko no longer felt his former passion for these revolutions. But he returned, compelled by the same need that urges birds to their annual migrations.

[Soon after Fastenko returned to the Motherland, he was followed by a Canadian acquaintance, a former sailor on the battleship Potemkin, one of the mutineers, in fact, who had escaped to Canada and become a well-to-do farmer there. This former Potemkin sailor sold everything he owned, his farm and cattle, and returned to his native region with his money and his new tractor to help build sacred socialism. He enlisted in one of the first agricultural communes and donated his tractor to it. The tractor was driven any which way by whoever happened along and was quickly ruined. And the former Potemkin sailor saw things turning out very differently from the way he had pictured them for twenty years. Those in charge were incompetents, issuing orders that any sensible farmer could see were wild nonsense. In addition, he became skinnier and skinnier, and his clothes wore out, and nothing was left of the Canadian dollars he had exchanged for paper rubles. He begged to be allowed to leave with his family, and he crossed the border as poor as when he fled from the Potemkin. He crossed the ocean, just as he had done then, working his way as a sailor, because he had no money for passages, and back in Canada he began life all over again as a hired hand on a farm.]

There was much about Fastenko I could not yet understand. In my eyes, perhaps the main thing about him, and the most surprising, was that he had known Lenin personally. Yet he was quite cool in recalling this. (Such was my attitude at the time that when someone in the cell called Fastenko by his patronymic alone, without using his given name—in other words simply "Ilyich," asking: "Ilyich, is it your turn to take out the latrine bucket?"—I was utterly outraged and offended because it seemed sacrilege to me not only to use Lenin's patronymic in the same sentence as "latrine bucket," but even to call anyone on earth "Ilyich" except that one man, Lenin. ) For this reason, no doubt, there was much that Fastenko would have liked to explain to me that he still could not bring himself to.

Nonetheless, he did say to me, in the clearest Russian: "Thou shalt not make unto thee any graven image!" But I failed to understand him!

Observing my enthusiasm, he more than once said to me insistently: "You're a mathematician; it's a mistake for you to forget that maxim of Descartes: 'Question everything!' Ques- tion everything!" What did this mean—"everything"? Certainly not everything! It seemed to me that I had questioned enough things as it was, and that was enough of that!

Or he said: "Hardly any of the old hard-labor political pris- oners of Tsarist times are left. I am one of the last. All the hard- labor politicals have been destroyed, and they even dissolved our society in the thirties." "Why?" I asked. "So we would not get together and discuss things." And although these simple words, spoken in a calm tone, should have been shouted to the heavens, should have shattered windowpanes, I understood them only as indicating one more of Stalin's evil deeds. It was a trouble- some fact, but without roots.

One thing is absolutely definite: not everything that enters our ears penetrates our consciousness. Anything too far out of tune with our attitude is lost, either in the ears themselves or somewhere beyond, but it is lost. And even though I clearly re- member Fastenko's many stories, I recall his opinions but vaguely. He gave me the names of various books which he strongly advised me to read whenever I got back to freedom. In view of his age and his health, he evidently did not count on getting out of prison alive, and he got some satisfaction from hoping that I would someday understand his ideas. I couldn't write down the list of books he suggested, and even as it was there was a great deal of prison life for me to remember, but I at least remembered those titles which were closest to my taste then: Untimely Thoughts by Gorky (whom I regarded very highly at that time, since he had, after all, outdone all the other classical Russian writers in being proletarian) and Plekhanov's A Year in the Motherland.

Today, when I read what Plekhanov wrote on October 28, 1917, I can clearly reconstruct what Fastenko himself thought:

... I am disappointed by the events of the last days not because I do not desire the triumph of the working class in Russia but precisely because I pray for it with all the strength of my soul. . . . [We must] remember Engels' remark that there could be no greater historical tragedy for the working class than to seize political power when it is not ready for it. [Such a seizure of power] would compel it to retreat far back from the positions which were won in February and March of the present year.

[G. V. Plekhanov, "An Open Letter to the Workers of Petrograd," in the newspaper Yedinstvo, October 28, 1917.]

When Fastenko returned to Russia, pressure was put on him, out of respect for his old underground exploits, to accept an important position. But he did not want to; instead, he accepted a modest post on the newspaper Pravda and then a still more modest one, and eventually he moved over to the Moscow City Planning office, where he worked in an inconspicuous job.

I was surprised. Why had he chosen such a cul-de-sac? He ex- plained in terms I found incomprehensible. "You can't teach an old dog to live on a chain."

Realizing that there was nothing he could accomplish, Fastenko quite simply wanted, in a very human way, to stay alive. He had already gotten used to living on a very small pension—not one of the "personal" pensions especially assigned by the government, because to have accepted that sort of thing would have called attention to his close ties to many who had been shot. And he might have managed to survive in this way until 1953. But, to his misfortune, they arrested another tenant in his apartment, a debauched, perpetually drunken writer, L. S------v, who had bragged somewhere while he was drunk about owning a pistol. Owning a pistol meant an obligatory conviction for terrorism, and Fastenko, with his ancient Social Democratic past, was naturally the very picture of a terrorist. Therefore, the interroga- tor immediately proceeded to nail him for terrorism and, simul- taneously, of course, for service in the French and Canadian intelligence services and thus for service in the Tsarist Okhrana as well.

[This was one of Stalin's pet themes—to ascribe to every arrested Bol- shevik, and in general to every arrested revolutionary, service in the Tsarist Okhrana. Was this merely his intolerant suspiciousness? Or was it intuition? Or, perhaps, analogy? . . .]

And in 1945, to earn his fat pay, the fat interrogator was quite seriously leafing through the archives of the Tsarist provincial gendarmerie administrations, and composing entirely serious interrogation depositions about conspiratorial nicknames, passwords, and secret rendezvous and meetings in 1903.

On the tenth day, which was as soon as was permitted, his old wife (they had no children) delivered to Anatoly Ilyich such parcels as she could manage to put together: a piece of black bread weighing about ten and a half ounces (after all, it had been bought in the open market, where bread cost 50 rubles a pound), and a dozen peeled boiled potatoes which had been pierced by an awl when the parcel was being inspected. And the sight of those wretched—and truly sacred—parcels tore at one's heartstrings.

That was what this human being had earned for sixty-three years of honesty and doubts.

The four cots in our cell left an aisle in the middle, where the table stood. But several days after my arrival, they put a fifth per- son in with us and inserted a cot crosswise.

They brought in the newcomer an hour before rising time— that brief, sweetly cerebral last hour, and three of us did not lift our heads. Only Kramarenko jumped up, to sponge some to- bacco, and maybe, with it, some material for the interrogator. They began to converse in a whisper, and we tried not to listen. But it was quite impossible not to overhear the newcomer's whisper. It was so loud, so disquieting, so tense, and so close to a sob, that we realized it was no ordinary grief that had entered our cell. The newcomer was asking whether many were shot. Nonetheless, without turning my head, I called them down, asking them to talk more quietly.

When, on the signal to rise, we all instantly jumped up (lying abed earned you the punishment cell), we saw a general, no less! True, he wasn't wearing any insignia of rank, not even tabs—nor could one see where his insignia had been torn off or unscrewed, but his expensive tunic, his soft overcoat, indeed his entire figure and face, told us that he was unquestionably a general, in fact a typical general, and most certainly a full general, and not one of your run-of-the-mill major generals. He was short, stocky, very broad of shoulder and body, and notably fat in the face, but this fat, which had been acquired by eating well, endowed him, not with an appearance of good-natured accessibility, but with an air of weighty importance, of affiliation with the highest ranks. The crowning part of his face was, to be sure, not the upper portion, but the lower, which resembled a bulldog's jaw. It was there that his energy was concentrated, along with his will and authoritativeness, which were what had enabled him to attain such rank by early middle age.

We introduced ourselves, and it turned out that L. V. Z------v was even younger than he appeared. He would be thirty-six that year—"If they don't shoot me." Even more surprisingly, it de- veloped that he was not a general at all, not even a colonel, and not even a military man—but an engineer!

An engineer? I had grown up among engineers, and I could remember the engineers of the twenties very well indeed: their open, shining intellects, their free and gentle humor, their agility and breadth of thought, the ease with which they shifted from one engineering field to another, and, for that matter, from technology to social concerns and art. Then, too, they personified good manners and delicacy of taste; well-bred speech that flowed evenly and was free of uncultured words; one of them might play a musical instrument, another dabble in painting; and their faces always bore a spiritual imprint.

From the beginning of the thirties I had lost contact with that milieu. Then came the war. And here before me stood—an engineer, one of those who had replaced those destroyed.

No one could deny him one point of superiority. He was much stronger, more visceral, than those others had been. His shoulders and hands retained their strength even though they had not needed it for a long time. Freed from the restraints of courtesy, he stared sternly and spoke impersonally, as if he didn't even consider the possibility of a dissenting view. He had grown up differently from those others too, and he worked differently.

His father had plowed the earth in the most literal sense. Lenya Z------v had been one of those disheveled, unenlightened peasant boys whose wasted talents so distressed Belinsky and Tolstoi. He was certainly no Lomonosov, and he could never have gotten to the Academy on his own, but he was talented. If there had been no revolution, he would have plowed the land, and he would have become well-to-do because he was energetic and active, and he might have raised himself into the merchant class.

It being the Soviet period, however, he entered the Komsomol, and his work in the Komsomol, overshadowing his other talents, lifted him out of anonymity, out of his lowly state, out of the countryside, and shot him like a rocket through the Workers' School right into the Industrial Academy. He arrived there in 1929—at the very moment when those other engineers were being driven in whole herds into Gulag. It was urgently necessary for those in power to produce their own engineers—politically- conscious, loyal, one-hundred percenters, who were to become bigwigs of production, Soviet businessmen, in fact, rather than people who did things themselves. That was the moment when the famous commanding heights overlooking the as-yet-uncreated industries were empty. And it was the fate of Z------v's class in the Industrial Academy to occupy them.

Z------v's life became a chain of triumphs, a garland wind- ing right up to the peak. Those were the exhausting years, from 1929 to 1933, when the civil war was being waged, not as in 1918 to 1920 with tachankas—machine guns mounted on horse- drawn carts—but with police dogs, when the long lines of those dying of famine trudged toward the railroad stations in the hope of getting to the cities, which was where the breadgrains were evidently ripening, but were refused tickets and were unable to leave—and lay dying beneath the station fences in a submissive human heap of homespun coats and bark shoes. In those same years Z------v not only did not know that bread was rationed to city dwellers but, at a time when a manual laborer was receiving 60 rubles a month in wages, he enjoyed a student's scholarship of 900 rubles a month. Z------v's heart did not ache for the countryside whose dust he had shaken from his feet. His new life was already soaring elsewhere among the victors and the leaders.

He never had time to be an ordinary, run-of-the-mill foreman. He was immediately assigned to a position in which he had dozens of engineers and thousands of workers under him. He was the chief engineer of the big construction projects outside Mos- cow. From the very beginning of the war he, of course, had an exemption from military service. He was evacuated to Alma-Ata, together with the department he worked for, and in this area he bossed even bigger construction projects on the Ili River. But in this case his workers were prisoners. The sight of those little gray people bothered him very little at the time, nor did it in- spire him to any reappraisals nor compel him to take a closer look. In that gleaming orbit in which he circled, the only im- portant thing was to achieve the projected totals, fulfillment of the plan. And it was quite enough for Z------v merely to punish a particular construction unit, a particular camp, and a par- ticular work superintendent—after that, it was up to them to manage to fulfill their norm with their own resources. How many hours they had to work to do it or what ration they had to get along on were details that didn't concern him.

The war years deep in the rear were the best years in Z------v's life. Such is the eternal and universal aspect of war: the more grief it accumulates at one of its poles, the more joy it generates at the other. Z------v had not only a bulldog's jaw but also a swift, enterprising, businesslike grasp. With the greatest skill he immediately switched to the economy's new wartime rhythm. Everything for victory. Give and take, and the war will write it all off. He made just one small concession to the war. He got along without suits and neckties, and, camouflaging himself in khaki color, had chrome-leather boots made to order and donned a general's tunic—the very one in which he appeared before us. That was fashionable and not uncommon at the time. It provoked neither anger in the war-wounded nor reproachful glances from women.

Women usually looked at him with another sort of glance. They came to him to get well fed, to get warmed up, to have some fun. He had wild money passing through his hands. His billfold bulged like a little barrel with expense money, and to him ten-ruble notes were like kopecks, and thousands like single rubles. Z------v didn't hoard them, regret spending them, or keep count of them. He counted only the women who passed through his hands, and particularly those he had "uncorked." This count was his sport. In the cell he assured us that his arrest had broken off the count at 290 plus, and he regretted that he had not reached 300. Since it was wartime and the women were alone and lonely. And since, in addition to his power and money, he had the virility of a Rasputin, one can probably believe him. And he was quite prepared to describe one episode after another. It was just that our ears were not prepared to listen to him. Even though no danger threatened him during those last years, he had frantically grabbed these women, messed them up, and then thrown them away, like a greedy diner eating boiled crayfish— grabbing one, devouring it, sucking it, then grabbing the next.

He was so accustomed to the malleability of material, to his own vigorous boarlike drive across the land! (Whenever he was especially agitated, he would dash about the cell like a powerful boar who might just knock down an oak tree in his path.) He was so accustomed to an environment in which all the leaders were his own kind of people, in which one could always make a deal, work things out, cover them up! He forgot that the more success one gains, the more envy one arouses. As he found out during his interrogation, a dossier had been accumulating against him since way back in 1936, on the basis of an anecdote he had carelessly told at a drunken party. More denunciations had fol- lowed, and more testimony from agents (after all, one has to take women to restaurants, where all types of people see you!). Another report pointed out that he had been in no hurry to leave Moscow in 1941, that he had been waiting for the Germans. He had in actual fact stayed on longer than he should have, ap- parently because of some woman. Z------v took great care to keep his business deals clean. But he quite forgot the existence of Article 58. Nonetheless, the avalanche might not have over- whelmed him had he not grown overconfident and refused to supply building materials for a certain prosecutor's dacha. That was what caused his dormant case to awaken and tremble and start rolling. (And this was one more instance of the fact that cases begin with the material self-interest of the blueboys.)

The scope of Z------v's concepts of the world can be judged by the fact that he believed there was a Canadian language. During the course of two months in the cell, he did not read a single book, not even a whole page, and if he did read a para- graph, it was only to be distracted from his gloomy thoughts about his interrogation. It was clear from his conversation that he had read even less in freedom. He knew of Pushkin—as the hero of bawdy stories. And of Tolstoi he knew only, in all probability, that he was—a Deputy of the Supreme Soviet!

On the other hand, was he a one hundred percent loyal Com- munist? Was he that same socially-conscious proletarian who had been brought up to replace Palchinsky and von Meek and their ilk? This was what was really surprising—he was most cer- tainly not! We once discussed the whole course of the war with him, and I said that from the very first moment I had never had any doubts about our victory over the Germans. He looked at me sharply; he did not believe me. "Come on, what are you saying?" And then he took his head in his hands. "Oh, Sasha, Sasha, and I was convinced the Germans would win! That's what did me in!" There you are! He was one of the "organizers of victory," but each day he believed in the Germans' success and awaited their inevitable arrival. Not because he loved them, but simply because he had so sober an insight into our economy (which I, of course, knew nothing about and therefore believed in).

All of us in the cell were deeply depressed, but none of us was so crushed as Z------v, none took his arrest as so profound a tragedy. He learned from us that he would get no more than a tenner, that during his years in camp he would, of course, be a work superintendent, and that he would not have to experience real suffering, as indeed he never did. But this did not comfort him in the least. He was too stricken by the collapse of such a glorious life. After all, it was his one and only life on earth, and no one else's, which had interested him all his thirty-six years. And more than once, sitting on his cot in front of the table, propping his pudgy head on his short, pudgy arm, he would start to sing quietly, in a singsong voice and with lost, befogged eyes:

Forgotten and abandoned
Since my young, early years,
I was left a tiny orphan. . . .

He could never get any further than that. At that point, he would break into explosive sobs. All that bursting strength which could not break through the walls that enclosed him he turned inward, toward self-pity.

And toward pity for his wife. Every tenth day (since oftener was not allowed) his wife, long since unloved, brought him rich and bountiful food parcels—the whitest of white bread, butter, red caviar, veal, sturgeon. He would give each of us a sandwich and a twist of tobacco and then bend down to the provisions he had set before himself, delighting in odors and colors that con- trasted vividly with the bluish potatoes of the old underground revolutionary Fastenko. Then his tears would start to pour again, redoubled. He recalled out loud his wife's tears, whole years of tears: some due to love notes she had found in his trousers, some to some woman's underpants in his overcoat pocket, stuffed there hurriedly in his automobile and forgotten. And when he was thus torn by burning self-pity, his armor of evil energy fell away, and before us was a ruined and clearly a good person. I was astonished that he could sob so. The Estonian Arnold Susi, our cellmate with the gray bristles in his hair, explained it to me: "Cruelty is invariably accompanied by sentimentality. It is the law of complementaries. For example, in the case of the Germans, the combination is a national trait."

Fastenko, on the other hand, was the most cheerful person in the cell, even though, in view of his age, he was the only one who could not count on surviving and returning to freedom. Flinging an arm around my shoulders, he would say:

To stand up for the truth is nothing!
For truth you have to sit in jail!

Or else he taught me to sing this song from Tsarist hard-labor days:

And if we have to perish
In mines and prisons wet,
Our cause will ever find renown
In future generations yet.

And I believe this! May these pages help his faith come true!

The sixteen-hour days in our cell were short on outward events, but they were so interesting that I, for example, now find a mere sixteen minutes' wait for a trolley bus much more boring. There were no events worthy of attention, and yet by evening I would sigh because once more there had not been enough time, once more the day had flown. The events were trivial, but for the first time in my life I learned to look at them through a magnifying glass.

The most difficult hours in the day were the first two. At the rattle of the key in the lock (for at the Lubyanka there were no "swill troughs," [Special large openings in the cell doors of many Russian prisons [known to the prisoners as "kormushki," meaning "swill troughs" or "fodder bins"]. Their lids dropped down to make tiny tables. Conversations with the jailers were carried on through these openings, food was handed through, and prison papers were shoved through for the prisoners to sign.] and it was necessary to unlock the door even to shout: "Time to get up!"), we jumped up without lingering, made our beds, and sat down on them feeling empty and helpless, with the electric light still burning. This enforced wakefulness from 6 A.M. on—at a time when the brain was still lazy from sleep, the whole world seemed repulsive and all of life wrecked, and there was not a gulp of air in the cell—was particularly ludicrous for those who had been under interrogation all night and had only just been able to get to sleep. But don't try to steal extra sleep! If you should try to doze off, leaning slightly against the wall, or propped over the table as if studying the chessboard, or relaxing over a book lying conspicuously open on your knees, the key would sound a warning knock on the door, or, worse yet, the door with that rattling lock would suddenly open silently, since the Lubyanka jailers were specially trained to do just that, and like a spirit passing through a wall, the swift and silent shadow of the junior sergeant would take three steps into the cell, hook onto you as you slept, and maybe take you off to the punishment cell; or maybe they would take book privileges away from the whole cell or deprive everyone of their daily walk —a cruel, unjust punishment for all, and there were other punish- ments, too, in the black lines of the prison regulations. Read them! They hang in every cell. If, incidentally, you needed glasses to read, then you wouldn't be reading books or the sacred regulations either during those two starving hours. Eye- glasses were taken away every night, and it was evidently still "dangerous" for you to have them during those two hours when no one brought anything to the cell, and no one came to it. No one asked about anything, and no one was summoned—the inter- rogators were still sleeping sweetly. And the prison administra- tion was just opening its eyes, coming to. Only the vertukhai, the turnkeys, were active and energetic, opening the peephole cover once a minute for inspection.

[During my time this word "vertukhai" had already come into wide currency for the jailers. It was said to have originated with Ukrainian guards who were always ordering: "Stoi, ta ne vertukhais!" And yet it is also worth recalling the English word for jailer, "turnkey," is "verti klyuch" in Russian. Perhaps a "vertukhai" here in Russia is also "one who turns the key."]

But one procedure was carried out during those two hours: the morning trip to the toilet. When the guard roused us, he made an important announcement. He designated the person from our cell who was to be entrusted with the responsibility of carrying out the latrine bucket. (In more isolated, ordinary prisons the prisoners had enough freedom of speech and self-government to decide this question themselves. But in the Chief Political Prison such an important event could not be left to chance.) So then you formed up in single file, hands behind your backs, and, at the head of the line, the responsible latrine-bucket-bearer carried chest high the two-gallon tin pail with a lid on it. When you reached your goal, you were locked in again, each having first been handed a small piece of paper, the size of two railway tickets. (At the Lubyanka this was not particularly interesting. The paper was blank and white. But there were enticing prisons where they gave you pages of books—and what reading that was! You could try to guess whence it came, read it over on both sides, digest the contents, evaluate the style—and when words had been cut in half that was particularly essential! You could trade with your comrades. In some places they handed out pages from the once progressive Granat Encyclopedia, and sometimes, it's awful to say it, from the classics, and I don't mean belles-lettres either. Visits to the toilet thus became a means of acquiring knowledge. )

But there's not that much to laugh at. We are dealing with that crude necessity which it is considered unsuitable to refer to in literature (although there, too, it has been said, with immortal adroitness: "Blessed is he who early in the morning . . ."). This allegedly natural start of the prison day set a trap for the prisoner that would grip him all day, a trap for his spirit—which was what hurt. Given the lack of physical activity in prison, and the meager food, and the muscular relaxation of sleep, a person was just not able to square accounts with nature immediately after rising. Then they quickly returned you to the cell and locked you up—until 6 P.M., or, in some prisons, until morning. At that point, you would start to get worried and worked up by the ap- proach of the daytime interrogation period and the events of the day itself, and you would be loading yourself up with your bread ration and water and gruel, but no one was going to let you visit that glorious accommodation again, easy access to which free people are incapable of appreciating. This debilitating, banal need could make itself felt day after day shortly after the morning toilet trip and would then torment you the whole day long, op- press you, rob you of the inclination to talk, read, think, and even of any desire to eat the meager food.

People in the cells sometimes discussed how the Lubyanka system and schedule, and those in other prisons as well, had come into being, whether through calculated brutality or as a matter of chance. My opinion is that both factors are involved. The rising time is, obviously, a matter of malicious intent, but much of the rest evolved automatically at first (which is true of many of the brutalities of life generally) and was then discovered by the powers that be to be useful and was therefore made permanent. The shifts change at 8 A.M. and 8 P.M., and it was more con- venient for everyone to take the prisoners to the toilet at the end of a shift. (Letting them out singly in the middle of the day was extra trouble and meant extra precautions, and no one got paid for that.) The same was true of the business with eyeglasses: Why should one worry about that at 6 A.M.? They could be returned to the owners just before the end of the shift instead.

So now we heard them being brought around—doors were being opened. We could guess whether someone wore them in the cell next door. (And didn't your codefendant wear spectacles? But we didn't feel up to knocking out a message on the wall. This was punished very severely.) A moment later they would bring the eyeglasses to our cell. Fastenko used them only for reading. But Susi needed them all the time. He could stop squint- ing once he'd put them on. Thanks to his horn-rimmed glasses and straight lines above the eyes, his face became severe, per- spicacious, exactly the face of an educated man of our century as we might picture it to ourselves. Back before the Revolution he had studied at the Faculty of History and Philology of the Uni- versity of Petrograd, and throughout his twenty years in inde- pendent Estonia he had preserved intact the purest Russian speech, which he spoke like a native. Later, in Tartu, he had studied law. In addition to Estonian, he spoke English and Ger- man, and through all these years he continued to read the London Economist and the German scientific "Berichte" summaries. He had studied the constitutions and the codes of law of various countries—and in our cell he represented Europe worthily and with restraint. He had been a leading lawyer in Estonia and been known as "kuldsuu"—meaning "golden-tongued."

There was new activity in the corridor. A free-loader in a gray smock—a husky young fellow who had certainly not been at the front—brought a tray with our five bread rations and ten lumps of sugar. Our cell stoolie hovered over them, even though we would inevitably cast lots for them—which we did because every least detail of this was important: the heel of the loaf, for instance, and the number of smaller pieces needed to make the total weight come out right, and how the crust adheres, or doesn't, to the inside of the bread—and it was better that fate should decide.

[Where indeed in our country did this casting of lots not happen? It was the result of our universal and endless hunger. In the army, all rations were divided up the same way. And the Germans, who could hear what was going on from their trenches, teased us about it: "Who gets it? The political com- missar!"]

But the stoolie felt he just had to hold everything in his hands for at least a second so that some bread and sugar molecules would cling to his palms.

That pound of unrisen wet bread, with its swamplike sogginess of texture, made half with potato flour, was our crutch and the main event of the day. Life had begun! The day had begun—this was when it began! And everyone had countless problems. Had he allocated his bread ration wisely the day before? Should he cut it with a thread? Or break it up greedily? Or slowly, quietly nip off pieces one by one? Should he wait for tea or pile into it right now? Should he leave some for dinner or finish it off at lunch? And how much?

In addition to these wretched dilemmas, what wide-ranging discussions and arguments went on (for our tongues had been liberated and with bread we were once more men) provoked by this one-pound chunk in our hand, consisting more of water than of grain. (Incidentally, Fastenko explained that the workers of Moscow were eating the very same bread at that time.) And, gen- erally speaking, was there any real breadgrain in this bread at all? And what additives were in it? (There was at least one person in every cell who knew all about additives, for, after all, who hadn't eaten them during these past decades?) Discussions and remi- niscences began. About the white bread they had baked back in the twenties—springy round loaves, like sponge cake inside, with a buttery reddish-brown top crust and a bottom crust that still had a trace of ash from the coals of the hearth—that bread had vanished for good! Those born in 1930 would never know what bread is. Friends, this is a forbidden subject! We agreed not to say one word about food.

Once again there was movement in the corridor—tea was being brought around. A new young tough in a gray smock carrying pails. We put our teapot out in the corridor and he poured straight into it from a pail without a spout—into the teapot and onto the runner and the floor beneath it. And the whole corridor was polished like that of a first-class hotel.

[Soon the biologist Timofeyev-Ressovsky, whom I have already men- tioned, would be brought here from Berlin. There was nothing at the Lubyanka, it appeared, which so offended him as this spilling on the floor. He considered it striking evidence of the lack of professional pride on the part of the jailers, and of all of us in our chosen work. He multiplied the 27 years of Lubyanka's existence as a prison by 730 times (twice for each day of the year), and then by 111 cells—and he would seethe for a long time because it was easier to spill boiling water on the floor 2,188,000 times and then come and wipe it up with a rag the same number of times than to make pails with spouts.]

And that was all they gave us. Whatever cooked food we got would be served at 1 P.M. and at 4 P.M., one meal almost on the heels of the other. You could then spend the next twenty-one hours remembering it. (And that wasn't prison brutality either: it was simply a matter of the kitchen staff having to do its work as quickly as possible and leave.)

At nine o'clock the morning check-up took place. For a long while beforehand, we could hear especially loud turns of the key and particularly sharp knocks on the doors. Then one of the duty lieutenants for the whole floor would march forward and enter, almost as erect as if he were standing at attention. He would take two steps forward and look sternly at us. We would be on our feet. (We didn't even dare remember that political prisoners were once not required to rise.) It was no work at all to count us— he could do it in a glance—but this was a moment for testing our rights. For we did have some rights, after all, although we did not really know them, and it was his job to hide them from us. The whole strength of the Lubyanka training showed itself in a totally machinelike manner: no expression on the face, no inflection, not a superfluous word.

And which of our rights did we know about? A request to have our shoes repaired. An appointment with the doctor. Although if they actually took you to the doctor, you would not be happy about the consequences. There the machinelike Lubyanka manner would be particularly striking. He didn't ask: "What's your trouble?" That would take too many words, and one couldn't pronounce the phrase without any inflection. He would ask curtly: "Troubles?" And if you began to talk at too great length about your ailment, he would cut you off. It was clear anyway. A tooth- ache? Extract it. You could have arsenic. A filling? We don't fill teeth here. (That would have required additional appoint- ments and created a somewhat humane atmosphere. )

The prison doctor was the interrogator's and executioner's right-hand man. The beaten prisoner would come to on the floor only to hear the doctor's voice: "You can continue, the pulse is normal." After a prisoner's five days and nights in a punishment cell the doctor inspects the frozen, naked body and says: "You can continue." If a prisoner is beaten to death, he signs the death certificate: "Cirrhosis of the liver" or "Coronary occlusion." He gets an urgent call to a dying prisoner in a cell and he takes his time. And whoever behaves differently is not kept on in the prison.

[Dr. F. P. Gaaz would have earned nothing extra in our country.]

But our stoolie was better informed about his rights. (Accord- ing to him he had already been under interrogation eleven months. And he was taken to interrogation only during the day. ) He spoke up and asked for an appointment with the prison chief. What, the chief of the whole Lubyanka? Yes. His name was taken down. (And in the evening, after taps, when the interrogators were al- ready in their offices, he was summoned. And he returned with some makhorka. ) This was very crude, of course, but so far they had not been able to think up anything better. It would have been a big expense to convert entirely to microphones in the walls and impossible to listen in on all 111 cells for whole days at a time. Who would do it? Stool pigeons were cheaper and would continue to be used for a long time to come. But Kramarenko had a hard time with us. Sometimes he eavesdropped so hard that the sweat poured from him, and we could see from his face that he didn't understand what we were saying.

There was one additional right—the privilege of writing appli- cations and petitions (which replaced freedom of the press, of assembly, and of the ballot, all of which we had lost when we left freedom). Twice a month the morning duty officer asked: "Who wants to write a petition?" And they listed everyone who wanted to. In the middle of the day they would lead you to an individual box and lock you up in it. In there, you could write whomever you pleased: the Father of the Peoples, the Central Committee of the Party, the Supreme Soviet, Minister Beria, Minister Abakumov, the General Prosecutor, the Chief Military Prosecutor, the Prison Administration, the Investigation Depart- ment. You could complain about your arrest, your interrogator, even the chief of the prison! In each and every case your petition would have no effect whatever. It would not be stapled into any file, and the most senior official to read it would be your own interrogator. However, you were in no position to prove this. In fact, it was rather more likely that he would not read it, because no one would be able to read it. On a piece of paper measuring seven by ten centimeters—in other words, three by four inches— a little larger than the paper given you each morning at the toilet, with a pen broken in the middle or bent into a hook, and an inkwell with pieces of rag in it and ink diluted with water, you would just be able to scratch out "Petit . . ." Then the letters would all run together on the cheap paper, "ion" couldn't be worked into the line, and everything would come through on the other side of the sheet.

You might have still other rights, but the duty officer would keep quiet about them. And you wouldn't be losing much, truth to tell, even if you didn't find out about them.

The check-up came and went. And the day began. The inter- rogators were already arriving there somewhere. The turnkey would summon one of us with a great air of secrecy; he called out the first letter of the name only. Like this: "Whose name begins with 'S'?" and: "Whose name begins with 'F?" Or perhaps: "Whose begins with 'M'?—with 'Am'?" And you yourself had to be quick-witted enough to recognize that it was you he wanted and offer yourself as a victim. This system was introduced to prevent mistakes on the jailer's part. He might have called out a name in the wrong cell, and that way we might have found out who else was in prison. And yet, though cut off from the entire prison, we were not deprived of news from other cells. Because they tried to crowd in as many prisoners as possible, they shuffled them about from cell to cell, and every newcomer brought all his accumulated experience to his new cell. Thus it was that we, imprisoned on the fourth floor, knew all about the cellar cells, about the boxes on the first floor, about the darkness on the second floor, where the women were all kept, about the split-level arrange- ment of the fifth, and about the biggest cell of all on the fifth floor—No. 111. Before my time, the children's writer Bondarin had been a prisoner in our cell, and before that he had been on the women's floor with some Polish correspondent or other, who had previously been a cellmate of Field Marshal von Paulus—and that was how we learned all the details about von Paulus.

The period for being summoned to interrogation passed. And for those left in the cell a long, pleasant day stretched ahead, lightened by opportunities and not overly darkened by duties. Duties could include sterilizing the cots with a blow torch twice a month. (At the Lubyanka, matches were categorically for- bidden to prisoners; to get a light for a cigarette we had to signal patiently with a finger when the peephole was opened, thus asking the jailer for a light. But blow torches were entrusted to us with- out hesitation.) And once a week we might be called into the corridor to have our faces clipped with a dull clipper—allegedly a right but strongly resembling a duty. And one might be as- signed the duty of cleaning the parquet floor in the cell. (Z------v always avoided this work because it was beneath his dignity, like any other work, in fact.) We got out of breath quickly because we were underfed; otherwise we would have considered this duty a privilege. It was such gay, lively work—pushing the brush forward with one's bare foot, torso pulled back, and then turn about; forward-back, forward-back, and forget all your grief! Shiny as a mirror! A Potemkin prison!

Besides, we didn't have to go on being overcrowded in our old Cell 67 any longer. In the middle of March they added a sixth prisoner to our number, and since here in the Lubyanka they did not fill all the cells with board bunks, nor make you sleep on the floor, they transferred all of us into a beauty of a cell—No. 53. (I would advise anyone who has not yet been in it to pay it a visit.) This was not a cell. It was a palace chamber set aside as a sleeping apartment for distinguished travelers! The Rossiya In- surance Company, without a thought for economy, had raised the height of the ceiling in this wing to sixteen and a half feet.

[This company acquired a piece of Moscow earth that was well ac- quainted with blood. The innocent Vereshchagin was torn to pieces in 1812 on Furkasovsky, near the Rostopchin house. And the murderess and serf-owner Saltychikha lived—and killed serfs—on the other side of the Bolshaya Lub- yanka. (Po Moskve [In Moscow], edited by N. A. Geinike and others, Moscow, Sabashnikov Publishers, 1917, p. 231.)]

(Oh, what four-story bunks the chief of counterintelligence at the front would have slapped in here. And he could have gotten one hundred people in, results guaranteed.) And the window! It was such an enormous window that standing on its sill the jailer could hardly reach the "fortochka," that hinged ventilation pane. One section of this window alone would have made a fine whole window in an ordinary house. Only the riveted steel sheets of the muzzle closing off four-fifths of it reminded us that we were not in a palace after all.

Nonetheless, on clear days, above this muzzle, from the wall of the Lubyanka courtyard, from some windowpane or other on the sixth or seventh floor, we now and then got a pale reflection of a ray of sunlight. To us it was a real ray of sunlight—a living, dear being! We followed with affection its climb up the wall. And every step it made was filled with meaning, presaging the time of our daily outing in the fresh air, counting off several half- hours before lunch. Then, just before lunch, it disappeared.

And our rights included being let out for a walk, reading books, telling one another about the past, listening and learning, arguing and being educated! And we would be rewarded by a lunch that included two courses! Too good to be true!

The walk was bad on the first three floors of the Lubyanka. The prisoners were let out into a damp, low-lying little courtyard —the bottom of a narrow well between the prison buildings. But the prisoners on the fourth and fifth floors, on the other hand, were taken to an eagle's perch—on the roof of the fifth floor. It had a concrete floor; there were concrete walls three times the height of a man; we were accompanied by an unarmed jailer; on the watch tower was a sentinel with an automatic weapon. But the air was real and the sky was real! "Hands behind your back! Line up in pairs! No talking! No stopping!" Such were the com- mands, but they forgot to forbid us to throw back our heads. And, of course, we did just that. Here one could see not a re- flected, not a secondhand Sun, but the real one! The real, eternally living Sun itself! Or its golden diffusion through the spring clouds.

Spring promises everyone happiness—and tenfold to the pris- oner. Oh, April sky! It didn't matter that I was in prison. Evi- dently, they were not going to shoot me. And in the end I would become wiser here. I would come to understand many things here, Heaven! I would correct my mistakes yet, O Heaven, not for them but for you, Heaven! I had come to understand those mistakes here, and I would correct them!

As if from a pit, from the far-off lower reaches, from Dzer- zhinsky Square, the hoarse earthly singing of the automobile horns rose to us in a constant refrain. To those who were dashing along to the tune of those honkings, they seemed the trumpets of creation, but from here their insignificance was very clear.

The walk in the fresh air lasted only twenty minutes, but how much there was about it to concern oneself with; how much one had to accomplish while it lasted.

In the first place, it was very interesting to try to figure out the layout of the entire prison while they were taking you there and back, and to calculate where those tiny hanging courtyards were, so that at some later date, out in freedom, one could walk along the square and spot their location. We made many turns on the way there, and I invented the following system: Starting from the cell itself, I would count every turn to the right as plus one, and every turn to the left as minus one. And, no matter how quickly they made us turn, the idea was not to try to picture it hastily to oneself, but to count up the total. If, in addition, through some staircase window, you could catch a glimpse of the backs of the Lubyanka water nymphs, half-reclining against the pillared turret which hovered over the square itself, and you could remember the exact point in your count when this happened, then back in the cell you could orient yourself and figure out what your own window looked out on.

And during that outdoor walk you concentrated on breathing as much fresh air as possible.

There, too, alone beneath that bright heaven, you had to im- agine your bright future life, sinless and without error.

There, too, was the best place of ail to talk about the most dangerous subjects. It didn't matter that conversation during the walk was forbidden. One simply had to know how to manage it. The compensation was that in all likelihood you could not be over- heard either by a stoolie or by a microphone.

During these walks I tried to get into a pair with Susi. We talked together in the cell, but we liked to try talking about the main things here. We hadn't come together quickly. It took some time. But he had already managed to tell me a great deal. I acquired a new capability from him: to accept patiently and pur- posefully things that had never had any place in my own plans and had, it seemed, no connection at all with the clearly outlined direction of my life. From childhood on, I had somehow known that my objective was the history of the Russian Revolution and that nothing else concerned me. To understand the Revolution I had long since required nothing beyond Marxism. I cut myself off from everything else that came up and turned my back on it. And now fate brought me together with Susi. He breathed a com- pletely different sort of air. And he would tell me passionately about his own interests, and these were Estonia and democracy. And although I had never expected to become interested in Estonia, much less bourgeois democracy, I nevertheless kept listening and listening to his loving stories of twenty free years in that modest, work-loving, small nation of big men whose ways were slow and set. I listened to the principles of the Estonian con- stitution, which had been borrowed from the best of European experience, and to how their hundred-member, one-house parlia- ment had worked. And, though the why of it wasn't clear, I began to like it all and store it all away in my experience.

[Susi remembered me later as a strange mixture of Marxist and democrat. Yes, things were wildly mixed up inside me at that time.]

I listened willingly to their fatal history: the tiny Estonian anvil had, from way, way back, been caught between two hammers, the Teutons and the Slavs. Blows showered on it from East and West in turn; there was no end to it, and there still isn't. And there was the well- known (totally unknown) story of how we Russians wanted to take them over in one fell swoop in 1918, but they refused to yield. And how, later on, Yudenich spoke contemptuously of their Finnish heritage, and we ourselves christened them "White Guard Bandits." Then the Estonian gymnasium students enrolled as volunteers. We struck at Estonia again in 1940, and again in 1941, and again in 1944. Some of their sons were conscripted by the Russian Army, and others by the German Army, and still others ran off into the woods. The elderly Tallinn intellectuals discussed how they might break out of that iron ring, break away somehow, and live for themselves and by themselves. Their Premier might, possibly, have been Tief, and their Minister of Education, say, Susi. But neither Churchill nor Roosevelt cared about them in the least; but "Uncle Joe" did. And during the very first nights after the Soviet armies entered Tallinn, all these dreamers were seized in their Tallinn apartments. Fifteen of them were imprisoned in various cells of the Moscow Lubyanka, one in each, and were charged under Article 58-2 with the criminal desire for national self-determination.

Each time we returned to the cell from our walk was like being arrested again. Even in our very special cell the air seemed stifling after the outdoors. And it would have been good to have a snack afterward too. But it was best not to think about it— not at all. It was bad if one of the prisoners who received food parcels tactlessly spread out his treasures at the wrong time and began to eat. All right, we'll develop self-control! It was bad, too, to be betrayed by the author of the book you were reading— if he began to drool over food in the greatest detail. Get away from me, Gogol! Get away from me, Chekhov, too! They both had too much food in their books. "He didn't really feel like eating, but nevertheless he ate a helping of veal and drank some beer." The son-of-a-bitch! It was better to read spiritual things! Dostoyevsky was the right kind of author for prisoners to read! Yet even in Dostoyevsky you could find that passage "The chil- dren went hungry. For several days they had seen nothing but bread and sausage."

The Lubyanka library was the prison's principal ornament. True, the librarian was repulsive—a blond spinster with a horsy build, who did everything possible to make herself ugly. Her face was so whitened that it looked like a doll's immobile mask; her lips were purple; and her plucked eyebrows were black. (You might say that was her own business, but we would have enjoyed it more if she had been a charmer. However, perhaps the chief of the Lubyanka had already taken that into consideration?) But here was a wonder: once every ten days, when she came to take away our books, she listened to our requests for new ones! She heard us out in that same machinelike, inhuman Lubyanka manner, and it was impossible to judge whether she had heard the authors' names or the titles, whether, indeed, she had heard our words at all. She would leave, and we would experience several hours of nervous but happy expectation. During those hours all the books we had returned were leafed through and checked. They were examined in case we had left pinpricks or dots underneath certain letters—for there was such a method of clandestine intramural communication—or we had underlined passages we liked with a fingernail. We were worried even though we were totally innocent. They might come to us and say that they had discovered pinpricks. They were always right, of course; and, as always, no proof was required. And on that basis we could be deprived of books for three months—if, indeed, they didn't put the whole cell on a punishment-cell regime. It would be very sad to have to do without books during the best and brightest of our prison months, before we were tossed into the pit of camp. Indeed, we were not only afraid; we actually trembled, just as we had in youth after sending a love letter, while we waited for an answer. Will it come or not? And what will it say?

Then at last the books arrived and determined the pattern of the next ten days. They would decide whether we would chiefly concentrate on reading or, if they had brought us trash, be spend- ing more time in conversation. They brought exactly as many books as there were people in the cell, this being the sort of calculation appropriate to a bread cutter and not a librarian: one book for one person, six books for six persons. The cells with the largest number of prisoners were the best off.

Sometimes the spinster would fill our orders miraculously. But even when she was careless about them, things could turn out interestingly. Because the library of the Big Lubyanka was unique. In all probability it had been assembled out of confiscated private libraries. The bibliophiles who had collected those books had al- ready rendered up their souls to God. But the main thing was that while State Security had been busy censoring and emasculating all the libraries of the nation for decades, it forgot to dig in its own bosom. Here, in its very den, one could read Zamyatin, Pil- nyak, Panteleimon Romanov, and any volume at all of the com- plete works of Merezhkovsky. (Some people wisecracked that they allowed us to read forbidden books because they already re- garded us as dead. But I myself think that the Lubyanka librarians hadn't the faintest concept of what they were giving us—they were simply lazy and ignorant.)

We used to read intensively during the hours before lunch. But it sometimes happened that a single phrase would get you going and drive you to pace from window to door, from door to window. And you would want to show somebody what you had read and explain what it implied, and then an argument would get started. It was a time for sharp arguments, as well!

I often argued with Yuri Y.

On that March morning when they led the five of us into palatial Cell 53, they had just added a sixth prisoner to our group.

He entered, it seemed, like a spirit, and his shoes made no noise against the floor. He entered and, not sure that he could stay on his feet, leaned against the door frame. The bulb had been turned off in the cell and the morning light was dim. How- ever, the newcomer did not have his eyes wide open. He squinted, and he kept silent.

The cloth of his military field jacket and trousers did not identify him as coming from the Soviet, or the German, or the Polish, or the English Army. The structure of his face was elong- ated. There was very little Russian in it. And he was painfully thin. And not only very thin but very tall.

We spoke to him in Russian—and he kept silent. Susi addressed him in German—he still kept silent. Fastenko tried French and English—with the same result. Only gradually did a smile appear on his emaciated, yellow, half-dead face—the only such smile I had ever seen in my life.

"Pee-eeple," he uttered weakly, as if he were coming out of a faint, or as if he had been waiting all night long to be executed. And he reached out his weak, emaciated hand. It held a small bundle tied up in a rag. Our stoolie understood instantly what was in it, threw himself on it, grabbed it, and opened it up on the table. There was half a pound of light tobacco. He had instantly man- aged to roll himself a cigarette four times the size of an ordi- nary one.

Thus, after three weeks' confinement in a cellar box, Yuri Nikolayevich Y. made his appearance in our cell.

From the time of the 1929 incidents on the Chinese Eastern Railroad, the song had been sung throughout the land:

Its steel breast brushing aside our enemies,
The 27th stands on guard!

The chief of artillery of this 27th Infantry Division, formed back in the Civil War, was the Tsarist officer Nikolai Y. (I re- membered the name because it was the name of one of the authors of our artillery textbook.) In a heated freight car that had been converted into living quarters, and always accompanied by his wife, this artillery officer had crossed and recrossed the Volga and the Urals, sometimes moving east and sometimes west. It was in this heated freight car that his son, Yuri, born in 1917, and twin brother, therefore, of the Revolution itself, spent his first years.

That was a long time ago. Since then his father had settled in Leningrad, in the Academy, and lived well and frequented high circles, and the son graduated from the officer candidate school. During the Finnish War, Yuri wanted desperately to fight for the Motherland, and friends of his father got him an appointment as an aide on an army staff. Yuri did not have to crawl on his stomach to destroy the Finns' concrete artillery emplacements, nor get trapped and encircled on a scouting mission, nor freeze in the snow under sniper bullets—but his service was nevertheless rewarded, not with some ordinary decoration, but with the Order of the Red Banner, which fitted neatly on his field shirt. Thus he completed the Finnish War in full consciousness of its justice and his own part in it.

But he didn't have things so easy in the next war. The battery he commanded was surrounded near Luga. They scattered and were caught and driven off into prisoner-of-war camps. Yuri found himself in a concentration camp for officers near Vilnius.

In every life there is one particular event that is decisive for the entire person—for his fate, his convictions, his passions. Two years in that camp shook Yuri up once and for all. It is impossible to catch with words or to circumvent with syllogisms what that camp was. That was a camp to die in—and whoever did not die was compelled to reach certain conclusions.

Among those who could survive were the Ordners—the in- ternal camp police or Polizei—chosen from among the prisoners. Of course, Yuri did not become an Ordner. The cooks managed to survive too. The translators could survive also—they needed them. But though Yuri had a superb command of conversational German, he concealed this fact. He realized that a translator would have to betray his fellow prisoners. One could also post- pone dying by digging graves, but others stronger and more dexterous got those jobs. Yuri announced that he was an artist. And, actually, as part of his varied education at home, he had been given lessons in painting. Yuri didn't paint badly in oils, and only his desire to follow in his father's footsteps—for he had been proud of his father—had kept him from entering art school.

Together with an elderly artist (I regret that I don't remember his name) he occupied a separate room in the barracks. And there Yuri painted for nothing schmaltzy pictures such as Nero's Feast and the Chorus of Elves and the like for the German officers on the commandant's staff. In return, he was given food. The slops for which the POW officers stood in line with their mess tins from 6 A.M. on, while the Ordners beat them with sticks and the cooks with ladles, were not enough to sustain life. At evening, Yuri could see from the windows of their room the one and only picture for which his artistic talent had been given him: the evening mist hovering above a swampy meadow en- circled by barbed wire; a multitude of bonfires; and, around the bonfires, beings who had once been Russian officers but had now become beastlike creatures who gnawed the bones of dead horses, who baked patties from potato rinds, who smoked manure and were all swarming with lice. Not all those two-legged creatures had died as yet. Not all of them had yet lost the capacity for in- telligible speech, and one could see in the crimson reflections of the bonfires how a belated understanding was dawning on those faces which were descending to the Neanderthal.

Wormwood on the tongue! That life which Yuri had preserved was no longer precious to him for its own sake. He was not one of those who easily agree to forget. No, if he was going to survive, he was obliged to draw certain conclusions.

It was already clear to them that the Germans were not the heart of the matter, or at least not the Germans alone; that among the POW's of many nationalities only the Soviets lived like this and died like this. None were worse off than the Soviets. Even the Poles, even the Yugoslavs, existed in far more tolerable condi- tions; and as for the English and the Norwegians, they were in- undated by the International Red Cross with parcels from home. They didn't even bother to line up for the German rations. Wher- ever there were Allied POW camps next door, their prisoners, out of kindness, threw our men handouts over the fence, and our prisoners jumped on these gifts like a pack of dogs on a bone.

The Russians were carrying the whole war on their shoulders —and this was the Russian lot. Why?

Gradually, explanations came in from here and there: it turned out that the U.S.S.R. did not recognize as binding Russia's signa- ture to the Hague Convention on war prisoners. That meant that the U.S.S.R. accepted no obligations at all in the treatment of war prisoners and took no steps for the protection of its own soldiers who had been captured.

[We did not recognize that 1907 Convention until 1955. Incidentally, in his diary for 1915, Melgunov reports rumors that Russia would not let aid go through for its prisoners in Germany and that their living conditions were worse than those of all other Allied prisoners—simply in order to prevent rumors about the good life of war prisoners inducing our soldiers to surrender willingly. There was some sort of continuity of ideas here. (Melgunov, Vos- pominaniya i Dnevniki, Vol. I, pp. 199 and 203.)]

The U.S.S.R. did not recognize the In- ternational Red Cross. The U.S.S.R. did not recognize its own soldiers of the day before: it did not intend to give them any help as POW's.

And the heart of Yuri, enthusiastic twin of the October Revo- lution, grew cold. In their barracks room, he and the elderly artist clashed and argued. It was difficult for Yuri to accept. Yuri re- sisted. But the old man kept peeling off layer after layer. What was it all about? Stalin? But wasn't it too much to ascribe every- thing to Stalin, to those stubby hands? He who draws a con- clusion only halfway fails to draw it at all. What about the rest of them? The ones right next to Stalin and below him, and every- where around the country—all those whom the Motherland had authorized to speak for it?

What is the right course of action if our mother has sold us to the gypsies? No, even worse, thrown us to the dogs? Does she really remain our mother? If a wife has become a whore, are we really still bound to her in fidelity? A Motherland that betrays its soldiers—is that really a Motherland?

And everything turned topsy-turvy for Yuri! He used to take pride in his father-—now he cursed him! For the first time he began to consider that his father had, in essence, betrayed his oath to that army in which he had been brought up—had betrayed it in order to help establish this system which now betrayed its own soldiers. Why, then, was Yuri bound by his own oath to that traitorous system?

When, in the spring of 1943, recruiters from the first Byelorus- sian "legions" put in an appearance, some POW's signed up with them to escape starvation. Yuri went with them out of conviction, with a clear mind. But he didn't stay in the legion for long. As the saying goes: "Once they've skinned you, there's no point in grieving over the wool." By this time Yuri had given up hiding his excellent knowledge of German, and soon a certain Chief, a German from near Kassel, who had been assigned to create an espionage school with an accelerated wartime output, took Yuri as his right-hand man. And that was how Yuri began the down- ward slide he had not foreseen. That was how things got turned around. Yuri passionately desired to free his Motherland, and what did they do but shove him into training spies? The Germans had their own plans. Just where could one draw the line? Which step was the fatal one? Yuri became a lieutenant in the German Army. He traveled through Germany, in German uniform, spent some time in Berlin, visited Russian émigrés, and read authors like Bunin, Nabokov, Aldanov, Amfiteatrov, whose works were forbidden at home. Yuri had anticipated that in all their writing» in Bunin's, for example, the blood flowing from Russia's living wounds would pour from every page. What was wrong with them? To what did they devote their unutterably precious free- dom? To the female body, to ecstasy, sunsets, the beauty of noble brows, to anecdotes going back to dusty years. They wrote as if there had been no revolution in Russia, or as if it were too com- plex for them to explain. They left it to young Russian people to find for themselves what was highest in life. And Yuri dashed back and forth, in a hurry to see, in a hurry to know, and mean- while, in accordance with ancient Russian tradition, he kept drowning his confusion more and more often and more and more deeply in vodka.

What was their spy school really? It was, of course, not a real one. All they could be taught in six months was to master the parachute, the use of explosives, and the use of portable radios. The Germans put no special trust in them. In sending them across the lines they were simply whistling in the dark. And for those dying, hopelessly abandoned Russian POW's, those schools, in Yuri's opinion, were a good way out. The men ate their fill, got new warm clothing, and, in addition, had their pockets stuffed with Soviet money. The students (and their teachers) acted as if all this nonsense were genuine—as if they would actually carry out spying missions in the Soviet rear, blow up the designated objectives, get back in touch with the Germans via radio, and return to the German lines. But in reality in their eyes this school was simply a means of sidestepping death and captivity. They wanted to live, but not at the price of shooting their own compatriots at the front.

[Of course, our Soviet interrogators did not accept this line of reasoning. What right did they have to want to live—at a time when privileged families in the Soviet rear lived well without collaborating? No one ever thought of considering that these boys had refused to take up German arms against their own people. For playing spies, they were nailed with the very worst and most serious charges of all—Article 58-6, plus sabotage with intent. This meant: to be held until dead.]

The Germans sent them across the front lines, and from then on their free choice depended on their own morality and conscience. They all threw away their TNT and radio apparatus immediately. The only point on which they differed was whether to surrender to the authorities immedi- ately, like the snub-nosed "shhpy" I had encountered at army counterintelligence headquarters, or whether to get drunk first and have some fun squandering all that free money. None of them ever recrossed the front lines to the Germans.

Suddenly, as the new year of 1945 approached, one smart fellow did return and reported he had carried out his assignment. (Just go and check on it!) He created a sensation. The Chief hadn't the slightest doubt that SMERSH had sent him back and decided to shoot him. (The fate of a conscientious spy!) But Yuri insisted that he be given a decoration instead and held up as an example to the others taking the course. The returned "spy" invited Yuri to drink a quart of vodka with him and, crimson from drink, leaned across the table and disclosed: "Yuri Nikola- yevich! The Soviet Command promises you forgiveness if you will come over to us immediately."

Yuri trembled. And that heart which had already grown hard, which had renounced everything, was flooded with warmth. The Motherland? Accursed, unjust, but nonetheless still precious! Forgiveness? And he could go back to his own family? And walk along Kamennoostrovsky in Leningrad? All right, so what? We are Russian! If you will forgive us, we will return, and we will behave ourselves, oh, how well! That year and a half since he had left the POW camp had not brought Yuri happiness. He did not repent, but he could see no future either. And when, while drinking, he encountered other such unrepentant Russians, he learned that they realized clearly that they had nothing to stand on. It wasn't real life. The Germans were twisting them to suit themselves. But now, when the Germans were obviously losing the war, Yuri had been offered an out. His Chief, who liked him, confided that he had a second estate in Spain which they could head for together if the German Reich went up in smoke. But there across the table sat his drunken compatriot, coaxing him at the risk of his own life: "Yuri Nikolayevich! The Soviet Command values your experience and knowledge. They want you to tell them about the organization of the German in- telligence service."

For two weeks Yuri was torn by hesitation. But during the Soviet offensive beyond the Vistula, after he had led his school well out of the way, he ordered them to turn in to a quiet Polish farm, lined them all up, and declared: "I am going over to the Soviet side! There is a free choice for everyone!" And these sad-sack spies, with the milk hardly dry on their lips, who just one hour before had pretended loyalty to the German Reich, now cried out with enthusiasm: "Hurrah! Us too!" (They were shout- ing "hurrah" for their future lives at hard labor.)

Then the entire spy school hid until the arrival of the Soviet tanks; and then came SMERSH. Yuri saw his boys no more. They took him off by himself and gave him ten days to describe the whole history of the school, the programs, the sabotage assignments. He really thought that they valued his "experience and knowledge." They were already talking about his going home to his family.

Only when he arrived at the Lubyanka did he realize that even in Salamanca he would have been closer to his native Neva. He could now await being shot, or, in any case, a sentence of cer- tainly not less than twenty years.

So immutably does a human being surrender to the mist of the Motherland! Just as a tooth will not stop aching until the nerve is killed, so is it with us; we shall probably not stop responding to the call of the Motherland until we swallow arsenic. The lotus- eaters in the Odyssey knew of a certain lotus for that purpose. . . .

In all, Yuri spent three weeks in our cell. I argued with him during all those weeks. I said that our Revolution was magnificent and just; that only its 1929 distortion was terrible. He looked at me regretfully, compressing his nervous lips: before trying our hands at revolution, we should have exterminated the bedbugs in this country! (Sometimes, oddly, he and Fastenko arrived at the same conclusions, approaching them from such different be- ginnings.) I said there had been a long period in which the people in charge of everything important in our country had been people of unimpeachably lofty intentions, and totally dedicated. He said that from the very beginning they were all cut from the same cloth as Stalin. (We agreed that Stalin was a gangster.) I praised Gorky to the skies. What a smart man he had been! How correct his point of view! What a great artist he was! And Yuri parried. He was an insignificant, terribly boring personality! He invented himself; he invented his heroes; and his books were fabrications from beginning to end. Lev Tolstoi—he was the king of our literature.

As a result of these daily arguments, vehement because of our youth, he and I were never able to become really close or to discern and accept in each other more than we rejected.

They took him out of our cell; and since then, no matter how often I have inquired, I have found no one who was imprisoned with him in the Butyrki, and no one who encountered him in a transit prison. Even the rank-and-file Vlasov men have all dis- appeared without a trace, under the earth, most likely, and even now some of them do not have the documents they need in order to leave the northern wastes. But even among them, the fate of Yuri Y. was not a rank-and-file fate.

At long last our Lubyanka lunch arrived. Long before it got to us we could hear the cheery clatter in the corridor, and then, as in a restaurant, they brought in a tray with two aluminum plates—not bowls—for each prisoner. One plate held a ladleful of soup and the other a ladleful of the thinnest kind of thin gruel, with no fat in it.

In his first excitement, a prisoner couldn't get anything down his throat. There were those who didn't touch their bread for several days, who didn't know where to put it. But gradually one's appetite returned; and then a chronically famished state ensued that became almost uncontrollable. Then, if one managed to get it under control, one's stomach shrank and adapted itself to inadequate food, at which point the meager Lubyanka fare became just right. One needed to have self-control to achieve this, and also needed to stop looking around to see who might be eating something extra. All those extremely dangerous prison conversations about food had to be outlawed, and one had to try to lift oneself, as far as possible, into higher spheres. At the Lubyanka this was made easier by our being permitted two hours of rest after lunch—something else that was astonishingly resort- like. We lay down, our backs to the peephole, set up open books for appearance' sake, and dozed off. Sleep was forbidden, strictly speaking, and the guards could see that the pages of the books hadn't been turned for a long time. But ordinarily they did not knock during this period. (The explanation for this humanitarian- ism was that whoever wasn't resting during these hours was under- going interrogation. Thus, for those who were stubborn, who had not signed the depositions, the contrast was unmistakable: they returned to the cell at the very end of the rest period.)

And sleep was the very best thing for hunger and anguish. One's organism cooled off, and the brain stopped recapitulating one's mistakes over and over again.

Then they brought in dinner—another ladle of gruel. Life was setting all its gifts before you. After that, you were not going to get anything to eat in the five or six hours before bedtime, but that was not so terrible; it was easy to get used to not eating in the evenings. That has long been known in military medicine. And in reserve regiments they don't have anything to eat in the evening.

Then came the time for the evening visit to the toilet, for which, in all likelihood, you had waited, all atremble, all day. How relieved, how eased, the whole world suddenly became! How the great questions all simplified themselves at the same instant— did you feel it?

Oh, the weightless Lubyanka evenings! (Only weightless, in- cidentally, if you were not awaiting a night interrogation.) A weightless body, just sufficiently satisfied by soup so that the soul did not feel oppressed by it. What light, free thoughts! It was as if we had been lifted up to the heights of Sinai, and there the truth manifested itself to us from out the fire. Was it not of this that Pushkin dreamed:

I want to live to think and suffer!

And there we suffered, and we thought, and there was nothing else in our lives. How easy it turned out to be to attain that ideal.

Some evenings I would get involved in arguments, withdraw- ing from a chess game with Susi or from a book. Again I would have the sharpest quarrels with Yuri, because the questions were all explosive ones—for example, the question of the outcome of the war. The jailer, without any word or change of expression, would come in and pull down the dark-blue blackout blind on the window. And then, out there on the other side of the blind, evening Moscow would begin to send up salutes. And just as we could not see the salutes lighting up the heavens, we were unable to see the map of Europe. Yet we tried to picture it in all its details and to guess which cities had been taken. Yuri was espe- cially tormented by those salutes. Appealing to fate to correct his own mistakes, he assured us that the war was by no means fin- ished and that the Red Army and the Anglo-American forces would now go for each other's throats: that the real war would really begin now. The others in the cell took a greedy interest in this prediction. How would such a conflict end? Yuri claimed it would end with the easy destruction of the Red Army. (Would this result in our liberation or our execution?) I objected to this, and we got into heated arguments. It was his contention that our army was worn down, bled white, poorly supplied, and, most importantly, that it would not fight with its usual determination against the Allies. I, however, insisted, on the basis of the units I had been familiar with, that the army was not so much worn down as experienced, that it had now become both strong and mean, and that in such an event it would crush the Allies even more thoroughly than it had the Germans. "Never," cried Yuri in a half-whisper. "And what about the Ardennes?" I answered in a half-whisper. Fastenko interrupted us, ridiculing us both, informing us that we did not understand the West and that no one, now or ever, could compel the Allied armies to fight against us.

However, in the evening we didn't want to argue so much as to hear something interesting that might bring us closer together, and to talk in a spirit of fellowship.

One favorite subject of conversation was prison traditions, how it used to be in prison. We had Fastenko and were therefore able to hear these stories at first hand. What dismayed us most of all was to learn that it had previously been an honor to be a political prisoner, and that it was not only their relatives who stuck by them and refused to renounce them, but that girls who had never even met them came to visit them, pretending for that purpose to be their fiancées. And what about the once universal tradition of gifts for the prisoners on holidays? No one in Russia ever broke the Lenten fast without first taking gifts for unknown prisoners to the common prison kitchen. They brought in Christ- mas hams, tarts, and kulichi—the special Russian Easter cakes. One poor old lady even used to bring a dozen colored Easter eggs; it made her feel better. And where had all that Russian generosity gone? It had been replaced by political consciousness. That was how cruelly and implacably they had terrified our people and cured them of taking thought for and caring for those who were suffering. Today it would seem silly to do such a thing. If it was proposed today that some institution organize a preholiday collection of gifts for prisoners in the local prison, it would be virtually considered an anti-Soviet revolt! That's how far we have gone along the road to being brutalized!

And what about those holiday gifts? Were they only a matter of tasty food? More importantly, those gifts gave the prisoners the warm feeling that people in freedom were thinking about them and were concerned for them.

Fastenko told us that even in the Soviet period a Political Red Cross had existed. We found this difficult to imagine. It wasn't that we thought he was telling us an untruth. Somehow we just couldn't picture such a thing. He told us that Y. P. Peshkova, taking advantage of her personal immunity, had traveled abroad, collected money there (you'd not collect much here), and then seen to it that foodstuffs were bought in Russia for political pris- oners who had no relatives. For all political prisoners? And he explained at this point that the KR's—the so-called "Counter- Revolutionaries"—engineers and priests, for example, weren't included, but only members of former political parties. Well, why didn't you say so right away? Yes, and then for the most part the Political Red Cross, except Peshkova, was itself liquidated and its staff imprisoned.

It was also very pleasant, on those evenings when one wasn't expecting interrogation, to talk about getting out of prison. Yes, they said there had been astonishing instances when they did release someone. One day they took Z------v from our cell, "with his things"—perhaps to free him? But his interrogation could not have been completed so swiftly. Ten days later he returned. They had dragged him off to Lefortovo. When he got there, he had evidently begun to sign things very quickly. So they brought him back to us. "Now if they should just release you," we would say to a fellow prisoner, "since your case, after all, isn't very serious, as you yourself say, then you must promise to go see my wife and, to show you've done it, tell her, let's say, to put two apples in my next parcel. . . . But there aren't any apples anywhere right now, so tell her to put in three bagels. But then there mightn't be any bagels in Moscow either. So all right, it will just have to be four potatoes!" (That's how the discussion went, and then they actually did take N. off, "with his things," and M. got four potatoes in his next parcel. Truly astonishing! It was more than a coincidence! So they had really let him go! And his case was much more serious than mine. So maybe soon . . . However, what really happened was that M.'s wife brought five potatoes, but one of them got crushed in her bag, and N. was in the hold of a ship en route to the Kolyma. )

And so it went. We talked about all kinds of things and recalled something amusing, and it was all very jolly and delightful to be among interesting people who were so different from those you used to spend your life with, and who came from outside your own circle of experience. Meanwhile the silent evening check-up had come and gone, and they had taken eyeglasses away and the light bulb had blinked three times. That meant that bedtime would be in five minutes.

Quick! Quick! Grab a blanket! Just as you never knew at the front when a hail of shells would begin to fall all around you, here you didn't know which would be your fateful interrogation night. And we would lie down with one arm on top of the blanket and try to expel the whirlwind of thought from our heads. Go to sleep!

And at a certain moment on an April evening, soon after we had seen Yuri off, the lock rattled. Hearts tightened. For whom had they come? Now the jailer would whisper: "Name with 'S'? Name with 'Z'?" But the guard did not whisper anything. The door closed. We raised our heads. There was a newcomer at the door: on the thin side, young, in a cheap blue suit and a dark-blue cap. He had nothing with him. He looked around in a state of confusion.

"What's the cell number?" he asked in alarm.
"Fifty-three."
He shuddered a bit.
"Are you from freedom?" we asked.
"No!" He shook his head in a painful sort of way.
"When were you arrested?"
"Yesterday morning."

We roared. He had a very gentle, innocent sort of face, and his eyebrows were nearly white.

"What for?"

(It was an unfair question. One could not really expect an answer. )

"Oh, I don't know. . . . Nothing much."

That was how they all replied. Everyone here was imprisoned because of nothing much. And to the newly arrested prisoner his own case always seemed especially nothing much.

"But anyway, what was it?"

"Well, you see, I wrote a proclamation. To the Russian peo- ple."

"Whaaat?"

(None of us had ever run into that sort of "nothing much.")

"Are they going to shoot me?" His face grew longer. He kept pulling at the visor of the cap he had still not taken off.

"Well, no, probably not," we reassured him. "They don't shoot anyone nowadays. They give out tenners—every time the clock strikes."

"Are you a worker? Or a white-collar employee?" asked the Social Democrat, true to his class principles.

"A worker."

Fastenko reached out a hand to him and triumphantly pro- claimed to me: "You see, Aleksandr Isayevich, that's the mood of the working class!"

He turned away to go to sleep, assuming that there was no- where else to go from there and nothing else to listen to.

But he was wrong.

"What do you mean, a proclamation? Just like that? Without any reason? In whose name was it issued?"

"In my own."

"And who are you?"

The newcomer smiled with embarrassment: "The Emperor, Mikhail."

An electric shock ran through us all. Once again we raised ourselves on our cots and looked at him. No, his shy, thin face was not in the least like the face of Mikhail Romanov. And then his age too . . .

"Tomorrow, tomorrow. Time to sleep now," said Susi sternly.

We went to sleep, confident that the two hours before the morn- ing bread ration were not going to be boring.

They brought in a cot and bedding for the Emperor, and he lay down quietly next to the latrine bucket.

In 1916 a portly stranger, an elderly man with a light-brown beard, entered the home of the Moscow locomotive engineer Belov and said to the engineer's pious wife: "Pelageya! You have a year-old son. Take good care of him for the Lord. The hour will come—and I will come to you again." Then he left.

Pelageya did not have the faintest idea who this man was. But he had spoken so clearly and authoritatively that her mother's heart accepted his word as law. And she cared for her child like the apple of her eye. Viktor grew up to be quiet, obedient, and pious; and he often saw visions of the angels and the Holy Virgin. But, as he grew up, these visions became less frequent. The elderly man did not come again. Viktor learned to be a chauffeur, and in 1936 he was taken into the army and sent off to Birobidzhan, where he was stationed in an auto transport company. He was not at all overly familiar or cheeky, and perhaps it was his quiet demeanor and modesty, so untypical of a chauffeur, which at- tracted a civilian girl employee. But the commander of his platoon was after the same girl and found himself out in the cold because of Viktor. At this time, Marshal Blücher came to their area for maneuvers and his personal chauffeur fell seriously ill. Blücher ordered the commander of the motor company to send him the best driver in the company; the company commander summoned the platoon commander, who immediately latched onto the idea of dumping his rival, Belov. (That's the way it often is in the army. The person who deserves promotion doesn't get it, and the person they want to get rid of does.) In addition, Belov was sober, a hard worker, and reliable—he wouldn't let them down.

Blücher liked Belov. So Belov stayed with him. Soon Blücher was summoned to Moscow on a plausible pretext. This was how they separated the marshal from his power base in the Far East before arresting him. He had brought his own chauffeur, Belov, to Moscow with him. Having lost his boss, Belov then landed in the Kremlin garage and began chauffeuring, sometimes for Mi- khailov (of the Komsomol), sometimes for Lozovsky or some- body else in the leadership, and, finally, for Khrushchev. He had a close view of things—and he told us a lot, too, about the feasts, the morals, the security precautions. As a representative of the rank-and-file Moscow proletariat, he was also present at the trial of Bukharin in the House of the Unions. Of all those for whom he worked, he spoke well only of Khrushchev. Only in Khru- shchev's home was the chauffeur seated at the family table instead of being put in the kitchen. Only there, in those years, did he find the simplicity of the workingman's life preserved. Khru- shchev, who enjoyed life hugely, also became attached to Viktor Alekseyevich, and in 1938, when he left for the Ukraine, he tried to get him to go along. "I would have stayed with Khrushchev forever," said Viktor Alekseyevich. But for some reason he felt he should remain in Moscow.

For a while in 1941, before the beginning of the war, he was not employed in the government garage and, having no one to protect him, he was taken into military service. But because his health was poor, he was not sent to the front but to a labor bat- talion. First they went on foot to Inza, to dig trenches and build roads there. After his secure and prosperous life of the previous few years he found it painful to have his nose shoved in the dirt. He drank a full draft of grief and poverty there, and on every side he saw not only that people had not begun to live better before the war, but that they were deeply impoverished. Just barely surviving himself, and released from the service because of illness, he returned to Moscow and again managed to get him- self a job as chauffeur for Shcherbakov, and after that for Sedin, People's Commissar of Petroleum.

[He used to describe how the obese Shcherbakov hated to see people around when he arrived at his Informburo, so they temporarily removed all those who were working in the offices he had to walk through. Grunting be- cause of his fat, he would lean down and pull back a corner of the carpet. And the whole Informburo caught it if he found any dust there.]

But Sedin embezzled funds to the tune of 35 million and was quietly removed. And Belov was once again out of a job driving for the leaders. He became a chauffeur at an automobile depot, and in his spare time he used to moonlight with his car on the road to Krasnaya Pakhra.

But his thoughts were already centered elsewhere. In 1943 he had been visiting his mother. She was doing the laundry and had gone out to the hydrant with her pails. The door opened and a portly stranger, an old man with a white beard, entered the house. He crossed himself at the ikon there, looked sternly at. Belov, and said to him: "Hail, Mikhail. God gives you his bless- ing!" Belov replied: "My name is Viktor." "But," the old man continued, "you are destined to become Mikhail, the Emperor of Holy Russia!" Just then Viktor's mother returned and half- collapsed in fright, spilling her pails. It was the very same old man who had come to her twenty-seven years before. He had turned white in the meantime, but it was he. "God bless you, Pelageya, you have preserved your son," said the old man. And he took the future Emperor aside, like a patriarch preparing to enthrone him, and announced to the astonished young man that in 1953 there would be a change in rule and that he would be- come Emperor of All Russia.

[The prophetic old man made only one mistake. He confused the chauffeur with his former employer.]

(That is why the number of our cell, 53, shocked him so.) To this end, the old man told him, he was to begin to gather his forces in 1948. The old man didn't instruct him as to how to gather his forces. He departed, and Viktor Alekseyevich didn't get around to asking.

All the peace and simplicity of his life were lost to him now. Perhaps some other individual would have recoiled from the ambitious program, but Viktor, as it happened, had rubbed shoulders with the highest of the high. He had seen all those Mikhailovs, Shcherbakovs, Sedins, and he had heard a lot from other chauffeurs, too, and he had gotten it clear in his own mind that nothing in the least unusual was required—in fact, just the reverse.

The newly anointed Tsar, quiet, conscientious, sensitive, like Fyodor Ivanovich, the last of the line of Ryurik, felt on his brow the heavy pressure of the crown of Monomakh. All around him were the people's poverty and grief, for which he had not until now borne any responsibility. Now all this lay upon his shoulders, and he was to blame for the fact that this misery still existed. It seemed strange to him to wait until 1948, and, therefore, in that very autumn of 1943, he wrote his first proclamation to the Russian people and read it to four of his fellow workers in the garage of the People's Commissariat of Petroleum.

We had surrounded Viktor Alekseyevich from early morning, and he had meekly told us all this. We had still not fathomed his childish trustfulness—we were absorbed in his unusual story and —it was our fault—we forgot to warn him about the stoolie. In fact, we never even thought for one minute that there was any- thing in the naïve and simple story he had told us that the inter- rogator didn't already know.

The instant the story ended, Kramarenko began demanding to be taken either to the "chief of the prison for tobacco" or else to the doctor. At any rate, they summoned him quickly. And as soon as he got there he put the finger on those four workers in the garage of the People's Commissariat of Petroleum—whose existence no one would ever have suspected. (The next day, re- turning from his interrogation, Belov was astonished that the interrogator knew about them. And that's when it hit us.) Those workers had heard the proclamation and approved it all, and no one had turned in the Emperor! But he himself felt that it was too early, and he burned it.

A year passed. Viktor Alekseyevich was working as a mechanic in the garage of an automobile depot. In the fall of 1944, he again wrote a proclamation and gave it to ten people to read— chauffeurs and lathe operators. All of them approved it. And no one turned him in. (It was a surprising thing, indeed, that not one person in that group of ten had turned him in, in that period of ubiquitous stool pigeons! Fastenko had not been mistaken in his deductions about the "mood of the working class.") True, in this case the Emperor had used some innocent tricks. He had thrown out hints that a strong arm inside the government was on his side. And he had promised his supporters travel assignments to rally monarchic sentiment at the grass roots.

Months went by. The Emperor entrusted his secret to two girls at the garage. But this time there was no misfire. These girls turned out to be ideologically sound! And Viktor Alekseye- vich's heart sank: he had a premonition of disaster. On the Sunday after the Annunciation he went to the market, carrying the proclamation with him. One of his sympathizers among the old workers saw him there and said: "Viktor, you ought to burn that piece of paper for the time being; how about it?" And Viktor felt clearly that he had written it too soon, and that he should burn it. "I'll burn it right now! You're right." And he started home to burn it. But right there in the market two pleasant young men called out to him: "Viktor Alekseyevich! Come along with us!" And they took him to the Lubyanka in a private car. When they got him there, they had been in such a hurry and were so excited that they didn't search him in the usual way, and there was a moment when the Emperor almost destroyed his proclama- tion in the toilet. But he decided that it would be the worse for him, that they would keep after him anyway to find out where it was. And they straightaway took him in an elevator up to a general and a colonel, and the general with his own hands grabbed the proclamation from Viktor's pocket.

However, it took only one interrogation for the Big Lubyanka to quiet down again. It turned out to be not so dangerous. Ten arrests in the garage of the auto depot and four in the garage of the People's Commissariat of Petroleum. The interrogation was turned over to a lieutenant colonel, who had a good laugh as he went through the proclamation:

"You write here, Your Majesty: 'In the first spring I will instruct my Minister of Agriculture to dissolve the collective farms.' But how are you going to divide up the tools and live- stock? You haven't got it worked out yet. And then you also write: 'I am going to increase housing construction and house each person next to the place he works, and I am going to raise all the workers' wages.' And where are you going to find the money, Your Majesty? Are you going to have to run the money off on printing presses? You are going to abolish the state loans. And then, too: 'I am going to wipe the Kremlin from the face of the earth.' But where are you going to put your own govern- ment? What about the building of the Big Lubyanka? Would you like to take a tour of inspection and look it over?"

Many of the younger interrogators also stopped by to make fun of the Emperor of All Russia. They saw nothing except comedy in all this.

And it was not always easy for us in the cell to keep a straight face. "We hope you aren't going to forget us here in Cell No. 53," said Z------v, winking at the rest of us.

Everyone laughed at him.

Viktor Alekseyevich, with his white eyebrows and innocent simplicity and his callused hands, would treat us when he received boiled potatoes from his unfortunate mother, Pelageya, without ever dividing them into "yours" and mine": "Come on, com- rades, eat up, eat up!"

He used to smile shyly. He understood perfectly well how uncontemporary and funny all this was—to be the Emperor of All Russia. But what could he do if God's choice had fallen on him?

They soon removed him from our cell.

[When they introduced me to Khrushchev in 1962, I wanted to say to him: "Nikita Sergeyevich! You and I have an acquaintance in common." But I told him something else, more urgent, on behalf of former prisoners.]

Just before May 1 they took down the blackout shade on the window. The war was perceptibly coming to an end.

That evening it was quieter than ever before in the Lubyanka. It was, I remember, almost like the second day of Easter, since May Day and Easter came one after the other that year. All the interrogators were out in Moscow celebrating. No one was taken to interrogation. In the silence we could hear someone across the corridor protesting. They took him from the cell and into a box. By listening, we could detect the location of all the doors. They left the door of the box open, and they kept beating him a long time. In the suspended silence every blow on his soft and choking mouth could be heard clearly.

On May 2 a thirty-gun salute roared out. That meant a Euro- pean capital. Only two had not yet been captured—Prague and Berlin. We tried to guess which it was.

On the ninth of May they brought us our dinner at the same time as our lunch—which was done at the Lubyanka only on May 1 and November 7.

And that is how we guessed that the war had ended.

That evening they shot off another thirty-gun salute. We then knew that there were no more capitals to be captured. And later that same evening one more salute roared out—forty guns, I seem to remember. And that was the end of all the ends.

Above the muzzle of our window, and from all the other cells of the Lubyanka, and from all the windows of all the Moscow prisons, we, too, former prisoners of war and former front-line soldiers, watched the Moscow heavens, patterned with fireworks and crisscrossed by the beams of searchlights.

Boris Gammerov, a young antitank man, already demobilized because of wounds, with an incurable wound in his lung, having been arrested with a group of students, was in prison that eve- ning in an overcrowded Butyrki cell, where half the inmates were former POW's and front-line soldiers. He described this last salute of the war in a terse eight-stanza poem, in the most ordinary lan- guage: how they were already lying down on their board bunks, covered with their overcoats; how they were awakened by the noise; how they raised their heads; squinted up at the muzzle— "Oh, it's just a salute"—and then lay down again:

And once again covered themselves with their coats.

With those same overcoats which had been in the clay of the trenches, and the ashes of bonfires, and been torn to tatters by German shell fragments.

That victory was not for us. And that spring was not for us either.

Chapter 6
That Spring

Through the windows of the Butyrki Prison every morning and evening in June, 1945, we could hear the brassy notes of bands not far away—coming from either Lesnaya Street or Novoslo- bodskaya. They kept playing marches over and over.

Behind the murky green "muzzles" of reinforced glass, we stood at the wide-open but impenetrable prison windows and listened. Were they military units that were marching? Or were they work- ers cheerfully devoting their free time to marching practice? We didn't know, but the rumor had already gotten through to us that preparations were under way for a big Victory Parade on Red Square on June 22—the fourth anniversary of the beginning of the war.

The foundation stones of a great building are destined to groan and be pressed upon; it is not for them to crown the edifice. But even the honor of being part of the foundation was denied those whose doomed heads and ribs had borne the first blows of this war and thwarted the foreigners' victory, and who were now abandoned for no good reason.

"Joyful sounds mean nought to the traitor."

That spring of 1945 was, in our prisons, predominantly the spring of the Russian prisoners of war. They passed through the prisons of the Soviet Union in vast dense gray shoals like ocean herring. The first trace of those schools I glimpsed was Yuri Y. But I was soon entirely surrounded by their purposeful motion, which seemed to know its own fated design.

Not only war prisoners passed through those cells. A wave of those who had spent any time in Europe was rolling too: émigrés from the Civil War; the "ostovtsy"-—-workers recruited as laborers by the Germans during World War II; Red Army officers who had been too astute and farsighted in their con- clusions, so that Stalin feared they might bring European free- dom back from their European crusade, like the Decembrists 120 years before. And yet it was the war prisoners who consti- tuted the bulk of the wave. And among the war prisoners of various ages, most were of my own age—not precisely my age, but the twins of October, those born along with the Revolution, who in 1937 had poured forth undismayed to celebrate the twentieth anniversary of the Revolution, and whose age group, at the beginning of the war, made up the standing army—which had been scattered in a matter of weeks.

That tedious prison spring had, to the tune of the victory marches, become the spring of reckoning for my whole genera- tion.

Over our cradles the rallying cry had resounded: "All power to the Soviets!" It was we who had reached out our suntanned childish hands to clutch the Pioneers' bugle, and who in response to the Pioneer challenge, "Be prepared," had saluted and an- swered: "We are always prepared!" It was we who had smuggled weapons into Buchenwald and joined the Communist Party there. And it was we who were now in disgrace, only because we had survived.

[Those prisoners who had been in Buchenwald and survived were, in fact, imprisoned for that very reason in our own camps: How could you have sur- vived an annihilation camp? Something doesn't smell right!]

Back when the Red Army had cut through East Prussia, I had seen downcast columns of returning war prisoners—the only people around who were grieving instead of celebrating. Even then their gloom had shocked me, though I didn't yet grasp the reason for it. I jumped down and went over to those voluntarily formed-up columns. (Why were they marching in columns? Why had they lined themselves up in ranks? After all, no one had compelled them to, and the war prisoners of all other nations went home as scattered individuals. But ours wanted to return as submissively as possible.) I was wearing a captain's shoulder boards, and they, plus the fact that I was moving forward, helped prevent my finding out why our POW's were so sad. But then fate turned me around and sent me in the wake of those prisoners along the same path they had taken. I had already marched with them from army counterintelligence headquarters to the head- quarters at the front, and when we got there I had heard their first stories, which I didn't yet understand; and then Yuri Y. told me the whole thing. And here beneath the domes of the brick-red Butyrki castle, I felt that the story of these several mil- lion Russian prisoners had got me in its grip once and for all, like a pin through a specimen beetle. My own story of landing in prison seemed insignificant. I stopped regretting my torn-off shoulder boards. It was mere chance that had kept me from end- ing up exactly where these contemporaries of mine had ended. I came to understand that it was my duty to take upon my shoulders a share of their common burden—and to bear it to the last man, until it crushed us. I now felt as if I, too, had fallen prisoner at the Solovyev crossing, in the Kharkov encirclement, in the quarries of Kerch, and, hands behind my back, had carried my Soviet pride behind the barbed wire of the concentration camps; that I, too, had stood for hours in the freezing cold for a ladle of cold Kawa (an ersatz coffee) and had been left on the ground for dead, without even reaching the kettle; that in Oflag 68 (Suwalki) I had used my hands and the lid of a mess tin to dig a bell-shaped (upturned, that is) foxhole, so as not to have to spend the winter on the open field; and that a maddened prisoner had crawled up to me as I lay dying to gnaw on the still warm flesh beneath my arm; and with every new day of exacerbated, famished consciousness, lying in a barracks riddled with typhus, or at the barbed wire of the neighboring camp for English POW's, the clear thought had penetrated my dying brain: Soviet Russia has renounced her dying children. She had needed them, "proud sons of Russia," as long as they let the tanks roll over them and it was still possible to rouse them to attack. But to feed them once they were war prisoners? Extra mouths. And extra witnesses to humiliating defeats.

Sometimes we try to lie but our tongue will not allow us to. These people were labeled traitors, but a remarkable slip of the tongue occurred—on the part of the judges, prosecutors, and interrogators. And the convicted prisoners, the entire nation, and the newspapers repeated and reinforced this mistake, involuntarily letting the truth out of the bag. They intended to declare them "traitors to the Motherland." But they were universally referred to, in speech and in writing, even in the court documents, as "traitors of the Motherland."

You said it! They were not traitors to her. They were her traitors. It was not they, the unfortunates, who had betrayed the Motherland, but their calculating Motherland who had betrayed them, and not just once but thrice.

The first time she betrayed them was on the battlefield, through ineptitude—when the government, so beloved by the Mother- land, did everything it could to lose the war: destroyed the lines of fortifications; set up the whole air force for annihilation; dis- mantled the tanks and artillery; removed the effective generals; and forbade the armies to resist.

[Now, after twenty-seven years, the first honest work on this subject has appeared—P. G. Grigorenko, "A Letter to the Magazine Problems of the His- tory of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union," samizdat, 1968—and such works are going to multiply from here on out. Not all the witnesses died. And soon no one will call Stalin's government anything but a government of insanity and treason.]

And the war prisoners were the men whose bodies took the blow and stopped the Wehrmacht.

The second time they were heartlessly betrayed by the Mother- land was when she abandoned them to die in captivity.

And the third time they were unscrupulously betrayed was when, with motherly love, she coaxed them to return home, with such phrases as "The Motherland has forgiven you! The Mother- land calls you!" and snared them the moment they reached the frontiers.

[One of the biggest war criminals, Colonel General Golikov, former chief of the Red Army's intelligence administration, was put in charge of coaxing the repatriates home and swallowing them up.]

It would appear that during the one thousand one hundred years of Russia's existence as a state there have been, ah, how many foul and terrible deeds! But among them was there ever so multimillioned foul a deed as this: to betray one's own soldiers and proclaim them traitors?

How easily we left them out of our own accounting! He was a traitor? For shame! Write him off! And our Father wrote them off, even before we did: he threw the flower of Moscow's in- telligentsia into the Vyazma meat grinder with Berdan single- loading rifles, vintage 1866, and only one for every five men at that. What Lev Tolstoi is going to describe that Borodino for us? And with one stupid slither of his greasy, stubby finger, the Great Strategist sent 120,000 of our young men, almost as many as all the Russian forces at Borodino, across the Strait of Kerch in December, 1941—senselessly, and exclusively for the sake of a sensational New Year's communiqué—and he turned them all over to the Germans without a fight.

And yet, for some reason, it was not he who was the traitor, but they.

(How easily we let ourselves be taken in by partisan labels; how easily we agreed to regard these devoted men as—traitors! In one of the Butyrki cells that spring, there was an old man, Lebedev, a metallurgist, a professor in rank, and in appearance a stalwart artisan of the last century or maybe even the century before, from, say, the famous Demidov iron foundries. He was broad of shoulder, broad of head, wore a Pugachev-like beard, and the wide span of his hand could lift a 150-pound bucket. In the cell he wore a faded gray laborer's smock over his under- wear; he was slovenly and might have been an auxiliary prison worker—until he sat down to read, and then his habitual powerful intelligence lit up his face. The men often gathered around him. He discussed metallurgy very little, but explained to us in his kettledrum bass voice that Stalin was exactly the same kind of dog as Ivan the Terrible: "Shoot!" "Strangle!" "Don't hesitate!" He explained to us also that Maxim Gorky had been a slobbering prattler, an apologist for executioners. I was very much taken with this Lebedev. It was as though the whole Russian people were embodied, there before my eyes, in that one thick-set torso with that intelligent head and the arms and legs of a plowman. He had already thought through so much! I learned from him to understand the world! And suddenly, with a chopping gesture of his huge hand, he thundered out that those charged under Article 58-1b were traitors of the Motherland and must not be forgiven. And those very same 1b's were piled up on the board bunks all around. And how hurtful to them this was! The old man was pontificating with such conviction in the name of Rus- sia's peasantry and labor that they were abashed and found it hard to defend themselves against the attack from this new direction. I was the one to whom it fell, along with two boys charged under 58-10, to defend them and to argue with the old man. But what depths of enforced ignorance were achieved by the monstrous lies of the state. Even the most broad-minded of us can embrace only that part of the truth into which our own snout has blun- dered,)

[Vitkovsky writes about this, on the basis of the thirties, in more general terms. It was astonishing that the pseudo wreckers, who knew perfectly well that they weren't wreckers, believed that military men and priests were being shaken up justifiably. The military men, who knew they hadn't worked for foreign intelligence services and had not sabotaged the Red Army, believed readily enough that the engineers were wreckers and that the priests deserved to be destroyed. Imprisoned, the Soviet person reasoned in the following way: I personally am innocent, but any methods are justified in dealing with those others, the enemies. The lessons of interrogation and the cell failed to enlighten such people. Even after they themselves had been convicted, they retained the blind beliefs of their days in freedom: belief in universal conspiracies, poi- sonings, wrecking, espionage.]

How many wars Russia has been involved in! (It would have been better if there had been fewer.) And were there many traitors in all those wars? Had anyone observed that treason had become deeply rooted in the hearts of Russian soldiers? Then, under the most just social system in the world, came the most just war of all—and out of nowhere millions of traitors appeared, from among the simplest, lowliest elements of the population. How is this to be understood and explained?

Capitalist England fought at our side against Hitler; Marx had eloquently described the poverty and suffering of the work- ing class in that same England. Why was it that in this war only one traitor could be found among them, the businessman "Lord Haw Haw"—but in our country millions?

It is frightening to open one's trap about this, but might the heart of the matter not be in the political system?

One of our most ancient proverbs justifies the war prisoner: "The captive will cry out, but the dead man never." During the reign of Tsar Aleksei Mikhailovich, nobility was granted for durance in captivity! And in all subsequent wars it was considered society's duty to exchange prisoners, to comfort one's own and to give them sustenance and aid. Every escape from captivity was glorified as the height of heroism. Throughout World War I, money was collected in Russia to aid our prisoners of war, and our nurses were permitted to go to Germany to help our prisoners, and our newspapers reminded their readers daily that our pris- oners of war, our compatriots, were languishing in evil captivity.

All the Western peoples behaved the same in our war: parcels, letters, all kinds of assistance flowed freely through the neutral countries. The Western POW's did not have to lower themselves to accept ladlefuls from German soup kettles. They talked back to the German guards. Western governments gave their captured soldiers their seniority rights, their regular promotions, even their pay.

The only soldier in the world who cannot surrender is the soldier of the world's one and only Red Army. That's what it says in our military statutes. (The Germans would shout at us from their trenches: "Ivan plen nicht!"—"Ivan no prisoner!") Who can picture all that means? There is war; there is death—but there is no surrender! What a discovery! What it means is: Go and die; we will go on living. And if you lose your legs, yet man- age to return from captivity on crutches, we will convict you. (The Leningrader Ivanov, commander of a machine-gun platoon in the Finnish War, was subsequently thus imprisoned in Ustvym- lag, for example. )

Our soldiers alone, renounced by their Motherland and de- graded to nothing in the eyes of enemies and allies, had to push their way to the swine swill being doled out in the backyards of the Third Reich. Our soldiers alone had the doors shut tight to keep them from returning to their homes, although their young souls tried hard not to believe this. There was something called Article 58-lb—and, in wartime, it provided only for execution by shooting! For not wanting to die from a German bullet, the prisoner had to die from a Soviet bullet for having been a prisoner of war! Some get theirs from the enemy; we get it from our own!

Incidentally, it is very naïve to say What for? At no time have governments been moralists. They never imprisoned people and executed them for having done something. They imprisoned and executed them to keep them from doing something. They im- prisoned all those POW's, of course, not for treason to the Mother- land, because it was absolutely clear even to a fool that only the Vlasov men could be accused of treason. They imprisoned all of them to keep them from telling their fellow villagers about Europe. What the eye doesn't see, the heart doesn't grieve for.

What, then, were the courses of action open to Russian war prisoners? There was only one legally acceptable course: to lie down and let oneself be trampled to death. Every blade of grass pushes its fragile length upward in order to live. As for you— lie down and be trampled on. Even though you've been slow about it, even though you couldn't do it on the battlefield, at least die now; then you will not be prosecuted.

The soldiers sleep. They spoke their word
And they are right for eternity.

And every other path which, in desperation, your mind may invent is going to lead you into conflict with the Law.

Escape and return to the Motherland—past the guards ring- ing the camp, across half Germany, then through Poland or the Balkans—led straight to SMERSH and prison. They were asked: How did you manage to escape when others couldn't? This stinks! Come on, you rat, what assignment did they give you? (Mikhail Burnatsev, Pavel Bondarenko, and many, many others.)

[It has become the accepted thing for our literary critics to say that Shol- okhov, in his immortal story "Sudba Cheloveka"—"The Fate of a Man"— spoke the "bitter truth" about "this side of our life" and that he "revealed" the problem. But we must retort that in this story, which is in general very inferior, and in which the passages about the war are pale and unconvincing—since the author evidently knew nothing about the last war—and the descriptions of Germans are unconvincing cartoon clichés (only the hero's wife is successfully portrayed—because she is a pure Christian straight out of Dostoyevsky), in this story about a war prisoner, the real problem of the war prisoners was hidden or distorted:

(1) The author picked the least incriminating form of being taken prisoner conceivable—the soldier was captured while unconscious, so as to make him noncontroversial and to bypass the whole poignancy of the problem. (What if he had been conscious when he was taken prisoner, as was most often the case? What would have happened to him then?)

(2) The fact that the Motherland had deserted us, had renounced us, had cursed us, was not presented as the war prisoner's chief problem. Sholokhov says not a word about it. But it was because of that particular factor that there was no way out. On the contrary, he identifies the presence of traitors among us as constituting the problem. (But if this really was the main thing, one might then expect him to have investigated further and explained where they came from a full quarter-century after a Revolution that was supported by the entire people!)

(3) Sholokhov dreamed up a fantastic, spy-story escape from captivity, stretching innumerable points to avoid the obligatory, inevitable procedural step of the returned war prisoner's reception in SMERSH—the Identification and Screening Camp. Not only was Sokolov, the hero, not put behind barbed wire, as provided in the regulations, but—and this is a real joke—he was given a month's holiday by his colonel! (In other words: the freedom to carry out the assignment given him by the Fascist intelligence service. So his colonel would end up in the same place as he!)]

Escaping to the Western partisans, to the Resistance forces, only postponed your full reckoning with the military tribunal; also, it made you still more dangerous. You could have acquired a very harmful spirit through living freely among Europeans. And if you had not been afraid to escape and continue to fight, it meant you were a determined person and thus doubly dangerous in the Motherland.

Did you survive POW camp at the expense of your com- patriots and comrades? Did you become a member of the camp Polizei, or a commandant, a helper of the Germans and of death? Stalinist law did not punish you any more severely than if you had operated with the Resistance forces. It was the same article of the Code and the same term—and one could guess why too. Such a person was less dangerous. But the inert law that is in- explicably implanted in us forbade this path to all except the dregs.

In addition to those four possibilities—either impossible or un- acceptable—there was a fifth: to wait for German recruiters, to see what they would summon you to.

Sometimes, fortunately, representatives came from German rural districts to select hired men for their farmers. Sometimes they came from corporations and picked out engineers and mechanics. According to the supreme Stalinist imperative you should have rejected that too. You should have concealed the fact that you were an engineer. You should have concealed the fact that you were a skilled worker. As an industrial designer or electrician, you could have preserved your patriotic purity only if you had stayed in the POW camp to dig in the earth, to rot, to pick through the garbage heap. In that case, for pure treason to the Motherland, you could count on getting, your head raised high in pride, ten years in prison and five more "muzzled." Whereas for treason to the Motherland aggravated by working for the enemy, especially in one's own profession, you got, with bowed head, the same ten years in prison and five more muzzled.

And that was the jeweler's precision of a behemoth—Stalin's trademark.

Now and then recruiters turned up who were of quite a dif- ferent stripe—Russians, usually recent Communist political com- missars. White Guards didn't accept that type of employment. These recruiters scheduled a meeting in the camp, condemned the Soviet regime, and appealed to prisoners to enlist in spy schools or in Vlasov units.

People who have never starved as our war prisoners did, who have never gnawed on bats that happened to fly into the barracks, who have never had to boil the soles of old shoes, will never understand the irresistible material force exerted by any kind of appeal, any kind of argument whatever, if behind it, on the other side of the camp gates, smoke rises from a field kitchen, and if everyone who signs up is fed a bellyful of kasha right then and there—if only once! Just once more before I die!

And hovering over the steaming kasha and the inducements of the recruiter was the apparition of freedom and a real life— wherever it might call! To the Vlasov battalions. To the Cossack regiments of Krasnov. To the labor battalions—pouring cement in the future Atlantic Wall. To the fjords of Norway. To the sands of Libya. To the "Hiwi" units ("Hilfswillige"—volunteers in the German Wehrmacht—there being twelve "Hiwi" men in each German company). And then, finally, to the village Polizei, who pursued and caught partisans—many of whom the Mother- land would also renounce. Wherever it might call, any place at all, at least anything so as not to stay there and die like abandoned cattle.

We ourselves released from every obligation, not merely to his Motherland but to all humanity, the human being whom we drove to gnawing on bats.

And those of our boys who agreed to become half-baked spies still had not drawn any drastic conclusions from their abandoned state; they were still, in fact, acting very patriotically. They saw this course as the least difficult means of getting out of POW camp. Almost to a man, they decided that as soon as the Germans sent them across to the Soviet side, they would turn themselves in to the authorities, turn in their equipment and instructions, and join their own benign command in laughing at the stupid Germans. They would then put on their Red Army uniforms and return to fight bravely in their units. And tell me, who, speaking in human terms, could have expected anything else? How could it have been any other way? These were straightforward, sincere men. I saw many of them. They had honest round faces and spoke with an attractive Vyatka or Vladimir accent. They boldly joined up as spies, even though they'd had only four or five grades of rural school and were not even competent to cope with map and compass.

It appears that they picked the only way out they could. And one would suppose that the whole thing was an expensive and stupid game on the part of the German Command. But no! Hitler played in rhythm and in tune with his brother dictator! Spy mania was one of the fundamental aspects of Stalin's insanity. It seemed to Stalin that the country was swarming with spies. All the Chinese who lived in the Soviet Far East were convicted as spies—Article 58-6—and were taken to the northern camps, where they perished. The same fate had awaited Chinese participants in the Soviet civil war—if they hadn't cleared out in time. Several hundred thousand Koreans were exiled to Kazakhstan, all similarly ac- cused of spying. All Soviet citizens who at one time or another had lived abroad, who at one time or another had hung around Intourist hotels, who at one time or another happened to be photographed next to a foreigner, or who had themselves photo- graphed a city building (the Golden Gate in Vladimir) were accused of the same crime. Those who stared too long at railroad tracks, at a highway bridge, at a factory chimney were similarly charged. All the numerous foreign Communists stranded in the Soviet Union, all the big and little Comintern officials and em- ployees, one after another, without any individual distinctions, were charged first of all with espionage.

[ Iosip Tito just barely escaped this fate. And Popov and Tanev, fellow defendants of Dimitrov in the Leipzig trial, both got prison terms. (For Dimi- trov himself Stalin prepared another fate.)]

And the Latvian Rifle- men—whose bayonets were the most reliable in the first years of the Revolution—were also accused of espionage when they were arrested to a man in 1937. Stalin seems somehow to have twisted around and maximized the famous declaration of that coquette Catherine the Great: he would rather that 999 innocent men should rot than miss one genuine spy. Given all this, how could one believe and trust Russian soldiers who had really been in the hands of the German intelligence service? And how it eased the burden for the MGB executioners when thousands of soldiers pouring in from Europe did not even try to conceal that they had voluntarily enlisted as spies. What an astonishing con- firmation of the predictions of the Wisest of the Wise! Come on, keep coming, you silly fools! The article and the retribution have long since been waiting for you!

But it is appropriate to ask one thing more. There still were prisoners of war who did not accept recruiting offers, who never worked for the Germans at their profession or trade, and who were not camp police, who spent the whole war in POW camps, without sticking their noses outside, and who, in spite of every- thing, did not die, however unlikely this was. For example, they made cigarette lighters out of scrap metal, like the electrical engineers Nikolai Andreyevich Semyonov and Fyodor Fyodoro- vich Karpov, and in that way managed to get enough to eat. And did the Motherland forgive them for surrendering?

No, it did not forgive them! I met both Semyonov and Karpov in the Butyrki after they had already received their lawful sen- tence. And what was it? The alert reader already knows: ten years of imprisonment and five muzzled. As brilliant engineers, they had rejected German offers to work at their profession. In 1941 Junior Lieutenant Semyonov had gone to the front as a volunteer. In 1942 he still didn't have a revolver; instead, he had an empty holster—and the interrogator could not understand why he hadn't shot himself with his holster! He had escaped from captivity three times. And in 1945, after he had been liberated from a concentration camp, seated atop a tank as a member of a penalty unit of tank-borne infantry, he took part in the capture of Berlin and received the Order of the Red Star. Yet, after all that, he was finally imprisoned and sentenced. All of this mirrored our Nemesis.

Very few of the war prisoners returned across the Soviet border as free men, and if one happened to get through by accident be- cause of the prevailing chaos, he was seized later on, even as late as 1946 or 1947. Some were arrested at assembly points in Ger- many. Others weren't arrested openly right away but were trans- ported from the border in freight cars, under convoy, to one of the numerous Identification and Screening Camps (PFL's) scat- tered throughout the country. These camps differed in no way from the common run of Corrective Labor Camps (ITL's) ex- cept that their prisoners had not yet been sentenced but would be sentenced there. All these PFL's were also attached to some kind of factory, or mine, or construction project, and the former POW's, looking out on the Motherland newly restored to them through the same barbed wire through which they had seen Germany, could begin work from their first day on a ten-hour work day. Those under suspicion were questioned during their rest periods, in the evenings, and at night, and there were large numbers of Security officers and interrogators in the PFL's for this purpose. As always, the interrogation began with the hypothesis that you were obviously guilty. And you, without going outside the barbed wire, had to prove that you were not guilty. Your only available means to this end was to rely on witnesses who were exactly the same kind of POW's as you.

Obviously they might not have turned up in your own PFL; they might, in fact, be at the other end of the country; in that case, the Security officers of, say, Kemerovo would send off inquiries to the Security officers of Solikamsk, who would question the wit- nesses and send back their answers along with new inquiries, and you yourself would be questioned as a witness in some other case. True, it might take a year or two before your fate was resolved, but after all, the Motherland was losing nothing in the process. You were out mining coal every day. And if one of your witnesses gave the wrong sort of testimony about you, or if none of your witnesses was alive, you had only yourself to blame, and you were sure to be entered in the documents as a traitor of the Motherland. And the visiting military court would rubber- stamp your tenner. And if, despite all their twisting things about, it appeared that you really hadn't worked for the Germans, and if—and this was the main point—you had not had the chance to see the Americans and English with your own eyes (to have been liberated from captivity by them instead of by us was a gravely aggravating circumstance), then the Security officers would decide the degree of isolation in which you were to be held. Certain people were ordered to change their place of resi- dence—which always breaks a person's ties with his environment and makes him more vulnerable. Others were valiantly offered the chance to go to work in the VOKhR, the Militarized Guard Service. In that situation, while nominally remaining free, a man lost all his personal freedom and was sent off to some isolated area. There was a third category: after a handshake, some were humanely permitted to return home, although, even without aggravating circumstances, they deserved to be shot for having surrendered. But people in this category celebrated prematurely! Even before the former prisoner arrived home, his case had reached his home district through the secret channels of State Security. These people remained eternally outsiders. And with the first mass arrests, like those of 1948-1949, they were im- mediately arrested for hostile propaganda or some other reason. I was imprisoned with people in that category too.

"Oh, if I had only known!" That was the refrain in the prison cells that spring. If I had only known that this was how I would be greeted! That they would deceive me so! That this would be my fate! Would I have really returned to my Motherland? Not for anything! I would have made my way to Switzerland, to France! I would have gone across the sea, across the ocean! Across three oceans!

[In actual fact, even when POW's actually knew what would happen to them, they behaved in exactly the same way. Vasily Aleksandrov was taken prisoner in Finland. He was sought out there by some elderly Petersburg merchant who asked him his name and patronymic and then said: "In 1917 I owed your grandfather a large debt, and I didn't have the chance to pay it. Here you are—take it!" An old debt is a windfall! After the war Aleksandrov was accepted by the circle of Russian émigrés, and he got engaged to a girl there whom he came to love—and not just casually. To educate him, his future father-in-law gave him a bound set of Pravda—just as it was issued from 1918 to 1941, without any deletions or corrections. At the same time, he recounted to him more or less completely the history of the waves of arrests, as we have set it forth in Chapter 2, above. And nevertheless . . . Aleksandrov abandoned his fiancée, and his wealth, and returned to the U.S.S.R., where he was given, as one can easily guess, ten years and disenfranchisement for five more. In 1953 he was happy to have managed to snag himself a job as foreman in a Special Camp.]

But the more thoughtful prisoners corrected them. They had made their mistake earlier! They were stupid to have dashed off to the front lines in 1941. It takes a fool to rush off to war! Right from the start, they should have gotten themselves set up in the rear. Somewhere quiet. Those who did are heroes now. And it would have been an even surer thing just to desert. Almost cer- tainly, one's skin would be whole. They didn't get ten years either—but eight, or seven. And they weren't excluded from any of the cushy jobs in camp. After all, a deserter was not regarded as an enemy or a traitor or a political prisoner. He was con- sidered not a hostile factor but a friendly one, a nonpolitical offender, so to speak. That point of view aroused passionate argument and objections. The deserters had to spend all those years rotting in prison, and they would not be forgiven. But there would soon be an amnesty for everyone else; they would all be released. (At that time the principal advantage of being a deserter was still unknown.)

Those who had gotten in via 58-10, snatched from their apartments or from the Red Army, often envied the rest. What the hell! For the very same money, in other words for the same ten-year sentence, they could have seen so many interesting things, like those other fellows, who had been just about every- where! And here we are, about to croak in camp, without ever having seen anything beyond our own stinking stairs. Inciden- tally, those who were in on Article 58-10 could hardly conceal their triumphant presentiment that they would be the first to be amnestied.

The only ones who did not sigh: "Oh, if I had only known"— because they knew very well what they were doing—and the only ones who did not expect any mercy and did not expect an amnesty—were the Vlasov men.

I had known about them and been perplexed about them long before our unexpected meeting on the board bunks of prison.

First there had been the leaflets, repeatedly soaked through, dried out, and lost in the high grass—uncut for the third year— of the front-line strip near Orel. In December, 1942, they had announced the creation in Smolensk of a "Russian Committee" —which apparently claimed to be some sort of Russian govern- ment and yet at the same time seemed not to be one. Evidently the Germans themselves had not yet made up their minds. For that reason, the communiqué seemed to be a hoax. There was a photograph of General Vlasov in the leaflets, and his biography was outlined. In the fuzzy photograph, his face looked well fed and successful, like all our generals of the new stripe. They told me later that this wasn't so, that Vlasov's face was more like that of a Western general—high, thin, with horn-rimmed glasses. His biography testified to a penchant for success. He had begun in a peasant family, and 1937 had not broken his skyrocketing career; nor was it ruined by his service as a military adviser to Chiang Kai-shek. The first and only disaster of his earlier life had occurred when his Second Shock Army, after being en- circled, was ineptly abandoned to die of starvation. But how much of that whole biography could be believed?

[As far as one can establish at this late date, Andrei Andreyevich Vlasov, prevented by the Revolution from completing his studies at the Nizhni Nov- gorod Orthodox Seminary, was drafted into the Red Army in 1919 and fought as an enlisted man. On the southern front, against Denikin and Wrangel, he rose to be commander of a platoon, then of a company. In the twenties he completed the Vystrel courses. He became a member of the Communist Party in 1930. In 1936, having attained the rank of regimental commander, he was sent to China as a military adviser. Evidently he had no ties to the top military and Party circles, and he therefore turned up naturally in that Stalinist "second echelon" of officers promoted to replace the purged commanders of armies, divisions, and brigades. From 1938 on he commanded a division. And in 1940, when "new" (in other words, old) officer ranks were created, he became a major general. From additional information one can conclude that in that corps of newly made generals, many of whom were totally stupid and inexperi- enced, Vlasov was one of the most talented. His 99th Infantry Division, which he had instructed and trained from the summer of 1940 on, was not caught off balance by the German attack. On the contrary, while the rest of the army reeled backward, his division advanced, retook Przemysl, and held it for six days. Quickly skipping the rank of corps commander, in 1941 Lieutenant Gen- eral Vlasov was in command of the Thirty-seventh Army near Kiev. He made his way out of the enormous Kiev encirclement and in December, 1941, near Moscow he commanded the Twentieth Army, whose successful Soviet counter- offensive for defense of the capital (the taking of Solnechnogorsk) was noted in the Sovinformburo communiqué for December 12. And the list of generals mentioned there was as follows: Zhukov, Lelyushenko, Kuznetsov, Vlasov, Rokossovsky, Govorov. Thanks to the speed with which officers were promoted in those months, he became Deputy Commander of the Volkhov Front (under Meretskov), and took over command of the Second Shock Army. On January 7, 1942, at the head of that army, he began a drive to break the Leningrad blockade—an attack across the Volkhov River to the northwest. This had been planned as a combined operation, a concerted push from several direc- tions and from Leningrad itself. At scheduled intervals the Fifty-fourth, the Fourth, and the Fifty-second armies were to take part in it also. But those three armies either did not advance because they were unready or else came to a quick halt. At that time we still didn't have the capacity to plan such complex combined operations, and, more importantly, provide supplies for them. Vlasov's Second Shock Army, however, was successful in its assault, and by February, 1942, it was 46 miles deep inside the German lines! And from then on, the reckless Stalinist Supreme Command could find neither men nor ammunition to reinforce even those troops. (That's the kind of reserves they had begun the offensive with!) Leningrad, too, was left to die behind the blockade, having received no specific information from Novgorod. During March the winter roads still held up. From April on, however, the entire swampy area through which the Second Army had advanced melted into mud, and there were no supply roads, and there was no help from the air. The army was without food and, at the same time, Vlasov was refused permission to re- treat. For two months they endured starvation and extermination. In the Butyrki, soldiers from that army told me how they had cut off the hoofs of dead and rotting horses and boiled the scrapings and eaten them. Then, on May 14, a German attack was launched from all sides against the encircled army. The only planes in the air, of course, were German. And only then, in mockery, were they given permission to pull back behind the Volkhov. They made several hopeless attempts to break through—until the beginning of July.

And so it was that Vlasov's Second Shock Army perished, literally recapitu- lating the fate of Samsonov's Russian Second Army in World War I, having been just as insanely thrown into encirclement.

Now this, of course, was treason to the Motherland! This, of course, was vicious, self-obsessed betrayal! But it was Stalin's. Treason does not necessarily involve selling out for money. It can include ignorance and carelessness in the preparations for war, confusion and cowardice at its very start, the meaningless sacrifice of armies and corps solely for the sake of saving one's own marshal's uniform. Indeed, what more bitter treason is there on the part of a Supreme Commander in Chief?

Unlike Samsonov, Vlasov did not commit suicide. After his army had been wiped out, he wandered among the woods and swamps and, on July 6, per- sonally surrendered in the area of Siverskaya. He was taken to the German headquarters near Lötzen in East Prussia, where they were holding several captured generals and a brigade political commissar, G. N. Zhilenkov, formerly a successful Party official and secretary of one of the Moscow District Party Committees. These captives had already confessed their disagreement with the policy of the Stalin government. But they had no real leader. Vlasov became it.]

From his photograph, it was impossible to believe that he was an outstanding man or that for long years he had suffered pro- foundly for Russia. As for the leaflets reporting the creation of the ROA, the "Russian Liberation Army," not only were they written in bad Russian, but they were imbued with an alien spirit that was clearly German and, moreover, seemed little con- cerned with their presumed subject; besides, and on the other hand, they contained crude boasting about the plentiful chow available and the cheery mood of the soldiers. Somehow one couldn't believe in that army, and, if it really did exist, what kind of cheery mood could it be in? Only a German could lie like that.

[In reality there was no Russian Liberation Army until almost the very end of the war. Both the name and the insignia devised for it were invented by a German of Russian origin, Captain Strik-Strikfeldt, in the Ost-Propaganda- Abteilung. Although he held only a minor position, he had influence, and he tried to convince the Hitlerite leadership that a German-Russian alliance was essential and that the Russians should be encouraged to collaborate with Ger- nany. A vain undertaking for both sides! Each side wanted only to use and leceive the other. But, in the given situation, the Germans had power—they were on top of the setup. And the Vlasov officers had only their fantasy—at the bottom of the abyss. There was no such army, but anti-Soviet formations made up of Soviet citizens were organized from the very start of the war. The irst to support the Germans were the Lithuanians. In the one year we had been there we had aroused their deep, angry hostility! And then the SS-Galicia Division was created from Ukrainian volunteers. And Estonian units afterward. In the fall of 1941, guard companies appeared in Byelorussia. And a Tatar battalion in the Crimea. We ourselves had sowed the seeds of all this!

Take, for example, our stupid twenty-year policy of closing and destroying the Moslem mosques in the Crimea. And compare that with the policy of the farsighted conqueror Catherine the Great, who contributed state funds for building and expanding the Crimean mosques. And the Hitlerites, when they arrived, were smart enough to present themselves as their defenders. Later, Caucasian detachments and Cossack armies—more than a cavalry corps—put in an appearance on the German side. In the first winter of the war, platoons and companies of Russian volunteers began to be formed. But the German Command was very distrustful of these Russian units, and their master ser- geants and lieutenants were Germans. Only their noncoms below master ser- geant were Russian. They also used such German commands as "Achtung!," "Halt!" etc. More significant and entirely Russian were the following units: a brigade in Lokot, in Bryansk Province, from November, 1941, when a local teacher of engineering, K. P. Voskoboinikov, proclaimed the "National Labor Party of Russia" and issued a manifesto to the citizens of the nation, hoisting the flag of St. George; a unit in the Osintorf settlement near Orsha, formed at the beginning of 1942 under the leadership of Russian émigrés (it must be said that only a small group of Russian émigrés joined this movement, and even they did not conceal their anti-German feelings and allowed many cross- overs [including a whole battalion] to the Soviet side . . . after which they were dropped by the Germans); and a unit formed by Gil, in the summer of 1942, near Lublin. (V. V. Gil, a Communist Party member and even, it seems, a Jew, not only survived as a POW but, with the help of other POW's, became the head of a camp near Suwalki and offered to create a "fighting alliance of Russian nationalists" for the Germans.) However, there was as yet no Russian Liberation Army in all of this and no Vlasov. The companies under German command were put on the Russian front, as an experiment, and the Russian units were sent against the Bryansk, Orsha, and Polish partisans.]

We soon discovered that there really were Russians fighting against us and that they fought harder than any SS men. In July, 1943, for example, near Orel, a platoon of Russians in German uniform defended Sobakinskiye Vyselki. They fought with the desperation that might have been expected if they had built the place themselves. One of them was driven into a root cellar. They threw hand grenades in after him and he fell silent. But they had no more than stuck their heads in than he let them have another volley from his automatic pistol. Only when they lobbed in an antitank grenade did they find out that, within the root cellar, he had another foxhole in which he had taken shelter from the infantry grenades. Just try to imagine the degree of shock, deafness, and hopelessness in which he had kept on fighting.

They defended, for example, the unshakable Dnieper bridge- head south of Tursk. For two weeks we continued to fight there for a mere few hundred yards. The battles were fierce in Decem- ber, 1943, and so was the cold. Through many long days both we and they went through the extreme trials of winter, fighting in winter camouflage cloaks that covered our overcoats and caps. Near Malye Kozlovichi, I was told, an interesting encounter took place. As the soldiers dashed back and forth among the pines, things got confused, and two soldiers lay down next to one another. No longer very accurately oriented, they kept shooting at someone, somewhere over there. Both had Soviet automatic pistols. They shared their cartridges, praised one another, and together swore at the grease freezing on their automatic pistols. Finally, their pistols stopped firing altogether, and they decided to take a break and light up. They pulled back their white hoods —and at the same instant each saw the other's cap ... the eagle and the star. They jumped up! Their automatic pistols still refused to fire! Grabbing them by the barrel and swinging them like clubs, they began to go at each other. This, if you will, was not politics and not the Motherland, but just sheer caveman distrust: If I take pity on him, he is going to kill me.

In East Prussia, a trio of captured Vlasov men was being marched along the roadside a few steps away from me. At that moment a T-34 tank thundered down the highway. Suddenly one of the captives twisted around and dived underneath the tank. The tank veered, but the edge of its track crushed him neverthe- less. The broken man lay writhing, bloody foam coming from his mouth. And one could certainly understand him! He pre- ferred a soldier's death to being hanged in a dungeon.

They had no choice. There was no other way for them to fight. They had no chance to find a way out, to safeguard their lives, by some more cautious mode of fighting. If "pure" surrender was considered unforgivable treason to the Motherland, then what about those who had taken up enemy arms? Our propaganda, in all its crudity, explained their conduct as: (1) treason (was it biologically based? carried in the bloodstream?) ; or (2) coward- ice—which it certainly was not! A coward tries to find a spot where things are easy, soft, safe. And men could be induced to enter the Wehrmacht's Vlasov detachments only in the last ex- tremity, only at the limit of desperation, only out of inexhaustible hatred of the Soviet regime, only with total contempt for their own safety. For they knew they would never have the faintest glimpse of mercy! When we captured them, we shot them as soon as the first intelligible Russian word came from their mouths. In Russian captivity, as in German captivity, the worst lot of all was reserved for the Russians.

In general, this war revealed to us that the worst thing in the world was to be a Russian.

I recall with shame an incident I observed during the liquida- tion—in other words, the plundering—of the Bobruisk encircle- ment, when I was walking along the highway among wrecked and overturned German automobiles, and a wealth of booty lay scattered everywhere. German cart horses wandered aimlessly in and out of a shallow depression where wagons and automo- biles that had gotten stuck were buried in the mud, and bonfires of booty were smoking away. Then I heard a cry for help: "Mr. Captain! Mr. Captain!" A prisoner on foot in German britches was crying out to me in pure Russian. He was naked from the waist up, and his face, chest, shoulders, and back were all bloody, while a sergeant osobist, a Security man, seated on a horse, drove him forward with a whip, pushing him with his horse. He kept lashing that naked back up and down with the whip, without letting him turn around, without letting him ask for help. He drove him along, beating and beating him, raising new crimson welts on his skin.

And this was not one of the Punic Wars, nor a war between the Greeks and the Persians! Any officer, possessing any author- ity, in any army on earth ought to have stopped that senseless torture. In any army on earth, yes, but in ours? Given our fierce and uncompromising method of dividing mankind? (If you are not with us, if you are not our own, etc., then you deserve nothing but contempt and annihilation.) So I was afraid to defend the Vlasov man against the osobist. I said nothing and I did nothing. I passed him by as if I could not hear him ... so that I myself would not be infected by that universally recognized plague. (What if the Vlasov man was indeed some kind of supervillain? Or maybe the osobist would think something was wrong with me? And then?) Or, putting it more simply for anyone who knows anything about the situation in the Soviet Army at that time: would that osobist have paid any attention to an army captain?

So the osobist continued to lash the defenseless man brutally and drive him along like a beast.

This picture will remain etched in my mind forever. This, after all, is almost a symbol of the Archipelago. It ought to be on the jacket of this book.

The Vlasov men had a presentiment of all this; they knew it ahead of time; nevertheless, on the left sleeve of their German uniforms they sewed the shield with the white-blue-red edging, the field of St. Andrew, and the letters "ROA."

[These letters became even better known, although, as before, there was still no real Russian Liberation Army. The units were all scattered and kept subordinate to German orders, and the Vlasov generals had nothing to do but play cards in Dahlemdorf, near Berlin. By the middle of 1942, Voskoboinikov's brigade, which, after his death, was commanded by Kaminsky, numbered five infantry regiments of 2,500 to 3,000 men each, with attached artillery crews, a tank battalion consisting of two dozen Soviet tanks, and an artillery battalion with three dozen guns. The commanding officers were POW officers, and the rank and file was made up, in considerable part, of local Bryansk volunteers. This brigade was under orders to guard the area against partisans. In the sum- mer of 1942, the brigade of Gil-Blazhevich was transferred for the same purpose from Poland, where it had been notable for its cruelty toward Poles and Jews, to the area near Mogilev. At the beginning of 1943, its command refused to acknowledge Vlasov's authority, demanding that he explain why, in his stated program, there was no reference to the "struggle against world Jewry and Jew-loving commissars." These were the very men—called the Rodionovites, because Gil had changed his name to Rodionov—who in August, 1943, when Hitler's approaching defeat became apparent, changed their black flag with a silver skull to a red flag, and proclaimed Soviet authority and a large "partisan region" in the northeast corner of Byelorussia.

At that time, Soviet newspapers began to write about the "partisan region," but without explaining its origins. Later on, all surviving Rodionovites were imprisoned. And whom did the Germans immediately throw in against the Rodionovites? The Kaminsky brigade! That was in May, 1944, and they also threw in thirteen of their own divisions in an effort to liquidate the "partisan region." That was the extent to which Germans understood all those tricolor cockades, St. George, and the field of St. Andrew. The Russian and German languages were mutually untranslatable, inexpressible, uncorrelatable. Still worse: in October, 1944, the Germans threw in Kaminsky's brigade— with its Moslem units—to suppress the Warsaw uprising. While one group of Russians sat traitorously dozing beyond the Vistula, watching the death of Warsaw through their binoculars, other Russians crushed the uprising! Hadn't the Poles had enough Russian villainy to bear in the nineteenth century with- out having to endure more of it in the twentieth? For that matter, was that the last of it? Perhaps more is still to come. The career of the Osintorf Battalion was apparently more straightforward. This consisted of about six hundred soldiers and two hundred officers, with an émigré command, I. K. Sakharov and Lamsdorf, Russian uniforms, and a white-blue-red flag; it was thrown in near Pskov. Then, reinforced to regimental strength, it was readied for a para- chute drop on the line of Vologda-Archangel, the idea being to make use of the nest of concentration camps in that area. Throughout 1943, Igor Sakharov managed to prevent his unit from being sent against the partisans. But then he was replaced and the battalion was first disarmed and imprisoned in a camp and then sent off to the Western Front. Then, in the fall of 1943, the Germans decided to send the Russian cannon fodder to the Atlantic Wall, and against the French and Italian Resistance, having lost, forgotten, and not even tried to recall its original purpose. Those among the Vlasov men who had managed to retain some kind of political rationality or hope thereupon lost both.]

The inhabitants of the occupied areas held them in contempt as German hire- lings. So did the Germans, because of their Russian blood. Their pitiful little newspapers were worked over with a German cen- sor's broadsword: Greater Germany and the Führer. And the Vlasov men had one way out of all that—to fight to the death, and, when they were not fighting, to down vodka and more vodka. Foredoomed—that was their existence during all their years of war and alien lands, and there was no salvation for them from any direction.

Hitler and those around him, even when they were retreating on every front and were staring their own destruction in the face, could still not overcome their intense distrust of wholly separate Russian units; they could not bring themselves to organize divi- sions that were entirely Russian, to allow even the shadow of a Russia that was not totally subject to them. Only in the crack of the final debacle, in November, 1944, was a belated theatrical production at last permitted in Prague: the creation of a "Com- mittee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia," combining all the different national groups, and a manifesto, which, like everything that had preceded it, was neither fish nor fowl, since the concept of a Russia independent of Germany and Nazism was still not tolerated. Vlasov became chairman of the commit- tee. And only in the fall of 1944 did they begin to form Vlasov divisions that were exclusively Russian.

[They were: the 1st, based on "the Kaminsky brigade," under S. K. Bunyachenko; the 2nd, under Zverev (former military commandant of Khar- kov); half the 3rd; segments of the 4th; and Maltsev's air force detachment. Only four divisions were authorized.]

Probably the wise Ger- man political leaders had concluded that at this point the Russian workers in Germany (the "ostovtsy") would rush to take up arms. But the Red Army was already on the Vistula and the Danube. And ironically, as though to confirm the farsightedness of the very nearsighted Germans, those Vlasov divisions, in their first and last independent action, dealt a blow—to the Germans themselves. In the general disaster, Vlasov gathered up his two and a half divisions near Prague at the end of April, without coordinating his action with the German Supreme Command. It became known at this point that SS General Steiner was pre- paring to destroy the Czech capital rather than surrender it in- tact. And Vlasov ordered his divisions to the aid of the Czech rebels. And at that point, all the hurt, bitterness, and anger against the Germans that had accumulated during three cruel and futile years in the breasts of the enslaved Russians was vented in the attack on the Germans. They were shoved out of Prague from an unexpected direction. Did all Czechs realize later which Russians had saved their city? Our own history is similarly distorted; we claim that Prague was saved by Soviet armies, although they couldn't have gotten there in time.

Then the Vlasov army began to retreat toward Bavaria and the Americans. They were pinning all their hopes on the possi- bility of being useful to the Allies; in this way their years of dangling in the German noose would finally become meaningful. But the Americans greeted them with a wall of armor and forced them to surrender to Soviet hands, as stipulated by the Yalta Conference. In Austria that May, Churchill perpetrated the same sort of "act of a loyal ally," but, out of our accustomed modesty, we did not publicize it. He turned over to the Soviet command the Cossack corps of 90,000 men.

[This surrender was an act of double-dealing consistent with the spirit of traditional English diplomacy. The heart of the matter was that the Cossacks were determined to fight to the death, or to cross the ocean, all the way to Paraguay or Indochina if they had to ... anything rather than surrender alive. Therefore, the English proposed, first, that the Cossacks give up their arms on the pretext of replacing them with standardized weapons. Then the officers —without the enlisted men—were summoned to a supposed conference on the future of the army in the city of Judenburg in the English occupation zone. But the English had secretly turned the city over to the Soviet armies the night before. Forty busloads of officers, all the way from commanders of companies on up to General Krasnov himself, crossed a high viaduct and drove straight down into a semicircle of Black Marias, next to which stood convoy guards with lists in their hands. The road back was blocked by Soviet tanks. The officers didn't even have anything with which to shoot themselves or to stab themselves to death, since their weapons had been taken away. They jumped from the viaduct onto the paving stones below. Immediately afterward, and just as treacherously, the English turned over the rank-and-file soldiers by the train- load—pretending that they were on their way to receive new weapons from their commanders.

In their own countries Roosevelt and Churchill are honored as embodiments of statesmanlike wisdom. To us, in our Russian prison conversations, their consistent shortsightedness and stupidity stood out as astonishingly obvious. How could they, in their decline from 1941 to 1945, fail to secure any guar- antees whatever of the independence of Eastern Europe? How could they give away broad regions of Saxony and Thuringia in exchange for the preposterous toy of a four-zone Berlin, their own future Achilles' heel? And what was the military or political sense in their surrendering to destruction at Stalin's hands hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens determined not to surrender? They say it was the price they paid for Stalin's agreeing to enter the war against Japan. With the atom bomb already in their hands, they paid Stalin for not refusing to occupy Manchuria, for strengthening Mao Tse-tung in China, and for giving Kim Il Sung control of half Korea! What bankruptcy of political thought! And when, subsequently, the Russians pushed out Mikolajczyk, when Benes and Masaryk came to their ends, when Berlin was blockaded, and Buda- pest flamed and fell silent, and Korea went up in smoke, and Britain's Con- servatives fled from Suez, could one really believe that those among them with the most accurate memories did not at least recall that episode of the Cossacks?]

Along with them, he also handed over many wagonloads of old people, women, and children who did not want to return to their native Cossack rivers. This great hero, monuments to whom will in time cover all England, ordered that they, too, be surrendered to their deaths.

In addition to the hurriedly created Vlasov divisions, quite a few Russian subunits went right on turning sour in the depths of the German Army, wearing standard German uniforms. They finished out the war on various sectors and in different ways.

I myself fell under Vlasov fire a few days before my arrest. There were Russians in the East Prussian "sack" which we had surrounded, and one night at the end of January their unit tried to break through our position to the west, without artillery prepa- ration, in silence. There was no firmly delineated front in any case, and they penetrated us in depth, catching my sound-locator battery, which was out in front, in a pincers. I just barely managed to pull it back by the last remaining road. But then I went back for a piece of damaged equipment, and, before dawn, I watched as they suddenly rose from the snow where they'd dug in, wearing their winter camouflage cloaks, hurled themselves with a cheer on the battery of a 152-millimeter gun battalion at Adlig Schwenkitten, and knocked out twelve heavy cannon with hand grenades before they could fire a shot. Pursued by their tracer bullets, our last little group ran almost two miles in fresh snow to the bridge across the Passarge River. And there they were stopped.

Soon after that I was arrested. And now, on the eve of the Victory Parade, here we all were sitting together on the board bunks of the Butyrki. I took puffs from their cigarettes and they took puffs from mine. And paired with one or another of them, I used to carry out the six-bucket tin latrine barrel.

Many of the Vlasov men, like the "spies for hire," were young, born, say, between 1915 and 1922, that same "young and unknown tribe" which bustling-bustling Lunacharsky had hurried to greet in the name of Pushkin. Most of them got into Vlasov military units through that same blind chance which led their comrades in a neighboring camp to get into the spy thing —it all depended on which recruiter had gone where.

The recruiters had explained to them jeeringly—or rather, it would have been jeering if it hadn't been the truth: "Stalin has renounced you! Stalin doesn't give a damn about you!"

Soviet law had outlawed them even before they outlawed themselves.

So they signed up—some of them simply to get out of a death camp, others with the hope of going over to the partisans. (And some of them did! And fought side by side with the partisans! But according to Stalin's rules that didn't soften their sentences in the least.) However, in the case of some, the shame of 1941, that stunning defeat after long, long years of braggadocio, ate at their hearts. Some believed that the primary guilt for those in- human POW camps belonged to Stalin. They, too, wanted the chance to speak out about themselves and their awful experi- ence: to affirm that they, too, were particles of Russia, and wanted to influence Russia's future, and not to be the puppets of other people's mistakes.

But fate played them an even bitterer trick, and they became more abject pawns than before. The Germans, in their shallow stupidity and self-importance, allowed them only to die for the German Reich, but denied them the right to plan an independent destiny for Russia.

And the Allies were two thousand versts away—and anyway, what kind of allies would they indeed turn out to be?

The term "Vlasovite" in our country has the same force as the word "sewage." We feel we are dirtying our mouths merely by pronouncing it, and therefore no one dares utter a sentence with "Vlasovite" as its subject.

But that is no way to write history. Now, a quarter of a cen- tury later, when most of them have perished in camps and those who have survived are living out their lives in the Far North, I would like to issue a reminder, through these pages, that this was a phenomenon totally unheard of in all world history: that several hundred thousand young men, aged twenty to thirty, took up arms against their Fatherland as allies of its most evil enemy.

[This, in fact, is the number of Soviet citizens who were in the Wehr- macht—in pre-Vlasov and Vlasov formations, and in the Cossack, Moslem, Baltic, and Ukrainian units and detachments.]

Perhaps there is something to ponder here: Who was more to blame, those youths or the gray Fatherland? One cannot explain this treason biologically. It has to have had a social cause.

Because, as the old proverb says: Well-fed horses don't ram- page.

Then picture to yourself a field in which starved, neglected, crazed horses are rampaging back and forth.

That same spring many Russian émigrés were also in those cells.

It was very like a dream: the resurrection of buried history. The weighty tomes on the Civil War had long since been com- pleted and their covers shut tight. The causes for which people fought in it had been decided. The chronology of its events had been set down in textbooks. The leaders of the White movement were, it appeared, no longer our contemporaries on earth but mere ghosts of a past that had melted away. The Russian émigrés had been more cruelly dispersed than the tribes of Israel. And, in our Soviet imagination, if they were still dragging out their lives somewhere, it was as pianists in stinking little restaurants, as lackeys, laundresses, beggars, morphine and cocaine addicts, and virtual corpses. Right up to 1941, when the war came, it would have been impossible to find out from any hints in our newspapers, our lofty literature, our criticism of the arts (nor did our own well-fed masters of art and literature help us find out) that Russia Abroad was a great spiritual world, that in it Russian philosophy was living and developing; that out there were philosophers like Bulgakov, Berdyayev, and Lossky; that Russian art had enchanted the world; that Rachmaninoff, Chal- iapin, Benois, Diaghilev, Pavlova, and the Don Cossack Chorus of Jaroff were out there; that profound studies of Dostoyevsky were being undertaken (at a time when he was anathema in the Soviet Union) ; that the incredible writer Nabokov-Sirin also existed out there; that Bunin himself was still alive and had been writing for all these twenty years; that journals of the arts were being published; that theatrical works were being produced; that Russians from the same areas of Russia came together in groups where their mother tongue could be heard; and that émigré men had not given up marrying émigré women, who in turn presented them with children, which meant young people our own age.

The picture of emigration presented in our country was so falsified that if one had conducted a mass survey to ask which side the Russian émigrés were on in the Spanish Civil War, or else, perhaps, what side they were on in the Second World War, with one voice everyone would have replied: For Franco! For Hitler! Even now people in our country do not know that many more White émigrés fought on the Republican side in Spain. That both the Vlasov divisions and the Cossack corps of von Pannwitz (the "Krasnov" corps) were made up of Soviet citizens and not of émigrés. The émigrés did not support Hitler. They ostracized Merezhkovsky and Gippius, who took Hitler's part, leaving them to alienated loneliness. There was a joke—except it wasn't a joke—to the effect that Denikin wanted to fight for the Soviet Union against Hitler, and that at one time Stalin planned to arrange his return to the Motherland, not for military reasons, obviously, but as a symbol of national unity. During the German occupation of France, a horde of Russian émigrés, young and old, joined the Resistance. And after the liberation of Paris they swarmed to the Soviet Embassy to apply for per- mission to return to the Motherland. No matter what kind of Russia it was—it was still Russia! That was their slogan, and that is how they proved they had not been lying previously about their love for her. (Imprisoned in 1945 and 1946, they were almost happy that these prison bars and these jailers were their own, Russian. And they observed with surprise the Soviet boys scratching their heads and saying: "Why the hell did we come back? Wasn't there room enough for us in Europe?")

But, given that Stalinist logic which said that every Soviet person who had lived abroad had to be imprisoned in camp, how could the émigrés possibly escape the same lot? In the Balkans, Central Europe, Harbin, they were arrested as soon as the Soviet armies arrived. They were arrested in their apartments and on the street, just like Soviet citizens. For a while State Security arrested only men, and not all of them, only those who had in one or another way revealed a political bias. Later on, their families were transported to exile in Russia, but some were left where they were in Bulgaria and Czechoslovakia. In France they were welcomed into Soviet citizenship with honors and flowers and sent back to the Motherland in comfort; and only when they got to the U.S.S.R. were they raked in. Things dragged out longer for the Shanghai émigrés. In 1945 Russian hands didn't reach that far. But a plenipotentiary from the Soviet government went to Shanghai and announced a decree of the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet extending forgiveness to all émigrés. Well, now, how could one refuse to believe that? The government cer- tainly couldn't lie! Whether or not there actually was such a decree, it did not, in any case, tie the hands of the Organs. The Shanghai Russians expressed their delight. They were told they could take with them as many possessions as they wanted and whatever they wanted. They went home with automobiles—the country could put them to good use. They were told they could settle wherever they wanted to in the Soviet Union and, of course, work at any profession or trade. They were transported from Shanghai in steamships. The fate of the passengers varied. On some of the ships, for some reason, they were given no food at all. They also suffered various fates after reaching the port of Nakhodka (which was, incidentally, one of the main transit centers of Gulag). Almost all of them were loaded into freight cars, like prisoners, except that they had, as yet, no strict convoy, and there were no police dogs. Some of them were actually de- livered to inhabited places, to cities, and allowed to live there for two or three years. Others were delivered in trainloads straight to their camps and were dumped out somewhere off a high embankment into the forest beyond the Volga, together with their white pianos and their jardinieres. In 1948-1949, the former Far Eastern émigrés who had until then managed to stay out of camps were scraped up to the last man.

As a nine-year-old boy I had read the small dark-blue books of V. V. Shulgin with more interest than I had read Jules Verne. At that time they were sold openly in our book stalls. His was a voice from a world that had disappeared with such finality that not even the most extravagant fantasy could have projected that invisible point in the soundless corridors of the Big Lub- yanka where his steps would intersect my own before twenty years had passed. True, I would not meet the man himself until an- other twenty years had gone by. But I had time to study attentively many émigrés, old and young, in the spring of 1945.

I underwent a medical examination with Captain Borshch and Colonel Mariyushkin. And the pitiful sight of their naked, wrinkled, dark-yellow bodies, not bodies any longer but mum- mies, has always remained before my eyes. They were arrested five minutes this side of the grave, so to speak, and brought to Moscow from several thousand miles away, and there in Mos- cow, in 1945, an interrogation was proceeding in the most serious way on ... their struggle against Soviet power in 1919!

We have become so used to the piling up of injustices during interrogation and trial that we have ceased drawing any dis- tinctions of degree between them. This captain and this colonel were veteran officers of the Tsar's Russian Army. They had both been over forty, and they had both served in the army for twenty years, when the telegraph brought them news that the Tsar had been overthrown in Petrograd. For twenty years they had served the Tsar according to their oath. And now, against their wills—for all we know, possibly muttering "Beat it! Scram!" to themselves—they swore loyalty to the Provisional Govern- ment. After that, no one asked them to swear any more oaths because the whole army fell apart. They didn't like the new scheme of things, wherein soldiers tore shoulder boards off offi- cers and killed them, and it was natural for them to join other officers to fight against it. And it was natural for the Red Army to fight against them and push them into the sea. But in a coun- try in which at least the rudiments of jurisprudence exist, what basis was there for putting them on trial, and a quarter of a cen- tury later at that? (They had lived as private persons all that time . . . Mariyushkin up to the very moment of his arrest. Borshch, to be sure, had turned up in a Cossack wagon train in Austria, but in a transport, with the old men and women, not in an armed unit.)

However, in 1945, in the very center of Soviet jurisdiction, they were charged with: actions directed toward the overthrow of the government of the workers' and peasants' soviets; armed incursion into Soviet territory, in other words, not having im- mediately left Russia when Petrograd was declared Soviet; aiding the international bourgeoisie (which they had never seen even in their dreams) ; serving counterrevolutionary governments (i.e., their own generals, to whom they had been subordinate all their lives). And all these sections—Nos. 1, 2, 4, 13—of Article 58 were included in a Criminal Code adopted in 1926, that is, six to seven years after the end of the Civil War. This was a classic and unconscionable example of the ex post facto application of a law! In addition, Article 2 of the Code specified that it applied only to citizens taken into custody on the territory of the Russian Republic. But State Security's strong right arm had grabbed people who were in no wise Soviet citizens from all the countries of Europe and Asia.

[On this basis no single African leader has any assurance that we will not, ten years from now, promulgate a law in accordance with which we will put him on trial for what he does today. Yes. The Chinese, in fact, will pro- mulgate precisely such laws—just give them the chance to reach out that far.]

And we won't even bring up the question of statutes of limitations. This question was provided for very flexibly—no statutes of limitations applied to Article 58. ("Why stir up the past indeed?") Such statutes are invoked only in the case of our home-grown executioners, who have destroyed many, many more of their compatriots than did the whole Civil War.

Mariyushkin, at least, remembered everything clearly. He told us the details of being evacuated from Novorossisk. But Borshch had already descended into second childhood and prattled on and on about celebrating Easter in the Lubyanka: he had eaten only half his bread ration during Palm Sunday week and Holy Week and had set the rest of it aside, gradually replacing the stale pieces with fresh ones. Thus he had accumulated seven full rations when it came time to break the Lenten fast—and he had "feasted" for the three days of Easter.

I do not know what kind of White Guards they were in the Civil War, either of them, whether they were among the ex- ceptional few who hung every tenth worker without trial and whipped the peasants, or whether they were the other kind, the soldierly majority. The fact that they were being interrogated and sentenced in Moscow was no proof of anything nor a matter of any consequence. But if, from that time on, they had lived for a quarter of a century, not as retired officers, on pensions and with honor, but as homeless exiles, then how could anyone point to any moral basis for trying them? That is the kind of dialectic Anatole France mastered, but which we cannot seem to grasp. According to Anatole France, by the time it's today, yesterday's martyr is already in the wrong—in fact, from the first minute the red shirt covered his body. And vice versa. But our version is: If they rode me for one short year, when I had just outgrown being a foal, then I am called a riding horse all my life, even though I have long since been used only as a cab horse.

Colonel Konstantin Konstantinovich Yasevich was very dif- ferent from these helpless émigré mummies. For him, clearly, the end of the Civil War had not ended the struggle against Bolshevism. As to how he continued to struggle—where and with what—he did not enlighten me. But the sense that he was still in the service remained with him in the cell itself. In the midst of all the chaotic concepts, the blurred and broken lines of vision, in most of our heads, he had, evidently, a clear and exact view of everything around him; as a result of this reasoned point of view on life, his body, too, exhibited a steady strength, re- siliency, and activity. He was certainly not less than sixty. His head was totally bald, without a single hair. He had already survived his interrogation and was awaiting his sentence, like the rest of us. He could expect no help from anywhere, of course. But he kept his young, even rosy skin. Among all of us in the cell, he alone did exercises every morning and washed himself at the faucet. The rest of us were trying not to squander the calories in our prison ration. He put his time to use, and whenever an aisle opened up between the rows of board bunks, he paced those fifteen to twenty feet with a precise stride and a precise profile, crossing his arms over his chest and staring through the walls with clear young eyes.

And the difference between us and him was that we were all astonished at what was happening to us, while nothing around him contradicted his expectations, and precisely for that reason he was absolutely alone in the cell.

A year later, I was able to appraise his conduct in prison. Once again I was in the Butyrki, and in one of those seventy cells I met some young codefendants of Yasevich who had al- ready been sentenced to ten and fifteen years. The sentences given everyone in their group were typed out on cigarette paper, and for some reason they had it in their possession. Yasevich was first on the list, and his sentence was : to be shot. So that was what he saw—what he foresaw-—through the wall with his still- young eyes as he paced back and forth from the table to the door! But his unimpaired consciousness of the correctness of his path in life lent him extraordinary strength.

Among the émigrés was one my own age, Igor Tronko. We became friends. Both of us were weak, dried out; our skin was grayish-yellow on our bones. (Why had we collapsed to such an extent? I think the main cause was spiritual confusion.) Both of us were thin and on the tall side, and we were shaken by the gusts of summer wind in the Butyrki courtyards. We always walked side by side, with the careful steps of old men, and dis- cussed the parallels in our lives. He had been born in South Russia the same year as I. We were still nursing babes when fate stuck her hand into her well-worn purse and drew out a short straw for me and a long one for him. So it was that he rolled off across the sea, even though his White Guard father was just a rank-and-file, unpropertied telegrapher.

I found it interesting in the extreme to picture through his life all those compatriots of my generation who had landed outside Russia. They had grown up under good family supervision and in very modest, even meager, circumstances. They were all very well brought up and, within the range of existing possibilities, well educated. They grew up without knowing fear or repression, though the White organizations maintained a certain yoke of authority over them until they themselves grew strong. They grew up in such a way that the sins to which all European youth was subject in that period—a high crime rate, a frivolous atti- tude toward life, thoughtlessness, dissipation—did not touch them. That was because they grew up, so to speak, in the shadow of the indelible misfortune which had befallen their families. Whatever country they grew up in, they looked on Russia alone as their Motherland. Their spiritual upbringing was based on Russian literature, all the more beloved because to them it was the beginning and end of their Motherland, because for them their Motherland did not exist as a primary geographi- cal and physical fact. The contemporary printed word was much more generally accessible to them than to us, but they received Soviet books in conspicuously small quantities. And they felt this lack all the more keenly; it seemed to them chiefly respon- sible for their inability to understand what was most important, highest, and most beautiful in Soviet Russia; and that the books they did receive presented a distortion, a lie; were incomplete.

The picture they had of our real life was very, very faint, but their longing for their Motherland was such that if we had called on them in 1941 they would all have joined the Red Army, and it would have been even sweeter for them to die than to survive. These young people from twenty-five to twenty-seven already represented and firmly defended several points of view, in defi- nite conflict with the opinions of the old generals and political leaders. Thus Igor's group was called the "nepredreshentsy"— the "non-prejudgers": they declared that anyone who had not shared with the Motherland the whole, complex burden of the past decades had no right to decide anything about the future of Russia, nor even to presuppose anything, but should simply go and lend his strength to whatever the people might decide.

We would often lie beside one another on the wooden bunks. I tried to understand his world as best I could, and our encounter revealed to me a concept confirmed by later encounters—that the outflow from Russia of a significant part of her spiritual forces, which occurred in the Civil War, had deprived us of a great and important stream of Russian culture. Everyone who really loves that culture will strive for the reunion of both streams, the one at home and the tributary abroad. Only then will our culture attain wholeness. Only then will it reveal its capacity for benign development.

And I dream of living until that day.

A human being is weak, weak. In the end, that spring, even the most stubborn of us wanted forgiveness and were ready to give up a lot for just a little bit more life. An anecdote was current among us: "What is your last word, accused?" "I beg you to send me wherever you please, just as long as it is under the Soviet government and the sun is there!" No one was threatening to deprive us of the Soviet government, of course: just of the sun. No one wanted to be sent beyond the Arctic Circle, to scurvy and malnutrition. For some reason, a legend about the Altai region in particular flourished in the cells. Those rare persons who had been there at one time or another, but especially those who had never been there, wove melodious dreams about the wonderful country of the Altai for their cellmates! It had the vast expanses of Siberia and a mild climate. Rivers of honey flowing between banks of wheat. The steppe and mountains. Herds of sheep, flocks of wildfowl, shoals of fish. Populous, rich villages.

[Does not the prisoner's dream of the Altai simply continue the old peasant dream about it? The so-called lands of His Majesty's Cabinet were in the Altai, and because of this the area was closed to colonization much longer than the rest of Siberia. But it was there that the peasants wanted most of all to settle—and where they actually settled. Is it not from this that the enduring legend has arisen?]

Oh, if only we could find a hiding place in that quiet! If only we could listen to the pure resounding of the cock crow in the unpolluted air! Or stroke the good, serious face of a horse! Curses on you, all you great problems! Let someone else beat his head against you, someone more stupid. Oh, just to rest there from the interrogator's mother oaths and the monotonous un- winding of your whole life, from the crash of the prison locks, from the suffocating stuffiness of the cell. Only one life is allotted us, one small, short life! And we had been criminal enough to push ours in front of somebody's machine guns, or drag it with us, still unsullied, into the dirty rubbish heap of politics. There, in the Altai, it appeared, one could live in the lowest, darkest hut on the edge of the village, next to the forest. And one could go into the woods, not for brushwood and not for mushrooms, but just to go, for no reason, and hug two tree trunks: Dear ones, you're all I need.

And the spring itself sounded a summons to mercy. It was the spring that marked the ending of such an enormous war! We saw that millions of us prisoners were flowing past and knew that millions more would greet us in the camps. It just couldn't be that so many people were to remain in prison after the greatest victory in the world! It was just to frighten us that they were holding us for the time being: so that we might remember and take heed. Of course, there would soon be a total amnesty and all of us would be released. Someone even swore that he had read in a newspaper that Stalin, replying to some American correspondent (whose name I cannot remember), said that after the war there would be an amnesty the like of which the world had never seen. And one of the interrogators had actually said to someone else that there would soon be a general amnesty. (These rumors were a help to the interrogators because they weakened the prisoners' will: The hell with him, let's sign—it isn't going to be for long anyway.)

But... for mercy one must have wisdom. This has been a truth throughout our history and will remain one for a long time to come.

We did not heed the few sober minds among us who croaked out that never, in a whole quarter-century, had there been an amnesty for political prisoners—and that there never would be one. Some cell expert among the stool pigeons leaped up with an answer: "Yes, there was! In 1927. For the tenth anniversary of the Revolution. All the prisons were emptied, and white flags were flown on all of them." This astonishing vision of white flags on the prisons—why white?—was particularly striking.

[Vyshinsky, Ot Tyurem k Vospitatelnym Uchrezhdeniyam, p. 396, presents the figures. In the 1927 amnesty, 7.3 percent of the prisoners were amnestied. This is a credible figure. Pretty poor for a tenth anniversary. Among the political prisoners, women with children were freed and those who had only a few months left to serve. In the Verkhne-Uralsk Prison Isolator, for example, twelve out of the two hundred prisoners there were released. But, in the middle of it, they regretted even this wretched amnesty and began to block it: they delayed some releases, and some people who were freed were given a "minus" restriction instead of full freedom to go where they pleased.]

We brushed aside those wise individuals among us who explained that millions of us were imprisoned precisely because the war had ended. We were no longer needed at the front. We were danger- ous in the rear. And, were it not for us, not one brick would ever get laid at the remote construction projects. We were too self- absorbed even to grasp Stalin's simple economic calculations— let alone his malice. Just who this year, after being demobilized, would want to leave his family and home and go off to the Kolyma, to Vorkuta, to Siberia, where there were neither roads nor houses? It was virtually the job of the State Planning Com- mission to assign to the MVD the number of workers required for plan fulfillment and thus the number to be arrested. An amnesty, a broad and generous amnesty, was what we waited for and thirsted for! Somebody said that in England prisoners were amnestied on the anniversary of the coronation, in other words, every year. Many politicals had been amnestied on the three hundredth anniversary of the Romanovs, in 1912. Could it really be possible that now, after we had won a victory which would resound throughout our entire era and even longer, the Stalin government would be petty and vengeful and would hang onto its resentment of every stumble and slip of each of its minuscule subjects?

There is a simple truth which one can learn only through suffer- ing: in war not victories are blessed but defeats. Governments need victories and the people need defeats. Victory gives rise to the desire for more victories. But after a defeat it is freedom that men desire—and usually attain. A people needs defeat just as an individual needs suffering and misfortune: they compel the deepening of the inner life and generate a spiritual upsurge.

The Poltava victory was a great misfortune for Russia: it resulted in two centuries of great strain and stress, ruin, the ab- sence of freedom—and war and war again. The Poltava victory spelled salvation for the Swedes. Having lost the appetite for war, the Swedes became the most prosperous and the freest people in Europe.

[Perhaps, only in the twentieth century, if one is to believe the stories one hears, has their stagnating well-being led to moral indigestion.]

We are so used to taking pride in our victory over Napoleon that we leave out of account the fact that because of it the eman- cipation of the serfs did not take place a half-century sooner. Because of it, the strengthened monarchy destroyed the Decem- brists. (The French occupation was never a reality for Russia.) But the Crimean War, and the Japanese War, and our war with Germany in the First World War—all those defeats brought us freedom and revolution.

We believed in amnesty that spring, we weren't being at all original in this. Talking with old prisoners, one gradually dis- covers that this thirst for mercy and this faith in mercy is never absent within gray prison walls. For decades and decades, wave after wave of prisoners has thirsted for and believed in either an amnesty, or a new Code, or a general review of cases. And the rumors about these things have always been supported by the Organs with skilled caution. The prisoner's imagination sees the ardently awaited arrival of the angel of liberation in just about anything: the next anniversary of the October Revolution, Len- in's anniversaries, Victory Day, Red Army Day, Paris Commune Day, every new session of the All-Russian Central Executive Committee—the VTsIK—the end of every Five-Year Plan, every Plenary Session of the Supreme Court! And the wilder the arrests, the more Homeric and mind-boggling the scale of the waves of prisoners, the more they inspired not sober-mindedness but faith in amnesty!

All sources of light can to some degree be compared with the Sun. And the Sun cannot be compared with anything. So it is that all the expectations in the world can be compared with the expectation of amnesty, but the expectation of amnesty cannot be compared with anything else.

In the spring of 1945, every newcomer to the cell was asked first of all what he had heard about an amnesty. And if two or three prisoners were taken from their cells with their things, the cell experts immediately compared cases and drew the conclusion that theirs were the least serious cases and they had clearly been taken out to be released. It had begun! In the toilet and in the baths—the prisoners' post offices—our "activists" looked every- where for signs and graffiti about the amnesty. And one day at the beginning of July, in the famous lavender vestibule of the Butyrki baths, we read the enormous prophecy written in soap on a glazed lavender slab far higher than a man's head—which meant that one man had stood on another's shoulders in order to write it in a place where it would take longer to erase:

"Hurrah!! Amnesty on July 17!"

[Indeed, the bastards were wrong by only one digit! For more details on the great Stalin amnesty of July 7, 1945, see Part III, Chapter 6.]

What a celebration went on! ("After all, if they hadn't known for sure, they wouldn't have written it!") Everything that beat, pulsed, circulated in the body came to a stop beneath the wave of happiness, the expectation that the doors were about to swing open.

But . . . for mercy one must have wisdom.

In the middle of July, the corridor jailer sent one old man from our cell to wash down the toilet, and while they were there eye to eye—for he wouldn't have dared in the presence of witnesses— he looked sympathetically at the prisoner's gray head and asked: "What's your article, father?" "Fifty-eight!" The old man lit up. At home three generations were mourning his arrest. "You're not included," sighed the jailer. Nonsense, we decided in the cell: just an illiterate jailer.

There was also a young man from Kiev in the cell, Valentin. I can't remember his family name. He had big eyes that were beautiful in a feminine way, and he was terrified by the interroga- tion. There is no doubt that he had the gift of precognition—per- haps only in his then current state of excitement. More than once, he went around the cell in the morning and pointed: Today they are going to come for you and you. I saw it in my dream. And they came and got them ... the very individuals he had pointed out. One might add that a prisoner's heart is so inclined toward mysticism that he accepts precognition almost without surprise.

On July 27 Valentin came up to me: "Aleksandr! Today it is our turn." And he told me a dream that had all the characteristics of prison dreams: a bridge across a muddy stream, a cross. I began to get my things together. And it was not for nothing either. He and I were summoned after morning tea. Our cellmates saw us off with noisy good wishes, and many of them assured us we were going off to freedom. They had figured it out by compar- ing our less serious cases.

Perhaps you honestly don't believe it. Perhaps you won't allow yourself to believe. You can try to brush it aside with jokes. But flaming pincers, hotter than anything else on earth, suddenly close around your heart. They just do. Suppose it's true?

They assembled twenty of us from various cells and took us to the baths first. Before every big change in his life, the prisoner has first of all to take a bath. We had time enough there, an hour and a half, to exchange our hunches and ideas. At that point, all steamed up, our skins tender, we were taken through the little emerald park in the Butyrki's interior courtyard, where the birds sang deafeningly, although they were probably only sparrows, and the green of the trees seemed unbearably bright to eyes no longer used to it. Never had my eyes seen the green of the leaves with such intensity as they did that spring! And never in my life had I seen anything closer to God's paradise than that little Butyrki park, which never took more than thirty seconds to cross on the asphalt path.

[Many years later, this time as a tourist, I saw another, similar park, except that it was even smaller, in the Trubetskoi bastion of the Peter and Paul Fortress in Leningrad. The other tourists exclaimed over the darkness of the corridors and cells, but I kept thinking to myself that with such a park to walk in, the prisoners of the Trubetskoi bastion were not lost men. We were taken out to walk only in deathly cell-like stone enclosures.]

They took us to the Butyrki station—a very well-chosen nick- name for that reception and dispatch point, especially because its main hall was really like a good railroad station. They pushed us into a large, spacious box. It was half-dark inside and the air was clean and fresh, since its one and only little window was very high up and had no "muzzle." And it opened on that same sunny little park, and through the transom the birds' twitter deafened us, and in the opening a little bright-green twig hung, promising us all freedom and home. (We had never been imprisoned in such a good box—and that couldn't be a matter of chance! )

And we were all cases for the OSO's—the Special Boards at- tached to the GPU-NKVD. And it turned out that each of us had been imprisoned for nothing much.

No one touched us for three hours. No one opened the doors. We paced up and down the box and, finally, tired out, we sat down on the slab benches. And the little twig kept bobbing and bobbing outside the opening, and the sparrows screamed as if they were possessed.

Suddenly the door crashed open, and one of us was summoned, a quiet bookkeeper, thirty-five years old. He went out. The door was locked. We started running about our box even more agi- tatedly than before. We were on hot coals.

Once more the crash of the door. They called another one out and readmitted the first. We rushed to him. But he was not the same man! The life had gone out of his face. His wide-open eyes were unseeing. His movements were uncertain as he stum- bled across the smooth floor of the box. Was he in a state of shock? Had they swatted him with an ironing board?

"Well? Well?" we asked him, with sinking hearts. (If he had not in fact just gotten up from the electric chair, he must at the very least have been given a death sentence. ) And in the voice of one reporting the end of the universe, the bookkeeper managed to blurt out:

"Five . . . years!"

And once more the door crashed. That was how quickly they returned, as if they were only being taken to the toilet to urinate. The second man returned, all aglow. Evidently he was being re- leased.

"Well, well, come on?" We swarmed around him, our hopes rising again. He waved his hand, choking with laughter.

"Fifteen years!"

It was just too absurd to be believed.

Chapter 7
In the Engine Room

The box adjacent to the so-called Butyrki "station" was the famous frisking box, where new arrivals were searched. It had space enough for five or six jailers to process up to twenty zeks in one batch. Now, however, it was empty and the rough-hewn search tables had nothing on them. Over at one side of the room, seated behind a small nondescript table beneath a small lamp, was a neat, black-haired NKVD major. Patient boredom was what his face chiefly revealed. The intervals during which the zeks were brought in and led out one by one were a waste of his time. Their signatures could have been collected much, much faster.

He indicated that I was to sit down on the stool opposite him, on the other side of his table. He asked my name. To the right and left of the inkwell lay two piles of white papers the size of a half-sheet of typewriter paper, all looking much the same. In format they were just like the fuel requisitions handed out in apartment-house management offices, or warrants in official institutions for purchase of office supplies. Leafing through the pile on the right, the major found the paper which referred to me. He pulled it out and read it aloud to me in a bored patter. (I understood I had been sentenced to eight years.) Immediately, he began to write a statement on the back of it, with a fountain pen, to the effect that the text had been read to me on the particular date.

My heart didn't give an extra half-beat—it was all so everyday and routine. Could this really be my sentence—the turning point in my life? I would have liked to feel nervous, to experience this moment to the full, but I just couldn't. And the major had already pushed the sheet over to me, the blank side facing up. And a schoolchild's seven-kopeck pen, with a bad point that had lint on it from the inkwell, lay there in front of me.

"No, I have to read it myself."

"Do you really think I would deceive you?" the major objected lazily. "Well, go ahead, read it."

Unwillingly, he let the paper out of his hand. I turned it over and began to look through it with deliberate slowness, not just word by word but letter by letter. It had been typed, but what I had in front of me was not the original but a carbon:

EXTRACT
from a decree of the OSO of the NKVD of the U.S.S.R.
of July 7, 1945, No.------.

[ They had met to sentence me on the very day of the amnesty. The work must go on. . . .]

All of this was underscored with a dotted line and the sheet was vertically divided with a dotted line:

Case heard:
Accusation of so-and-so
(name, year of birth,
place of birth)

.          Decreed:
.          
.          To designate for so-and-so (name)
.          for anti-Soviet propaganda, and for
.          an attempt to create an anti-Soviet
.          organization, 8 (eight) years in
.          corrective labor camps.
.          

Copy verified. Secretary_____________

Was I really just supposed to sign and leave in silence? I looked at the major—to see whether he intended to say something to me, whether he might not provide some clarification. No, he had no such intention. He had already nodded to the jailer at the door to get the next prisoner ready.

To give the moment at least a little importance, I asked him, with a tragic expression: "But, really, this is terrible! Eight years! What for?"

And I could hear how false my own words sounded. Neither he nor I detected anything terrible.

"Right there." The major showed me once again where to sign. I signed. I could simply not think of anything else to do.

"In that case, allow me to write an appeal right here. After all, the sentence is unjust."

"As provided by regulations," the major assented with a nod, placing my sheet of paper on the left-hand pile.

"Let's move along," commanded the jailer.

And I moved along.

(I had not really shown much initiative. Georgi Tenno, who, to be sure, had been handed a paper worth twenty-five years, answered: "After all, this is a life sentence. In olden times they used to beat the drums and assemble a crowd when a person was given a life sentence. And here it's like being on a list for a soap ration—twenty-five years and run along!"

Arnold Rappoport took the pen and wrote on the back of the verdict: "I protest categorically this terroristic, illegal sentence and demand immediate release." The officer who had handed it to him had at first waited patiently, but when he read what Rappoport had written, he was enraged and tore up the paper with the note on it. So what! The term remained in force anyway. This was just a copy.

Vera Korneyeva was expecting fifteen years and she saw with delight that there was a typo on the official sheet—it read only five. She laughed her luminous laugh and hurried to sign before they took it back. The officer looked at her dubiously: "Do you really understand what I read to you?" "Yes, yes, thank you very much. Five years in corrective-labor camps."

The ten-year sentence of Janos Rozsas, a Hungarian, was read to him in the corridor in Russian, without any translation. He signed it, not knowing it was his sentence, and he waited a long time afterward for his trial. Still later, when he was in camp, he recalled the incident very vaguely and realized what had happened.)

I returned to the box with a smile. It was strange. Each minute I became jollier and more relieved. Everyone was returning with "ten-ruble bills," including Valentin. The lightest term in our group that day had been given the bookkeeper who had gone out of his mind. He was still, in fact, beside himself. And the lightest term after his was mine.

In the splashes of sun and the July breeze, the little twig outside the window continued to bob up and down as gaily as before. We chattered boisterously. Here and there, more and more frequently, laughter resounded in the box. We were laughing because everything had gone off so smoothly. We were laughing at the shocked bookkeeper. We were laughing at our morning hopes and at the way our cellmates had seen us off and arranged secret signals with us to be transmitted via food parcels—four potatoes or two bagels!

"Well, anyway, there is going to be an amnesty!" several affirmed. "All this is just for form's sake and it doesn't mean anything. They want to give us a good scare so we'll keep in line. Stalin told an American correspondent—"

"What was his name?"

"I don't remember his name."

So they ordered us to take our things, formed us up by twos, and led us once again through that same marvelous little park filled with summer. And where did they take us? Once again to the baths.

And, oh, what a peal of laughter that got! My God, what silly nincompoops! Still roaring, we undressed, hung our duds on the same trolley hooks and rolled them into the same roaster they'd already been rolled into that very morning. Roaring, each of us took a small sliver of repulsive soap and went into the spacious, resonant shower room to wash off our girlish gaiety. We splashed about in there, pouring hot clean water on ourselves, and we got to romping about as if we were school kids who had come to the baths after their last exam. This cleansing, relieving laughter was, I think, not really sick but a living defense for the salvation of the organism.

As we dried ourselves off, Valentin said to me, reassuringly, intimately: "Well, all right. We are still young. We are going to live a long time yet. The main thing is not to make a misstep now. We are going to a camp—and we'll not say one word to anyone, so they won't plaster new terms on us. We will work honestly—and keep our mouths shut."

And he really believed in his program, that naive little kernel of grain caught between Stalin's millstones! He really had his hopes set on it. One wanted to agree with him, to serve out the term cozily, and then expunge from one's head what one had lived through.

But I had begun to sense a truth inside myself: if in order to live it is necessary not to live, then what's it all for?

One cannot really say that the OSO had been conceived after the Revolution. Catherine the Great had sentenced the journalist Novikov, whom she disliked, to fifteen years on, one might say, an OSO basis, since she didn't turn him over to a court. And all the Tsars once in a while, in a fatherly way, exiled without any trial those who had incurred their displeasure. In the 1860's, a basic court reform took place. It seemed as if rulers and subjects had both begun to develop something like a juridical view of society. And yet in the seventies and eighties Korolenko tracked down cases where administrative repression had usurped the role of judicial judgment. In 1872, he himself and two other students were exiled without trial, on the orders of the Deputy Minister of State Properties—a typical case of an OSO. Another time, he and his brother were exiled without trial to Glazov. Korolenko has also given us the name of one Fyodor Bogdan, an emissary from the peasants—a khodok—who got right up to the Tsar himself and was then exiled. And of Pyankov, too, who was acquitted by a court and yet exiled by order of the Tsar. And there were several others as well. And Vera Zasulich explained in a letter sent after she emigrated that she had not run away from the court and a trial but from nonjudicial administrative repression.

Thus the tradition of the "dotted line"—the administratively issued sentence—dragged on. But it was too lax; it was suitable for a drowsy Asiatic country, but not for a country that was rapidly advancing. . . . Moreover, it lacked any definite identity: who was the OSO? Sometimes it was the Tsar, sometimes the governor, sometimes the deputy minister. And if it was still possible to enumerate names and cases, this was not, begging your pardon, real scope.

Real scope entered the picture with the twenties, when permanently operating Troikas—panels of three, operating behind closed doors—were created to bypass the courts permanently. In the beginning they even flaunted it proudly—the Troika of the GPU. Not only did they not conceal the names of the members; they publicized them. Who on the Solovetsky Islands did not know the names of the famous Moscow Troika—Gleb Boky, Vul, and Vasilyev? Yes, and what a word it was, in fact—troika! It bore a slight hint of sleigh bells on the shaft bow; the celebration of Shrovetide; and, interwoven with all this, a mystery. Why "troika"? What did it mean? After all, a court wasn't a quartet either! And a Troika wasn't a court! And the biggest mystery of all lay in the fact that it was kept out of sight. We hadn't been there. We hadn't seen it. All we got was a piece of paper. Sign here! The Troika was even more frightening than a Revolutionary Tribunal. It set itself even farther apart, muffled itself up, locked itself in a separate room, and—soon—concealed the names of its members. Thus we grew used to the idea that the Troika members didn't eat or drink or move about among ordinary people. Once they had isolated themselves in order to go into session, they were shut off for good, and all we knew of them were the sentences handed out through typists. (And they had to be returned too. Such documents couldn't be left in the hands of individuals!)

These Troikas (we use the plural just in case, because—as with a deity—we never know where or in what form it exists) satisfied a persistent need that had arisen: never to allow those arrested to return to freedom (This was like an OTK—a Department for Quality Control in industry—but in this case it was attached to the GPU—to prevent any spoiled goods.) If it turned out that someone was innocent and could therefore not be tried at all, then let him have his "minus 32" via the Troika—which meant he couldn't live in any of the provincial capitals—or let him spend two or three years in exile, after which he would have a convict's clipped ear, would always be a marked man, and, from then on, a recidivist.

(Please forgive us, reader. We have once more gone astray with this rightist opportunism—this concept of "guilt," and of the guilty or innocent. It has, after all, been explained to us that the heart of the matter is not personal guilt, but social danger. One can imprison an innocent person if he is socially hostile. And one can release a guilty man if he is socially friendly. But lacking legal training, we can be forgiven, for the 1926 Code, according to which, my good fellow, we lived for twenty-five years and more, was itself criticized for an "impermissible bourgeois approach," for an "insufficiently class-conscious approach," and for some kind of "bourgeois weighing of punishments in relation to the gravity of what had been committed.")

Alas, it is not for us to write the absorbing history of this particular Organ: how the Troikas turned into OSO's; or when they got renamed; or whether there were OSO's in provincial centers, or just one of them in the Great Palace; or which of our great and proud leaders were members; or how often they met and how long their sessions lasted; whether or not they were served tea while they worked, and if they were, what was served with the tea; and how the work itself proceeded—did they converse while it was going on or not? We are not the ones who will write this history—because we don't know. All that we have heard is that the essence of the OSO was triune. And even though it is still impossible to name its industrious members, yet we do know the three organs permanently represented there: one member represented the Central Committee of the Party, one the MVD, and one the Chief Prosecutor's office. However, it would not be a miracle if we should learn someday that there were never any sessions, and that there was only a staff of experienced typists composing extracts from nonexistent records of proceedings, and one general administrator who directed the typists. As for typists, there were certainly typists. That we can guarantee.

Up to 1924, the authority of the Troika was limited to sentences of three years, maximum. From 1924 on, they moved up to five years of camp; from 1937 on, the OSO could turn out "ten-ruble bills"; after 1948, they could rivet a "quarter"—twenty-five years—on you. And there are people—Chavdarov, for example—who know that during the war years the OSO even sentenced prisoners to execution by shooting. Nothing unusual about this.

The OSO was nowhere mentioned in either the Constitution or the Code. However, it turned out to be the most convenient kind of hamburger machine—easy to operate, undemanding, and requiring no legal lubrication. The Code existed on its own, and the OSO existed on its own, and it kept on deftly grinding without all the Code's 205 articles, neither invoking them nor even mentioning them.

As they used to joke in camp: "There is no court for nothing—for that there is an OSO."

Of course, the OSO itself also needed for convenience some kind of operational shorthand, but for that purpose it worked out on its own a dozen "letter" articles which made operations very much simpler. It wasn't necessary, when they were used, to cudgel your brains trying to make things fit the formulations of the Code. And they were few enough to be easily remembered by a child. Some of them we have already described:

ASA —Anti-Soviet Agitation
KRD —Counter-Revolutionary Activity
KRTD—Counter-Revolutionary Trotskyite Activity (And that "T" made the life of a zek in camp much harder.)
PSh —Suspicion of Espionage (Espionage that went beyond the bounds of suspicion was handed over to a tribunal. )
SVPSh—Contacts Leading (!) to Suspicion of Espionage
KRM —Counter-Revolutionary Thought
VAS —Dissemination of Anti-Soviet Sentiments
SOE —Socially Dangerous Element
SVE —Socially Harmful Element
PD —Criminal Activity (a favorite accusation against former camp inmates if there was nothing else to be used against them)

And then, finally, there was the very expansive category:

ChS —Member of a Family (of a person convicted under one of the foregoing "letter" categories)

It has to be remembered that these categories were not applied uniformly and equally among different groups and in different years. But, as with the articles of the Code and the sections in special decrees, they broke out in sudden epidemics.

There is one more qualification. The OSO did not claim to be handing down a sentence. It did not sentence a person but, instead, imposed an administrative penalty. And that was the whole thing in a nutshell. Therefore it was, of course, natural for it to have juridical independence!

But even though they did not claim that the administrative penalty was a court sentence, it could be up to twenty-five years and include:

• Deprivation of titles, ranks, and decorations
• Confiscation of all property
• Imprisonment
• Deprivation of the right to correspond

Thus a person could disappear from the face of the earth with the help of the OSO even more reliably than under the terms of some primitive court sentence.

The OSO enjoyed another important advantage in that its penalty could not be appealed. There was nowhere to appeal to. There was no appeals jurisdiction above it, and no jurisdiction beneath it. It was subordinate only to the Minister of Internal Affairs, to Stalin, and to Satan.

Another big advantage the OSO had was speed. This speed was limited only by the technology of typewriting.

And, last but not least, not only did the OSO not have to confront the accused face to face, which lessened the burden on inter-prison transport: it didn't even have to have his photograph. At a time when the prisons were badly overcrowded, this was a great additional advantage because the prisoner did not have to take up space on the prison floor, or eat free bread once his interrogation had been completed. He could be sent off to camp immediately and put to honest work. The copy of the sentence could be read to him much later.

It used to be that in favorable conditions the prisoners were unloaded from freight cars at their destinations. And they were made to kneel down right there, next to the tracks—as a pre-caution against attempted escape. But it looked as if they were praying to the OSO. And then and there their sentences were read out to them. It could also happen differently. In 1938 those who arrived at Perebory on prisoner transports did not know either their Code articles or their sentences, but the clerk who met them knew, and he looked them up on the list: SVE—Socially Harmful Element—five years. That was during the time when there was an urgent need for many hands to work on the Moscow-Volga Canal.

Others worked in the camps for months without knowing their sentences. After this, as I. Dobryak reported, they were solemnly lined up—and not just on any old day, but on May 1, 1938, when the red flags were flying—and the Stalino Province Troika's sentences were announced. (This would indicate that the OSO did get decentralized in times of heavy load.) These sentences were from ten to twenty years apiece. And in that same year, my former camp foreman, Sinebryukhov, was sent off with a whole trainload of uasentenced prisoners from Chelyabinsk to Cherepovets. Months passed and the zeks worked away. And then one rest day in winter (Note the days? Another advantage of the OSO), when the frost was cracking, they were driven out into the courtyard and lined up. A newly arrived lieutenant appeared and introduced himself as having come to inform them of their OSO penalties. But he turned out to be a decent sort because he squinted at their thin footwear and at the sun's rays in the steaming frost and said:

"Well anyway, men, why should you freeze out here? The OSO gave you all ten years apiece. There are just a very, very few who got eight. You understand? Disssperse!"

But in view of the frankly mechanical operation of the Special Board, why have any courts at all? Why use a horsecar when there's a noiseless modern streetcar available, which no one can jump out of? Is it a matter of keeping the judges well fed?

Still, it is really quite indecent for a democratic state not to have courts. In 1919, the Eighth Congress of the Party proclaimed in its program: Efforts must be made to involve all the working population in the exercise of judicial duties. It did not prove possible to involve "all" the working population. Conducting a trial is a delicate business. But there was no question of getting along entirely without courts.

However, our political courts—the special collegia of provincial courts, the military tribunals (and why, actually, should there be military tribunals in peacetime anyway?), and all the supreme courts too—unanimously followed the path of the OSO. They, too, did not get stuck in the mud of public trials or in arguments between sides.

Their primary and principal distinguishing feature was closed doors. They were first of all closed courts—for their own convenience.

And by now we have become so accustomed to the fact that millions and millions of people were tried in closed sessions and have become used to this for so long that now and then some mixed-up son, brother, or nephew of a prisoner will even snort at you with conviction: "And what would you have wanted? . . .

There's information here. Our enemies will find out! You can't do it!"

Thus the fear that our "enemies will find out" makes us clamp our head between our own knees. Who in our Fatherland, except some bookworms, remembers now that Karakozov, who fired at the Tsar, was provided with a defense lawyer? Or that Zhelyabov and all the Narodnaya Volya group were tried in public, without any fear that the "Turks would find out"? Or that Vera Zasulich, who attempted to kill the official who was, translated into Soviet terms, the Chief of the Moscow Administration of the MVD—although she missed, and the bullet went past his head—not only was not destroyed in a torture chamber but was acquitted in open court by a jury—no Troika—and then went off in triumph in a carriage?

Despite these comparisons, I do not at all mean to say that a perfect system of courts and justice ever existed in Russia. In all probability, an excellent judicial system is the last fruit of the most mature society, or else one needs a Solomon. Vladimir Dal notes that in the period before the emancipation of the serfs Russia had "not one single proverb containing any praise of the courts." And that really means something. It seems likely that they never had time to get around to making up a proverb praising the zemstvo chiefs either. But, nevertheless, the judicial reform of 1864 at least set the urban sector of our society on the road toward those English models which Herzen praised so highly.

Saying all this, I still have not forgotten what Dostoyevsky had to say in his Diary of a Writer against our trials by jury: about the excesses of some lawyers' eloquence ("Gentlemen of the jury! What kind of woman would she have been if she had not stabbed her rival? Gentlemen of the jury! Who among you would not have thrown the child out of the window?"); and the risk that a juror's momentary impulse might outweigh his civic responsibility. But spiritually Dostoyevsky far outstripped the realities of our life, and he worried about what he shouldn't have worried about! He believed that we had achieved open trials once and for all! (Indeed, who among his contemporaries could have believed in the OSO?) And somewhere else he writes: "It is better to err on the side of mercy than on that of the death penalty." Oh, yes, yes, yes!

Excesses of eloquence do not afflict exclusively a judicial system in process of being established; even more conspicuously, they afflict an already established democracy that has not yet discovered its moral goals. England again gives us examples, as when, for partisan advantage, the leader of the opposition does not hesitate to blame the government for a national predicament worse than actually exists.

Excesses of eloquence are a malady. But what word can we then use for the excessive use of closed doors? Dostoyevsky dreamed of a court in which everything essential to the defense of the accused would be set forth by the prosecutor. How many aeons will we have to wait for that? Our social experience has so far enriched us immeasurably with defense lawyers who accuse the defendant. ("As an honest Soviet person, as a true patriot, I cannot but feel repugnance at the disclosure of these evil deeds.")

And how comfortable it all is for the judges in a closed session! Judicial robes are not required and one can even roll up one's sleeves. How easy it is to work! There are no public-address systems, no newspapermen, and no public. (Well, there is a public, an audience, but it consists of interrogators. For example, they used to attend the Leningrad Province Court during the day to find out how their "proteges" were conducting themselves, and at night went calling on those prisoners who needed to have their consciences appealed to.)3

The second main characteristic of our political courts is the lack of ambiguity in their work, which is to say predetermined verdicts.

[That same collection edited by A. Y. Vyshinsky, Ot Tyurem k Vospitatelnym Uchrezhdeniyam, includes materials indicating that the predetermination of verdicts is an old, old story. In 1924-1929, sentences were determined by joint administrative and economic considerations. Beginning in 1924, because of national unemployment, the courts reduced the number of verdicts which sentenced prisoners to corrective labor while they continued to live at home and increased short-term prison sentences. These cases involved only nonpolitical offenders, of course. As a result, prisons were overcrowded with short-termers serving sentences of up to six months, and not enough use was being made of them in labor colonies. At the beginning of 1929, the People's Commissariat of Justice of the U.S.S.R., in Circular No. 5, condemned short-term sentences and, on November 6, 1929, the eve of the twelfth anniversary of the October Revolution, when the country was supposedly entering on the construction of socialism, a decree of the Central Executive Committee and the Council of People's Commissars simply forbade all sentences of less than one year!]

In other words, you, a judge, always know what the higher-ups expect of you (furthermore there's a telephone if you still have any doubts). And, following the example of the OSO's, sentences might even be typed out ahead of time, with only the prisoner's name to be added later, by hand. And in 1942 Strakhovich cried out during a session of the military tribunal of the Leningrad Military District: "But I could not have been recruited by Ignatovsky when I was only ten years old!" But the presiding judge barked back: "Don't slander the Soviet intelligence service!" The whole thing had been predetermined long before: each and every one of the Ignatovsky group was to be sentenced to be shot. Some man named Lipov got included in the group, but no one from the group knew him and he knew none of them either. Well, so, all right, Lipov got ten years.

How hugely the predetermination of sentences contributed to easing the thorny life of a judge. It wasn't so much a mental relief, in the sense that one didn't have to think, as it was a moral relief. You didn't have to torture yourself with worry that you might make a mistake in a sentence and make orphans out of your own little children. And the predetermination of sentences could dispose even so immovable a judge as Ulrikh to good humor, (And what major execution had he not pronounced?) In 1945, the Military Collegium was hearing the case of the "Estonian separatists." Short, stocky, good-humored Ulrikh was presiding. He didn't pass up a single opportunity to joke not only with his colleagues but also with the prisoners. (After all, that's what humaneness is! A new trait—where had it ever been seen?) Having learned that Susi was a lawyer, he said to him with a smile: "Well, so now your profession can be of some use to you!" Well, there is no need to quarrel. Why be embittered? The court routine proceeded pleasantly. They smoked right at the judge's table, and at a convenient moment broke off for a good lunch. And when evening began to fall, they had to go and confer. But who confers at night? They left the prisoners to sit at their desks all night long and went on home. At nine in the morning they came in all brisk and freshly shaved: "Rise. The court is in session." And all the prisoners were given a "ten-ruble bill" apiece.

And if anyone should object that the OSO at least proceeded without hypocrisy, whereas there was hypocrisy in instances like the above—they pretended to be conferring but didn't really confer—we would certainly have to enter a strong—very strong—dissent!

Well, the third and final characteristic is dialectics. (Which used to be crudely described in the folk saying: "Whichever way you point a wagon tongue, that's the way it goes.") The Code cannot be a dead weight in the path of the judge. The articles of the Code had been around during ten, fifteen, twenty years of rapid change, and, just as Faust said:

The whole world changes and everything moves forward, And why should I be afraid to break my word?

All the articles of the Code had become encrusted with interpretations, directions, instructions. And if the actions of the accused are not covered by the Code, he can still be convicted:

• By analogy (What opportunities!)
• Simply because of origins (7-35: belonging to a socially dangerous milieu)

[In the Republic of South Africa, terror has gone to such lengths in recent years that every suspicious (SOE—Socially Dangerous Element) black can be arrested and held for three months without investigation or trial. Anyone can see immediately the flimsiness of this: why not from three to ten years?]

• For contacts with dangerous persons (Here's scope for you! Who is "dangerous" and what "contacts" consist of only the judge can say.)

[This is something we hadn't known, something the newspaper Izvestiya told us in July, 1957.]

But one should not complain about the precise wording of our published laws either. On January 13, 1950, a decree was issued re-establishing capital punishment. (One is bound, of course, to consider that capital punishment never did depart from Beria's cellars.) And the decree stated that the death sentence could be imposed on subversives—diversionists. What did that mean? It didn't say. Iosif Vissarionovich loved it that way: not to say all of it, just to hint. Did it refer only to someone who blew up rails with TNT? It didn't say. We had long since come to know what a "diversionist" was: someone who produced goods of poor quality was a diversionist. But what was a subversive? Was someone subverting the authority of the government, for example, in a conversation on a streetcar? Or if a girl married a foreigner—wasn't she subverting the majesty of our Motherland?

But it is not the judge who judges. The judge only takes his pay. The directives did the judging. The directive of 1937: ten years; twenty years; execution by shooting. The directive of 1943: twenty years at hard labor; hanging. The directive of 1945: ten years for everyone, plus five of disenfranchisement (manpower for three Five-Year Plans).

[Babayev, in fact a nonpolitical, shouted at them: "You can 'muzzle' me for three hundred years! But I'll never lift my hand for you, you benefactors!"]

The directive of 1949: everyone gets twenty-five.

[Thus it was that a real spy (Schultz, in Berlin, in 1948) could get ten years, and someone who had never been a spy, Günther Waschkau, got twenty-five. Because he was in the wave of 1949.]

The machine stamped out the sentences. The prisoner had already been deprived of all rights when they cut off his buttons on the threshold of State Security, and he couldn't avoid a stretch. The members of the legal profession were so used to this that they fell on their faces in 1958 and caused a big scandal. The text of the projected new "Fundamental Principles of Criminal Prosecution of the U.S.S.R." was published in the newspapers, and they'd forgotten to include any reference to possible grounds for acquittal. The government newspaper issued a mild rebuke:

"The impression might be created that our courts only bring in convictions."

But just take the jurists' side for a moment: why, in fact, should a trial be supposed to have two possible outcomes when our general elections are conducted on the basis of one candidate? An acquittal is, in fact, unthinkable from the economic point of view! It would mean that the informers, the Security officers, the interrogators, the prosecutor's staff, the internal guard in the prison, and the convoy had all worked to no purpose.

Here is one straightforward and typical case that was brought before a military tribunal. In 1941, the Security operations branch of our inactive army stationed in Mongolia was called on to show its activity and vigilance. The military medical assistant Lozovsky, who was jealous of Lieutenant Pavel Chulpenyev because of some woman, realized this. He addressed three questions to Chulpenyev when they were alone:

1. "Why, in your opinion, are we retreating from the Germans?" (Chulpenyev's reply: "They have more equipment and they were mobilized earlier." Lozovsky's counter: "No, it's a maneuver. We're decoying them.")

2. "Do you believe the Allies will help?" (Chulpenyev: "I believe they'll help, but not from unselfish motives." Lozovsky's counter: "They are deceiving us. They won't help us at all.")

3. "Why was Voroshilov sent to command the Northwest Front?"

Chulpenyev answered and forgot about them. And Lozovsky wrote a denunciation. Chulpenyev was summoned before the Political Branch of the division and expelled from the Komsomol: for a defeatist attitude, for praising German equipment, for belittling the strategy of our High Command. The loudest voice raised against him belonged to the Komsomol organizer Kalyagin, who had behaved like a coward at the battle of Khalkhin-Gol, in Chulpenyev's presence, and therefore found it convenient to get rid of the witness once and for all.

Chulpenyev's arrest followed. He had one confrontation with Lozovsky. Their previous conversation was not even brought up by the interrogator. One question was asked: "Do you know this man?" "Yes." "Witness, you may leave." (The interrogator was afraid the charge might fall through.)

[Today Lozovsky holds the degree of candidate in medical sciences and lives in Moscow. Everything is going well with him. Chulpenyev drives a trolley bus.]

Depressed by his month's incarceration in the sort of hole in the ground we have already described, Chulpenyev appeared before a military tribunal of the 36th Motorized Division. Present were Lebedev, the Divisional Political Commissar, and Slesarev, the Chief of the Political Branch. The witness Lozovsky was not even summoned to testify. However, after the trial, to document the false testimony, they got Lozovsky's signature and that of Political Commissar Seryegin. The questions the tribunal asked were: Did you have a conversation with Lozovsky? What did he ask you about? What were your answers? Naively, Chulpenyev told them. He still couldn't understand what he was guilty of. "After all, many people talk like that!" he innocently exclaimed. The tribunal was interested: "Who? Give us their names." But Chulpenyev was not of their breed! He had the last word. "I beg the court to give me an assignment that will mean my death so as to assure itself once more of my patriotism"—and, like a simplehearted warrior of old—"Me and the person who slandered me—both of us together."

Oh, no! Our job is to kill off all those chivalrous sentiments in the people. Lozovsky's duty was to hand out pills and Seryegin's duty was to indoctrinate the soldiers.

[Viktor Andreyevich Seryegin lives in Moscow today and works in a Consumer Service Combine attached to the Moscow Soviet. He lives well.]

Whether or not you died wasn't important. What was important was that we were on guard. The members of the military tribunal went out, had a smoke and returned: ten years plus three years' disenfranchisement.

There were certainly more than ten such cases in every division during the war. (Otherwise, the military tribunals would not have justified the cost of maintaining them.) And how many divisions were there in all? Let the reader count them up himself.

The sessions of the military tribunals were depressingly like one another. The judges were depressingly faceless and emotionless—rubber stamps. The sentences all came off the same assembly line.

Everyone maintained a serious mien, but everyone understood it was a farce, above all the boys of the convoy, who were the simplest sort of fellows. At the Novosibirsk Transit Prison in 1945 they greeted the prisoners with a roll call based on cases. "So and so! Article 58-1a, twenty-five years." The chief of the convoy guard was curious: "What did you get it for?" "For nothing at all." "You're lying. The sentence for nothing at all is ten years."

When the military tribunals were under pressure, their "sessions" lasted one minute—the time it took them to go out and come in again. When their working day went on for sixteen consecutive hours, one could see, through the door of the conference room, bowls of fruit on a table set with a white tablecloth. If they weren't in a hurry, they enjoyed delivering their sentence "with a psychological twist": ". . . sentenced to the supreme measure of punishment!" And then a pause. The judges would look the condemned man in the eye. It was interesting to see how he took it. What was he feeling at that moment? Only then would the verdict continue: "... but taking into consideration the sincere repentance ..."

On the walls of the waiting room messages had been scratched with nails and scrawled in pencil: "I got execution," "I got twenty-five," "I got a 'tenner!' " They didn't clean off these graffiti; they served an educational purpose. Be scared; bow down; don't think that you can change anything by your behavior. Even if you were to speak in your own defense with the eloquence of Demosthenes, in a hall empty except for a handful of interrogators—like Olga Sliozberg in 1936, at the Supreme Court—it would not help you in the slightest. All you could do would be to increase your sentence from ten years to execution. For instance, if you were to shout: "You are fascists! I am ashamed to have been a member of your Party for several years!" (Nikolai Semyonovich Daskal did it in 1937, at the Special Collegium of the Azov-Black Sea Province at Maikop, presided over by Kholik.) In that situation what they did was fabricate a new case and do you in once and for all.

Chavdarov has described an incident in which the accused suddenly repudiated at their trial all the false testimony they had given during the interrogation. And what happened? If there was any hesitation while glances were exchanged, it lasted no more than a few seconds. The prosecutor asked for a recess, without explaining why. The interrogators and their tough-boy helpers dashed in from the interrogation prison. All the prisoners, distributed among separate boxes, were given a good beating all over again and promised another after the next recess. The recess came to an end. Once again the judges questioned all of them—and this time they all confessed.

Aleksandr Grigoryevich Karetnikov, the Director of the Textile Research Institute, provided an example of outstanding astuteness. Just before the session of the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court was to begin, he sent word through the guard that he wanted to give supplementary testimony. This, of course, provoked curiosity. He was received by the prosecutor. Karetnikov displayed his infected collarbone, broken by the interrogator who had struck him with a stool, and declared: "I signed everything under torture." By this time the prosecutor was cursing himself for having been so greedy to get "supplementary" testimony, but it was too late. Each of them is fearless only as long as he is an anonymous cog in the whole machine. But just as soon as the responsibility has become personalized, individualized, concentrated on him, just as soon as the searchlight is on him, he grows pale and realizes that he is nothing and can slip on any chance banana peel. So Karetnikov caught the prosecutor, and the latter was unwilling to suppress the whole business. The session of the Military Collegium began and Karetnikov repeated his statement in front of them. Now there was a case in which the Military Collegium went out and really conferred! But the only verdict they could have brought in was acquittal, which would have meant releasing Karetnikov on the spot. Therefore they brought in no verdict at all!

As if nothing at all had happened, they took Karetnikov back to prison, treated his collarbone, and kept him another three months. A very polite new interrogator entered the case, who wrote out a new warrant for Karetnikov's arrest. (If the Collegium had not twisted things, he might at least have spent those three months as a free man.) The interrogator asked the same questions as the first interrogator. Karetnikov, sensing freedom in the offing, conducted himself staunchly and refused to admit any guilt whatever. And what happened next? He got eight years from an OSO.

This example shows well enough the possibilities available to the prisoner and the possibilities available to the OSO. It was the poet Derzhavin who wrote:

A partial court is worse than banditry.
Judges are enemies; there sleeps the law.
In front of you the citizen's neck
Lies stretched out, quiet and without defense.

But it was a rare thing for such accidents to take place in the Military Collegium of the Supreme Court. For that matter, it was in general rare for it to rub clear its clouded eyes and take a look at any individual little tin soldier of a prisoner. In 1937, A.D.R., an electrical engineer, was taken up to the fourth floor, running upstairs with a convoy guard on either side of him. (In all probability, the elevator was working, but there were so many prisoners pouring in and out that the officials and employees would not have been able to use the elevator if the prisoners had been permitted to.) Meeting a convicted prisoner who had just left, they dashed into the court. The Military Collegium was in such a hurry they hadn't sat down yet, and all three members remained standing. Catching his breath with difficulty, for he had been weakened by his long interrogation, R. blurted out his full name. They muttered something, exchanged glances, and Ulrikh—the very same, no less—proclaimed: "Twenty years!" And they dragged R. out at a gallop and, at a gallop, dragged in the next prisoner.

It was all like a dream. In February, 1963, I, too, got to climb those stairs, but I was courteously accompanied by a colonel who was also a Communist Party organizer. And in that room with the circular colonnade, in which, they say, the Plenary Sessions of the Supreme Court of the U.S.S.R. meet—with an enormous horseshoelike table that had another round table inside it and seven antique chairs—seventy officials of the Military Collegium heard me out—that same Military Collegium which once sentenced Karetnikov, and R. and others and others, and so on and so forth. And I said to them: "What a remarkable day this is! Although I was first sentenced to camp and then to eternal exile, I never before saw a single judge face to face. And now I see all of you assembled here together!" (And they, rubbing their eyes open, for the first time saw a living zek.)

But it turned out that it had not been they! Yes. They said it had not been they. They assured me that those others were no longer present. Some had retired honorably on pensions. A few had been removed. (Ulrikh, the outstanding executioner of all, had been removed, it turned out, back in Stalin's time, in 1950, for, believe it or not, leniency.) Some of them—there were only a few of these—had even been tried under Khrushchev, and, in their role as defendants, they had threatened: "Today you are trying us. Tomorrow we will try you. Watch out!" But like all the starts made under Khrushchev, this effort, too, which had been very active at first, was soon abandoned. He dropped it before it got far enough to produce an irreversible change; which meant that things were left where they had been.

On that occasion, several veterans of the bench, all speaking up at the same time, gave voice to their recollections, unwittingly providing me with material for this chapter. (Oh, if only they had undertaken to remember and to publish! But the years pass; another five have gone by; and it has not become any brighter or lighter.) They recalled how certain judges, at conferences of their judicial colleagues, took pride when they spoke from the rostrum of having succeeded in not applying Article 51 of the Criminal Code, which specifies those circumstances that extenuate guilt, and thus had succeeded in handing down sentences of twenty-five years instead of ten. And how the courts had been humiliatingly subservient to the Organs. A certain judge was trying a case. A Soviet citizen who had returned from the United States had made the slanderous statement that there were good automobile roads in America—and nothing else. That was all there was to the case.

The judge ventured to send the case back for further investigation for the purpose of getting "genuine anti-Soviet materials" - in other words, so that the accused could be beaten and tortured.

But his praiseworthy intention wasn't taken into account. The angry answer came back: "You mean you don't trust our Organs?" And, in the upshot, the judge was exiled to the post of secretary of a military tribunal on Sakhalin! (Under Khrushchev, reproof was not so severe; judges who "made mistakes" were sent—where do you think?—to work as lawyers. )

[ Izvestiya, June 9, 1964. This throws an interesting light on views of legal defense! In 1918, V. I. Lenin demanded that judges who handed down sentences that were too lenient be excluded from the Party.]

The prosecutor's office was just as subservient to the Organs. When, in 1942, Ryumin's flagrant abuses in the counterintelligence section of the Northern Fleet became known, the prosecutor's office did not dare interfere on its own, but only reported respectfully to Abakumov that his boys were acting up. Abakumov had good reason to consider the Organs the salt of the earth! (This was the occasion when he called in Ryumin and promoted him—to his own eventual undoing.)

There just wasn't enough time that February day, or they would have told me ten times as much as they did. But this, too, provides food for thought. If both the courts and the prosecutor's office were simply pawns of the Minister of State Security, then maybe there isn't any need for a separate chapter to describe them.

They vied with each other in telling me things, and I kept looking around me in astonishment. They were people! Real people! They were smiling! They were explaining that their intentions were of the best. Well, and what if things turn full circle and it is once again up to them to try me? Maybe even in that very hall—and they were showing me the main hall.

Well, so they will convict me.

Which comes first—the chicken or the egg? The people or the system?

For several centuries we had a proverb: "Don't fear the law, fear the judge."

But, in my opinion, the law has outstripped people, and people have lagged behind in cruelty. It is time to reverse the proverb:
"Don't fear the judge, fear the law."

Abakumov's kind of law, of course.

They stepped onto the rostrum and talked about Ivan Denisovich. They said happily that the book had eased their consciences (that's what they said . . .). They admitted that the picture I painted was decidedly on the bright side, that every one of them knew of camps worse than that. (Ah, so they did know?) Of the seventy people seated around that horseshoe, several turned out to be knowledgeable in literature, even to be readers of Novy Mir. They were eager for reform. They spoke forcefully about our social ulcers, about our neglect of our rural areas.

And I sat there and thought: If the first tiny droplet of truth has exploded like a psychological bomb, what then will happen in our country when whole waterfalls of Truth burst forth?

And they will burst forth. It has to happen.

Chapter 8
The Law as a Child

We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely that hackneyed dotted line they have chosen to drive into our memories by incessant ham- mering.

I do not know whether this is a trait common to all mankind, but it is certainly a trait of our people, And it is a vexing one. It may have its source in goodness, but it is vexing nonetheless. It makes us an easy prey for liars.

Therefore, if they demand that we forget even the public trials, we forget them. The proceedings were open and were reported in our newspapers, but they didn't drill a hole in our brains to make us remember—and so we've forgotten them. Only things repeated on the radio day after day drill holes in the brain. I am not even talking about young people, since they, of course, know nothing of all this, but about people who were alive at the time of those trials. Ask any middle-aged person to enumerate the highly publicized open trials. He will remember those of Bukharin and Zinoviev. And, knitting his brow, that of the Promparty too. And that's all. There were no other public trials.

Yet in actual fact they began right after the October Revolu- tion. In 1918, quantities of them were taking place, in many dif- ferent tribunals. They were taking place before there were either laws or codes, when the judges had to be guided solely by the requirements of the revolutionary workers' and peasants' power. At the same time, they were regarded as blazing their own trail of bold legality. Their detailed history will someday be written by someone, and it's not for us even to attempt to include it in our present investigation.

However, we cannot do without a brief review. It is our duty, anyway, to probe some of the charred ruins which go all the way back to that gentle, misty, rose-colored dawn.

In those dynamic years, the sabers of war were not rusting in their scabbards, nor did the executioners' revolvers have time to grow cold in their holsters. Only later on did the custom de- velop of hiding executions in cellars under cover of night and of shooting the victims in the back of the head. In 1918, the famous Ryazan Chekist Stelmakh had those sentenced to death shot in the courtyard, during the day, so that prisoners awaiting execu- tion could watch from the prison windows.

There was an official term current then: extrajudicial reprisal . . . not because there weren't any courts at the time, but because there was the Cheka.

[This fledgling whose beak had not yet hardened was warmed and encour- aged by Trotsky: "Terror is a powerful means of policy and one would have to be a hypocrite not to understand this." And Zinoviev rejoiced too, not yet fore- seeing his own end: "The letters GPU, like the letters VChK, are the most popular in the world."]

Because it was more efficient. Certainly, there were courts, and they tried and convicted and executed people, but we need to remember that, parallel to them and inde- pendently of them, extrajudicial reprisal went on at the same time. How can one depict its scale? M. Latsis, in his popular review of the Cheka's activity, gives us material for only a year and a half (1918 and half of 1919 ) and for only twenty provinces of Central Russia ("The figures presented here are far from com- plete," in part, perhaps, out of modesty): those shot by the Cheka (i.e., without trial, bypassing the courts) numbered 8,389 persons (eight thousand three hundred and eighty-nine); coun- terrevolutionary organizations uncovered—412 (a fantastic fig- ure, in view of our inadequate capacity for organization throughout our history and also the general isolation of indi- viduals in those years and the general psychological depression); the total of those arrested—87,000 (and this figure smells of understatement).

What comparison is available for purposes of evaluation? In 1907 a group of leftist leaders published a collection of essays entitled Against Capital Punishment, in which are listed by name all those sentenced to death in Tsarist Russia from 1826 to 1906. The editors qualify their findings with the statement that there were some additional victims, whose names remain un- known, and that the list is incomplete. (However, it is certainly not so incomplete as Latsis' materials compiled during the Civil War.) The list totals 1,397—from which 233 persons have to be deducted because their death sentences were commuted, as do an additional 270, who were sentenced in absentia and never caught (for the most part Polish rebels who had fled to the West). That leaves 894, a figure covering eighty years, which is not even close to Latsis' total for only one and a half years, and not including all the provinces of Russia either. True, the editors of the collection cite another presumed statistic of 1,310 for those sentenced to death (although perhaps not executed) in 1906 alone, and a total of 3,419 for 1826 through 1906. But this, mind you, was right in the midst of the notorious Stolypin reaction, a period for which an additional figure is available: 950 executions over a period of six months. (In fact, the Stolypin military field tribunals were in existence for six months all told.) It sounds awful, and yet it does not make much of an impression on our hardened nerves: even if we multiply by three this figure of 950 for six months, in order to compare it with the Latsis figure for eighteen months in the postrevolutionary period, we still come up with the fact that the terror after the Revolution was at least three times more in- tense than Stolypin's. And that was for just twenty provinces and excluded courts and tribunals.

And from November, 1917, on, the courts acted on their own. Despite all the difficulties at the time, Guiding Principles of the Criminal Law of the R.S.F.S.R. were issued for their use in 1919. (We have not read this work, could not obtain it, and know only that it included "imprisonment for an indefinite term"—in other words, pending a special order.)

The courts were of three kinds: the people's courts, the circuit courts, and the Revolutionary Tribunals—the Revtribunals.

The people's courts handled ordinary misdemeanors and non- political criminal cases. They were not empowered to impose death sentences, and, laughable as it seems, the people's court could not, in fact, impose sentences exceeding two years. Up to July, 1918, the heritage of the Left SR's still endured in our ju- dicial proceedings. Only by special intervention of the govern- ment and only individually were impermissibly lenient sentences raised to twenty years.

[See Part III, Chapter 1.]

 

+ Continue to the Second Half of The Gulag Archipelago

 

 

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