ELEVEN YEARS IN SOVIET PRISON CAMPS
by
Elinor Lipper

 
First, some comments by Sam:
Unity is the only way the human race will survive. Below is a story of a Dutch woman, who fled to Russia from Hitlerís menace, only to spend 11 years in prison camps. What happened to her could happen to any of us if we allow the forces to maneuver us into that position. Watch for the warning signs and speak out before it is too late.

Iíve read most of the books on Hitler and his rise to power. Just like the Russian people who became enslaved, the German people also became enslaved. In the beginning, they encouraged what they thought was a way to a better life. And just like the Russian people, the German people eventually were put in a position of fear; fear of saying the wrong thing, fear of their neighbors, the police, strangers, or anyone who might turn them in as traitors.

It was not only deemed unpatriotic to speak out against the government, it became treason; with prison or death awaiting them. It can happen here! Listen to the words of the politicians who stand to gain from their rhetoric. Compare their words with those of Stalin or Hitler, you will find similes. There are many parallels. Before they become all powerful and you (Yes, you! Money, possessions, political positions did not protect the those people.) find yourself worrying about prison or death, speak out.

Happy Fourth of July - Let's hope this isn't the last one. May God bless us and the troops fighting for their beliefs, and damn those who cause death and destruction for their own selfish gain.

The following speech was given by Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945. "Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That's easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifist for lack of patriotism, and exposing them to greater danger."
       ____________________________________________

Peace can never be achieved on any lasting basis without greater understanding between people. When will our consciences grow so tender that we will act to prevent human misery rather than avenge it?
 ------Eleanor Roosevelt

I printed the forward and first chapter of her book on my site to encourage you to read and make yourself aware. You can purchase the book through Amazon. It is not only a true, fascinating story, but it is a strong warning to beware of the possibility of it happening to you. People will read this, laugh and say "This couldnít happen here." People in Germany and Russia laughed too, then one day they awoke to the horror.

ELEVEN YEARS IN SOVIET PRISON CAMPS
by
Elinor Lipper

FORWARD

In this book, I have described my personal experiences only to the extent that they were the characteristic experiences of a prisoner in the Soviet Union. For my concern is not primarily with the foreigners in Soviet camps; it is rather with the fate of all the peoples who have been subjugated by the Soviet regime, who were born in a Soviet Republic and cannot escape from it.

The Russian people, and the other peoples of the Soviet Union, cannot be equated with the Soviet government. Though they may have brought it into being, they are now the helpless victims of a ruling caste whose arbitrariness they must endure in silence. They have not the slightest chance to control their rulers. It is easy to condemn "the Russians"-but to do so is to do the Russian people a great injustice. For only would-be suicides and heroes can raise their voice against the decisions of their government in Russia. There are few such people in Russia, as there are few everywhere in the world. And it is not only that speaking out is courting death; objectors will be liquidated in absolute secrecy and can be certain that scarcely anyone will ever hear about their resistance.

Let us therefore avoid passing judgment on the Russian people. They are already condemned to the most horrible kind of existence: living in perpetual fear.

Who are the so-called counterrevolutionaries who make up the majority of the prisoners in Soviet camps? Are they guilty, are they innocent? There can be only one answer. From the standpoint of objective, non~Soviet justice, and from the standpoint of the strictest kind of class justice as well, these people are innocent. Of all the millions of persons in Soviet prisons and camps, very few have consciously taken action against the government in speech or in writing, by demonstrating or by attempting to escape from the Soviet Union. Their number is so small that they are insignificant in the great mass of prisoners. Only after spending many years in camp is one likely, with luck, to meet up with a "genuine" counterrevolutionary.

It is courting error to suggest hard and fast rules about the reasons for imprisonment. The machinery of injustice, once it has begun moving, behaves illogically and wantonly. It is not for nothing that we speak of "blind" terror. Nevertheless, the so-called counterrevolutionaries fall into two main categories.

Those who by reason of their origin, their education, their nationality, their past political behavior or their general cultural level are or could be potential opponents of the regime. This need not mean that they have ever committed the slightest offense. On the contrary, though as members of Soviet society they could not help feeling discomfort, most of them were not even conscious of any such feeling until the moment they were arrested. They did not want to be conscious of it. That is especially true of the members of the Communist Party and the Young Communist League, whose ey9s were opened to the results of their own work only after they were imprisoned.

2)The second, and by far the largest group, consists of "counterrevolutionaries" who were politically and socially neutral and who have obviously been arrested solely to increase the supply of slave labor.

One consequence of all these arrests has been complete intimidation of the people. No one knows what group will be struck tomorrow, whether it will be "undisciplined" workers, or peasants whose harvest proved too small, or national minorities, or "insubordinate" Russians, or government officials, or army officers, or members of the intelligentsia who today are proud of being "proletarian intellectuals" and who tomorrow may be denounced as corrupt cosmopolitans. There is no security foranyone in the Soviet Union, just as the word "security" does nbt exist in the Russian language-the only word covering that concept means "lack of danger."

And so a generation of children is growing up there whose first word is "Talin" (Stalin), and who speedily learn that there are questions which must never be asked, answers which can never be given. Throughout life all the members of a great nation are forced to mask their faces. Millions of human beings struggle to prove their guiltlessness anew every day, without ever being able to prove it comp~tely. For when the day of arrest comes, nothing counts, neither work nor merit, neither heroism nor submissiveness, neither wisdom nor silence. There are so many who die in the camps, and the gaps must be filled.

I have not based this book on any notes I took during my imprisonment. Taking notes is suicidal in the Soviet Union. But during eleven years of imprisonment everything that happens in the world beyond the barbed wire becomes as intangible and unreal as a dream. The only reality is the land of wooden watch towers-our land, the land of prisoners. Reality is the, one white highway along the ridge of the white ravine where the frozen river flows, a highway of loneliness and howling snowstorms which leads straight into the silence of the white forests. If you have shoveled the endless snow upon that road, you never forget it. If you have jolted mile after mile over that road in a jammed truck, incapable of moving your numbed limbs from under your neighbor's numbed limbs, you will not forget that road.

Everything we once knew-lines from our favorite poems, foreign languages, history-more and more vanished from our minds. At last we even forgot how to despair over this sinking down into a dull, brutish indifference. The number of ounces in the bread ration became more important than all the dates in world history. We can no more forget how many ounces were distributed where and when than we can forget those places which often had no names, just a number in kilometers, but which meant life or death to us.

The events I describe are the daily experiences of thousands of people in the Soviet Union. They are the findings of an involuntary expedition into an unknown land: the land of Soviet prisoners, of the guiltless damned. From that region I have brought back with me the silence of the Siberian graveyards, the deathly silence of those who have frozen, starved, or been beaten to death. This book is an attempt to make that silence speak.

1. THE BEGINNING

 

Moscow-1937

Night a few more persons vanished from the hotel which housed the professional revolutionaries from every country of the globe. In the morning there would be large red seals pasted on ~he doors of a few more rooms.

The others waited tensely to see who would be next. Social intercourse stagnated. Ea~h Party member, after returning from meetings where he had inveighed against trait~, spies, and saboteurs, and passed lengthy resolutions calling for the liquidation of the enemies of the people, settled down in his room to brood about the arrest of Comrade Z. Each wondered: Can it possibly incriminate me?

But how could anyone imagine that Z, such an old Bolshevik. . . . Of course Z had once been accused of right deviations from the Party line back in 1923. But after all that was a long time ago, and an accusation wasn't a crime. There must be some other reason for his arrest. The NKVD knew what it was about. But what had he done, what had he done? Could people conceal their true selves so thoroughly? After all, Z was an old friend. That was just it; that could get you

 

into trouble. The best thing to do was not to associate with anybody.

The guests of the hotel kept away from one another. They began weighing every word carefully before they spoke. They observed one another, slyly, suspiciously. Why did the Party secretary give me that queer look today? And the boss left the office without saying goodby! Are there any charges against me? But I haven't done anything; I'm completely innocent.

They were all innocent, and they were all afraid. They were innocent, and they started up whenever they heard an unfamiliar sound on the stairs. They were innocent, and they tossed sleeplessly in their beds at night.

Until it happened - and the torment of waiting was replaced by the torture of the prison cell. They came at night, when the last worrier in the big hotel had finally fallen asleep.

Arrest

I started up. Was it a dream, or had someone knocked? There it was again, once, twice, three times-a loud, harsh, insistent knocking. It sounded like the roll of thunder, loud enough to wake everyone in the hotel. A man's voice called out, "Open the door!"

I had to get something on - quickly. I could not find the sleeves of my robe. Why was I trembling so? I had done nothing. I had committed no crime against the state.

Again the impatient, threatening voice: "Open the door!"

Three officers entered. The stripes on their uniforms showed that they were members of the NKVD, the state political police. They were stiff but courteous.

"Your name?"

"Elinor Lipper."

He found the name on the list and nodded. One of the others leafed through a sheaf of papers. He extracted one and handed it to me. All I knew of Russian was the alphabet. But I could make out a few international words. "O-r-d-e-r...A-r-r-e-s-t...."

And my name.

While I dressed the three tall men considerately looked away. I sat for a moment on the edge of my couch, uncomprehending. I was stunned, without a thought in my head. And I felt nothing, neither hope nor fear nor indignation. Then they began searching my room. They did not finish until nine o'clock in the morning.

Instead of taking the elevator they walked me down the six flights of stairs to the street, in plain view of the whole hotel. Familiar and unfamiliar faces stared at me, paled and turned away. No one greeted me; no one indicated that he knew me.

I took my last automobile ride through the streets of Moscow. One NKVD officer sat beside me, another beside the driver. I was taken to Lubyanka, the central NKVD prison in the heart of Moscow. Iron double doors opened. The soldiers on guard saluted. The inside courtyard was surrounded by a high brick wall. The sun glared on the asphalt pavement.

I was inside of the first of my ten Soviet prisons. The first day of eleven years of imprisonment had begun.

Reception in Prison

The first search of my person. An indifferent woman guard "shook me down" with practiced hands. My papers, watch, ring, money, and pocketbook were taken away. Then the iron door of a small cell was shut behind me, and six women began talking to me all at once. I wanted to tell them. that I did not understand Russian; then I realized that my voice was choked with tears. Without a word I sat down in a corner.

That same night I was taken to another prison. Not in an ordinary automobile this time. I sat inside the dark cavern of a prison van that carried me swiftly into the unknown. My stomach contracted with fear. Now they were going to kill me. Nonsense, why should they?

The van raced through the streets.

If I had been arrested for nothing, I could be shot for nothing. Take it easy, take it easy, I said to myself; you're a coward. How hard it was to breathe inside this gloomy box.

The van raced through the streets.

Now they are going to kill me. My forehead was wet with cold perspiration. I clambered out of the van. More iron doors, courtyards, walls and iron doors. I entered the huge vaults of Butyrka Prison. And everywhere there were soldiers, soldiers, and more soldiers.

Each prisoner who is brought to Butyrka Prison is first taken to a room where she must strip naked. A woman guard runs her fingers through the prisoner's hair, examines her ears and nostrils, pokes around in her mouth, looks under her armpits and into her anus, then makes the naked prisoner do knee bends, and finishes with a gynecological examination. All buttons, hooks, eyes, and elastics are removed from her clothes and all pockets and seams are searched. Then the prisoner is allowed to get dressed again.

I walked down endless corridors and stairways, then more corridors filled with an ominous silence. Infrequently, a low murmuring from one of the cells was audible. Still more corridors. Wire nets were stretched between flights of Stairs to prevent the possibility of suicide as a way of escaping interrogation. An iron door was opened and closed behind me.

The Cell

A collective cell for women. It seemed like a mass tomb. The cell did have windows, but like all windows in Soviet prisons these were not only barred but also masked with boards, so that you could never see anything but a small segment of the sky. Heavy stone pillars rose up to the vaulted ceiling, in the center of which hung a naked electric bulb that burned day and night. The gray stone walls, stained by huge spots of moisture and mold, were alive with thousands of bedbugs. One corner of the floor was covered by inches of water. Some seventy women sat on a platform of rough boards laid about half a yard above the stone floor and covering the entire cell from wall to wall, except for a small space near the entrance. There were neither blankets, mattresses, nor straw sacks. A few lucky women owned prized blankets which they had been allowed to take with them when they were arrested. An oppressive stench took your breath away when you came in; it was the mingled odors of seventy cramped, perspiring women's bodies, and of the moldy stone walls.

I did not know where to step, for every inch of space was taken up by the bodies of half-dressed women. This cell had been intended originally for twenty-four prisoners. It now held seventy; later the number was to increase to eighty and ultimately to ninety-five.

One of the prisoners, called the cell orderly as I later learned, pushed her way through the mob of women and measured out a space for me about sixteen inches wide. Then she gave me a wooden spoon and a tin cup.

Butyrka Prison in Moscow holds an average of thirty thousand prisoners, but it is only one of the five large Moscow prisons for suspects still under examination-that is, persons

Eleven Years in Soviet Prison Camps not yet convicted of any crime. The others are Lubyanka, Lifortovo Military Prison, Navinka Prison and Targanka Prison. The two last-named are also used for criminals; the other three are reserved for political prisoners.

In all the cells in Butyrka the custom is to allot space for each prisoner according to the length of time he has been in prison. The best places near the window are given to those who have been in custody longest. The newcomers are as-signed to the corner near the slop bucket, which in all Russian prisons is poetically called parasha-actually a diminutive of Praskovia, a common woman's name. When a prisoner is taken out of the cell, the rest move up strictly according to the order of their arrest. No exceptions are made for sickness or age.

In general it is amazing to a foreigner to see how little consideration a modern Soviet citizen shows for the aged or the sick. In the tough life of the Soviet Union a person cay} get along only by jabbing hard with both elbows, and apparently no one has the time or the wish to perform even the slightest service for the old and infirm. In addition, nothing in Soviet education inspires young people to respect age as such, without regard for special merits.

From the moment he is arrested the prisoner is kept in constant suspense. No matter what is done to him or where he is taken, he is given no explanation. This permanent uncertainty and complete helplessness in the grip of a silent, uncanny power, produces in every prisoner exactly what it is expected to produce: fear. He begins to fear every change in his condition. Perhaps it may be a change for the better-but he is afraid anyhow. And the NKVD plays with virtuoso skill upon this fear. Even when the prisoner is not called for interrogation, he is never allowed to settle down. The big collective cells are continually being reorganized and the inmates distributed among other cells. At least once a month the entire cell is called out for a physical search, which the prisoners call "the dry bath." Again you are made to strip naked; the last button is cut off your dress; ribbons that you painfully wove out of threads are confiscated, as well as the sewing needles which all the women make out of the teeth of combs. Then again you will be called out for fingerprinting, and again to be photographed for the rogues' gallery. From both these procedures most women returned sobbing.

The prisoners are eternally suspicious of one another, for there is at least one person in each cell who informs the authorities of everything her fellow prisoners say. These informers are also supposed to urge the other prisoners to confess to whatever they are charged with, since there is no use resisting.

Prisoners who are subjected to specially strict interrogations (in other words, physical abuse) are generally kept in Lubyanka or Lifortovo prisons, or in the special section (osoby korpus) of Butyrka, where they occupy single or double cells. But occasionally, as an object lesson to the others, a few of these black-and-blue and swollen victims of long interrogations are put into the collective cells to demonstrate to the newcomers that the threats of the examining judges are not empty talk. But the months of waiting for the first interrogation is in itself enough to wear down the prisoners. Most prisoners enter the cell with the quiet assumption that they are innocent. Soon enough they become anxious, sleepless hysterics who all night long start at every sound and leap to their feet whenever anyone cries out.

For seven and a half months I sat in various collective cells without being called for interrogation a single time, without even having my personal data taken down. At first I expected hourly that my arrest would prove to be a mistake. I pictured the whole scene in detail-how they would apologize to me:"Regrettable error, particularly regrettable since you are a foreigner. .

I sent a petition to Vyshiusky, then chief state prosecutor of the Soviet Union, pointing out that it was unconstitutional to hold a prisoner for more than six months without informing him of the charge against him. My petition was of course not answered.

And so I had plenty of leisure time to look back upon the path that had led me to this prison.

How I Came to the Soviet Union

I heard about Russia for the first time when I was nine years old. A lady who was not particularly well informed told me about a country where there were no longer any rich people or poor people, where everybody had to work equally, and where all received just as much money as they needed for food and clothing.

"Do you like the idea?" she asked me.

"No, I don't," I said after thinking it over for a while.

"Why not?"

"Because then nobody would have money to give presents." When I was eleven years old my father told me and my brother about the Belgian workers' children who had emptied their savings banks to help starving Russian children. Both my brother and I listened to the tale with obstinate indifference, and neither of us rushed off to fetch his savings bank. What did we know about Russia and her famine? Hurt by our heartless reaction, my father silently walked out of the room. I have never forgotten his look of disappointment, although I did not understand his emotion until much later. He was thinking that something was wrong with our normal, secure, middle-class upbringing if it made children so unfeeling about the sufferings of others. (We were carefully shielded from suffering, of course.)

When I was fourteen my schoolmates and I laughed heartily at a teacher of ours who took part in the workers' demonstration on May 1. To think of a teacher making herself ridiculous by

tramping through the streets with such a parade! None of us thought about what might lie behind this parade. But I felt real sympathy for the sorrows of the Dutch fisher women whom I saw waiting at the port on stormy days in November, and often waiting in vain for their menfolk to return.

When a girl-friend asked me whether I had read a certain article in the newspaper, I answered with sixteen~year-old haughtiness that I never looked at the newspapers. "They're all full of filth," I said. My political views at that time were confined to two simple principles: war and capital punishment should be abolished. Why should I waste my time on newspapers when there were Wassermann, Dostoyevsky, Rilke, and Stefan George to read?

When I graduated from high school my principal asked me what I expected to study for. When I told him I was still hesitating between medicine and the liberal arts, he said smilingly, "Why not-editor of a pacifist magazine?" My classmates roared with laughter.

In 1931, when I began studying medicine in Berlin, student life was full of political tensions. The Chinese wall behind which I had lived so peacefully in my native Holland was beginning to crumble. For the first time I met students who were working their way through the university. They spoke enthusiastically about a country where gifted young people could go to school without paying for their tuition. That country was the Soviet Union. (In 1942 fees for higher education were reintroduced there.) We had endless discussions about free love and women's right to have abortions. There was one country in the world which gave this right to women-Soviet Russia. (In 1935 abortion was forbidden by law in the Soviet Uni9n and was declared a crime punish-able by eight years in a labor camp [Paragraph 148]. If the abortion took place after four and one half months of pregnancy the charge was murder and the sentence provided was ten years. Aiding and abetting an abortion was punishable by eight years imprisonment. Later, when I was in camp, I met a woman who had, had an abortion which was not discovered until she was again pregnant. Because of changed circumstances she wanted this second child. She was arrested and the baby was born in prison. She was convicted, given an eight-year sentence, and the baby was taken from her and given to her family at the time she was moved from prison to camp. The baby had been breast-fed, and the sudden separation from its mother was too much for it. It died soon afterward. The woman prisoner brooded and brooded over this: "I am being locked up for eight years on account of an unborn child, but my living child is torn away from me so that it will die...")

While I was at Berlin University I worked during vacations in the municipal hospital. For the first time I saw human misery close up. With other students I helped distribute milk among the children of the unemployed. To this day I can see an unemployed epileptic's six children staring at us with dumb suspicion, the oldest about ten years old, all with colorless

faces, overlarge heads and rachitic legs. Once your eyes were opened to social injustice it was impossible for you to shut them again, especially during the years 1931 and 1932 in Berlin. Men out of work loitered on every street, and political discussions went on at every street corner.

What first led me to socialism was a purely emotional reaction to this misery. It was only later that I fortified my belief by reading theoretical writings on socialism. The menace of the Nazi monster with its hateful ideology was coming dangerously near, while the Social Democratic government of Germany retreated step by step before it. It seemed impossible for a thinking person not to take a stand. I entered the "Red Student Group."

I thought I was casting my lot for a social order which would use modern technology for the benefit of the masses, rather than for a privileged upper crust, by nationalizing the land and the means of production:

A social order which by intelligent application of technology would make possible a six-hour working day and a five-day working week (achievements of the Russian Revolution which have long since been abolished), with the leisure time thus saved being used for the development of the individual personality.

A social order which would not resort to war to further its ends, because its people felt linked with the masses all over the world. Which recognized force as an evil and would use it only in the period of transition and only against those who used force against it.

A social order which freed its artists, architects and scientists from concern for their daily bread, so that they could devote their full energies to their artistic and scientific tasks.

A social order where there was no incentive or cause for

crime because all men were guaranteed a minimum livelihood that would enable them to live like dignified human beings. A few criminals would still exist, the heritage of former social conditions, but they would be re-educated rather than punished. We assumed that born criminals were relatively rare and that there would be very few such pathological cases.

That was and is my conception of socialism. For the sake of this ideal I left Germany in 1933. The same ideal impelled me to go to the Soviet Union in 1937. There I worked for two months in a publishing house that specialized in foreign literature. (Until 1934 I had tried to continue my medical studies in Italy, but I was unable to get the necessary academic documents out of Germany.)

After my first two months I was arrested.

The political path that had led me to the Soviet Union was perfectly clear, perfectly straightforward. Nothing I had done, said or planned could have justified my arrest. My only fault was my boundless naivete' in imagining that the Soviet Union was the realization of my ideas.

Even today, after my return from the Soviet Union, the idea of socialism seems to me the most reasonable solution to the social problem and its achievement the only guarantee that wars can be averted in the future. But today I know that the Soviet Union has no interest in the realization of this idea. The Soviet Union has betrayed socialism to the world; it has drowned the idea in blood. A believer in socialism cannot believe in the Soviet Union, for it is impossible to defend the slaughter of millions of innocent human beings and to claim at the same time that one is striving to benefit suffering humanity.

But at that time I did not yet know this. At that time I sat in my cell completely dazed, and waited. And I endured what thousands of women in this same prison endured. I was shifted from one collective cell to the other. I picked up Russian and heard my fellow prisoners' stories. Each new story that I heard made me see more and more, until at last I realized what I vainly tried not to realize: that all these people were as innocent as I was. Then my own suffering began to merge into the vast suffering of them all.

It is impossible to enumerate all the grotesque charges that bring people to Soviet prisons. Every one of the stories I have set down here is the story, with slight variations, of thousands and tens of thousands of unhappy Soviet people.

The Inmates of My Cell

In 1937 and 1938 about half of the inmates were Communist Party members or Young Communists. Three fourths of these were members of the Russian Communist Party; the rest be-longed to the Polish, Latvian or German parties. There were also some Hungarians and Rumanians. The rest of the inmates were housewives from every segment of the population. Some of them had been arrested on informers' charges; others because they were the wives of more or less prominent men.

Mrs. Rakovski, the wife of Soviet Ambassador Rakovski, was a Rumanian, a white-haired, sickly woman who suffered severe heart attacks every few weeks. Her neighbor in the cell was a dark-eyed, dark-haired, and stately woman, the wife of Prince Obolenski, who for years held a high position in the Soviet state and was a frequent visitor of Stalin's. Then there was a frail, slender, nervous person, a former student of philosophy, who was the wife of Alexander Serebrovsky, head of a huge copper trust. There was a full-bosomed woman with dyed blonde hair who tripped around the cell on high heels. She was the wife of Commander Silko. Lacking face powder, she powdered her nose with tooth powder when she was called to interrogations. This did not help her; like the others she was sentenced to eight years in camp for belonging to the family of a traitor. Rebuchkova, the wife of a high state functionary, was a woman in her fifties who had obviously been very beautiful in her youth. She suffered from gallstone attacks and would writhe on the floor~ screaming piteously. Lisa Geller, who had worked for the Soviet Trade Mission in Berlin, wept bitterly about her two small children whom she had left behind. The first wife of a member of the government, Meshlauk, was a woman of about forty with a tight-lipped, unyielding face. She was a fanatical communist and a person of great self-assurance. On suspicion of espionage she was sentenced to eight years in camp; she died of dysentery in 1938 while in the transit camp at Vladivostok. Mrs. Kossior, who had accompanied her husband on a foreign mission to Berlin, attempted suicide the night after she was convicted and sentenced to ten years for counterrevolutionary activity. She served her sentence in a Siberian camp near Mariinsk. Voronova, who was assistant to the People's Commissar for Light Industry, had formerly been a textile worker. By means of devotion to her work and absolute submissiveness she had risen to her high position. She was sentenced to ten years in prison for counterrevolutionary activity. In memory of her husband she had never remarried. He had died during the Civil War when the Whites surrounded and set fire to a stable in which he and his soldiers had barricaded themselves.

The secretary of Madame Stassova, chief of the International Red Aid (MOPR), was named Shvalova. When she was placed in our cell she did not speak to anyone and refused to answer our questions about events in Spain. She thought that we were all dangerous counter revolutionaries and that she alone was innocent. A military court sentenced her to fifteen years imprisonment. She was sent to Kolyma in northeastern Siberia and stayed there until she died at the beginning of the war.

Irina Kun, wife of the famous revolutionary Bela Kun, was given eight years on suspicion of espionage. She too was sent to Kolyma. She was frail to begin with, became incapable of work in Kolyma and was finally transferred to an invalid camp at Mariinsk.

These names represent only a portion of all the revolutionaries or the wives of revolutionaries whom I met in prison and camp. All of them, after more or less brutal interrogations, were given long prison sentences, whether or not they renounced their husbands, whether or not they had lived with them during the years before their arrest, whether or not. they had children or were pregnant. They were convicted and sentenced even when their husbands had committed suicide a year before their arrest-as was the case with the ballet dancer, Madame Lercher, of the Bolshoi Theater in Moscow. This charming, cultured dancer was an altogether unpolitical person. For a short time she had been married to a people's commissar of light industry who committed suicide after the first big Moscow trial in 1936. After his death he was accused of Trotskyism. A year later Madame Lercher was arrested on the same charge and sentenced to eight years in camp on account of her marriage to a man who had held a high post up to the moment of his death and who had been branded as a traitor only after his suicide. It was terribly moving to watch this woman persisting with dance exercises and gymnastics. Losing her suppleness meant for her losing her livelihood, and so she kept up her routines in the furthermost corner of the cell, because all such exercise was strictly forbidden. Her eyes filled with the sadness and the resignation of the prisoner, she moved her feet with magical lightness and performed lovely figures and pirouettes on the rough boards of the cell.

One prisoner who was a great consolation to us was Berta Alexandrovna B. A kindlier person than this near-sighted, enormously well-padded woman could not be imagined. Again and again she got into difficulties with the cell orderly because she could not lower her loud, hearty voice; she was always shouting encouragement to someone, with her head thrust close to the other's face so that she could see her. Her glasses had been taken away, of course, for anyone who had glass might use it to cut open her veins.

After the evening count, when each of us lay with her head between the often none-too-fragrant feet of her neighbor (we lay alternately, one with head and one with feet toward the wall, to take up less space), we could hear for a long time Berta Alexandrovna whispering loudly to her neighbor. It was a gross breach of regulations, but like many of us

suffered from insomnia. Now and then someone made her way awkwardly over the sleeping bodies to the bucket. We waited in suspense for Berta's turn to come. At last, slowly and majestically, the huge figure in the lavender dressing gown would rise. For a long time she would stand hesitantly looking for a free space for her first step. The massive raised leg would hover threateningly over the innocent sleeper; the near-sighted eyes appeared to detect an inch of clear space; and then she stepped down. There followed immediately the terrified shriek of the first victim. Berta, who was always considerate of everyone, would murmur an alarmed apology. The same ritual would be repeated, and she would take her second step, and then her third, each time convinced that she had really found a passage, and each time stepping on a head or stomach with the sureness of a somnambulist. Ten steps - ten cries of agony, curses, angry shouts, but rarely ,a helping hand. Ten times Berta, growing more and more disconcerted, would murmur polite apologies. It was very funny, and very sad.

Every morning she also took advantage of the confusion in the cell, as we prepared for being let out into the washroom, to try a few forbidden gymnastic exercises. She could not resign herself to this ban, for even during Tsarist times when she had served her first prison sentence, she had been allowed daily calisthenics. At that time she had been an active social revolutionary like her husband, who had also been arrested, although both had abandoned political action after the creation of the Soviet state. In order not to make trouble for their two sons, she and her husband had made no attempt to influence the children politically The sons had followed the regular course of Soviet youth, belonging first to the Pioneers, then to the Comsomols, the youth organization. Both became engineers and both were arrested in 1937 - because their parents had been arrested.

In spite of her family tragedy Berta had never lost a deep interest in other people, other countries, and in art, literature, and above all poetry. Her particular type of cultivated revolutionary has by now practically died out in Russia. The last representatives of the class vanished behind prison walls during 1937 and 1938. Foreigners who always think of Russians as anamalgam of Dostoyevsky and Gorky would be bitterly disappointed today. The search for truth, the urge to understand the meaning of life, is wholly alien to the younger generation which has passed through the school of the Communist Youth Organization. For them, all problems have been solved; there is a standard answer to every question. The language of these intellectually impoverished young people is larded with ready-made phrases. They quote Stalin instead of thinking for themselves; they derive their opinions from Pravda editorials. They are arrogant and complacent, and everything that pertains to them is the greatest thing there is: their country, their power, their leader. Theirs is also the greatest misery and oppression, but they are unaware of this, for they have never known anything but Soviet life. The members of this younger generation have neither sympathy nor understanding for their elders; there is no bond between them. If anyone puts forth a thought which does not fit into the pattern laid down by Stalin, they do not argue against it, but they react with such suspicion of the other's true intentions and hidden thoughts that he quickly learns to keep his ideas to himself. They are primitives who hate the unfamiliar.

There were a number of arrested Young Communists in our cell, and their attitude toward Berta Alexandrovna was a combination of suspicion and contempt. She spoke several foreign languages fluently and could become as enthusiastic about Michelangelo's sonnets as they about the dubious successes of the Five-Year Plan. Everything about Berta's emotional and intellectual world was foreign to the Young Communists, and therefore Berta, who had spent years of her life in Tsarist prisons for the sake of her ideals-was an enemy to them.

People like Berta Alexandrovna were doubly isolated. They were alone as every prisoner is, and they were cut off from the mass of the prisoners. Later I saw her again at Kolyma, when we had both been ten years in prison. Her grayish hair had turned snow-white; she had lost a great deal of weight, and folds of empty skin hung loose all over her body. Dead tired, she dragged her still-ponderous legs back to camp from work every evening. She was n6t likely to think of calisthenics now; every movement was a wearisome effort to her. She no longer talked about poetry; her eyes no longer flashed with emotion-they too had been dulled by suffering. Her husband had died in camp; her older son was also dead; she did not know what had become of the younger son. Soon she would be free. Free to crawl into a corner somewhere and die.

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"Of course the people don't want war. But after all, it's the leaders of the country who determine the policy, and it's always a simple matter to drag the people along whether it's a democracy, a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament or a communist dictatorship. Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That's easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked and denounce the pacifist for lack of patriotism, and exposing them to greater danger."
This speech was given by Hermann Goering at the Nuremberg Trials in 1945.  Have an enjoyable holiday weekend as we celebrate the birthday of this once glorious Republic. May God bless us and damn those who cause death and destruction for their own selfish gain.