Grigorij Grigorov: Povoroty sud'by i proizvol. Vospominanija. 1905-1927 gody,
Moskva, OGI, 2005. 536 p. (Častnyj archiv). ISBN 5-94282-281-6; Grigorij
Grigorov: Povoroty sud’by i proizvol. Vospominanija. 1928-1972, s.p., . 682 p. No ISBN.
A planned 2nd volume did not see the light in Russia for unknown reasons. Instead, Grigorov's son, who lives in Israel, has put out an extremely limited print run of the 2nd volume in 2008. Dealing with the period between 1928 and 1972, it proves to be a fascinating and highly valuable source on the Stalin era. In 1928, after the “capitulation” of Radek, Preobrazhenskii and Smilga, Grigorov is more than ever active for the Opposition - yet in a way that fails to please him: Carrying out the controversial tactical decision of the Left Opposition’s leadership to disband on oppositionist groups in order to be able to operate within the party, he goes on a liquidator mission into the Soviet province, including the Caucasus, and is confronted with frustration of rank-and-file oppositionists who are not at all willing to give up the organized struggle. In the same year, Grigorov faces arrest and deportation to a village in the Ural, where he spends the next two years together with Desist leader Vladimir Smirnov, first-hand experiencing the brutal peasant collectivization. After a brief period of freedom back in Leningrad, Grigorov and his wife (an old Bolshevik revolutionary herself) get arrested straight after the Kirov murder in 1934. What follows is an odyssey through several Gulag camps, where the couple manages to stay together for most of the time. Grigorov experiences the Trotskyist prisoners' famous hunger strike in Vorkuta (in which he does not take part) and the massacre that followed thereafter – and it is striking that the information on these events, which he brought to paper in the 1970s-1980s without access to any sources, corresponds with the findings of recent research.
After being released in 1939, again his freedom does not last long: he is mobilized into the army for the war against Finland, captured by enemy troops and spends the following (comparably easy) years as a POW in Finland. In 1944, after the Soviet Union made peace with Finland, Grigorov is arrested again by the infamous SMERSh counter-intelligence, and another period of Gulag imprisonment begins, ending only in March 1955. During the times of Khrushchev and Brezhnev, Grigorov works as a schoolteacher and succeeds to get back into science, shifting to geology (using the experience he gained participating as forced laborer in geological expeditions during his imprisonment). His monograph on the entanglements of philosophy and geography gets published in Kiev in 1983, while his memoirs, which he has been secretly writing from the mid-1960s until 1983, of course remain unpublished during Soviet times. During late perestroika, in 1988, Grigorov writes a letter to Soviet historian Vladimir Billik where he shares his memories on the encounters with Trotsky.
Shortly after, in 1989, he immigrated to Israel together with his son's family, where he dies in 1994.
The memoirs of Grigorii Grigorov, contemporary of the 20th century in a literal sense, have an immense historical value for scholars of the Left Opposition, but also they are fruitful as a source for several aspects of the Russian Revolution, the early Soviet Union and the times of Stalinism. And, above all, they are a highly fascinating read.