Monday, October 30, 2017


On the next day after meeting with Trotsky I was in Leningrad with my family. It was the eve of the year 1928-th. We celebrated it at home, everybody was present, which was then rare. When my son and daughters were sleeping, Dina and I discussed the situation. We decided that I had to leave Leningrad, as mass arrests were expected. On the next day we invited A.L. Bronstain and I told her of my meeting with her late husband at A. Beloborodov’s flat. I told sincerely, that I considered Trotsky’s position strange, I did not understand his wish to convince his supporters not to leave the Party, to dismiss themselves. Alexandra Lvovna considered, that Trotsky understood the situation, but did not want to acknowledge it and did not want to act. She thought that Trotsky’s and hid numerous supporters’ arrest was inevitable. I agreed with her and we could not explain Trotsky’s position. After Alexandra Lvovna left Dina said that I would better stop to be interested in political problems and to speak in public. She wanted me to pay more attention to family. I explained that now it was late to speak of it, as “a case” was started on me in the Central Committee, I was excluded from the Party and lost work. Now arrest is to be expected, it is inevitable, but can be postponed. I really cannot be indifferent, when the dreams of freedom, that people of our generation cherished, are destroyed, and the most progressive people, who struggled for many years for social ideals, are now repressed. My wife understood me very well.

Before leaving Leningrad I called upon Misha Ivanov. I met there his friends, workers of Lenin works, where he lately was Party secretary. The workers estimated the situation very critically: they thought, that it was necessary to finish with the dream of socialism, another revolution was to be done, but it was beyond their powers. When they left, Misha told me the last Leningrad news. The journalists of “Bukharin school” wrote in “Leningrad Pravda” of a big victory over the opposition, cited extracts from Stalin’s, Molotov’s, Shkiryatov’s reports at the XY-th Party congress. Misha noted, that in some articles critical remarks on N.I. Bukharin appeared, that Bukharin did not totally approve organizational conclusions related to opposition at the XV-th congress. All the works by Trotsky, Zinoviev, Kamenev, Preobrazhensky and even the first “Leniniana”, edited by Kamenev, are excluded from libraries. Teachers cite less Lenin’s and Bukharin’s works an anted to recommend it to the journal “Under the Banner of Marxism”. In this case I would help my family with money. But then Deborin was suddenly abused to be a “Menshevist idealist”. Idealism as philosophic trend was Plato’s and Aristotle’s science. There were many trends: objective and subjective idealism, rational and empirical and so on. But there was no “Menshevist idealism”. New philosophers-politicians invented this term to compromise A.M. Deborin, one of Plekhanov’s disciples. He was charged in denying Lenin’s period in Marxist philosophy, did not acknowledge Marxist- Leninist dialectics. Just then a quick rise of such “philosophers”- falsifiers as Mitin, Yudin, Raltsevich, Rozental, who did not hesitate to acknowledge Stalin a great philosopher, historian, biologist and so on. Under a vigilant supervision of the Central Committee ideologists a huge army of ignorant scientists and teachers of natural and humanitarian d prefer “theoretical pearls” by gensec. Some especially prompt “historians” try to present Stalin as a theorist of socialism, organizer of October revolution and a great military strategist. Misha said, that he was dismissed from work, he was a locksmith. He compared it with tsarist power: if you were dismissed from one place, you could go to another one, but now there are directions not to take oppositions to work. Now we have to leave Leningrad and not to spend night at home. Yet I went home, said good-bye to my wife and children and early in the morning left Leningrad. I did not think, that I was parting with family for rather long time.

In Moscow D. Ryazanov sheltered me for the first time in Socialist Academy, I was sleeping on a sofa in one of the rooms. Ryazanov gave me work for translations from German. A.M. Deborin, editor in chief of “Under the Banner of Marxism” journal often called to the Academy, I knew him from the time of studying at the Institute of Red Professorship. Ryazanov and Deborin were acquainted with my monography on B. Spinoza. In this monography I mentioned that Spinoza influenced Marx and Engels. Ryazanov did not consider Spinoza a materialist, he considered him a rationalist and Pantheist,according L.I. Axelrod opinion. Deborin considered Spinoza a materialist. I also then considered Spinoza’s philosophy as a materialistic one. Ryazanov and Deborin adviced me to supplement my monograph, they wanted to recommend it to the journal “Under the Banner of Marxism”. In this case I could help my family with money. But suddenly situation changed. A.M. Deborin was absurdly called “a Menshevist idealist”. There were many trends of idealism: objective, subjective, rational and so on. There was no “Menshevist idealism”, this is not philosophy. New “philosophers”-poiticians invented this term to compromise Deborin, one of Plekhanov’s apprenticies. He was charged with denial of Lenin’s stage in Marxist philosophy. In those years in philosophy an epoch of total absurd began, the science was substituted with politics, a special pseudo-scientific terminology was invented. “Menshevist idealists” were charged with many “sins”: support of “Trotskism,” support of the second International ideas and so on. The journal “Under the Banner of Marxism” was called a mouthpiece of counter-revolution. All this influenced badly on A.M. Deborin, he tried to drown himself in Moskva-river. He was taken out and put to psychiatric clinic. The scandal acquired an international character, after that Deborin was elected an academician (!) The real reason of Deborin’s and his apprentices persecution was that they did not over-oriented themselves, did not say that a new “philosopher” Stalin “rose Marxist-Leninist philosophy to unprecedented height”. Just at this time a quick growth of “philosophers-falsifiers”, as Mitin, Udin, Raltsevich, Rosental began. They promptly acknowleged Stalin a great philosopher, historian, biologist. Under diligent supervision of the Central Committee ideologists a huge army of ignorant scientists and teachers of natural and humanitarian sciences was created.

In such conditions I could not abuse Ryazanov’s hospitality, and looked for a new place. My old friend Nikolay Vikhirev offered me to live in his summer-cottage near Moscow, where it was possible to live in winter. I felt easy there, sleuths did not call there. Vikhirev gave me materials on the XY-th Party congress and I began to study them.

Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Brief overview of memoirs by Grigory Grigorov

Author - Shulamit Shalit - Grigorov's Monologues

"When destiny in our steps was walking,
Like a madman with a razor in his hand".
Arseniy Tarkovsky, First Rendezvous

It's no accident that he put these words as an epigraph to one of the chapters in his memoirs. He could have put them as an epigraph to his whole life. The unknown writer, the unknown philosopher, well-educated and spiritually strong. He took part in many events that sent shockwaves through Russia in the 20th century. However, his name has just started gaining wider recognition.
Grigory Grigorov in the 1980s

When writing his memoirs, Grigory Grigorov pointed out the following milestones of his life: From 1923 until 1927 he lived in exile without being arrested. For five years his every step was carefully monitored by the State Political Directorate, also known under its Russian acronym GPU.

In the period starting from 1928 and ending in 1952 he received serval prison sentences with the total prison term equal to 29 years. He was accused of counter-revolutionary activities and Trotskyism (i.e. support for Lev Trotsky who was regarded as an opponent to Joseph Stalin).

Grigory got his last prison term in 1952, when serving the previously given ten-year term in a labor camp. All in all he spent 20 years and a half in prisons and labor camps.

Grigory was released from prison ahead of schedule twice (for the first time in 1930 from the Siberian exile six months before his term would be over, and for the second time in 1955 from the concentration camp eight years ahead of schedule). From the end of 1941 until the middle of 1944 (i.e. for two years and a half) he stayed in Finland as a prisoner of war.

In 1940-1941 and in 1955-1956 he lived under close scrutiny of the Ministry of Internal Affairs and the Committee for State Security (also known under its Russian acronym KGB) and was deprived of the right to live in many Russian cities and to be engaged in activities which had anything to do with ideological issues.

Having pointing out these milestones, Grigory drew the following conclusion: "It is widely recognized that the most productive age lasts from 16 years old until 75 years old. Five years of my life were devoted to pre-revolutionary underground activities and military service in the Red Army during the Civil War. Taking into account all the years I spent in jail and labor camps, it means I could live productively, doing the work I love, for only 17 years and a half, including ten years starting from the age of 65 until the age of 75. That's a huge tragedy for any person, particularly for a creative one".

Grigory was an exceptionally gifted man. He knew Latin and was fluent in German. He remembered miscellaneous quotations from the Roman and Greek classical literature and Heinrich Heine. He was fond of reading and listening to music and had impressive vocal skills. After the Civil War Grigory studied in the Institute of Red Professors and was appointed professor of philosophy when he was 25 years old. In the meantime, very soon, with the advent of Joseph Stalin and totalitarian state, all his aspirations were ruined. When persecutions started, Grigory realized that he would not be able to publish his literary and philosophical works.

Grigory Grigorov, young professor of philosophy

Grigory left a detailed description of his life as intertwined with violent and unimaginable events that rocked Russia and the Soviet Union for many years. His memoirs cover the period starting from 1905 and ending in 1983.

Grigory Grigorov was born in 1900. Very few people of his generation managed to simply live through the entire 20th century until our days. He survived, wrote memoirs and made honest life conclusions. He came to Israel in 1989 and spent there the last five years of his life. The sad irony of the situation is that he could have come to Palestine 70 years ago, had his life taken a different turn.

He was 16 years old when he came to the city of Ekaterinoslav, presently known as Dnepropetrovk, from a little backward town. He was so amazed with what he saw that used to take long walks around the city. Once he got into a poor district. Presumably it was a wage day. He saw a beautiful young woman some 20 meters away from him. She was tugging at the sleeve of a tall dark-haired lad, persuading him to go home. In response to her endearing words he smashed her in the face. "I felt blood rushing through my head", Grigory said. "I lost self-control, rushed to this guy and pushed his belly with my head". All of a sudden Grigory felt piercing pain, with someone's sharp teeth sinking into his cheek. He saw blood dripping onto his shirt, turned around and saw that same woman he was trying to defend. A crowd started gathering around them. Two young passers-by saved Grigory from the brewing trouble. One of them was Moulya, i.e.Abraham Shlonsky, who would later become a well-known poet and translator in Israel. They became friends. Soon Moulya started helping Grigory remove gaps in education, taught him foreign languages, history and literature. They had heated debates. Moulya was trying to persuade Grigory that Jews should take their own path: "We need to stop serving other nations and enrich their economy, culture and science. It's high time that we have our own writers, scientists and artists". However Grigory remained steadfast and regarded Zionists as idealists with rose-colored glasses. Their life paths diverged. When leaving for Palestine in 1921, Moulya asked Grigory to come with him but Grigory stayed in Russia. He continued to cherish revolutionary illusions, believing that eventually revolution would lead to freedom, equality and brotherhood.

He would be arrested for the first time in two years, but he would recollect Moulya's words only in 31 years, in 1952, in Norilsk labor camp, when he would be accused of Zionism and sentenced to ten more years in prison. By that time he already knew that the state of Israel had been founded and that it went through its first war for independence. "Only at that moment, lying on a plank bed in a concentration camp, I realized that social revolutions could never keep Jews free from humiliation and would never bring them equality and human dignity".

Who knows what would have happened, had he left with Abraham Shlonsky in 1921. He could have become a well-known Jewish philosopher, with his name being added to Israeli encyclopedias. But his life took a very dramatic turn.

Grigory managed to withstand all the ordeals that befell him and remained faithful to his principles. He reconsidered all the events he had witnessed and gave them a very detailed description. In 1989 his family left for Israel, where he lived for the last five years and died peacefully in 1994, bidding a light-hearted farewell to this world, on the very eve of the 21st century. "Millions of people slaved away in GULAG labor camps, worked hard and died. Was it pure luck that I survived or something helped me?"

Grigory Grigorov in Israel. More than 90 years old

While growing old, making life observations, reading and contemplating, he wanted to understand whether it is possible that numerous victims and sacrifices taught Russian people nothing. His memoirs contain three thousand pages and they are unique, as is spiritual life of this remarkable man.

Until he was 20, his name was Gershele Monastirsky. He was born in the little town of Starodub located in the Chernigov region to a hard-working family that had many children. He had vague memories of his great-grandfather on his mother's side who died at the age of 102. Right before his death he lit the candles, lay down and passed away peacefully. His grandfather on his father's side lived in the village next to the monastery, and that was the origin of his family name. Gershele morphed in Grigory Grigorov in 1919, when he fought in the rear of the White (i.e. pro-tsar) Army, executing tasks given by the underground organization headquartered in Ekaterinoslav. In order to understand what helped Grigory survive physically and spiritually, retain the ability to analyze both global events and his own mistakes, it is necessary to look through the list of quotations he collected over his life and wrote down in columns one after another. These wise thoughts helped him fight despair and remain hopeful.

Grigory Grigorov (on the right) with his friend. Tomsk city, 1924

The first quotation refers to words his mother Rachel used to say: "There is no way to escape your destiny". These words are followed by quotations from the classical literature: "On what slender threads do life and fortune hang" from Alexander Duma, "Courage lost, all is lost - better you never born" from Johann Goethe, an extended quote from Prometheus, a poem written by George Gordon Byron: "But baffled as thou wert from high, / Still in thy patient energy, / In the endurance and repulse / Of thine impenetrable spirit, / Which Earth and Heaven could not convulse, / A mighty lesson we inherit..." For whom did he write down these quotations? Only for himself? Or probably for his grandchildren and great-grandchildren? Or may be for his future readers as well?

These quotations reflect complex contradictions of human life. What's the best way to survive? Is it better to surrender to one's fate and circumstances that frequently develop without our direct involvement? Is it wiser to humbly accept the way things unfold and resign oneself to other people's intentions? Or a man should step against unfavorable circumstances, bearing in mind that his consciousness, will and energy are overwhelming. It might seem idealistic and even naive now, but when Grigory was young, he chose Prometheus as his role model, the hero of the Greek mythology that brought fire to the mankind in defiance of orders given by the gods from Mount Olympus. For Grigory, this character was an example of free spirit, strong will and ability to withstand one's fate.

Grigory Grigirov in Norilsk labor camp, 1951

Here are several examples of Grigory's life stories:
"When I was young, I quite often had to make fast decisions whether to hope for the best and do nothing or to take quick actions to save my life. I am not talking about war, when death is always lurking behind, but somehow you never think that a stray bullet can put an end to your life. I am referring to situations when you can die because of your own mistakes or weakness, when you can rely only on your own strength, self-control and stamina. I will now tell you about a couple of very tight situations I went through when I was young. The first one happened in 1919. I received an assignment from underground authorities to go to Sevastopol by train to set up links with soldiers of the Black Sea fleet and local workers. Officers entered the railway car in Alexandrovsk town and began checking passports. They were looking for Jews and for commissars. I was both a Jew and a commissar. I was very nervous but did my best to remain unflappable and pretended I was reading a book. The underground authorities had given me good ID papers, but the officer began scrutinizing me and finally asked to say the Russian word "kukurusa" (corn), expecting to hear a throatal r sound typical of the Jewish dialect. I pronounced this word clearly with distinct roaring r. The officer let me go. But what would have happened had I pronounced this word incorrectly? Another situation happened when I was taking gold, silver and other valuables to Kharkov with a group of soldiers from the Red Army. These precious metals reserves were packed in bags and loaded into sealed railway cars. At Samoylovka railway station we were surrounded by the horse detachment headed by the gang leader whose name was Farther Knysh. There were three hundred people in this detachment armed with sables and rifles. Farther Knysh cried: "What is your cargo?" The myriad of thoughts sped through my head: what should I answer? Then I replied: "We are taking killed soldiers to their relatives". Farther Knysh ordered his horsemen to pull off their hats as a sign of respect for the dead and crossed himself. All soldiers began crossing themselves, too. "Good luck, boys", he said. And his detachment rode away towards Pavlograd town. But what would have happened, had Knysh told us to open the railway cars? What saved us? Keeping self-control, thinking fast and knowing psychology of peasants who gathered in different gangs in those tremulous times.

There was another tricky situation in my life when I thought there was no way out and was already trying to imagine how my poor parents would take the news I had been killed. I was going to Sevastopol for the second time and at Sinelnikovo railway station I had to change trains. That's where I was betrayed by a medical attendant who had known me before as a head of the political department at a hospital in Ekaterinoslav. Soldiers from the punitive division put me suspended in air with my arms tied, hit me with ramrods and whips, insisted on my saying who my friends are. They went on torturing me for several days. When I was losing consciousness, they dragged me into my cell and poured cold water onto me. The next day torturing resumed. I either denied everything the traitor had told them or kept silence. I thought there was no way out. All of a sudden the investigation stopped. The army headed by Farther Makhno took hold of the city in a swift assault. Makhno's followers destroyed the prison doors and set us free. What saved me this time? I believe both luck and self-control, the ability to handle physical pain and tortures".

Dina, Grigory's wife

Grigory got acquainted with his future wife Dina in 1921. She was eight years his senior. She was divorced and had two daughters, Vera (nine years old) and Polya (seven years old).

Dina's daughters Vera and Polya

He was 14 and 12 years older than his step-daughters, but he would become a devoted farther for them for the rest of their life. He was enraptured with Dina: "A strikingly beautiful woman was standing in front of me with that air of feminine beauty described in the Bible. There was inner glow in her smiling brown eyes. Her face was absolutely pure, with no traces of makeup. The way she behaved and talked was simple and free of coquetry. At the same time there was something eye-catching about her. You could feel inner strength".

They would be arrested together in 1934 and would be declared "the enemies of the people". By that time besides from Vera and Polya they would have their common seven-year-old child, son Vissarion. They would be called "children of the enemies of the people". At first Dina and Grigory would be allowed to stay together in a labor camp but later they would be separated.

Dina passed away in 1972 aged 81. "My wife was one of those rare people who managed to keep human dignity and high moral values under the beastly Bolshevik regime. I take off my hat to my wife, a remarkable woman, my dear and faithful friend. She is the one I address the lines written by the Russian poet Mikhail Lermontov: "Under the same star, I am sure, / We both crossed the worldly rims; / We stepped along same road poor, / And were deceived by same false dreams."

He survived through all the ordeals, Lubyanka, Butyrka, prisons, exiles, solitary confinement, hysterical screams behind the prison wall, punishment cells, beating, hunger strikes and cellmates' death. In 1934 he was accused of organizing the anti-Soviet movement and of inspiring false ideas among students whom he taught philosophy. Authorities said he had corrupted young people ideologically and encouraged them to act against the leading political party. Grigory told the investigator: "You wrote this mean opus, so you should sign it, not me". He was nearly killed. He repeatedly lost consciousness because of beating and expected they would execute him through shooting but instead he was sentenced to five years in labor camps. He survived again. "Metaphorically, this arrest and interrogations proved a certain gate that took me to the sinister world commonly known as Gulag Archipelago. Above this imaginary gate I would put a line from the Divine Comedy by Dante Alighieri: "From thy heart banish fear: of all offense I hitherto absolve thee".

Grigory realized very soon that his previous prison experience was of little help. A lot had changed in the way the punitive system worked since he came back from his exile in Siberia four years ago. To summarize his survival in soviet prisons and concentration camps, Grigory described the rings of the hell created by Joseph Stalin and his proponents. According to Grigory's estimates, Stalin's hell could be roughly divided into ten rings.

Grigory Grigorov – doctor's assistant in the Norilsk concentration camp in 1951

Future generations should be patient and attentive to what this man wrote about not to repeat past mistakes. He wanted to be heard so much. He wanted his descendants not to lose faith, to resists fear and hardships and to remember that life is the ultimate value.

First ring: prisons, investigation, excruciating interrogations at nights, false witnesses, beating, punishment cell.

Second ring: transporting of prisoners, walking in chain gangs 25-30 kilometers a day, escorting soldiers, frequently drunk and violent, crying: "One step right, one step left, we will shoot without warning". It is impossible to get used to it. You remain tense all the time.

Transporting of prisoners in vessels along rivers, usually locked inside orlop decks below the waterline. These ships reminded a floating condemned cell. One foul-smelling bucket for several hundreds of prisoners to be used as a toilet. Hundreds of detainees died because of diseases. The walking dead crawled from orlop decks at the end of such journeys.

Third ring: transfer centers. This is where a lot of transportation routes crossed. And this is where particularly brutal and large-scale fights happened between criminal and political prisoners.

Fourth ring: concentration camps. Common works until prisoners are completely exhausted. Some of them died while working.

Fifth ring: heavy security barrack.

Sixth ring: internal prison and punishment cells at a concentration camp. Penal colony.

Seventh ring: diseases and hunger. A lot depended here on a prisoner's genotype, i.e. heredity, stamina, spiritual strength, ability to endure diseases and hunger and not to despair.

Eighth ring: criminals. It was possible to stand against them with relative success if gathering into groups. Grigory was locked into a cell with criminals several times intentionally, in order to break his will. Some prisoners found this ordeal particularly harsh.

Ninth ring: haunting threat that detention would last forever, the sense of hopelessness for many years, that caused serious psychic disorders and death in the long run.

Tenth ring: everyday examination of one's will, need to defend one's human dignity, to withstand moral corruption and emotional debilitation. Without these efforts death approached unnoticed. A lot of people died because they could not stand the general debilitating atmosphere of a concentration camp. They just got morally broken, collapsed spiritually and died.

Having described these circles of Stalin's hell, Grigory added a line from Dante's Divine Comedy that summarizes what he had lived through and described above: "What fortune or what fate / Before the last day leadeth thee down here?" Sometimes it was better to die rather than to remain hostage to this hopeless never-ending slavery. "I believe that Jews that perished in fire when defending the Holy Temple in Jerusalem from Roman troops, or rebels led by Spartacus, or Masada defenders who committed mass suicide after killing their children and wives, they all wanted to be free. They opted for death to avoid slavery. These heroes made their mark on the world's history, but millions of slaves who ended up in Gulag, worked hard and died without being mourned. I doubt that anyone could now tell how many people disappeared in the icy wilderness of tundra and taiga, in dark waters of Siberian rivers".

As a historian and philosopher, he was trying to understand the ultimate reason that would explain why so many Russian people ended up in Gulag. Having carefully read researches on the Russian history by Vasily Klyuchevsky and Vladimir Solovyev, he made the conclusion that this reason is deeply rooted in Russia's past, national psyche and mentality. When completing his memoirs, he realized that even the detailed description of the everyday life in concentration camps would fail to explain what prisoners felt being suspended in limbo, between life and death, ready to die any moment. this is why Grigory was searching for a metaphor that would make it clear to people unfamiliar with Stalin's hell what it was like: "For many years, I stayed pressed down by a huge rock, as if it were a gravestone. I could breath, think and even move a little bit, but at the same time my soul became as hard as stone. Fear was obviously a bad advisor in those circumstances. I understood that any awkward move could make this gravestone collapse and bury me. I managed to survive, I was set free. I kept interested in life, science, art, poetry and literature. I am even writing memoirs. And all these years I've been trying to figure out what helped me stay alive. I was endowed with good health, stamina, ability to withstand extreme pain, exceptional memory and analytical mindset. All these qualities were key to my survival. Which of them developed thanks to my parents, whom I loved and respected a lot? Quite many, i.e. will, priority of spiritual values over physical property, diligence, willingness to do any work, including hard and dirty one, frugality, modest habits, desire to learn, respect for knowledge and science and self-respect, which is probably the most important one. I was seriously engaged in philosophical studies before I was arrested in 1934 and was very much interested in philosophy. I believe this helped me a lot when I was confronted with horrors in prisons and concentration camps. When locked in solitary confinement, I began contemplating about philosophical systems developed by Baruch Spinoza, Immanuel Kant and Georg Hegel. That helped me get distracted, become oblivious to harsh reality and depressing thoughts. This is when I fully realized the deep meaning hidden in the widely-known expression of the French mathematician and philosopher Rene's Descartes "Cogito Ergo Sum" (I think, therefore I am). That's true, a man can be taken prisoner, shackled and isolated, but if he keeps on thinking constructively, it means he keeps on living. And here is another biographical detail, which may seem insignificant at first glance. I was fond of reading since I was a small boy. I read poems, novels and plays. I knew a lot of literary pieces by heart. I remember reading this line in one of Goethe's literary works and it became my guiding star: "Courage lost, all is lost - better you never born". I understood its deep meaning when staying in prisons and labor camps. Sometimes I saw that my cellmates were growing desperate and irritable and it was hard for them not to kick up a row. At such moments I began retelling either a novel or a play, and as a rule it had a strikingly pacifying effect on everyone, particularly on prisoners sentenced on criminal charges. They were very fond of the novel Les Miserables written by Victor Hugo".

Dante Alighieri's fellow countrymen used to say about him, referring to Inferno: "He was there, he saw everything and came back". Grigory believed that those people who went through all the horrors of Stalin's and Hitler's hell, survived and came back should write about their experience. That' what he did. He hoped that writing would therapeutically help him get rid of haunting memories. Did it really help? Who knows...

"When the Second World War started I was taken prisoner by the Finnish Army and spent two years and a half in Finnish labor camps. This captivity was very unusual as I was allowed sometimes to leave the camp, to stay in Helsinki and to see how Finnish people live. They were free people of a democratic state. This world was arcane to me, a man born in the tsarist Russia and a citizen of the Soviet Union. The values underlying their life were strikingly different. Personal freedom, human dignity, equal rights and the rule of law were of paramount importance. Since then I have had an opportunity to compare a Soviet citizen with people from a democratic state. Joseph Stalin died years ago, but the system he created is still in place, though slightly improved. Serious changes are not within sight. The country lacks political will to make radical changes. The brightest people, those who were spiritually strong and brave enough to oppose suppression, were killed in droves. And what does the Soviet society look like today? Millions of devastated families and crippled lives. Millions of those who were eventually released from concentration camps but remained crushed, both physically and spiritually. Millions of former investigators, false witnesses and state officials. There is little hope that this sort of society would be able to soon take in ideas of human rights, supremacy of law, moral values and democracy. And what about the state system? It proved low-efficient, and even more so, nonviable and self-destructive. There are no forces that would encourage high productivity, especially as far as agriculture is concerned. Before the revolution which happened in February 1917, Russia used to supply grain to Europe. In the mid-1960s, the Soviet Union was a net-exporter of grain. Corruption, nepotism, protectionism and abuse of alcohol are rampant. Rich natural resources fall prey to predatory extraction tools. If this situation persists, the country will face economic collapse and complete chaos, which will unfold along with the frantic search for solutions. This might result in greater troubles. A quotation from the Russian writer Vladimir Korolenko suggests itself here: "There are gaping abysses in social movements, like in every ocean... Who knows them? Who managed to uncover the mystery that defines the movement of the human ocean? Who could tell with certainty that there is no threat of a new tsunami that would rise anew as unexpectedly as before and with a vengeance?" There is little to add to these prophetic words. Few events might seem more grisly than those that happened to Russia in the 20th century. I would recommend my children take these words very seriously".

At the end of his memoirs, Grigory Grigorov put a quotation from George Gordon Byron's poem "Childe Harold's Pilgrimage" which he liked a lot: My task is done - my song hath ceased - my theme
Has died into an echo; it is fit
The spell should break of this protracted dream,
The torch shall be extinguish'd which hath lit
My midnight lamp - and what is writ, is writ, -
Would it were worthier! but I am not now
That which I have been - and my vision flit
Less palpably before me - and the glow
Which in my spirit dwelt is fluttering, faint, and low.

The first volume of Grigory Grigorov's memoirs "The Twist of Fate and Tyranny" covering the period from 1905 until 1927 was published in OGI publishing house in Moscow in 2005.

The second and the third volumes were published in Israel in 2008 and 2010 respectively (with the subtitles "Memoirs, 1928-1972" and "The Russian History, the 20th century: Highlights and Analysis").

P.S. Big thanks to Katya Levchenko for translation.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Part of the memoirs - Leningrad 1934, after Kirov's killing

My wife and I were offered to put on clothes and follow the guards. Our daughters cried, the boy seemed to be asleep. May be, sometimes talented dramatists and producers will be able to show in the theatre all the tragedy of the life in the USSR beginning from the thirtieth years: hundreds of thousands people who gave many years to struggle for their ideals, who were in tsarist jails, underground and the Civil War, now are sent to Soviet jails.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

Finnish Captivity (part 2)

Chapter 3
The first days of Finnish captivity. Suoyarvy camp. Camp in Svyat-Navolok .Liberalism and kindness of Finnes. A rouge and provocative agent from Odessa Yeremeev. A military doctor, son of Russian emigrants believes in the future of Russia. Doctor Karl Mary and his fiancée Erna.

From the first war with Finland, provoked by Hitler, Soviet newspapers were full of the savage treatment facts of Russian captives by Finns. For instance they wrote that Finns cut ears and took out eyes of captives. I did not believe the Soviet press for a long time, but still some suspicion remained me a nation called itself Suomy – as the nation of marshes. I knew very well that Finland had given shelter to many escaped from Russia revolutionaries. Lenin came back from emigration through Finland. During the time of struggle with Russian autocracy a strong social-democratic Working party was formed and acted in Finland.  

        As I wrote in the previous chapter, a group of captives walked along the road. A small escort led us to the North of Segozero. Knyazev and I decided to run, to hide in the wood then try to reach Maselsky or Medvezhyegorsk.

We began to gradually lag behind the column of people; the escort did not notice it. We lay on the earth and began to crawl quickly to the woods. We walked about two kilometers through the woods and suddenly met Finnish soldiers. They surrounded us and we thought that was the end of our lives. But two soldiers just led us to the road, overtook the column of captives and passed us to the escort. The escort only cried: pargele , satana, but they didn't hurt us, but placed us in the first row.

One of the escorts took out photos from his pocket and showing it explained in broken Russian with a smile: ”This is my mother, this is my bride.” This scene could be taken as illustration of soldiers fraternization between hostile armies.

We came to the village that was left by its inhabitants. We were quartered in houses by 5 persons in each one. The escorts ordered us strictly not to touch anything in the houses. Everything was in order in our house: pillows are on the beds, a wooden cupboard with plates, cups and saucepans is on the wall, an icon of Christ is in the corner with a still burning oil wick. There was warm and clean in the house, it seemed, the masters of the house went out somewhere. We lay on the floor on home-made carpets .
Though I was tired, I could not sleep, I thought about escaping. My thoughts were interrupted by a noise; a new party of captives came. As soon as four Finnish officers entered all of us stood up. One of the them told us in Russian that we had to leave the house as the inhabitants came back to the village; they were saved by Finnish soldiers after the shooting.

We were accommodated in a big barn where there were a few people already. There was a young girl in the middle of the barn. She covered with bandages and was moaning. Also we met there this boy who was saved by us; he rushed to me and said with tears on his face that his mother and sister drowned in Segozero.

In the evening we received a tank of boiled water and two lumps of sugar for each of us. Knyazev and I did not sleep; my young friend asked me what the Finns can do to us. (He remembered what Soviet news-papers wrote about). They treated us quite decently yet. In the morning five Finnish officers entered into the barn.  One of them addressed to us in broken Russian: Be prepared, now we cut your ears and noses and take out your eyes.” We prepared for something awful. Suddenly all them began to laugh soundly. The same officer continued: “Your papers slander us. We won’t do you any harm, you will be treated as captives, you just work and after the war will be over you get back to your country.”

Everybody breathed freely and began to smile. We got porridge, tea and two lumps of sugar for a breakfast. Soon ambulance took the burned girl, two sick men and the boy. The boy ran up to me to say good-bye. I stroked his blond hair and turned away. It is always difficult to see suffering children.

 I was confused in the captivity because I saw that the conditions in Finnish captivity cannot be compared with Soviet concentration camps where I had been. In Finland the captives were not flouted or humiliated, but in the native land a political prisoner was always treated as a slave with whom the authorities can do everything they want.

But one circumstance worried me: the Jewish problem. No other nation on the Earth suffered such persecution as Jews.  Probably, because they gave to the Christians a God-man and did not want to knee down before him, when he was transformed into an idol? Never the Jewish question was as keen as after the fascists came to power in Germany. I was anxious: whether democratic Finland treats Jews in the same way as fascist Germany?

My thoughts were interrupted. All the captives from our barn were placed in lorries, two Finnish soldiers convoyed us. We started to drive down along the wide asphalted road.

A lot of lorries with soldiers moved in the opposite direction. The driver of one of them threw out two boxes with biscuits right on the road and shouted something in Finnish. Our driver stopped and told us to take the boxes to divide the biscuits between us.

In the evening we arrived at a big camp Suoyarvy for military and civil captives. In the administration of this camp was a small group of fascists. In the morning, the captives were formed two persons in a row in order to take breakfast. The group of fascists watched after the order: they shouted, demanded of us to keep the file.
One of the captives left the line for some reason. A fascist officer shot and killed him. We became strained. But suddenly something happened unexpectedly. Apparently, in Finland some citizens refused to take part in war because of moral or religious principles. So, they were called “non-participants” and punished in a curious way: If they were soldiers, their belts and shoulder-straps were taken off and they were sent to a separate tent in the territory of a concentration camp.

There was the same tent in Suoyarvy camp, ten strong men were there.  Once they saw the fascist officer killed the captive, they ran to him and began to beat him, took his gun and threw it out behind the camp's fence. The camp commandant, an elderly sergeant major, came up to the beaten fascist, lifted him up, led him to the camp gate and pushed him strongly with his leg out of the camp, saying: Poish, pargele, satana” (get out, devil).The commandant came up to our line and said in a broken Russian:  “Such people as this fascist disgrace our people, we won’t let anybody taunt you, you are not responsible for your government.”

I was deeply impressed with the “non-participants’” and commandant’s behavior. I understood that Finland is a country where keeping the law is obligatory for everybody. There was no roots for wide spread of fascist or anti-Semitic ideology. I also understood that in Soviet news-papers published an impudent lie of Finland.

Two days after the captives were led to a nearby village for a bath. After that we did not return to the same barrack, but we were accommodated in a big another one. It had doubled number of plank-beds but it wasn't so dense as the previous one was. I received an upper plank-bed placed between beds of Gennady Knyazev and Vasily Ivanovich Polyakov. Polyakov was taken as a prisoner near Sortavala. He told us that Finnish Army took Petrozavodsk but did not go ahead, though the Germans demanded to move its units up to Leningrad, surrounded with German troops.

Later I learned that deputies of the Social-democratic party of Finnish Seim demanded from Government to be ruled by considerations of strategic interests of Finland and not German interests. It appeared that the Commander–in-chief of the Finnish Army Mannerheim and President of Finland Rutty were members of the ”Progressists” party, founded when Finland was a part of Russian Empire.

What surprised and rejoiced me very much was the position of the Finnish Government on the Jewish question. In spite of great pressure of fascist Germany, Finland did not admit to persecution or discrimination of Jews on its territory. More than that, Jews served in the Finnish Army. This position of Finland , being an ally of Germany in war, demanded great courage from its Government. There was a lack of food in Suoyarvy camp. We were given 3-4 crackers a day, two portions of soup from rotten potatoes and a small portion of porridge. Sometimes we were given horse-flesh. All those who did not take part in battles were transferred into Svyat-Navolok camp. Knyazev and I were transferred as well. Svyat-Navolok was a big village located in the forest at the lake bank. There was no fence, but a commandant’s office headed by a sergeant-major was there.

Once he told us in a broken Russian: “Mannerheim is more yours than ours, he was loyal to the Russian tzar, he is not Finn, and he is Swede.” It should be noticed that Finnish soldiers and officers very critically treated supreme military command. The captives were quartered in peasants’ houses; we were warned not to take peasants’ things. The majority of Karel peasants did not want to be evacuated, but hid in the forest. There was a big Russian stove in the house we lived in. There were a big wooden table in the middle of the one room and two beds in another room. There was no dining-room or kitchen in the camp, we got a ration for a month, we cooked soup and porridge by ourselves.

There was a lot of fish in the nearby lake, then captives fished under the control of Finnish soldiers. There were some rogues between the captives, one of them, Eremeyev from Odessa. He pretended to be a hereditary noble man, son of prince Volkonsky. He invented a story that his parents went abroad from Odessa by a ship after the revolution. While people boarded to the ship, Eremeyev, being a boy of ten, ran away. The police caught him and sent to an orphanage, where he had lived several years as Eremeyev. He told Finns that his parents live in Paris and asked to send him there. All the captives understood that it was a feeble legend but simple-hearted Finns believed him. Eremeyev was trusted to give us the ration.

Besides that in case there was no flour in the camp he was given a horse and a cart to go free to villages to fetch flour. One of the girls in the camp fell in love with Eremeyev, this romance was last for a long. Eremeyev stood at anti-Soviet position and wrote articles to the newspaper for captives depicting the suffering of Soviet people under the Bolsheviks oppression.

Once he came to my place and said: “I know you are professor of philosophy, imprisoned in Soviet jails and concentration camps as an opposition member.” I was surprised, I had never told anybody about my past. Finally I discovered where he got this information from. Being in Suoyarvy I searched the Finns who took my wallet with the certificate given to me when I had been leaving Vorkuto-Pechersk concentration camp. There was written there about my work and arrests. Obviously, Finns believed Eremeyev to the extent that they showed him the certificate and so he decided to speak to me. He asked me to describe my life in the USSR in a news-paper for captives. I refused him flatly, but Eremeyev did not let me alone. He asked: “Do you consider Finland a democratic country?” I answered: “Yes, Finland is a democratic country because there are several political parties in it, including a working and a peasants’ parties. They have their newspapers in which they can reflect their position.”

Later, when I was questioned about my Finnish captivity by a Soviet interrogator, Eremeyev was a “witness” and he reminded this conversation. The captives were taken out to work, we sawed logs, prepared firewood, cleaned roads. The Finns tried to keep roads very diligently, demanding us to take away even small pebbles.

My young friend Gennady preferred to work in the Commandant’s Office. I did not advice him to do that. But it turned out to have an unexpected effect. A young beautiful Finnish woman worked in the Commandant’s Office. She paid attention on the handsome Knyasev and fell in love with him. This girl was a member of a youth fascist organization. A small part of Finnish youth was influenced of fascist professors and writers. They dreamed to conquest all the North up to the Urals. They put forward primitive motives: Russian North is inhabited with Finnish tribes: Karels, Komi and others. The Finnish girl influenced unsteady Knyazev with this idea. She also spoke with him of sexology, saying that a true Finn as a true Aryan denied monogamy, and the decisive factor is physical love directed to the sanitation of the race. Knyazev told me about that sincerely. I explained to him that racism is a philosophy of brutal fuhrers who oriented on the mean instincts of masses. I was speaking of fascist Germany when Eremeyev came into the house. He asked me: “Don’t you think, Grigoruy Isayevich, that Germany is now so strong that it is able not only to make to kneel down the Soviet Union, but England as well?” I understood that he wanted to provoke me into a dangerous conversation.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Grigory Grigorov's book as base for movie

After the first memoirs book by G. Grigorov “Turns of Destiny and Tyranny” appeared for sale, his family, who published the book, obtained enough readers references all over the world. No doubt, the fate of thoughtful yet active person of the cataclysms 20th century background interested various groups of readers.

One of the references made us to look at the grandfather’s fate in a completely new way. Some readers specify the memoirs were appear as a finished screen play for a Hollywood movie. Once we read the reference, we understood the reader was right for a number of reasons. First of all it's a historical com-ponent of the story: Grigorov was participating in the most significant USSR events at all country’s his-tory periods.

He was familiar with representatives of all classes of the Soviet society. Such as workers, peasants, writers, poets, professors, military men, Communist Party political figures.

He met such brilliant persons as Esenin and Mayakovsky, Shostakovich, Bukharin and Trotsky. In his memoirs he speaks about such striking event as his liberation from a jail where he was sentenced to the death ( He describes the situation in Leningrad before and after Kirov’s death, he substantiates mass executions in Vorkuta in 1938, tells about Finnish captivity during the 2-nd World War, and many other facts.

Besides unique G. Grigorov's personality, despite the death sentence, the inhuman jail conditions and concentration camps, he returned to his family being full of life and energy. He started to write his large volume of memoirs in 1965. The book was finished in 1980.

We are life witnesses of G. Grigorov's extraordinary yet charming personality. A brilliant and impres-sive character might be created in the movie.

Several parts of the memoirs have been translated into English by Stella Grigorov, Grigorov’s daughter in law.

We would be very grateful if you could give us any advice for finding a film agent or recommend peo-ple who can really work with that. Please let us know your thoughts on the chance to turn memoirs book “Turns of Destiny and Tyranny”into a movie and how much would that cost.

Where to start? We'd be delighted to hear any idea from you. Please contact us by email

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Captivity in Finland (part 1 )

B O O K 2
P A R T 1 2
C H A P T E R 2

The above-cited paradox noted by Rabelais deeply reveals the real and often hidden causes of defeats and victories in military battles. Sometimes it is not bravery, patriotism or military skill that decides the fate of countries and governments, but despair, the psychological state of soldiers and officers. Sometimes I was a witness of absolutely senseless but very brave behavior of young people who wanted to avoid suffering.

At the end of 1940 I was called to the military commission of Bor town and was enquired about my military past, participation in the Civil War, my military duties and ranks. After that they asked why I was repressed. In a week they called me again and informed me that I would be registered as a soldier. I was not worried. After the Civil War Political Management of the Russian Republic tried to send me to Military Academy but I refused, I did not want a military carrier, I wanted to study. When the Second World War began I supposed that former prisoners would be sent to concentration camps. But the fate made the next unexpected turn. I went to Gorky (Nizhny Novgorod) to the Pedagogical Institute. Mobilized people marched along the streets accompanied with women, old men and children. There were many tears and crying but the orchestra played bravura marches. The orchestra stopped playing and a young man on the right side sang:
Listen worker,
The war has begun…

More than 20 years ago I sang this song when going to the war against Denikin, Vrangel, ataman Grigoriev. But then I did not think of the sense of this song’s words. Why “All of us will die”? This is obviously senseless. The revolution is made for life. A column of young recruits was walking, young men 17-18 years old. They sang with enthusiasm a well-known song “Kahovka”. I thought of what would happen to these cheerfully walking young men who can’t possibly imagine the horrors of war. I entered the Institute. There was silence in the corridors, the groups of lively students disappeared. Many students and teachers already received call-up papers. A familiar teacher came up to me and said in low voice: “Here we have: “We don’t want somebody else’s land, and won’t give a meter of ours”. The Georgian prophet should better dance a Georgian dance than make forecasts”.

The teacher of history at our school, the head mistress’s husband, was also mobilized; he became a commissar of a battalion though he had never been in the army. At school meetings he spoke only of the last decisions of the Central Committee. On the 10th of July he was mobilized, and on the 2nd of August his family received a notice of his heroic death. His wife changed awfully, her face became yellow, the eyes became sunken, and her face was covered with wrinkles. Everybody felt pity towards her. On the fourth of September my wife and I visited the Yuzovs family. We spoke of school affairs. Our daughters came from Gorky, they told us that the students of senior courses were offered to go to Army as volunteers, nobody dared to refuse. In the evening the pouring rain broke out, spurts knocked on the windows, the wind buzzed. We were sitting till 12 o’clock when somebody knocked violently on the door.

My wife grew pale and began to bite on her nails as she was doing when agitated. We decided that NKVD workers came to arrest me. But it was only a call-up paper from the military commission. I had to come to the Bor military commission on the 5th of September at 7 o’clock in the morning. I felt relieved: it was not jail, but army. This night we did not sleep, but collected things in a sack. At 6 o’clock in the morning we went to the town of Bor, the Yuzovs and several pupils saw me off. In the huge yard near the military commission a lot of people gathered, women wept noisily. Maria Adamovna Shlykov came running with a daughter. A tall man came out of the military commission building and read a list of mobilized people; we were ordered to return our passports. We were ordered to form a column and move to the Volga bank where we were loading to a barge. My wife moved further together with me. We came to the Gorky military commission. I got a permission to call upon my son who was in a hospital. A week ago he fell seriously ill and was hospitalized in Gorky. When we saw our son, we were upset: he was very pale and weak. Again I was leaving my family as in 1934 after Kirov’s murder and did not know when I would come back or whether I would. We had to return to the military commission. The huge building was crowded with mobilized people and their relatives. My wife and I sat on the floor in the corner and spoke all night. I was grieved very much that I could not say good-bye to my daughters. Early in the morning again the list of those mobilized was read out and we moved to Gorky railway-station. There a train of goods vans for us was already standing. I said good-bye to my wife; I parted with my family for 14 years. We were given vans used earlier for cattle; the dust was not removed; only two-store plank-beds were built.

When the train moved, women and children began howling dismally. My wife waved with her handkerchief, tears shedding from her eyes. Somebody threw a sack with black dried crust and peas into the van. I received an upper plank-bed, a young man, Gennady Knyazev, a student of Gorky Pedagogical Institute, was accommodated beside me. An actor of Gorky Dramatic Theatre was near us and a teacher of the Pedagogical Institute was near the window. Rocking under the rumble of wheels I tried to assess the situation. I was sure that in the prolonged and hard war with Germany the USSR would win. There would be enormous sacrifices: for the tyrant sitting in the Kremlin, human life was nothing. German fascism would be destroyed but there would be no forces to get rid of Stalinists-fascists. Knyazev was a talkative young man. He told that only he was mobilized from the third course of the Institute because his father had been repressed. Soon we got to know that many mobilized people had ether their father or brother imprisoned on “political grounds”. In the morning of September 7th we arrived at Vologda. We were led to the railway station by groups of 100, where we received pasta. The railway station was packed with soldiers, some of them wounded. People lied on the dirty floor. It was similar to the situation during the Civil War. 20 years passed since then, and it was the same disorder, the same clumsiness of the Russian colossus. Our train moved to the north. German airplanes flew and threw bombs in a rather chaotic way. Every time after a strong explosion a huge man with a black beard went down on his knees and crossed himself. He was religious and he said that he would not take weapons in his hands. Our train stopped in the open field near Segezha. We were brought here to evacuate a paper-mill, but it turned out that the paper-mill had already been evacuated. We had nothing to do, except wandering in the empty town; the inhabitants had been evacuated with the paper-mill. We saw a lot of bomb-holes. Old men and women wandered about the town, they cried and implored us to take them into our train. Their children left them without means for living. In this way the Eskimos used to behave, when they went to a new place, they left their weak parents in the frost and they gradually were frozen to death. Here is the “progressive” mankind and humanity of our epoch. I spoke with a very old man, his hands shivered, it was a tremor on his face. He said his son was the chief engineer of the paper-mill, he did not want to take his father with him, he said that it would be difficult. We wanted to take several old men to our car, but the commissar of the train objected, he called us “rotten liberals”.

On the other side of the railway there was a big Karelian-Russian village where also old men and women stayed,they refused to leave their native place. They said: “we want to die here, where our grandfathers and grand grandfathers died’. Cows, hens and ducks wandered along the streets, a hen could be bought for a small price. We bought several hens, plucked and fried them on the bonfire. Several days the train stayed in this place, nobody needed us. The commissar of the train tried to find our chief. At last we were submitted to the 20th field construction of the Karelian front. It was situated on the bank of Segozero. We were unloaded from the train and led to the 20th field construction. On the way I admired the charms of the north. Segozero was almost square, surrounded with mighty woods of conifers and Karel birches. We saw partridges and heard wood- grouses. Segozero is to the north-west from Onega Lake and to the West from Vygozero. This lake system became the basis of the Belomor-Baltic canal. We slept in the open. Everybody was dressed in summer clothes; I only had a light cloak. A strong wind blew from the lake, I was freezing. Knyazev also was chilled to the bone. We found some planks and lied. Somebody slept in fishermen’s boats. In the middle of the night we were woken up and ordered to embark on the fishermen’s boats. We crossed Segozero and reached a big fishermen’s village. Here also only old men and women stayed. Though most of the houses were free the chiefs decided to accommodate us in a big barn with wet fishermen’s nets on the floor. We were so tired that lied on this wet but soft bedding. Soon everybody began to cough, and the chiefs offered us to go to the vacant houses. Gennady, I and two actors went to a house where a chimney smoked. A kind little old woman met us, she was very amiable. She immediately put a big kettle with potatoes into a Russian stove. The old woman asked us about the war, we could not say anything comforting. When we took off our wet clothes, sat in the warm house and began to eat hot potatoes it seemed to us that we found ourselves in a heavenly place. Then a big Samovar was put on the table; we felt happy. Earlier, a partisan detachment of about 200 soldiers went through the village. In the evening the detachment came back, the soldiers were sent to the same houses where our men had been. In our house the commander of the partisans stayed, a stumpy young man in a Caussac hat.

A young Karel came with him with an order of Red Star on his breast, he was a local hunter, he knew all the paths, and he was the guide of the partisan detachment. The detachment was going to the rear of the Finnish military units. The young partisans looked very tired, dressed in light clothes; many of them had high shoes with puttees instead of boots. After several days we learned that almost all the regiment was annihilated. Who will be responsible for the death of these people, who were sent to death? We were directed to Maselsky .The road was difficult, many broken bricks and big boulders in our way, the remnants of glaciers. We were very tired when we came to Maselsky. This small town is to the South from Segezha and to the South-East from Segozero. By this time the Finnish units already captured Sortavala in the North of Ladoga lake and Suoyarvy in the North-East and were moving in the direction of Maselsky. They were moving in the North of Petrozavodsk. Probably, because of that the 20-th field construction decided to strengthen this strategically significant area using our detachment. It was the next folly of our “strategists”: ill-assorted mass of Gorky citizens, untrained, was not a military unit.

All that showed the utmost confusion not only of the 20-th field construction but of the whole Finnish front in the autumn of 1941. We were to dig trenches, there were not spades enough, we dug in turn. When the construction works were finished a gun was brought and we received rifles. I was appointed a commander of section. A field kitchen came, we were given hot cabbage soup with meat; it appeared that in Maselsky railway station there was left a store-house with a lot of food when the executive personnel ran away. Red Army units went through Maselsky - mostly untrained young soldiers. They were dressed in old greatcoats and torn boots. Many of them had sore feet and moved slowly. Such military units were thrown against the Finnish Army.

The North autumn came. The sky was covered with grey clouds, it rained continuously. We stood in trenches with water up to our knees. Only in the evening we got warm near an iron stove. We were accommodated in houses near Maselsky station. The walls were covered with bugs; cockroaches were running on the floor. The whole night we struggled with the insects. There was no bath-house, the linen was not changed and lice appeared. But newspapers came regularly. We read about the brilliant leadership of our beloved leader.

I fell ill with pneumonia and was sent to medical unit to Segozersk. There were only two beds in this unit. The doctor, a young woman, paid little attention to me, she was always running somewhere. In two days Gennady Knyazev arrived with appendicitis fit. Unexpectedly Karel scout appeared; he said that Finns were at 10 kilometres from Segozero. Panic arose, the doctor did not come, though Knyazev had second appendicitis fit, I had high temperature 39 degrees C. Early in the morning we heard noise, footfall of running people, hysterical shouts of women and children. In spite of our hard condition Knyazev and I went out. We saw a large group of people including our doctor climbing on Lorries with children and baggage. Two Lorries moved and there remained one. We asked to take us but they answered that they took people only according to the list. We moved to Segozero, but were also late: a tug with a barge already left, loaded with children, women and a group of soldiers. We felt like outcasts. But we had to do something. We walked to Maselsky station along the bank. Wherefrom we had the strength? With difficulty we went 5 kilometres and suddenly saw a group of soldiers in grey greatcoats and boots. We took them for our Karelian units and soon understood that we were mistaken. They were Finns. We ran to the wood and lied in a hole half full of water. They did not notice us; they were busy with the tug on Segozero. Finnish officers watched the tug and barge through field-glasses, one of them shouted: “Embark to the bank, nothing will be done to you, you will stay in your houses.’ But the tug continued to move forward. The Finnish officer cried: “If you won’t stop, we will shoot.” The tug went on. Then the Finns began to shoot at the tug from a small gun, and immediately hit the target. We heard hart-breaking yells of women and children. Many people plunged into the water. The Finns stopped shooting, the officer speaking Russian said: “It is your fault.” Knyazev and I continued to lie in the hole, we even forgot our diseases. Looking out of the hole I noticed that somebody was swimming to the bank but was strangely waving his hands, he was drowning. I whispered to Knyazev that we had to save the drowning man. Knyazev tried to stop me, he said that the Finns would find us, but still I crawled to the bank and pulled out a quite weakened boy about 12-13 years old. Both of us crawled to the hole. Knyazev was right, the Finns noticed us. Several men came to the hole and began to shout laughing: “hu ve paive (hellow).” We rose, water flew down from our clothes, our faces and hands were covered with mud. We were led to a wide asphalt road. I saw for the first time a regular unit of Finnish army.

At the head of a column several officers went dressed in rather light clothes. After them motorcyclists followed and further a column of cars and Lorries with officers and soldiers. About 100 captives were collected. We were witnesses of a rather funny scene. Between captives a Carel coachman with a horse and a carriage was. The carriage was loaded with boxes of butter. The coachman addressed the Finns in the language known to them and asked to take butter and to let him go home. One of the officers ordered to give butter to the captives. The captives, between them officers, rushed to the carriage, captured the boxes, hastily threw off the covers and began greedily eat the butter and fill their pockets with it. Finns looking at this scene were laughing. Gennady and I did not come to the carriage. I felt sick to see it. A Finnish officer came up to us and said: ”Take the butter, please.” I shook my head. Then one of the captives ran to us and tried to shove butter into our pockets. I sharply pushed aside the hand of this complaisant man. After that Finns began to watch me with interest.

Tuesday, March 18, 2014

Suerskoye village (part 2)

See part one here

Quite unexpected help in providing us with literature was given to us by the chief of the post-office in the village. He had connections with Tumens’ town library. He supplied us with books by Darvin, Timiryasev, Lamark, Reklu. We were very grateful to him. He was a son of a man, convicted for taking part in operations of socialist-revolutionaries. His father was set free after February revolution and after the process against SR in 1922 he was exiled to Siberia. His son finished the course of communication service and was sent to Suerskoye. Here he married a widow, built a small house; he had a garden and a kitchen-garden. He worried that he would be considered a “kulak”, as he had a cow and a horse, which he used to bring post from Yalutorovsk. I liked to speak with him about the books I was reading, and he used to write down some of my thoughts. The chief of post-office reminded me my former Russian populists. Villagers respected him and asked his help for writing applications. It was nice to meet a decent man. Once when I came to take my post he asked me (we were alone): “Tell me, you are a scientist, you lived in Moscow and Leningrad, contacted with high-rank party members, can you explain why lately they scolded Trotsky and Zinoviev, now took it out on Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky… Trotsky and Bukharin are charged of the same thing, they are said not to believe in the possibility of building of socialism in our country?” I looked at the clever eyes of this man, my intuition said that he could not be a MGB agent. I decided to answer him. “I think the Central Committee of today does not believe itself possible in building of socialism and because of it sticks a label to others, opponents of Central Committee.” The postman laughed and I continued: “Now, if we don’t consider economically weak states there are two types of state capitalism in the world, one of them develops on the basis of wide democracy, the other on the basis of dictatorship. These conditions were developed in connection with history of these states. One of the special features of our century is that both democracy and dictatorship cannot go without some social principles. All the regimes speak of welfare of the people.” I wanted to say more but a woman came to take newspapers and our conversation was interrupted. The postman shook my hand and said:”I understood something, but there are a lot of things that are not clear.”

I want to speak of the conversations with Vladimir Mikhailovich Smirnov. I was a little acquainted with him before exile but in Tobolsk and especially in Suerskoye we became friends. Smirnov was a man of education. He knew several foreign languages, he was familiar with political economy and philosophy, and he was considered one of the best specialists in economy. During the first years of Soviet power he was the chief economic consultant of Higher Soviet of National Economy. From his young years he was a social-democrat, spent many years in France. He highly estimated the leaders of European social-democracy Karl Kautsky and Edward Bernshtein.

I knew that Smirnov was a close friend and shared the ideas of L.D. Trotsky whom he considered a social-democrat of West type but not a Bolshevik. Smirnov emphasized that for many years Trotsky and Lenin had different views on the revolution movement, but they became close before October 1917 and collaborated up to Lenin’s death because Trotsky as well as many social-democrats estimated political situation in Russia and in Europe as very favorable for the victory of democratic movement.

Smirnov was present at the meeting of a small group of military men with Trotsky in Beloborodov’s flat at the beginning of 1926. There were close friends of Trotsky: N.I Muralov, the chief of Moscow garrison, S.Mrachkovsky, a well-known hero of the Civil War, Kh. Rakovsky, the former chairman of the Ukraine Soviet of National Commissars, A.G. Beloborodov, National Commissar of Interior, one of the most popular journalists of that time L. Sosnovsky and V.M. Smirnov. The essence of the matter was set forth by Muralov, he spoke of Stalin’s and his associates activity, who started an open discredit of many old Bolsheviks, Civil War participants, of removal them from their posts and substituting them with their supporters. Muralov also mentioned false and openly provocative attacks against Trotsky. He offered that with the help of military units of Moscow garrison, which were under Muralov’s command, to arrest Stalin and all his supporters in the Central Committee and GPU (The Chief Political Management). Smirnov also set forth his point of view, supported Muralov and though he believed in democracy, in this situation it was necessary to use the most severe measures to stop decidedly Stalin’s clique’s activity. Everybody asked Trotsky to support Muralov’s offer. Trotsky’s reaction was unexpected. He not only refused to support violence against Central Committee but spent a lot of time trying to convince them to refuse any organized statements of opposing groups. Trotsky made a comparison with the French Revolution, noted the bad effect of differences between revolutionaries, who came to power, he thought that measures against Central Committee would not be approved by less significant party members. He also said that he would be accused of Bonapartism. At this point I added: ‘Lev Davydovich - making an analogy with French revolution, probably, forgot that national tribunes, calling to revolution, Mirabo and Lafayet very soon deviated from it, Danton, Robespyer and Marat came forward and soon were burned in the flames of revolution, but the traitor and secret plotter Fushey outlived all of them. Trotsky had to make a conclusion from these facts”.

Smirnov agreed with me and continued his story. Despite that he personally had great respect for Trotsky he considered it necessary to criticize Trotsky’s position. He said: “ Lev Davydovich, your arguments are not conclusive, your passive position will result in activation of Stalin’s clique. What do you count on refusing from decisive struggle? Almost all party staff and GPU are already in Stalin’s hands. The army is ready to come out now; there won’t be another chance in a year”. According to Smirnov’s opinion in 1926 the great popularity of Trotsky in the party and army would give him a real chance to restrain Stalin’s clique and mass arrests of oppositionists would not follow, Smirnov and I would not have found ourselves in Siberian exile. I think Smirnov was right to some extent. The course of historical events probably would not change notably but elimination of Stalin’s gang would allow preventing the deaths of great many people.

V.M. Smirnov was acquainted with Trotsky for many years from the emigration time and knew him as a very willful, decisive and energetic person who believed in democratic ideals and had a great ability of convincing people. But at the meeting in 1926 in Beloborodov’s flat he saw absolutely another person: indecisive, broken, who did not wish to struggle and evidently reticent. I told Smirnov of my two meetings with Trotsky in 1927: in Glavconcesscom and in Beloborodov’s flat at the end of the year. I noted that his answers to my questions were very contradictory. He spoke of a new stage of revolution and at the same time he acknowledged the complete failure of the attempts to gain democracy in the ruling party and the state, he saw a possible turn to fascism but at the same time hoped for opposing groups unification against Stalin, he understood that the power was in the hands of those controlling party stuff and GPU and at the same time continued to count on the support of workers from the West.

Such conversations with Smirnov on winter evenings helped us to understand what was going on. We often spoke of Trotsky, made various assumptions of his strange behavior in the period from 1924 till his deportation to Alma-Ata at the beginning of 1928. We were convinced that he understood what was waiting for him. It was well known that during Civil War Trotsky offered to examine Stalin’s actions two times, in Revtribunal in1918 for disorganization of the army, in Tsaritsin, in 1920 for failure of Polish campaign. Only Lenin’s incomprehensible intercession saved him from the tribunal. Trotsky knew better than anyone how dangerous was Stalin, temporary holding a grudge. Since the Civil War the wicked Eastern satrap only waited for a suitable moment to revenge on his deadly enemy. In 1928 Stalin was not determined yet to carry out his malicious plan. In spite of this, Trotsky practically did nothing. Smirnov supposed that he already enjoyed the sweetness of bigger power, and he, as many others, could not be reconciled with its loss. Possibly Smirnov was right to some degree, but after many years I realized that there were deeper reasons both of subjective and objective character of the passive behavior and contradictory statements by Trotsky at the last years of his life in the USSR.

I enjoyed my discussions with Smirnov, he was the most interesting person of high education. His moral standards were very high; he was a noble man, a true aristocrat of spirit. He called Lenin a dictator and Stalin an usurper and counterrevolutionary. Already in 1921 Smirnov was an active opposition member, he was considered a main ideologist of democratic tsentralists – “detsists”. The most ardent and long discussion we had were about the possible struggle with Stalin’s clique. Smirnov said that the fourth revolution was possible, which would sweep away Stalin’s clique and lead to the victory of democracy. He defended this position ardently but did not take into consideration the real arrangement of forces in the country, did not imagine by which layers of the society this revolution could be supported, considering that the most high-principled, selfless and brave people perished in the previous revolutions. Discussions with Smirnov stimulated me to active search of arguments, when I did not agree with him. Then I still did not understand clearly the connection between tendencies to dictatorship witch appeared immediately after October upheaval in 1917 and history of Russia. Only after many years I realized that Stalin’s violence all over the country was a natural phenomenon here. I came to this conclusion after many years in jails and concentration camps and after studying a lot of books on history. Jails and camps helped me in extreme conditions to understand what the main mass of prisoners and warders were, the latter were as many, as the former. Both groups were essentially slaves. Books on history, especially by V.O. Kluchevsky and S.M. Solovyev convinced me that the slavish psychology of the majority of people in Russia in the XX-th century was the result of special conditions of Russia’s origin and the process of its historical development as a state. Revolution in such a country is a catastrophe. In Suerskoye I could not bring up these arguments to Smirnov, but still spoke on this theme. I mentioned “Philosophical letters” by Peter Chaadayev and paid attention on his arguments. Russian state developed during several centuries on two connected bases: Orthodoxy and autocracy. P. Chaadayev saw an extremely reactionary character of religious, national and social structures in Russia and considered that in the near future civil life on democratic basis was impossible. Chaadayev did not believe in the future free Russia. I asked Smirnov: “Does Russia of today differ a lot from Russia of Chaadayev?

Russia entered the XX-th century as a very backward and sluggish, mainly peasant country with a primitive mode of life and a backward farming. And all that on the background of narrow-minded and reactionary national-religious self-conceit.” I mentioned an extract of a conversation between a French socialist Prudon and A.I. Hertsen: “Russian autocracy has a concealed basis, secret roots in the heart of Russian people itself…” I put another question: “If all this is taken in consideration, are Russian people to-day bent for democracy or dictatorship?” Smirnov was not ready to answer these questions. It is interesting to note that in the discussion Smirnov’s wife Varvara Alexandrovna was on my side. This fact irritated Smirnov, he did not speak with me 2 - 3 days, and afterwards we continued to speak. I substantiated my position, said that we have not to think of a new revolution but of a very gradual evolution, that now propagation of democratic ideas in masses was impossible because the opposition could not have its own newspaper. Plekhanov and Lenin were free to popularize their ideas; they published a newspaper “Iskra”, published books in conditions of freedom in Europe. In tsarist Russia there were underground printing-houses. In Stalin’s Russia this was impossible, hundreds of thousands of GPU agents and informers watched every step of the oppositionists. Smirnov denied all that. He with his knightly spirit, a tall lean figure and unwillingness to accept reality reminded me of Don Quixote. Stalin and his clique threw out the mask cover from the revolution and we could see the hidden earlier essence of so-called dictatorship of proletariat.

From spring 1928 Smirnov and I exchanged letters with many exiled and imprisoned people from Siberia and the Ural. We managed to be in correspondence with imprisoned in Tobolsk jail Misha Ivanov, Nikolay Karpov, Misha Okujava, Lado Dumbadze. We had correspondence with Khristian Rakovsky and well-known journalist L. Sosnovsky and his wife Olga, my wife’s friend, they were exiled to Barnaul. Smirnov wrote to “detsists”, his letters reminded political treatises. It was surprising that we were permitted to be in correspondence. The secret turned out simple: GPU wanted to know what went through exiles minds. Once I received a strange postal money order from Kh. Rakovsky, one of the founders of the social-democratic party in Balkan, a friend of Blagoyev, Rakovsky was a former chief of Ukrain government. On the back side of the postal order Rakovsky set forth his opinion on the First Five-year plan, he considered it the mere result of bureaucratic activity which could only lead to hunger. Unfortunately, this forecast proved to be right. At the same time in “Pravda” declarations of opposition of denial from fraction activity were published. Some of the oppositionists sharply blamed Trotsky, others tried to veil their position, and the third group declared organizational breaking-off with opposition but demanded to have a right to uphold their views at the next party congress. “Pravda” published two “platforms” of oppositionists capitulation. One, signed by Radek and Boguslavsky, came to a complete ideological and organizational capitulation. The other, signed by Kh. Rakovsky and L. Sosnovsky, agreed to refuse from fraction activity but considered it necessary to retain the right to speak out their views at party congress. Smirnov considered all the “platforms” and declarations of this kind disgraceful, he said: “The declarations do not contain principles but a mere self-seeking.” It really was. The former revolutionaries who had enjoyed the sweetness of power could not afford to refuse from privileges which they had occupying high positions.

In May 1929 I received a letter from Klava Ryazantsev. She wrote that after my leaving she felt very lonely, she saw in me a friend and adviser. I immediately answered, advised her to read and walk more, as books and nature help to fight against melancholy. At this point our correspondence stopped, Klava was moved from Tobolsk to another place. The image of fine, suffering Klava “a spy”, was kept in my memory.

In July 1929 dear guests came to our exile: my wife, elder daughter Vera and son Vissa who was two and a half year old. To Smirnov his sister Ossinskaya came with his six year old son Roma, who lived with Ossinsky’s family after his parents’ arrest. The guests instilled in us hope for the near discharge from exile. Ekaterina Osinskaya, a clever and educated woman, described with humor the behavior of “rights” headed by Bukharin, Rykov and Tomsky who lately had struggled against “lefts” and now tried to unite with them to fight with Stalin’s group. Ossinskaya said that the “rights” were being excluded from the party and “trotskists” were now being released with the aim to use them against the “rights”. In this connection Smirnov said ironically: “The “Leninists” of today waited for Lenin’s death to do with all the differently minded using his name as a cover.” At these words his wife looked around anxiously and shut the door and windows. This old Bolshevik was desperately afraid for her husband and not without grounds. Smirnov did not accept any compromises, he was sure that all the Stalinists were counter- revolutionaries. Varvara Alexandrovna was in trepidation to think that her husband would have the most tragic fate. Her foreboding of evil was true: Later Smirnov, Marat of the Russian revolution, was shot.

The arrival of my family was a great occasion for me, I was happy to see my wife, daughter Vera and son Vissa. Polya, who was14 years old, did not come, she began to work in a printing house as a type-setter. She wanted to be self-supporting and to help her family. Polya struck us from her childhood with her soul and selflessness. I almost did not know my son. I threw him to the ceiling and he cried: “More, more!” Vera and Vissa enjoyed milk, which was of a special taste because of very good field grasses. I looked at the children drinking milk and thought that in Leningrad they had no such possibility 12 years after the revolution. We walked a lot, were boating on the Tobol, My Dina remembering her young years, rowing very well with oars. We were singing and I sang my beloved opera airs. How wonderful life could be if political adventurers, liars and rogues did not rule the country. We often went to meadows together with Smirnov family and Ossiinsky, there we found many flowers: chamomiles, buttercups and bells. Vissa lagged behind, sat down on the earth, asked to lift him in my hands, sulked and swore: “damned nail”. Sometimes I took him on my shoulders and ran, he was delighted and urged me like a horse. Vera liked flowers from her childhood and knew their names; I saw how attentively she looked at every flower. Afterwards, she drew the flowers rather well. Dina, E.M. Ossinskaya and Smirnov’s wife sometimes were sitting on the grass surrounded by colorful field flowers. A fantastic sight. Human happiness is made up of separate moments, how little we appreciate these wonderful moments. Peasants met my family very affably and always brought some refreshments. They paid a special attention to my son. The children of the village who drove horses very well, took him sometimes on the horse with them and trotted in a circle about our place. Dina was anxious; she feared that Vissa could fall down. Dina and E.M. Ossinskaya spoke often with women, who told of misfortunes that fell upon the village after the authorities demanded to organize a collective farm. The women asked for an explanation of why the collective farming was necessary, what was the meaning of dispossessing of “Kulaks” and a “complete collectivization.” Naturally, neither Dina, nor E.M. Ossinskaya, neither anybody else could explain why they had to go to a collective farm. Then Dina and Ossinskaya spoke with me and Smirnov of their impressions from conversations with peasants. To them, residents of big cities for the first time making acquaintance with the life of Soviet village, everything appeared in a very gloomy light. They were surprised and depressed with what they saw and heard from the peasants. I think, any person, who visited the village then and was capable to estimate reasonably what was going on, understood that the village was nearing general catastrophe.

The meeting with my family soon was over. At the end of July I saw off my family to Yalutorovsk, carried my son into the car, Dina and Vera cried. When the train began to move, I jumped down. A cart was waiting for me. I broke the rules; I was not permitted to drive so far from the place of exile. Coming to my house I fell on the bed without undressing, face in the pillow, and slept all night. Everything was empty. Anguish and loneliness-again. I renewed literary reading in Podkovyrkin house. The chief of post-office got “Anna Karenina” for me and even “Madam Bovary” by Flober. I decided to read both books to my attentive listeners. For two weeks I was reading for two hours by evenings. When I finished, I tried to analyze the behavior of two women and their troubles, one in Russia, another in France. Young country women estimated their storm of senses in their own way: “They were mad from fat”. I felt that my desire to justify their behavior did not attain success. After that I decided to read “Voskresenie” (Resurrection) by Tolstoy. Young people were delighted with the image of Katusha Maslova.

In my education courses I taught two young men and two young girls till 9-th form of high school program. My teaching activity stopped unexpectedly with stormy events in the village.

The Procurator of Tumen came to the village accompanied by other court officials to fulfill the slogan of Central committee of “Complete Collectivization.” They knew that Suerskoe villagers did not want to go to a Collective farm. “He himself” came as the peasants said; it was known in Tumen that Suerskoye was a rebellious village. The administration did not forget the bell that appealed to rebel against “communia” in 1921. They did not forget Agrafena Podkovyrkina, “the snake”, as she was called by enthusiasts of complete collectivization.

All the peasants were driven to club. Smirnov with his wife and I also came, we were curious. The club was full. The peasants made room for us. Nobody elected the presidium, but officials from Tumen were sitting at the table. The procurator, a stout, red-faced man was sitting near the chief of village Soviet, a thin man of about forty. The chief of village Soviet stroked his hair, smeared with some oil and obsequiously smiled to the procurator. He stood up and with a husky voice let to “a member of Tumen Party committee” to have the floor. The procurator tightened the belt on his field shirt of khaki colour, with his right hand he lifted his hair that fell on his narrow forehead. Then he began his speech and immediately put a question “point-blank.” I remember his speech very well; it resembled hundreds and thousands of such speeches. “The Party is finishing the period of New Economic Politics… In the village, class stratification occurred; we have poor persons, Kulaks and middle class… We have to liquidate Kulaks as a class and pass on to complete collectivization on the basis of unit of the poor with the middle class peasants. Many middle class peasants fell under the influence of Kulaks… All the working peasantry has to unite into collective farm to give the last battle to capitalism and pass on to the building of socialism.”

The speeches of Stalin, Molotov, Kuibyshev, Kaganovich, Mikoyan in their “theoretical” level differed little from the speech of Tumen procurator. Everything was going, so to say, normal, as a bad song with music. But suddenly the provincial Tsitseron animated with his speech, blurted out a phrase: “Who won’t go to kolkhoz, will be worked out into polish.” An unexpected response followed: people began to make noise, to swing arms, to shout. Afanasy Podkovyrkin rose and cried: “How are you going to work out people into polish, you think we are dogs? … People go to kolkhoz on their own accord, you want to throw rope on our neck and pull us into kolkhoz like sheep?” The peasants shouted: “Afanasy is right; we are men, not sheep!”

When the agitation stopped a little, Vladimir Smirnov suddenly arose, his face pale, eyes flashed, long hair disheveled. He poked his long thin arm in the direction of the speaker and with a thunderous voice said: “Who gave you a right to speak in such a tone with people? Your language is a language of a gendarme but not of a representative of Soviet power… Afanasy Podkovyrkin is right when he says that kolkhoz is a voluntary organization and people do not go to kolkhoz under compulsion. You, procurator, break an elementary law and you have to bear responsibility for that. You think that fear is the main stimulus of social development... But you won’t intimidate people! They won’t allow you to work them out into polish according to your figure of speech.” The peasants shouted again, a young man cried: “We will work out to polish the procurator himself.” Those sitting in the presidium became agitated; the procurator bent over the chief of Soviet and said something in a low voice. Stroking his greasy hair the chief said in a squeaky voice: “Exiled Smirnov, you were condemned for anti-Soviet actions; nobody gave you a right to come to the meeting and speak counterrevolutionary speeches.” The statement of the chief of the village Soviet made me indignant, I could not be silent and said: “Nobody deprived us of the civil rights, at least nobody declared this to us, we have the same right to speak out as all the citizens of the Soviet Union, our words differ from yours by the fact that they are based on the constitution, proclaiming the right of the citizen and person… And you, pretending to be a representative of Soviet power violate the constitution… Your interpretation of complete collectivization has nothing in common with Leninism, for your speeches, addressing people; V.I. Lenin would offer to exclude you from the Party...” As all the people including presidium listened to me attentively, I added: “You being a procurator got accustomed in every free speech of a citizen, when he says truth, to see an enemy of revolution. We consider it impossible to stay longer at the meeting where elementary rights of a man and citizen are violated rudely.”

The hall was silent. Nobody responded to my remark, even the procurator was silent. Smirnov, his wife and I rose and left the meeting ostentatiously. The peasants followed us, only about 20 persons, the members of village Soviet remained. About ten Komsomol members and three Party members left the meeting. We understood that it would not end easily. During the night, several peasants were arrested, including Afanasy Podkovyrkin. Between the arrested there were mostly middle peasants of whom the procurator said that they fell under the influence of “Kulaks”. The village was agitated. Women cried, the men began to kill cattle again. This was the answer to the procurator’s propaganda for complete collectivization. We learned that something like this was going on in many big and small villages. In Moscow the administration began to worry, a hypocritical article “Dizziness from success” by Stalin appeared, where he accused local authorities of violence over peasants connected with complete collectivization. But Stalin was a coward. Apparently, he was afraid that on the basis of mass protest of peasants against collectivization the “rights”, “lefts” and “vacillating” would unite. Also commanders of Red Army who took part in Civil War knew the repressed “opposition” people very well and highly estimated them. Exactly Stalin’s fear was the reason of the article. His head was really dizzy only for one reason: because of his success on the way to unlimited power. Could he ever suppose that so comparatively easily he would remove from the political scene such Party leaders as Trotsky, Kamenev, Zinoviev, Preobrazhensky and many others figures experienced in political struggle and very popular in the Party. The success of Stalin, who was not known much at the first half of 20-th, in the struggle for power - is a problem demanding a big, thorough analysis. I wrote a little about that and will write more in the final part of my memoir.

At the end of August V.M. Smirnov was arrested at night. Varya ran to my place pale and crying and shouted: “ Volodya is being taken.’ I dressed quickly and ran to their house. I applied to GPU man with a protest:” Smirnov is an old Bolshevik, he worked with Lenin. He is the author of Communist Party program, maintained at the Y111-th Party congress. GPU man got confused a little and answered: “We only fulfil the order that came from the authorities.” Vladimir Mikhailovich and I said good-bye. I only could tell him: “Stand firm!” Varya, crying, threw herself on her husband, he tried to soothe her. Smirnov was seated in a cart, two escorts sat with him. Several days Varya had fever, she was lying, did not eat, I was sitting near her bed, tried to distract her from gloomy thoughts. Varya said in a low tone: “Grisha, what will they do with my Volodya, I fear for him so much, he is so risky. He gave all his life from young years to the revolution movement, he was dreaming of democracy and freedom in Russia, of better life for people. And now it turned out in such a way…” When Varya calmed down a little I offered her to go to the Tobol River. We were walking on the bank, but Varya could not be distracted from gloomy thoughts of her husband’s fate. I considered Smirnov one of the most brilliant representatives of revolutionary romantics in Russia. These freedom-loving, selfless, courageous people were doomed to death after October; they were antipodes of the petty bourgeois mass that won.

After the stress I suddenly had a strong tooth-ache. There was no dentist in the village, I had to go to Tumen; I needed permission from a GPU representative. After long negotiations I got the permission. When I came to Tumen, the tooth-ache stopped but still I went to see a dentist. I wanted to stay in the town, to meet the local exiled, to learn anything of Smirnov and the arrested peasants of Suerskoye. I telegraphed to my wife in Leningrad that I would stay in Tumen about two weeks and asked to let me know about my family’s health. Unexpectedly I received a telegram from Ada Lvovna Voitolivsky, our neighbor in “Astoria”. She said that my wife and children were well and she got a permission to see her husband in Tobolsk jail and would take a ship in Tumen. Soon Ada arrived to Tumen and we spoke the whole day before her journey. She talked about my family, of the situation in Leningrad and confirmed the Osinsky’s information that probably we would be soon set free from exile. Ada always estimated a situation reasonably but she did not expect that a relaxation of repressions would be transient. After about five years, our long-term jail and concentration camp period would begin and only few would survive. I already wrote of Ada. This brilliant, talented courageous woman very firmly endured all the hardships and could keep her human nobility in extraordinary conditions of concentration camps and exile. In Tumen I heard from exiled people a lot of news. The prisoners of Tobol jail had different opinions; most of them decided to hand applications of breaking off relations with opposition, among them my friend Mish Ivanov and Ada’s husband Nikolay Karpov. Smirnov was sent with an escort from Tumen. Later we learned that he was imprisoned in Suzdal jail in a former monastery. When I returned to Suerskoye women came to my place crying. They asked to help their arrested husbands. The wife of Afanasy Podkovyrkin said crying: “They want to shoot my husband, help him, for God’s sake.” I was confused; I could not find way to help the poor women. Suddenly it came to my mind to send a telegram to general procurator of Russian Federation Krylenko, telling him about the arbitrariness of local authorities to peasants who did not want to go to Kokhoz. I was acquainted with Krylenko from the beginning of 20-th, I met him and spoke with him in the 2-nd House of Soviets and in Moscow Party Committee. He was of low height, with a big cap on his head. My wife and I were present in the process against socialist-revolutionaries, Where Ktylenko was the prosecutor. He not only accused the former collaborators on the struggle against Tzaism but tried to understand, what stood behind their protest against the Soviet Power. I knew very well that in Party congresses Krylenko, being People Comissar of interior tried to defend law, he thought that it was not right to repress people on the basis of so-called “revolutionary expediency”, that the law and not the class principle had to be the base of civil and criminal law. In the telegram to Krylenko it was necessary to appeal not only to the law and reason but also to sense. The text of the telegram was: “Stop the local arbitrary rule of Tumen procurator and court. Condemned to death, without guilt, is the former participant of Lena events, participant of Civil War Afanasy Podkovyrkin, a citizen of Suerskoye village, Tumen district.” I signed: “Exiled on opposition affair Grigorov.” The chief of the post-office, my friend, did all to provide that the telegram would be delivered. I did not believe in success of this action, but I had to do it. After the post-office I came to Varya’s place, offered to go for a walk to the Tobol bank. When I told her of my telegram to Krylenko she smiled and said:” You, Grisha, also a romantic as my Voldyua, you still continue to believe in wonders.” In Suerskoye arrests continued, every day 2 or 3 men were driven with a convoy. Women moaned and children cried in the village. Varya and I remembered Nekrasov: “Show me a place where a Russian peasant does not moan.” Here we see the results of the decisions of Party congresses and plenary sessions… Here is the union of the working class and peasantry in practice! In 1918 Karl Kautsky , an official literary hereditor of Marx and Engels spoke of “Russian form of Bonapartism” but I don’t remember where it was written that Napoleon Buonapart taunted his people in such a way as Stalin’s clique does.

In “German Ideology” Marx and Engels wrote that private owners unite into a class to defend their interests. Analyzing the situation in Suerskoye village I understood that the peasants-owners irrespective of their economy level united for struggle against violence that was carried on by the “People State” that drove all of them into collective farms. The situation reminded the period of “Military Communism”. Then all the peasantry rebelled with their own arms against the tyranny of the new power. In this situation, only politics, (not economy and class stratification of the village) plays the main role. Lenin understood it and in 1921 New Economy Politics (NEP) was proclaimed and the problem was solved. As soon as Stalin’s clique became stronger NEP was abolished and in the village “complete collectivization” began in spite of the peasants’ resistance. Millions of those who resisted were dealt with; three generations of the most active part of peasantry were destroyed. The state put the peasants on serf condition. I think that many years will pass till a new generation of farmers comes that will be able to feed the huge country. The same fate befell workers. F.Dostoyevsky in his work “Demons” showed that when a person or people are imposed with the urge of a political rogue they are deprived of freedom absolutely. The Soviet state made everybody equal in slavery.

After Smirnov’s arrest I had more free time, there was nobody to discuss things with. I often saw Smirnov’s wife Varya and tried to distract her from gloomy thoughts. Sometimes it helped when we went for a walk; nature is the best doctor. At the end of October, winter suddenly began, a lot of snow fell. One morning when I was doing gymnastics I heard a bell ringing and the creak of a sledge. I heard voices and footfall at the porch. I thought GPU men came to take me away from Suerskoye. Somebody knocked at the door, I opened it and was surprised to see a group of peasants and between them Agrafena Podkovyrkina and her son Afanasy. I invited them into my room. Further on a scene that shook me within followed. I was standing in the centre of the room surrounded by peasants. Suddenly they fell on their knees and those nearest to me began to kiss my legs. What happened? Seeing Afanasy Podkovyrkin I understood that something extraordinary happened. Afanasy raised his hand and asked everybody to calm down; he wanted to tell of the circumstances of his and other peasants’ release from Tumen jail. Peasants of many villages of Tumen district were also released. It turned out that my telegram to the General Procurator Krylenko played a significant role and influenced the fate of many peasants of Tumen district. Krylenko sent an authorized commission to Tumen. This commission established the compulsion of Tumen procurator and local administration, released all the prisoners and declared in the jail yard that all those who exceeded their authority and drew the peasants into collective farms by violence would be punished. After this story I shook hands with everybody, kissed men and women and was happy as a child. The peasants brought many presents, the food would be enough for half year of my life in exile. Of course, I refused all presents and offered to celebrate this fabulous release. The entire village celebrated Christmas. Varya and I organized Fir-tree celebration for children, got toys and sweets. Many people came. Young and old women danced, drew Varya and me into round dance. Everybody drank vodka, ate fried pork, pies, jellied meat, sour cabbage and pickled cucumbers and drank wonderful bread kvass. Wherefrom all that appeared? Sledges covered with carpets rode in the streets, the peasants sang loudly accompanied by accordion. I tried to understand which new winds blew in the Central Committee of the Party. I wrote a letter to Emelyan Yaroslavsky, a member of Central committee, asked to revise my “personal case”, and reminded him that I was sent to exile without any official charge.

At the end of March the weather became warm, brooks streamed. Rooks and larks came. At the beginning of April the peasants began to go to the fields. I went with them. When the tillage began I sometimes ploughed, watched the layers of soil pulled off and thought of frailty of human life. Girls sang while the sun warmed. I enjoyed manual labor. Once, when everybody had a rest, a woman came to me and said laughing: “Savich, you plough well, we will marry you, and you will start a house and live well”. Everybody laughed, so did I. Suddenly my life changed. Early in the morning the chief of the post-office came running to my place. His face beamed with joy, he held a post-card in his hand. He said: I, like a postmaster of Gogol, decided to read this card”. It said: “Comrade Grigorov, an order was given of your release from exile” Em. Yaroslavsky”. I was stunned, and then embraced the postman. I asked “Varvara Rozhdestvensky also received this news?” It was found out that she did not. My joy grew dim, what will come to Varya? With whom she will speak of her grief? Why they release only me? Probably, my letter to Yaroslavsky had an influence. Later I got to know that Sergey Mironovich Kirov solicited my release. In the village everybody already knew of my release. Afanasy Podkovyrkin came, then his mother. Later a lot of people came, old and young, everybody congratulated me. I was uneasy and thought of Varya. She also came, said with tears that she was very glad for me and hoped to meet me and Volodya soon at large. GPU chief informed me that soon he would drive me to Tumen, where I would get release documents. The entire village came to see me off, they put parcels with fried duck, pies, and pickled cucumbers into the cart. One woman brought a big home-made cheese. Afanasy Podkovyrkin tried to hand me 200 roubles “for small expenses” but I decidedly refused. Afanasy embraced me with his strong arms and cried. Men and women came crying. They kissed me, I felt tears welling up. Varya stood aside; she also dried her eyes with a handkerchief. I came up and embraced her. GPU chief sat beside me in the cart, the horse started, somebody cried:”Don’t forget us, dear friend!” My pupils saw me off up to the forest. I parted for ever with Suerskoye, with good simple people, with dear Varya. I was worried. GPU chief said: “The peasants loved you”. We stopped near Tumen GPU office. GPU chief handed me over with the accompanying package to the man on duty. Other released from exile already gathered here. The chief of Tumen GPU office came and said that we are free and have to come in the morning to receive certificates and railway tickets. I invited everybody to the land-lady I had stayed with when I had come to Tumen to the dentist. Here all my presents proved useful. The land-lady put a big samovar on the table. Everybody was agitated, planning their future. I was surprised with their optimism; there were few pessimists, and I was one of them. In the morning we were handed certificates and railway tickets. It was written in my certificate: “Comrade Grigorov Grigory Isayevich born in1900 is released from exile and directed to his dwelling place Leningrad.” I took the Novosibirsk-Moscow train.