Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: The Power of One
By Mike Bates
Aug 7, 2008
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, who passed away this week, meticulously documented Communist oppression in his books. The subject was one with which he was all too familiar. In the final days of World War II, he wrote critically of Soviet dictator Josef Stalin in a letter to a friend. Describing the mass murderer as “the man with the mustache,” he received an eight-year prison sentence for the impertinence.
Such was life in the Soviet Union. Secret police, neighborhood spies, knocks on the door in the middle of the night, false charges, clandestine tribunals, show trials, and long-term incarceration in an extensive prison and work camp structure named by Solzhenitsyn the Gulag Archipelago were all too real. The author estimated that 60 million people were swallowed up in the system.
Nathan Benedict writes:
My favorite Solzhenitsyn quote:
"And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand? After all, you knew ahead of time that those bluecaps were out at night for no good purpose. And you could be sure ahead of time that you'd be cracking the skull of a cutthroat. Or what about the Black Maria sitting out there on the street with one lonely chauffeur -- what if it had been driven off or its tires spiked. The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin's thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt!"
Posted August 3, 2008 11:17 PM