Krasnoyarsk Siberia Winter 2012

The trees in Siberia are miles apart, that is why the dogs are so fast. About The Gulag Archipelago: Socrates taught us: "Know thyself." Confronted by the pit into which we are about to toss those who have done us harm, we halt, stricken dumb: it is after all only because of the way things worked out that they were the executioners and we weren't. From good to evil is one quaver, says the proverb. And correspondingly, from evil to good. We forget everything. What we remember is not what actually happened, not history, but merely that hackneyed dotted line they have chosen to drive into our memories by incessant hammering. The Universe has as many different centers as there are living beings in it. Each of us is the center of the Universe, and that Universe is shattered when they hiss at you, "You are under arrest."

Dimitri Turin
Oh, Western freedom-loving "left-wing" thinkers! Oh, left-wing labourists! Oh, American, German and French progressive students! All of this is still not enough for you. The whole book has been useless for you. You will understand everything immediately, when you yourself — "hands behind the back" — toddle into our Archipelago.

And all those changes in the newspaper headlines with regards to Nazis — once the meetings of our friendly sentries in this shabby Poland, and waves of sympathy for those brave soldiers, who fight against the Anglo-French bankers, and Hitler's uncut speeches over whole pages of Pravda; and then suddenly one morning the explosion of headlines, claiming the whole Europe is moaning heart-breakingly under their heel.

Lev Tolstoi was right when he dreamed of being put in prison. At certain moment the giant began to dry up. He actually needed prison as a drought needs a shower of rain... And I say without hesitation: "Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!"...
In prison, both in solitary confinement and outside solitary too, a human being confronts his grief face to face. This grief is a mountain, but he has to find space inside himself for it, to familiarize himself with it, to digest it, and it him. This is the highest form of moral effort, which has always ennobled every human being. A duel with years and with walls constitutes moral work and a path upward (if you can climb it).

Know thyself!" There is nothing that so aids and assists the awakening of omniscience within us as insistent thoughts about one’s own transgressions, errors, mistakes. After the difficult cycles of such ponderings over many years, whenever I mentioned the heartlessness of our highest-ranking bureaucrats, the cruelty of our executioners, I remember myself in my captain’s shoulders boards and the forward march of my battery through East Prussia, enshrouded in fire, and I say: "So were we any better?"
And that is why I turn back to the years of my imprisonment and say, sometimes to the astonishment of those about me: "Bless you, prison!"...

Prison causes the profound rebirth of a human being... profound pondering over his own ‘I’... Here all the trivia and fuss have decreased. I have experienced a turning point. Here you harken to that voice deep inside you, which amid the surfeit and vanity used to be stifled by the roar from outside... Your soul, which formerly was dry, now ripens from suffering...
Remember everything you did that was bad and shameful and take thought —can you possible correct it now? Yes, you have been imprisoned for nothing.
And the only solution to this would be that the meaning of earthly existence lies not, as we have grown used to thinking, in prospering, but in the development of the soul...
In the surfeit of power I was a murderer, and an oppressor. I was convinced that I was doing good. And it was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good...

And on July 7, 1941, four days after Stalin's panic speech, as German tanks were nearing Leningrad, Smolensk and Kiev, another decree by the Presidium of the Supreme Soviet was issued. [...] The problem was that the Prosecutor of the USSR (Vyshinksky?) had complained the Supreme Soviet [...] that the courts were misusing the decree of 1935: children are judged only in case they have committed the crime deliberately.
But this is really unjustified mildness! And the Presidium clarifies in the course of war flames: such an interpretation is not in accordance with the text of the law, it adds restrictions not determined by the law!... And in concord with the prosecutor, the Supreme Court is being clarified: the children must be judged by using all the penal rates (i.e with full severity) even if the crime is not committed deliberately but out of carelessness.
That's something indeed! Maybe no one else during the world history has reached so close to the final solution of the children's question. From the twelfth year on, out of carelessness — and up to the sentence to death!
The paragraph 58 had no minimum of age! So was it even told at the lectures on law held for the people — Tallinn, 1945. Dr Uusmaa had known a six year old boy, who was in the colony on the ground of paragraph 58 — this is obviously a record!
In March, 1972 Britain was shocked when a 14 year old English boy was sentenced to 6 years of prison in Turkey for having done business with large quantities of drugs […]. But where were the eyes and hearts of your left wing leaders and lawyers, when you read about Stalin's laws on juveniles?
In the district centre of Chingirlau, Kustanai oblast, a hungry 14 year old girl picked up a narrow line of grain fallen into the dust from a truck. She was penalized only 3 years with the extenuating circumstances of not having plundered the socialist property directly from field or cornloft.
When after the war a foreman of Inta lumber plant was buried in coffin, the culture and re-education department received instructions to agitate: Work fine and you shall be buried in coffin as well!

“This it is that we always pay dearly for chasing after what is cheap.”

“War is peace.
Freedom is slavery.
Ignorance is strength.”
― George Orwell, 1984