martes, agosto 05, 2008


Solzhenitsyn: My Murdered Grandfather’s Voice
With the loss of Russia's greatest dissident, the nation has lost its conscience too.
By Owen Matthews Newsweek Web Exclusive
Aug 5, 2008 Updated: 10:38 a.m. ET Aug 5, 2008
The truth that Alexander Solzhenitsyn told helped to make Russia free. Mikhail Gorbachev, the last Soviet leader, acknowledged a day after Solzhenitsyn's death at age 89 that the Nobel Prize-winning author and dissident had "helped people see the real nature of the regime"—and that his writings had helped to "make our country free and democratic." At a time when the Soviet system seemed impenetrable and frozen in place forever, Solzhenitsyn brought the terrible reality of the Gulag home not just to foreigners but to ordinary Russians too; in the bright, sanitized world of Soviet propaganda, Solzhenitsyn's writing held a mirror to the Soviet Union's darkest secrets. The State had tried to airbrush the Gulags, the Purges and the famines made by Stalin out of history. Solzhenitsyn spoke for the millions whose voices Stalin had silenced.
One of them was my grandfather, Boris Lvovich Bibikov, my mother's father. An enthusiastic Bolshevik, Bibikov had received the Order of Lenin for his part in building the Kharkov Tractor Factory, one of the giant projects of Stalin's industrialization drive of the early 1930s. But in the great Purge of 1937, which Stalin launched against his opponents in the Party, real and imagined, Bibikov found himself accused of crimes against the revolution. He was tried by a secret court on evidence obtained under torture and sentenced to death. The usual method was 'nine grams'—the weight of a pistol bullet—to the back of the head. His wife, my grandmother, was sent to the Gulag for fifteen years as the wife of an "enemy of the people" and his two daughters, my mother and aunt, were dispatched to an orphanage for re-education.
Some years ago I was given permission to read my grandfather's secret police file. It contained about three pounds of paper, the sheets carefully numbered and bound, with my grandfather's name entered on the crumbling brown cover in curiously elaborate, copperplate script. The file sat heavily in my lap, eerily malignant, a swollen tumor of paper, and since the careful bureaucrats who compiled the file neglected to say where he was buried, this stack of paper is the closest thing to Boris Bibikov's earthly remains. For the days that I sat in the former KGB headquarters in Kiev examining the file, Alexander Ponamaryev, a young officer of the Ukrainian Security Service sat with me, reading out passages of barely legible cursive script and explaining legal terms. "Your grandfather believed," said Ponamarev. "But do you not think that his accusers believed also? Or the men who shot him?"

Solzhenitsyn once posed the same, terrible question. "If my life had turned out differently, might I myself not have become just such an executioner?" he wrote in The Gulag Archipelago, his epic "literary investigation" of Stalin's terror. "If only it was so simple! If only there were evil people somewhere insidiously committing evil deeds, and it were necessary only to separate them from the rest of us and destroy them. But the line dividing good from evil cuts through the heart of every human being. And who is willing to destroy a piece of their own heart?"
All his life Solzhenitsyn was moved by a powerful, almost mystical, moral sense. He felt compelled to speak out against what he felt was wrong, regardless of the consequences—which in his case were eight years in the Gulag, decades of harassment and denunciation by the Soviet authorities and the craven "intellectuals" who served the regime, and finally twenty years of exile from the country which he loved with a passion.
His first crime against the system was to criticize Stalin in a private letter to a friend in 1945. When the military censor reported the letter to the secret police, Solzhenitsyn, then a young artillery captain twice decorated for valor, was given a perfunctory trial and sent to Stalin's nightmarish Gulags. Like 18 million of his fellow countrymen, he found himself plunged into a parallel world of unimaginable brutality, where prisoners slaved in the Siberian cold on madly futile projects like canals that no one needed and train lines to nowhere. Solzhenitsyn called it the Gulag Archipelago—like islands in a sea of frozen steppe, the Gulags were a state within the state. After his release he penned a short story which described, in simple but devastatingly telling detail, one day in the life of a Gulag inmate named Ivan Denisovich. When it was published in Moscow in 1962 during a brief post-Stalin thaw, Ivan Denisovich caused a sensation.
Babies R Us Coupon
Babies R Us Coupon