An Anthology of Selected Samizdat Texts on Social Issues,
compiled by V. N. Chalidze, Issue No. 1
Judging by the first issue, this anthology deals with problems from a theoretical standpoint. The texts have been chosen “taking into account the topicality of the subject-matter, the qualifications of the author and the constructiveness of the text”. The anthology has a section called “Documents”, for the publication of historical and legal documents, and another section “Discussion”, which includes reviews, comments and criticism of works published in samizdat.
The contents of the first issue are as follows: A. Volpin: “To all thinking people”; B. Tsukerman: “Letter to a BBC editor”, “Letter to the editor of Izvestiya“; V. Chalidze: “On the optional clause”, “The optional clause to the International Pact on Civil and Political Rights“; A. Tverdokhlebov: “In support of Sakharov’s letter”; V. Chalidze: “Reflections on progress”.
Material from the trial, and part of the preliminary investigation, of the case of the ten Crimean Tatars. The Chronicle gave a brief report of the trial in the previous issue [CCE 9.2]. Among the materials from the preliminary investigation, the most interesting is a whole series of denunciatory reports from official bodies and public organisations to which the Crimean Tatars had sent material about the tragedy of their people.
Instead of replying to the letters from the Crimean Tatars, the heads and other representatives of these organisations passed the letters on to the KGB. Denunciations of the Crimean Tatars were written by Tikhonov, a rear-admiral of the Baltic Fleet, K. Voronkov, a secretary of the Board of USSR Writers’ Union, A. Mukhtar and R. Faizi, deputy Chairmen of the Uzbek Writers’ Union, and Sh. Sagdulla, a literary consultant and secretary of the Uzbek Writers’ Union Party Organisation. The director of the Crimean Regional Museum, L. Zhuk, wrote a report about the comments written by Crimean Tatars in the Museum Visitors’ Book. In their comments they had said that the part played by the Crimean-Tatars in the Great Patriotic War and in the struggle for Soviet Power in the Crimea was not reflected in the Museum’s exhibits; on the stand labelled “Heroes of the Soviet Union from our Crimean Homeland” there were no photographs of the Crimean Tatars who have been honoured with this high rank. The pages with their comments were torn out of the Visitors’ Book and added to the case-file.
The investigation into the case of the ten Crimean Tatars was conducted by the Uzbek Republican Procuracy and headed by senior Procuracy investigator B. I. Berezovsky. It became known that apart from him, the team of investigators included one other Procuracy investigator, B.N. Vorobyov, and eight KGB investigators: B.N. Bobylyov, M. Nabiyev, V.N. Lysenko, K.M. Abushayev, D.S. Mustafayev, S.R. Mukanov, Ya. Shafeyev, and V.Ya. Manshetov.
In some of the Crimean Tatar documents which figured at the trial, the deportation of the Crimean Tatars from the Crimean in 1944 was described as genocide, the destruction of a nation. During the investigation, and at the trial, these assertions were contrasted with official KGB reports, according to which: “of the people from the Crimea who were living under the ‘special settlement’ regime 13,592 died between May 1944 and January 1945, that is, 9.1%”, and “for the period from 1 January 1945 to 1 January 1946, 13,183 people died, of which 2,562 were men, 4,525 women, and 6,096 children under 16.” These figures are certainly an under-estimate: the people’s statistics put the numbers who perished at 46% of the total. Moreover, they do not take into account all those who died during the journey.
Nevertheless, as one of the defendants at the trial Rollan Kadiyev stated, even these figures are evidence of a terrible crime, and confirm the allegation of genocide. One of the basic accusations brought against the fascists at the Nuremberg trial, he said, was the great number of people who fell victims of the war – in four years the Soviet Union lost 20 million people, that is, about 2.5% of the population each year, while according even to the KGB statistics, approximately 10% of the Crimean Tatar nation perished in the reservations of Uzbekistan in 1946 alone.
Yuly Daniel, “And at that time…”
A narrative poem written in 1968 and devoted to the times of the mass repressions and to the older generation of camp-prisoners.
Oles Gonchar, The Cathedral
This novel by the Lenin Prize-winner, which came out in Ukrainian in journals and in a separate edition and was sharply criticized by officialdom [CCE 7.12, items 1-11], has appeared in samizdat translated into Russian by Roman Rozental.
Leszek Kolakowski: “I’ll tell you what socialism is …”
This is an essay written in 1957, for the journal Po Prostu, by a thirty-year-old philosophy professor at Warsaw University. The journal was closed down, and the essay was not published in Poland. The Russian text of the essay which has come out in samizdat is a translation from the Czech translation by F. Jungwirt and I. Korzan in the journal Sesity pro Mladou Literaturu (No. 20, April 1968).
Kolakowski lists 72 definitions of what socialism is NOT. Here are a few examples: A society in which a man is in for a bad time if he speaks his mind, and will prosper if he does not speak his mind; a society in which the man who has the best life is he who never has a mind of his own; a State in which there are more informers than nurses, and more people in the prisons than in the hospitals; a State which turns out superlative jet-planes and repulsive footwear; a State in which the defence and the prosecution generally hold identical opinions; a State which awards prizes to insincere writers, and understands more about painting than the artists themselves; a State which knows what its people want even before they have asked the State for it; a State in which philosophers and writers say the same things as generals and ministers, but always after them; a State which doesn’t like its citizens to read old newspapers.
The essay ends with the following words: “That was the first part. And now – your attention please! — I’ll tell you what socialism is. Socialism: well, you know, it’s a good thing!”
Valery Chalidze, “Letter to the First Secretary of the Central Committee
of the Czechoslovak Communist Party, G. Husak”
The author of the letter says that for the last one and a half years Czechoslovakia has been the scene of a struggle of idealsm which have aroused his sympathy, against tendencies which are now represented by G. Husak. “The outcome of this struggle is clear. Evidently, using a wide spectrum of political methods, and a theory of the evolution of the awareness of Czechoslovak society which I understand only imperfectly, you are gradually consolidating your victory and that of your political line.”
Judging by the tone of the press and by historical experience, V. Chalidze comes to the conclusion that the personalities who are linked with the events of early 1968 may be subjected not only to Party repression but to judicial repressions too. He shows that there are usually no difficulties involved in carrying out such measures “in complete accordance with the notions of judicial procedure as understood in that country and the instigators of the measures have only to decide to what extent they should take into account the phenomenon generally known as world public opinion. The twentieth century has given us plenty of examples where this moral force has been disregarded …”
The author expresses a certain amount of hope that the present Czechoslovak leadership will prefer to create a precedent of tolerance, and sounds a warning that if there are repressions, the reaction of “every person of humanist inclinations in any country … will be moral condemnation of the instigators of these repressions, to a degree comparable with the condemnation of the instigators of the best known political tragedies of our century.”
Frantisek Kriegel, “Speech at the Plenum of the Central Committee
of the Czechoslovak Communist Party” (30 May 1969)
Kriegel is the former Chairman of the Czechoslovak National Front, and the only member of the Czechoslovak delegation who refused to sign the Moscow agreement in August 1968, after which he was removed, from his post at the demand of the Soviet government. As a deputy of the National Assembly, he voted against “the treaty on the temporary stationing of troops in Czechoslovakia”. This fact was discussed at the plenum as a disciplinary offence, for which it was proposed to expel Kriegel from the Central Committee.
Kriegel declared that the treaty conflicted with the United Nations Charter, the principles of international coexistence, and the Statutes of the Warsaw Pact. It had been signed in an atmosphere of political and military pressure, not with the pen but with cannons and machine-guns, without consulting the constitutional organs, and against the will of the Czechs and the Slovaks. Kriegel described the policy of the new Party leadership as completely alien to the January 1968 programme, despite all the assurances of faithfulness to the post-January policies. The Party organs were being restructured, and the apparatus was being drastically purged. The Party was becoming isolated from the people, and its leadership isolated from the mass of Party members. The Party was being transformed from a guiding moral and political force into an organisation which wielded only force.
After this speech, Kriegel was expelled not only from the Central Committee but from the Party itself.
On the Signing of the Soviet-German Non-aggression Pact
in August 1939
This collection consists of six documents published in Part 7 of “Documents of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs”, including the correspondence between Hitler and Stalin of 20-21 August 1939, Hitler’s speech at a military conference in Berlin on 22 August, a short record of the conversation between Hitler and Ribbentrop after the signing of the Soviet-German Pact, compiled by a member of the German delegation, a secret supplementary report of 23 August (printed here in shortened form – the complete text also exists in samizdat), a report from an official of the German Ministry of Foreign Affairs dated 1 September 1939, and a secret telegram sent to Stalin on the same day.
A seventh document in the collection is taken from the journal Party Construction (No. 20, October 1939). It is an extract from Molotov’s speech at the session of the Supreme Soviet on 31 October 1939. All the documents clearly show that the Soviet-German Pact was frankly aimed against Poland, which only a week after the signing of the Pact became the victim of a new world war, and also against the western democracies.
“On the Trial of Kvachevsky”
(based on L. P. Nestor’s transcript)
This is a transcript of the seven-day trial of Yu. Gendler, L. Kvachevsky and A. Studenkov [CCE 5.2], which took place in Leningrad in December 1968. It includes the interrogation of the witnesses and the accused, the Procurator’s speech, the speeches of the defence, the final pleas of the defendants, and the sentence. Violations of legality are indicated, and the background of the trial is described. There is a short transcript of the appeal hearing.
Klaismer, U.I, Borukhovich, V. I., and Shlein, B.L.:
“A letter to Podgorny”
This letter raises the question of the free emigration of Jews to Israel from the USSR, to join their families and their people. The authors tell of their correspondence with a series of officials and organisations after they had applied on 30 December 1968 to leave for Israel. Their request for permission to emigrate was motivated by the desire to join their relatives, and also by the impossibility of receiving a Jewish upbringing and education in the USSR. At the end of the letter there is a reference to a speech made by A.N. Kosygin in Paris, in which he guaranteed free exit for Jews, and another reference to the Convention on the liquidation of all forms of racial and national discrimination.
Programme of the Democrats of Russia,
Ukraine and the Baltic States
This document gives a comprehensive analysis [CCE 14.12, item 9] of the world revolutionary movement, the world national liberation movement, and the ideological state of the world. The positive programme set out in this document is extremely interesting.
This is a letter sent from the city of Ufa [capital of the Bashkir ASSR, Volga District] to a Central Committee official of the Soviet Communist Party, dated 5 June 1968 and signed “Your friend”. The author, a representative of the Ukrainian national minority, as he calls himself. is disturbed by the growth of nationalism in various union and autonomous republics. Taking Bashkiria [Bashkortostan] as an example, the author tells of the difficulties that normal high-level officials of Russian descent face in their everyday lives, and sees the root of this evil in the over-great number of officials of local nationality who occupy high positions.
“What is to become now of the great Russian people, the people which raised up the Tatars, the Bashkirs and all the other peoples out of the darkness, out of slavery, lawlessness and such things? … this phenomenon (nationalism) will accelerate in the future unless measures are taken immediately on a country wide scale. The author is worried and demands immediate preventive measures: “there was no nationalism of this sort in Ufa before the war”.
This is an answer to the letter “Dear Friend”. The author, under the pseudonym “Maloross” [little Russian, i.e. a Ukrainian], analyses the nature of nationality conflicts (“general strife”, “enmity between different peoples”), and sees their cause in the bureaucratic “Russification” effected by many representatives of national minorities (Ordzhonikidze, Djughashvili, Dzerzhinsky, Zinoviev) and in “the all-Russian chauvinism of the Party”.
The author sounds a warning: until the “Russian empire is transformed into the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics – and each of these words must become a fact — the strife will increase”; “the many-headed monster of nationalism” is only beginning to react to all the good works of the Moscow government.
Crime, and Punishment, No. 5: Academicians of Crime
This issue contains the letter to N. S. Khrushchev of the Marxist philosopher P. I. Shabalkin, who died in 1964 after spending twenty years in prison. “The culprits specifically and directly responsible for all my misfortunes,” wrote Shabalkin, “are Mitin, M. B., and Yudin, P. F., now members of the Academy, Professor F.B. Konstantinov, also now an Academician, and V. Bersenev.”
Details are reported of discussions held in the Institute of Red Professors in 1931-1932, and of articles denouncing the above-named persons in the journal Under the Banner of Marxism. All the above-mentioned philosophers, apart from Yudin, who died recently, are successfully continuing their “academic” activities.
Crime and Punishment, No. 7
This issue gives a detailed account of the criminal activities of L. M. Kaganovich during the Stalinist period, with references to various documents and facts. There are the facts about Kaganovich’s slanderous campaign against Bukharin, about Kaganovich’s activities while he held leading posts, and about his purging and annihilation of the best officials in the Soviet hierarchy.
The issue reports that Kaganovich is receiving a large pension, has an excellent flat and a country-house, and enjoys medical treatment in a special polyclinic.
“On the Repression of 160 Soviet Children in 1938”
This material is reprinted from the newspaper Sovetskaya Sibir [Soviet Siberia] for 17 and 21-24 February 1939. It covers the progress of the open sessions of the Military Tribunal at which four high-ranking officials of the NKVD [secret police] and the Procuracy in Leninsk-Kuznetsky [in south-central Siberia] were convicted.
The accused had arrested schoolchildren in the town, including infants, and charged them with committing the gravest counter-revolutionary crimes. The accused were given sentences of five to ten years “without loss of their electoral rights”.
Claude Erial, “Anti-Semitism in Poland”
In this article, contemporary Polish anti-Semitism is analysed in detail, together with its significance — in the author’s opinion, a dominant one — in the struggle for power during the political crisis of 1967-1968.
Vladimir Lapin, To My Readers. Anthology 1969
Yu. Vishnevskaya, Poems: An Anthology, 1969
Ilya Gabai, Selected Poems
Crimean Tatar Poems in Translation