Memoir of a Gulag Actress
Publication Year: 2010
Published by: Northern Illinois University Press
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More than a half century since the death of Joseph Stalin in 1953 and nearly two decades since the collapse of the Soviet Union itself, the memoirs of onetime political prisoners—the survivors of the Gulag—still have the power to shock us. Memoir of a Gulag Actress is no exception. ...
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The Revolution, the Civil War, everything that shook our society’s foundations, tearing apart people’s deepest convictions—all this happened during the time of my parents’ youth. ...
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From the day of Father’s arrest I became known as a “Daughter of an Enemy of the People.” It was the first political label fastened to me by Time. At school the teachers no longer called on me to speak but, instead, always seemed to find some pretext or other for me to sit in the back row. ...
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I was going to Central Asia, to a strange land and a strange town, to a family and above all to a man whom I scarcely knew. I tried to imagine what Erik and Barbara Ionovna would look like now, not as I’d seen them three years before at the Information Bureau of the Bolshoy Dom. ...
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He walked out to the kitchen, quietly closing the door behind him. Drowsily I heard his soft steps, the tinkle of the metal wand against the sides of the half-empty water tank, the creak of the sideboard door. The sounds were muffled. I snuggled into the thought: “He loves me, he takes care of me.” ...
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In the morning rations were handed out: five hundred grams of bread and two spoiled herring each. The sun was already shining in the prison yard, but still we had not been lined up. ...
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No sooner had we been divided into groups and started boarding the train cars than our stamina and resourcefulness were put to the test. Within seconds the car occupants arranged themselves into a visible hierarchy. The top bunk by the little barred window was taken by Natasha Shatalova, a tall, black-eyed Armenian. ...
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Central Camp was a separate unit of camps. Its chief commandant had the same power as the commandant of an entire division, which was comprised of not one but a number of different zones. Central Camp was the administrative base of the division, which explained its special status. ...
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The camp was six kilometers from the railroad. The fields and meadows gathered the warmth and tint of the dim sunlight, but the taiga forest allowed no sun into its thicket, letting the light touch only the top of the canopy. The birds were chirping. I tried to take as many gulps of freedom as I could before we arrived at the camp. ...
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People who had built the camps in the impassable taiga—not just for themselves but also for those who would come to replace them—were preparing to be released. Those who survived imagined freedom as a chance to return to their interrupted former lives. They were busy writing letters to friends and relatives, ...
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The end of 1947 was marked by a slight weakening of the regime. Despite the particulars of some of the gifted prisoners’ sentences, TEC had less trouble drawing them into the collective, and the directors had more luck petitioning on behalf of professional actors who were arriving on transports. ...
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I walked about a hundred meters from the zone toward the settlement, put my suitcase onto the frozen ground and sat down on it in bewilderment. I waited for joy to rush forth, but I felt none. Inside the camp I had just left behind Kolya, Aleksandr Osipovich, my friends, seven years of life. ...
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At the railway clinic in Mikun, where Hella and I worked, half of the employees were recent graduates of Leningrad medical institutes. The train from Leningrad to the Komi Republic took a little more than a day, and the young doctors would willingly come to work here on assignment, which made them eligible for housing warrants back in Leningrad. ...
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All those years, I was frantically searching for my son, sending countless inquiries to the information bureaus of large cities and small towns. Piles of replies came back saying nothing except “Not registered” or “Does not reside here.” My friends would get in touch with their own acquaintances from the North and ask them if anyone had heard about Bakharev, ...
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I don’t know what tormented Barbara Ionovna the most, but her supplication—“ I want to see you! Have mercy on me: don’t let me die without asking you for forgiveness!”—could not leave me indifferent. The past would not be put to rest easily. ...
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Page Count: 506
Illustrations: 29 halftones
Publication Year: 2010