book report: vol. 2 Gulag Archipelago- The enablers
The rise of communist Russia did not alarm the entire world. And the world could not believe atrocities would be committed by communists whose entire belief system depends on the assumption that men are ultimately good and not evil, that civilization is innate and not a thin veneer. Hence when contrary stories emerged, they were roundly condemned. One such escapee story by a prisoner who spoke English and snuck out on a British freighter.
Evidently An Island Hell by S. A. Malsgoff.The USSR also welcomed foreign dignitaries to view their incarceration methods. Of course, the dignitaries only saw what they wanted to see of what the Soviets prepared for them to see. Any prisoner who was on display, if questioned, had to answer in front of his incarcerators, the ones who could do with his life whatever they wanted.
This book astounded Europe (and no doubt they accused its fugitive auther of exaggerating, for, after all, the friends of the New Society could not permit themselves to believe this slacerous volume) because it contradicted what was already well known; the newspaper Rote Fahne had described Solovki as a paradise. (And we hope that the paper's correspondent spent time in the Archipelago later on.) And it also contradicted those albums about Solovki disseminated by Soviet diplomatic missions in Europe; fine-quality paper and true-to-lie photographs of the cozy monks' cells. (p. 60)
Oh, "what an intelligent, farsighted humane administration from top to bottom," as Supreme Court Judge Leibowitz of New York State wrote in Life magazine, after having visited Gulag. "In serving out his term of punishment the prisoner retains a feeling of dignity." That is what he comprehended and saw.As the prophet Jeremiah says, the heart is desperately wicked, who can know it?
Oh, fortunate New York State, to have such a perspicacious jackass for a judge!
And oh, you well-fed, devil-may-care, nearsighted, irresponsible foreigners with your notebooks and your ball-point pens - beginning with those correspondents who back in Kem asked the zeks questions in the presence of the camp chiefs - how much you have harmed us in your vain passion to shine with understanding in areas wher you did not grasp a lousy thing!
Human dignity! Of persons condemned without trial?... (p.147)