Posts tagged Hitler

“One death is a tragedy…”

I believe it was Stalin (or was it Hitler) who is quoted as saying: “One death is a tragedy, a thousand deaths are merely a statistic.”  One can get hardened after being around so much death, I suppose Duranty had reached that point.  As I’ve posted earlier while focusing on Walter Duranty’s book “I Write as I Please” the past week, I’ve been reading John Noble’s book “I was a slave in Russia.”

This American survivor, who was trapped in Dresden at the end of WWII, saw MUCH death during his enslavement.  Naturally he tried to make sense of it and I thought I wouldn’t take any notes from this book because it is so dire but I am anyway.

p. 30 “I knew little about theoretical Marxism at that time, but in this attitude toward death I sensed the gulf that separated these MVD officers from the Christian civilization that man is an animal, no more.  To kill a man is no more significant than to kill a highly trained horse or a cow.  If the beast becomes unmanageable, it is killed.  If the man-beast becomes unmanageable, he is killed.”

p. 31 “In that joking [Red Army and Soviet guards about their political prisoners at Dresden] was summed up a startling different between these guards and the Nazi death squads about which those prisoners who had known both sometimes spoke.  The Nazis, they said, killed viciously, because they were convinced that the people being killed were actually their enemies.  The Russians killed because, almost literally, a number had been drawn from a hat, because some meaningless document in some meaningless proceedings had said to snuff out the candle. No ferocity attended the executions.  The reasons for the killings were as remote and irrelevant to the Russian guards as was the concept of death itself.  Their joking, then, was not forced.  When they patted a prisoner’s shoulder, the action came easily.  Life had to end for certain integers in the sate table of statistics. That’s all, comrade.  Nothing personal, comrade.”

Why do I bring up these quotes?  Because I believe as an educator here in Astana, we need to teach the Kazakh children to know logical fallacies from truth.  There also needs to be a rule of law and respecting of those laws in order for a civil society to flourish in our places of academia, especially here in Astana.  Students need to know that human life is important and that they are not part of the cogwheel that might be spinning uncontrollably at times. They need to be valued as individuals and not made to be a part of a conformist mold.

However, this group of people in Kazakhstan and also in Ukraine have gone through much brutality, which is what Duranty wrote about.  There was a manual written by an ardent communist about how to terrorize people and those under him followed it to the letter of the law.  The following what John Noble wrote is exactly what had been going on in Kazakhstan back in the 1920s and 1930s.  There is a reason why the Ukrainians call their dark period of “Holodomor” as Terror Famine in 1932-33.

“The very system of Communist arrests inevitably led to a system of torture that was as much mental as physical. Arrests were made to terrorize the citizens, in sweeping, indiscriminate raids.  Men were arrested as they walked the streets, as they dined or sat in the homes of friends.  They were arrested anywhere, anytime, without explanation.  Everyone in the city was kept poised on the edge of terror.  There was a plan to it all, and it was remarkably effective even beyond its terrorizing results.  When a load of prisoners newly yanked from home and street were thrown into cells, the first topic of speculation naturally was, “Why was I arrested?”

Tomorrow I will show much happier photos of Kazakh babies and students and my new office.  Things are actually looking UP for me!!!

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“I Write as I Please” 1935 book (Part VII)

The philosophical question was posed by Walter Duranty of “Does the end justify the means?”  What were the “means” used?  That is why I am glad I read what Duranty wrote in this book published in 1935 despite the six or so pages missed by the scanner.  I am on a quest to find out what might have been purposely left off for the Web readers to know. Anyone can download this book by the above title, all 347 pages of it.

So, W.D. answers that perplexing question with the Soviet Goal being for the “betterment of humanity there can be no loftier aspiration.”  Yet earlier he wrote about the human cost.  My husband, ever the economist, claims the price of the Soviets replenishing not only the human capital wasted but also the livestock killed off took a staggering amount of time into many decades to return to what it used to be when it was just individual peasants in the vast land of the former Soviet republics.

WD wrote a poem in ee cummings style to writing a piece he didn’t believe in 1917 about the war, but he got good marks for it from his editors “I plead guilty to adding a little color on occasion.” [if that is not an admission to lying, as Malcolm Muggeridge claimed Duranty did, I don’t know what is]

p. 310 – American objection to communism, it is not only foreign but coercive and therefore repugnant to our love of personal independence

p. 310 Bridge from “rugged individualism” to “capitalist collectives” without involving coercive or violence or any of the sufferings which during past five years have attended the birth pangs of Soviet socialization. [these were not “birth pangs” as if a hopeful child was born but the death throes of civilization!!!]

p. 314 – W.D. asks the question “Why did Russian people endure such hardship without revolt?”

1) ruling forces had no choice Lenin’s famous speech of “Kto Kavo” (who beats whom?) according to him, no compromise was possible

2) poor peasants had more to give than those who were not as poor

3) propaganda – emotional “sturm and drang” of Great War of West

Sabotage trials – Kulak hate, Japan threat, rise of Hitler, machivation of foreign capitalists

Lenin solved puzzle – communist party + 100,000 tractors and modern farm machiner = rural socialism

Soviet War fought on two fronts – industrial and agrarian

Turning point of industrial victory came in the beginning 1932

Initial success in Moscow, Leningrad [used to be called St. Petersburg] and Kharkov [city in Ukraine]

Bob Lamont – son of Secy of Commerce in 1932, made a trip to stock raising  station, NE Caucaus, conditions not so bad, hearkens back to 1921 Famine or whitewash stories sort of modern Potemkin village.

Kalmikov – president of autonomous republic of Kabarda – heart of cattle country

p. 317 – Bob Lamont said when livestock dies wholesale “You can’t treat your pigs the way you treat your peasants. Pigs won’t stand for it, can’t coerce them with exile.”

WD had not been back in NY since 1926 much better conditions than Soviet press led to believe.

W.D. had admired Hoover because of his help in A.R.A. up to this point but then he did not agree with Hoover when he said that Russia was an “economic vacuum”

W.D. also didn’t like when Ogden Mills – Secy. Of Tres. told him that the US will never stand for diplomat relations with a government of atheists and unbelievers

July of 1932 W.D. was invited to Albany, NY by Gov. Roosevelt – W.D. found him broadminded – profound knowledge of Soviet affairs [that’s probably because he read whatever Duranty wrote in the New York Times]

p. 323 – Kaganovich – Political Tractor – Finish five year plan in four years

W.D. in April 1933 – flew through Ukraine on way to Constantinople – Solution to agrarian problem

WD asked about mortality rates in Ukraine when he stopped through

p. 324 – nobody knew – new people had come to Ukraine in place, so 9/10s were really new and didn’t know how many Ukrainians had really died during the starvation period of 1932-33

Roosevelt recognized USSR in 1933.

p. 325 one of sorrows of life of a conscientious reporter is that sensational stories are always the most interesting but the drab ones often the most true. [not sure what W.D. meant by that]

WD accompanied Litnivov to D.C. who claimed it would take a ½ hour to work things out with the two countries in talks, it took 10 days

18 month stagnation of being after agreement

July 1935 Litvinov and Am. Ambassador Wm. C. Bullitt

p. 328 in Britain – the British Fear God and human thinking while the U.S. – Americans Honor the President as People’s Choice

p. 329 – possession of wealth is regarded as a shame, the attempt to use wealth for personal gain or advantage is juridically a crime

What I don’t understand about Walter Duranty is that he criticized rugged individualism while he was trying to make his mark in the world by reporting what he thought on the “Soviet experiment.” This book titled “I Write as I Please” essentially would make him money or at least personal gain.  I’d be curious to know how much money he DID make and how he lived into his final years.  I understand that he died in the 1950s in Florida.  Any historians are welcome to help me out on this, I’m loathe to go to Wikipedia to find out what might be a slant on this man in his favor.

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“Great Followers Make the Best Leaders” – Yes, that’s right!

Today I’ll continue with some more education quotes in what I started in yesterday’s blog.  I agree with “Great Followers Make the Best Leaders.” Why is that true, I may continue blogging tomorrow on that theme. For now, I keep grappling with the erroneous phrase that I read which smacks of  Soviet mentality: “Great Leaders Create Great Followers.” I know this must be Soviet thinking because it was written by a 49 year old Kazakh female teacher from Ust-Kamenogorsk, Kazakhstan who was trained in communist thinking.  You may have a “great” leader who creates many followers but if they are blindly following him, as they did with Hitler and Stalin, the masses will eventually suffer.

However, a truly great leader effectively grooms the next leader  to take his place.  In some sense according to the following Kazakh saying, mothers are the great leaders of any nation: “The country is ruled by mothers sitting beside cradles.” Servant leadership in doing the menial tasks, the giving up of one self to help those who will come after you.

That’s what a great teacher does, like a self-sacrificing mother, according to this quote: “A good teacher is like a candle, it consumes itself to light the way for others.” However, what I found in one of the applications I read is more Soviet thinking in the teacher-centered approach with this quote: “The teacher who knows less, can’t give much.” A good spin on that last quote is a saying attributed to John Cotton Dana (1856-1929) “Who dares to teach must never cease to learn.”

I found several good quotes by John F. Kennedy who is known to have said: “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education.  The human mind is our fundamental resource.” I think the president of this country of Kazakhstan said something similar with this quote I pulled out from an app: “Education is a crucial device to develop human capital.  That is why our primary challenge is to put in place an efficient educational system able to meet the economic needs.”

Another quote by JFK was the following: “A child miseducated is a child lost.” Or in other words not as eloquent: “A mind is a terrible thing to waste.” Finally, Civil War General Robert E. Lee had this to say: “The education of a man is never completed until he dies.”

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Animal Farm Literacy: Achievement and Pretense

When I lived and taught English in communist Red China in the late 1980s I had heard of the ironic motto “We pretend to work and they pretend to pay us.” This facetious slogan for the masses goes along with the “iron rice bowl” policy I wrote about a week ago.  I heard at a Kurbanait holiday supper last night a variation of this care-worn slogan again, “We pretend to teach while our students pretend to learn.”  I hope that more than just pretense happened in my classroom this past semester.  Some of my students achieved great things, they wrote inspiring words in English, their second or third language. I’m very proud of them. The following is what C.S. Lewis wrote about pretense:

 

There are two kinds of pretending.  There is a bad kind, where the pretence is there instead of the real thing; as when a man pretends he is going to help you instead of really helping you.  But there is also a good kind, where the pretence leads up to the real thing.  When you are not feeling particularly friendly but know you ought to be, the best thing you can do, very often, is to put on a friendly manner and behave as if you were a nicer person than you actually are.  And in a few minutes, as we have all noticed, you will be really feeling friendlier than you were.  Very often the only way to get a quality in reality is to start behaving as if you had it already.  Mere Christianity, Book IV, Ch. 7.

 

Yesterday I finished the book Animal Farm, it is a short little “fairy tale” which takes an hour or so to read.  Then I looked up what the allegory was for all of George Orwell’s farmyard characters.  The following is what is commonly known, I had guessed right on the pigs  

Napoleon = Stalin and Snowball = Trotsky. 

Squealer the pig = Molotov and the Soviet paper Pravda

Major, the boar = Marx (Lenin?)

Minimus the pig = Gorky

Farmer Jones = Russian tsar

Frederick, the neighboring farmer, owner of Pinchfield = Hitler

Mr. Pilkington, the other feuding farmer = U.S. and U.K.

Battle of the Windmill = WWII

Mr. Whymper = George Bernard Shaw (I had thought he might have represented Walter Duranty)

Hens = kulaks who destroyed their eggs like the farmers who destroyed their produce

Sheep = masses

Moses the Raven = Russian Orthodox religion

Horn and hoof green flag = hammer and sickle

Boxer, the hard working horse = the proletariat

Mollie = bourgeoisie or nobility, the Russian diaspora

Benjamin, the donkey = the author, George Orwell

 

Writing can be a powerful thing if the meanings of words come across successfully to your reading audience.  The pen IS mightier than the sword and I hope my Kazakh students catch the essence of writing down their thoughts as often as possible so that what is documented can be looked back on in the future.  Practice makes perfect and their writing can eventually stir others to action for the betterment of this great country of Kazakhstan. 

 

The story of Animal Farm showed that those animals (the pigs and dogs) who could write the Seven Commandments on the side of the barn had power over those animals who remained illiterate.  In fact, those who wrote had power to change the meaning of the laws by adding just a few words to the end of each law in order to twist the commandment to their advantage.  Our memories are also important to remember the original truths.  My students have better memories at their young age than us older folks. Institutional memory is important to have in order to counter the lies and pretense that harms rather than helps.

 

We, as older veteran teachers, have the experience like the donkey Benjamin, to outlive the pretense and charades that went on during the former Soviet Union.  It is an achievement that the Animal Farm in real life was demolished 18 years ago but there are still remnants of the old thinking that is residual in our institution of higher learning.  What will it take to have a REAL education to change society?  Perhaps when teachers stop pretending to teach and REALLY teach and have a classroom full of students who REALLY want to learn.  That would be an achievement in any country, not just in Kazakhstan!  I think it happened in my classroom, I am hopeful and optimistic for Kazakhstan’s future.

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Kazakh Students Thoughts on Stalin (Part III)

A. I. Actually, I don’t think I’m the person who can judge Stalin, but if to pretend to be a judge, I would say that Stalin had both good and bad sides, which effect on the lifes of Kazakh people.  Of course I’m against his violent actions that he did in the past.  That kind of people, I suppose, never can do “good” things but from one side I agree that he did some sort of “useful” things on Kazakh land.

He was the first who made Kazakh nomadic nation to step, and to learn agricultural things, Vavilov said that it’s not right, I agree that many millions of people died in those years, but we just need to mention that 1930s were the years of war, years of pain, and the whole world began to increase their industrial power, while our Kazakhs were only around sheep.  So that I think, probably, Stalin made a first step to civilization on Kazakh land, from this side I can say that Stalin was “useful” person, but as in whole he was “cruel.”

 

V. K. Stalin is one of the most recognized leaders but not only from a good point of view but from the bad as well.  I think he was bad for KZ because of sending people here as enemy’s of the Soviet Union, the hero from the story, Vavilov, who was a really important person to USSR, was sent to KZ. 

 

AA – I think that Stalin’s regime was as good as well as bad for the citizens of KZ, because of some reasons.  Firstly, Stalin was the authority in the whole Soviet Union, some people, even the majority of people loved him and adored him because they thought that he is a great person.  But people who knew about Stalin something wrong, they didn’t stay alive for long, because Stalin didn’t want to know all people, so he did all possible things in order to do that person – the enemy of the country.  Also people didn’t see any bad things about Stalin because he controlled everything, and even magazines and newspapers were directed by special people who controlled the text, etc.  The best Stalin’s regime’s advantage that in his times Soviet Union  In spite of not good enough guns and other equipments, he did that.  For this I appreciate him.  But I still cannot understand why he thought that most people are enemies, and did he think that he is God, who can take the people’s lives?  Of course, after the death of the person we cannot say bad things about him, also we don’t know what there was exactly, so I think that it is unfair to destroy people’s lives like he and his government did.  They sent lots of people to the prison and the camps or shot them.

Maybe if he had not been ruler for the 30 years, my grandparents view on something would be differently, but I think that nothing would be changed, because Stalin was only in Russia, but my family lived in Kyrgyzstan and they didn’t know at all how Stalin had ruled.

 

D. K. – To be honest I do not know what to say about life of my family if there wasn’t be a Stalin, maybe my grandmother would be killed, maybe won’t, I don’t know what would be if Borbachev or Chernenko were the leaders of USSR in that time period.  I think it is a prerogative of scientists and writers to think about this.  But I can say that for Kazakhstan it was a terrible time during Stalin’s leadership.  He wanted to ruin an ancient Kazakh style of life.  To move Kazakhs to Syberia it is the same to move native Africans to North Pole.  Kazakhs cannot survive without their animals, horses, sheeps, camels, etc.  And these animals cannot live in arctic climate.  So they would all die.  It was a madness, real madness; not to do this but even only think about it.

 

M. K. Overall, I believe that Stalin wasn’t a good leader for Soviet Union.  Everybody knows how many crimes he had committed; because of him millions of people either died or just were lost, especially the intelligence of the USSR – the scientists, writers, teachers were killed or under repression.

But there were some good things about him as well, because there should have been something that makes our grandparents good about those days.  Also, who knows what would have been the result of WWII without Stalin, because during war time a nation needs a strong leader.  But what amazes me most is that our relatives who lived at that period in USSR remember those days with smiles despite everything they went through.

 

B.Y – I think that Joseph Stalin wasn’t so generally good for all countries, which were in USSR, not only for the citizens of KZ.  Even as we know his attitude to his mother was bad.  He was strict and strong.  But these qualities of him helped to win Germany, with the help of other countries won the war against Hitler’s army in WWII.  For our generation he seems to be so good.  But for people who lived at that time he was the best.  Even they cried when he was died.  They thought that, everything would be destroyed.  Nobody would be like Stalin.  But as we see, we can live without Stalin’s regime and we are developing countries.

 

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Kazakh Students Varied Thoughts on Stalin

After reading part of the first chapter “Apples are from Kazakhstan” by Christopher Robbins to my class, I quizzed my students on vocabulary words such as arable, detractors, diatribe, eradicate, nemesis, ostentatious, sacrosanct, protégé, etc.  Another part of the quiz I got responses to the question: What are your thoughts on Joseph Stalin and whether he was generally good for the citizens of Kazakhstan or bad.  If he had not been ruler for 30 years in the Soviet Union, how do you think you and your family’s life would be different now?

 

A. E. Joseph Stalin was such kind of man who was not interested in other people’s lives.  He was very selfish one.  Only what he said must be true.  The same was in the case of Vavilov.  Stalin just destroyed him.  Vavilov was very good agriculturist, he knew a lot about Kazakhstan, about Kazakh land, but what he knew didn’t make sense to Stalin.

By the way, I think that politics of Joseph Stalin wasn’t good for Kazakh people because he destroyed the culture of this nation.  As we all know, Kazakh have a very strong culture and destroying was very critical for Kazakh people.

And what about living conditions, if he [Stalin] had not been ruling for 30 years, in my point of view, the living conditions would be better.  Because the time of Stalin control stopped the spread of globalization in USSR, which is not very good for people as for economy of the country.

In conclusion, I want to say that life could be better.

 

R. A. – There are a lot of contradictable opinions about Joseph Stalin.  Some people would say that he was very cruel leader and that his regime killed too many innocent people.  But we the citizens of post-Soviet countries shouldn’t forget about Great Patriotic War and his contribution to victory of Soviet people over Fascist invaders.  Maybe, if he [Stalin] hadn’t such an enormous power, Soviet people wouldn’t be so united and wouldn’t have won the war.

 

A. I. In the totalitarian world, of course, he was the best as the ruler.  But he was like an Evil for the people.  He had an absolutely power in that regime and all Soviet people had to some kind of worship him.  Anyway everybody thought that they couldn’t survive without him.  He was like a God in USSR.

 

A. B: I think Joseph Stalin was brutal tyrant.  He had only military ideas in his mind and he would stop at nothing in order to reach his goal.  He was rather bad for KZ.  We would have a better life.

 

Z. S. My personal opinion about Stalin changed when I was 17.  Before that I always thought that he was a very strong, powerful and just leader, during whose ruling life in the USSR was controlled but calm, people were not afraid of robbery or murder, everyone could get a job and etc.  Only when I was 17 and I was in the U.S. and further when I came back and talked to many historians both at our university and other KZ universities, I found out the truth.  The fact that at those times life was calm and determined it was the consequences of all the horrible things he had done like collectivization, famine, repressions and many more things.  Only he himself killed so many people which only a war could do.

I understand older people still wish he was alive and we were living under communist regime, but this is only one side looking to issue, maybe because they haven’t seen another style of living and even if they did (current KZ, where everything such as wealth is in the hands of a few people), they did not like it.

 

A. T: Generally Stalin was not as perfect for KZ citizens, on the other hand, the policy which was provided was not so bad, I mean the policy of concentration citizens of cities or “auls” (villages).  It is not a secret that Kazakhs at the beginning of the century was without any education and towns and villages make the education possible.  But the ideas of the policy was “killed” by their realization.  Repressions killed a lot of Kazakh peoples, who can’t live in an urban area.  I think that without Soviet policy, it was a chance that KZ now could be like a Mongolia or Kyrgyzstan, fully nomadic or non developed or even developing country.  Soviet policy make a good base of developing for KZ now.

 

K. V. I think that Stalin was strictive man.  All those bad things that he did were done by thinking.  He killed many people that did not deserve death.  And without Stalin and his strong character USSR wouldn’t won the WWII.  As someone said in the class, when Stalin died, many people were crying, because they felt strength of Stalin, and when he gone they frightened, because they didn’t imagine life without “this cruel man.” There are many people who hate Stalin and they have their own reasons.

 

Y. K. – Joseph Stalin was not the best ruler of people, USSR, he made a lot of bad things, killed a lot of people, however, USSR won the World War II, and one of the main reason of that was that the ruler was Stalin, psychologists think that only he could win Hitler.  So if Stalin had not been a ruler, we might not sit in this class now.  Sure, after the war, it was really hard to rebirth the country, all economy production, and a lot of people died as victims, but who knows, if it was another ruler would it be better or not?

Stalin was very smart, but as we know, authority spoils everyone.  People loved him, they were really happy that they were ruled by him.  So I cannot say whether my life could be better or worse, it is simply could be no me and not my family now.

 

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Solzhenitsyn’s Purpose According to Natalya

Q: “Life given back to me has not been mine in the full sense: it is built around a purpose,” he [Solzhenitsyn] wrote.  What in your [Natalya Solzhenitsyn] view, has been the core of that purpose?

A: “He himself saw it this way, that God spared him, life was preserved for him, he was not killed in the camps, he was not killed in the army, or by cancer.  Concurrently, he was a witness.  He was born in 1918—born at the same time as the Revolution.  His life mirrored, took place in parallel with, the life of Russia after the Revolution.  He was an unprotected grain in that movement and subject to the wild squalls of Soviet history that he experienced no less than any denizen of that country.  Yet he did not perish, while so many others perished.  He felt it a duty to speak for them, to what he had seen.  He survived, others did not.

For many years he feared greatly he would run out of time, and that is why he did not spare himself, worked tirelessly, and without ceasing.  For some years now he feels a great sense of liberation, and that he has fulfilled in time the chief purpose of his life.”

“Natalya Solzhenitsyn on Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn” Center News, Russian, East European, and Eurasian Center, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, No. 110, Fall 2007.

 

The following is from my former pastor’s blog in Minneapolis, Minnesota:

Thank You, Lord, for Solzhenitsyn

August 4, 2008  |  By: John Piper
Category: Commentary

Yesterday Alexander Solzhenitsyn died at the age of 89. I pause here on my vacation in the woods of Wisconsin to say, Thank you, heavenly Father, for the inspiration of this man’s life.

No one did more than Solzhenitsyn to expose the horrors of the failed communist experiment in Russia. Hitler’s purge would pale, if such things could pale, when compared to ten times the carnage in Stalin’s gulags.

Solzhenitsyn inspired me because of the suffering he endured and the effect it had on him. Here is the quote that I have not forgotten. It moves me deeply to this day. After his imprisonment in the Russian gulag of Joseph Stalin’s “corrective labor camps” Solzhenitsyn wrote:

It was granted to me to carry away from my prison years on my bent back, which nearly broke beneath its load, this essential experience: how a human being becomes evil and how good. In the intoxication of youthful successes I had felt myself to be infallible, and I was therefore cruel. In the surfeit of power I was a murderer and an oppressor. In my most evil moments I was convinced that I was doing good, and I was well supplied with systematic arguments. It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good. Gradually it was disclosed to me that the line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either—but right through every human heart—and through all human hearts…. 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!” I…have served enough time there. I nourished my soul there, and I say without hesitation: “Bless you, prison, for having been in my life!” (The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956, Vol. 2, 615-617)

O that I would be done with murmuring against my tiny prisons. Lord, grant me greater faith to live in the coming day when I will say, “Bless you, all hardship and pain! You have cut me off from the death of prosperous idolatry again and again.”

Thank you, God, for the life and work of Alexander Solzhenitsyn.

 

 

 

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