Posts tagged Lenin in Zurich

Solzhenitsyn’s Writings (Part III)

The following is the third of a four part series of notes I took on Solzhenitsyn while at Hoover Institute June of 2005.  I looked through the archived files of Alvin Kapusta to find that he had followed this famous Russian Solzhenitsyn very closely.  Even though Kapusta was a Ukrainian diaspora from North Dakota originally, he must have seen how Solzhenitsyn’s cause he championed would help that of the forgotten Ukrainians during the 1930s.  As I recall, Kapusta had a State Department position in Washington, D.C. so I’m sure he may have had an opportunity to meet with Solzhenitsyn at some point during his career.  The following are mostly titles and/or quotes taken from different articles from newspapers covering Solzhenitsyn’s recent arrival to the U.S. in the 1970s. 

1) The Listener April 29, 1976 “Lenin’s false promises—Solzhenitsyn on his new book” interview with Robert Robinson with A.I. Solzhenitsyn


2) Los Angeles Times Sun. April 25, 1976 “Lenin in Zurich”-Demythifying Supermarx” by Robert Kirsch – Lenin in Zurich


Book reviews Times Literary supplement London, April 1976 “A single-minded man” by Michael Scammell

Last paragraph – Nevertheless Lenin in Zurich is not, in the last analysis, history, nor is it biography.  For not the least of Solzhenitsyn’s audacities is the proud claim he is making for the art of fiction. History, he seems to be saying, is not up to this job, has made a hash of the past.  Biography likewise.  Now it is time for the artist to take a hand.  Impertinence? Certainly. And again one is reminded of Tolstoy, particularly, the Tolstoy of War and Peace.


3) The Japan Times Monday, April 19, 1976 “Solzhenitsyn on the Attack” by Max Lerner


Alexandr Solzhenitsyn is again waging a one-man campaign, as he did inside the Soviet Union.  This time it is a campaign to awaken the West—the western European peoples and America as well—to the dangers of its own weakness in the face of Soviet expansionism


“Solzhenitsyn Working in California” by John Berthelsen, May 6, 1976

The Hoover center’s most prized collection on the revolution is the Okhrana archives, the files of the czarist secret police. “Not even the Soviets themselves have these documents” they were received during the 1920s from the last czarist ambassador to France, who moved to Switzerland after the fall of the imperial Russia.  Their existence was concealed from the world until the death of the ambassador, who feared that the Bolsheviks would kill him when they learned of them.  Contained in the files, are czarist secret police dossiers on the full range of Russian revolutionaries, including Lenin and Stalin.

Solzhenitsyn was working on a volume of his book on the year 1917


4) April 4, 1976 Washington Post “Solzhenitsyn Warning”

Last summer Alexandr I. Solzhenitsyn’s speech to an AFL-CIO banquet became Washington’s political event of the year.  In a fiery, largely extemporaneous address, the exiled Russian writer sounded a passionate warning: “freedom, he said, was in retreat all over the world; détente was turning out to be a policy of surrender.; the West must make a firm stand against communist totalitarianism.


Another review of A.I.Solzhenitsyn’s book Lenin in Zurich by Bertram D. Wolfe, professor of Russian History emeritus in University of California Davis and presently senior researcher at Hoover Institution.  Author of  An Ideology in Power also writing a book “A Life in Two Centuries


5) The following are titles of various newspaper articles and t.v. interviews with Solzhenitsyn:

Book reviews Modern age, Chicago, Summer 1976 “The Anatomy of Perdition” by J.M. Lalley

The Gulag Archipelago: an experiment in literary investigation vol. 2


Solzhenitsyn In Zurich, an interview “Encounter” April 1976

Lenin in Zurich is a sequel to August 1914


Here is not the Vladimir Ilyich of the “little Lenin library” and the Soviet hagiographers, or even the two dimensional portraits of western historical biographies.


Radio tv Reports In. 4435 Wis. Ave. NW, Wash. D.C. 20016

Program Firing Line

March 27, 1976

Full text transcribed of interview with Malcolm Muggeridge and Mr. Levine and Solzhenitsyn was interviewed by Buckley, Conducted by Michael Charlton of the BBC staff


The Washington Post, Sat. March 27, 1976 “The ‘Imminent’ Fall of the West” by Richard M. Weintraub

Muggeridge went so far as to call Solzhenitsyn, the “greatest man alive today”


La Quinzaine Litteraraire, Paris, March 16, 1976

The Solzhenitsyn Line by Roger Dadoun translated from French into English


Medvedev vs. Solzhenitsyn. March 13, 1976


Historian’s criticism points up differences among dissidents by Peter Osnos, Washington Post Foreign service

Medvedev denounces Solzhenitsyn and is lighter on Andreis Sakharov, the Nobel prize winning dissident physicist

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Solzhenitsyn’s Writings (Part II)

Thanks to Alvin Kapusta (Ukrainian diaspora who worked in Wash. D.C. in the State Department) and his saving newspaper and magazine clippings about Solzhenitsyn.  I typed out the best quotes I could find about Solzhenitsyn from Kapusta’s files (Box #2) archived at Hoover Institution at Stanford University in California.  This happened while I was at Stanford the summer of 2005 for three days but I also made photo copies of some of the more important articles that Kapusta saved out. 

The following quotes I typed shows the flurry of publicity around Solzhenitsyn recent arrival to the U.S. in the mid-1970s.  Celebrity status swirled around such a controversial character as Solzhenitsyn was but regrettably our U.S. news media is not reporting much about this great man’s departing.  Perhaps because he since left the U.S. for his motherland of Russia in about 1994 when it was “safe” for him to return.  I’m wondering how the Russian press is carrying his story of his death and his many writings that exposed the lies of the Soviet era.  Just curious.


1) “Solzhenitsyn:  The Past as Prologue” October 17, 1976


“A Warning to the West” by Alexandr Solzhenitsyn

Article critiquing Solzhenitsyn by Simon Karlinsky, the author of “The Sexual Labyrinth of Nikolai Gogol” to be published in Nov. [1976]


Quote from Solzhenitzyn: “By some chance of history, we have trodden the same path seventy or eighty years before the West.” Declared during his televised BBC interview on March 1, 1975.  “And now it is with a rather strange sensation that we look at what is happening to you; many social phenomena that happened in Russia before its collapse are being repeated.  Our experience is of vital importance to the West, but I am not convinced that you are capable of assimilating it without having gone through it to the end yourselves.”


…now that he [A.I. Solzhenitsyn] is in the West, Solzhenitsyn has somewhat damaged his credibility by his intransigent anti-Marxism and his fervent avowals of his Christian faith.  In many Western eyes, this makes him a reactionary.  But the very existence of a Solzhenitsyn is a living refutation of our simplistic categories, of our compulsive pigeonholing of people into conservative, liberal or radical niches.  In today’s Soviet Union, the Christian faith offers a haven of integrity and decency…


In 1935, at the time of the famine caused by forced collectivization and of the proliferating GULAG camps, the brilliant American critic Edmund Wilson stood before a statue of Lenin in Leningrad, feeling sure that this was the man who had opened up “to humanity as a whole a future of which for the first time they were to recognize themselves the masters, with the power to create without fear whatever they had minds to imagine.”…

Solzhenitsyn’s evaluation of conditions in the West may at times be based on insufficient knowledge.  His facts about the Russian revolution and the ensuring development of Soviet society, however, are unassailable.  Disagreement with him on this or that point of interpretation is possible, even desirable.  But to ignore his facts and his warning would be suicidal.


2) Friday, Oct. 15, 1976, The Washington Star

John P. Roche “Solzhenitsyn portrays a ferocious Lenin”

“Aristotle argued that the only way one can discover the true character of a regime is to analyze in depth the characteristics of its leadership…”

In the late 1930s a number of revolutionary exiles from Lenin’s and Stalin’s Russia used to gather at The Leader office, then on East Fifteenth Street in New York.  These old social revolutionaries, Mensheviks and Kerenskyites would sit around drinking tea and talking simultaneously.  I knew no Russian, so I asked Sol Levitas, then the magazine’s guiding genius, what it was all about.  “John,” he said, “they still don’t know what happened.” It’s a shame they are not alive to read Solzhenitsyn—they would find out.”


3) Sept. 2, 1976 Rowland Evans and Robert Novak “The Hostility toward Solzhenitsyn”


Two days after the Republican National platform extolled A.I. Solzhenitsyn as a “great beacon of human courage and morality” one of Henry Kissinger’s top aides used the word “fascist” in describing the anti-communist Russian novelist. The comments were made August 19, [1976] by the highly respected, Winston Lord, State Dept. policy planning director


Carter foreign policy advisors see him as a “slightly balmy nineteenth century Russian mystic”


Thus, the bipartisan foreign policy establishment has been successful in downgrading A.I. Solzenitsyn since his triumphant arrival here a year ago.  He has been a key target of the détente-ists, both in the Kremlin and on the State Department seventh floor.


Lord thought A.I.Solzhenitzen’s views could threaten world peace.

Since Solzhenitsyn is neither a right wing republican nor a fascist and might be considered rather moderate considering his life’s experience, the real objection is not to his ideology but to the threat he poses to détente.  That threat was expressed bluntly in the State Department memorandum to the White House on June 26, 1975“We recommend that the President [Ford] not receive Solzhenitzen.”

While that recommendation is now conceded to be a political error, the philosophy behind the memorandum flourishes in the Ford administration.  When Winston Lord told student interns that the Russian expatriate’s political views threaten world peace, he was unveiling the hard concensus of the US foreign policy establishment, which now seems the conventional wisdom in Washington.”


4) “Will the Real Lenin Please Stand Up?” By Robert G Kaiser, July 18, 1976 Critique of A.I. Solzhenitsyn book “Lenin in Zurich

Kaiser member of the Washington Post and former Moscow correspondent, is the author of Russia: the People and the Power”


“As a symbol and with the books he has written, A.I.Solzhenitsyn has done extraordinary damage to the reputation of the Soviet Union.  Almost singlehandedly he has recreated the horrors of the Stalin era for an entire generation–horrors now ignored and denied in Moscow.  Thanks to his fame and his defiance, the entire world has a vivid example of the intolerance of the Soviet regime for dissidence of almost any kind.  As a polemicist since his expulsion from the USSR, Solzhenitsyn has won unprecedented publicity for the anti-Soviet cause he now so ardently promotes. 

There is reason to believe that Solzhenitsyn is pleased by his ability to infuriate the men in Moscow who could not tolerate his presence in the country they rule.”


First Circle was an intriguing portrait, and persuasive too. But probably wrong, indeed, probably seriously flawed.  I once had the good fortune to be able to discuss Solzhenitsyn’s Stalin with Milovan Djilas, who knew Stalin well at the time Solzhenitsyn tried to describe him.  Djilas admired the art of Solzhenitsyn’s description, but dismissed its substance as oversimplified.  “You cannot describe Stalin,” Djilas said, “unless you take into account his brilliance.  Solzhenitsyn did not understand how brilliant Stalin was.”

More serious are the liberties Solzhenitsyn has taken with the historical record to suggest certain political alliances and motivations which would tend to discredit Lenin, particularly in Russia. 


5) The Stanford Observer, June 1976

“…the Soviet Union ‘constantly serves up programmed lies,’ says Solzhenitsyn


The Nobel Laureate charged that “committed socialist circles in the West passionately grab up…false Soviet information.  As a result, the historian is subjected, as it were, to a wretching, sidewise hurricane that hurls sand in his eye, twists his whole body, and turns his head toward a more comfortable- but false-tack.”  In hopes of getting close to source material, some scholars “pay with cautious and discreet formulations, so as not to anger their hosts in the USSR,” he added, “Like any compromise with truth, however, the price is not worth paying.”

Generalizations about ingrained “perennial Russian slavery” and “Asiatic tradition” brought to the West by revolutionary émigrés decades ago, “dangerously mislead contemporary scholars and hinder them from understanding the essential socialistic nature of what has happened in the USSR…”

The last century of Russian history has been “buried and hidden” from scholars, he said, but the collections of the Hoover Institution and it staff have been “of inestimable value” in searching out the facts.  It includes “a great deal of material that in the USSR has either been consigned to mandatory burning or to eternal concealment from human eyes.”

No serious Western scholar of Russian and Soviet history can bypass the Hoover Institution, and there are now many such scholars, especially in the US.  That is a wonderful thing.

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