Mina Wolkowicz



Men imprisoned in the Soviet GULAG have written many books, about the terror, the deprivation of elementary human rights, the permanent hunger, slave work without pay, the acts of terror by the NKVD (Narodnij Kommisariat Vnutrennih Del, People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs) and their manikin-helpers. But not many books are published about the tragic life of women in the GULAG. I have, here, tried to bring out my life experience in the Soviet prison and camp. After World War II, the world tried/prosecuted only a few Nazi leaders in Nurenberg, for the murder of millions of people. In Soviet Russia, Stalin, with his helpers, annihilated over 20 million people. Seven million were shot. But nobody was tried/prosecuted for their murder, even after the fall of Soviet Russia.

I would like to dedicate "My reflections" to all those prisoners who were with me in prison and camp; women-martyrs, sisters murdered, tortured, degraded, deprived of their children and family in the Soviet GULAG.


When two NKVD (manikins) arrested my husband as a "spy", they assured me that he would be back home in no time, after only a short interrogation. They told us, "Don't take anything with you, that you do not need" and my husband went away with only a towel and a toothbrush. When somebody is arrested, in Soviet Russia, the family, relatives and friends are immediately incriminated. After my husband's arrest I became persona non grata. My friends and neighbors avoided me. Rumors were spreading about finding weapons and anti-Soviet literature, in my house during the searches. Gossip like this was usually generated by the KGB to justify the arrest. "NKVD don't make mistakes" this is their motto.

A friend of mine, a student, from my class at the University, advised me not to come for a time to the University, to avoid meeting anybody. You will avoid the humiliation." She told me that in the time of NEP (New Economic Policy) in the 1920's, her father was arrested as a capitalist. His children suffered discrimination, were deprived of the right to work, to education. "We were told to go to Biro-Bidzan. We lived in hunger, fear. Only in the 1930's did the situation change and we started to work again. I became a metal worker in a factory and now I am at the University." She never told me what finally happened to her father.

I searched for two weeks for my husband in the NKVD, in the prisons, but no results. My persecution/liquidation started immediately. I was fired from work, from the University, where I was told this is only temporary until your husband will be free.

Every morning from 5AM to 6AM I went to the Kholodnaya Gora prison walls, where masses of people, women, children, old people, were looking, like myself, for their loved ones. All had red eyes and were walking back and forth. Early in the morning we signed our names on a list. All talked in a whisper. All nationalities were represented near the prison wall. Here at the prison wall, is the true "internationalism"; here is the Komintern. Here we meet friends; people we know are whispering: last night was "a Polish night", "a German Night", "Hungarian", and so on. The line is getting longer and longer every morning. This is the "ARRESTOMETER" [arrest measured by the meter, as we named it]. Oh! The children more and more are coming to the prison wall looking for their parents. You see a 7-year old girl holding a 5-year old boy by his hand, both crying: "Where is my mother and father?" All at the wall are orphans, and all are crying in a whisper. It is forbidden to talk or cry loud.

Anna Akhmatova in her "Requiem" in 1935 writes: when she was standing in the prison line looking for her arrested son an old women with blue lips and red eyes whispered to Akhmatova:
"(everyone whispered there) - 'Could one ever describe this?' And I answered - 'I can.' It was then that something like a smile slid across what had previously been just a face."

We are all waiting in the line frozen, stiff, hungry, until 12 noon, when a window opened, high in the wall, and a voice called a name. Mostly the answer is silence. "She or he is not here" But some are lucky. A women received an assuring answer. She is smiling through tears. She is happy, because this is a sign that her husband is still alive. The women with the positive answer can hand over the parcel, which has been ready to hand over, through the window, to her husband who is still alive. All the women and children are holding the prepared parcels for their loved ones. The content of the parcel is checked and rechecked. Only old clothes, short not long, are allowed, like shirts, underwear. The "happy" woman is crying, laughing: "He is alive he is alive and he is here!" She must wait for an answer. The answer comes, only as a signature of receipt for the parcel. Later, when I had become a prisoner myself, I found out that after the arrest, a detainee is taken to the NKVD for interrogation and only after the detainee signs the protocol, the first interrogation, the prisoner is send to prison. This procedure could be changed by an individual prosecutor.

I found my husband two weeks after his arrest. Only one parcel is permitted every two weeks. But all of us come to the prison wall every day. We meet here as new and old friends, checking the "Arrestometer". You meet wives of, doctors, engineers and other professionals. One women Doctor is whispering to me: " Quo vadis?" Where are they going? What are they doing? Only old people, women, children and all orphans, will be left.

Coming to the prison gates one day, I met a student friend from my faculty. He ran over to me, stretching out his arms to me and cried. I said to him: "Ok, Shura, when did it happen?" He was surprised and asked me: "How do you know?" Oh, if you are here, dear Sura, you don't have to be Solomon. Sura is telling me about his father, he was an engineer in the Charkov (Kharkov?) Tractor factory. He is an honest good communist. He told me that after my husband was arrested at the University, a meeting was held of the Komsomol. We were all told that: "Students must be very careful with immigrant students. All are spies coming to our country as saboteurs. After that all immigrants were arrested "I feel now ashamed and guilty before you.

When the NKVD mannekins came to arrest my husband as a "spy", they assured us that after a short interrogation he will be back home . "Take nothing with you, you don't need it." - And he went away taking only a towel and a toothbrush. In Soviet Russia after an arrest of a family member, the rest of the family, the relatives, and friends are right away discriminated against and often also arrested. After my husbands arrest I become a persona non grata. My neighbours, friends were avoiding me. They were spreading lies that in my house the NKVD found ammunition and anti-Soviet literature. This kind of gossip was spread by the NKVD itself to justify the arrest. The NKVD "Doesn't made mistakes". A student from my class at the University, a close friend of mine, advised me to not come to the University, "Avoid meeting people, you will save yourself humiliation." She also told me that in time of the NEP (New Economic Policy) in the 1920's her father was arrested as a so-called capitalist and his children suffered humiliation and were deprived of any education. They were told to go to Biro-Bidzan and lived in hunger and fear. Only in the 30's did the situation change and they were allowed to work again. She become a metal worker in a factory and now is back at the University. She never before tolled me about her father but now, when I am in the same almost situation, I searched for two weeks for my husband in the NKVD, in the prisons-no result. Right away my liquidation started. I was fired from work, from the University-only Until my husband will be free .All my coupons - card for bread and other food were taken away. I am selling my personal belonging like cloth at the "black market" to by bread. Every day 6 in the morning I went to the gates of the prison "Cholodnaja Gora". There were masses people lines. They like me were looking for their love ones. We have to Sign our name on a list. You are meeting her people of all ages, all professions, all nationalities and children of 5,6,7 years old .Her at the gates of prinz Potiemkin,s Prison are all nationalities represented, it become the International Komintern .. Coming in the morning to the prison gates somebody is whispering in your ears: "Last Night was a Polish night" or a "German", or a "Hungarian, Chekh" etc the meaning: All Polish emigrants, German etc The prison line is getting bigger every morning. This is The "ARESTOMETER" for us. bO! The children! Every morning more and more children looking for their parents.You see a 7-year old girl is holding the hand of a 5-year old boy, both crying: "where is my dad and mama?". All wives, mothers here Are orphans, all are crying looking for the fathers, husbands .Her at the prison wall is not aloud to talk loud, to cry loud, everything in whisper. One women ask if I remember Anna Akhmatowa in her "Requiem" from 1935,where she writes: when she was standing in line at the prison walls looking for her arrested son an old women with blue lips, red eyes whispered to Akhmatowa :"and this here can you picture, can you write about it? A nd Akhmatowa astounded answered:" Yes, I can" and something like a smile occurred on this looking like a face . We all are waiting near the prison walls until noon, when one of the mini windows in the wall opened calling a name. Mostly the answer is negative: she or he is not here. But the lucky women receiving a positive answer is smiling through tears, is happy ,because this answer is a sign that her husband is a life. The women with the positive answer is Aloud to hand over a parcel for the arrested [peredatcha], consisting of underwear, a shirt, a jacket, stockings, no long cloth, no coat, no new cloth etc. Every peace is careful checked through a light,shaken over and over. The "happy women is crying, laughing, she is very lucky, " he is alife " she whispered. Only the close relatives, a wife, mother, children caN HANDED OVER A PARCEL .The aswear, if You are lucky to get, is only a signature from the prisoner, a mean confirmation of receiving g the parcel. Later, when I was inside the prison as a prisoner, I find out that The new arrested mostly is taken direct to the NKVD for interrogation and only after the arrested signs the protocol of the interrogation, he is transferred to the prison . After two weeks I found my husband in the "historical" prison "Cholodnaja Gora" build by prinz Potiemkin in time of Ekaterina II . I handed over a small parcel with underwear, 2 shirts,2 pear of stockings, one tower, they refused to take a coat coat, shoes. Doesn't help me the explanation that he didn't take with any coat or shoes . The next parcel I can only bring in two weeks, but I and all The other women, children were coming every morning to the prison Gates, because this was the "ARESTOMETER" of the last nights arrests. I am meeting there new friends, fresh victims .Here are the wives of Professors, doctors, directors, generals, her are represented all nationalities, Polish, German, Hungarian, Check etc. We are talking in whisper. One women, the wife Of a German journalist said to me :"What's going on, can You picture how now Stalin will build his five year plans when all specialists, all professionals, all man and women With education, with experients are there in Potiemkin's walls? Stalin's Russia will from now on consist of old women, children, invalids One morning coming to the prison gate I met a friend of my a student from my Groep.He run over to me, hugged me, crying I said to him:-O,Sura Dear, when was he "invited" to the International? Sura looked at me in wonder -How do you known ? -If you are here you one of us . His father was the had ingenier at the Charkow Traktorny Zawod. He is telling me what an honest patriot,a good person his father is He is telling me that after my husband, arrest on a Komsomol meeting at the University They were told, that all students must be "bditelny" watchful, careful special to the emigrants, they all coming to our country to spy, to harm, sabotaging our building of socialism After this meeting the next day all emigrants were missing in class. We new What's happen to them. -I feel now ashamed, guilty before-Sura said, I and all of as could understand or expect you to be a traitor. I understand-I said -but I advise You to be further very careful, You remember Stalin's new Constitution about children from 12 year on are responsible to the law as adults Every night I was waiting for my "guest"- the NKVD, knowing their ways toward the relatives of arrested people. I knew I will not survive the "jackals" .I was awake most of the time or doze .Any move, any voice outside enraged me. I stooped undressing for bad, lying down in my close except the coat, waiting for them. I have packet already my close and other things to take with to prison. My "travel fever " is sickening .I am waiting for them with such Envoy like just the prison is my aim in life . The waiting for the unavoidable is worst than the happening itself. My present situation is tragic. I am all alone, no relatives, no friends, no work, noway to get some food. In the soviet concept I am the real "parasite" and a parasite has no place in a Soviet Socialistic Society I am walking on the street not even looking at people, because I know I am a persona no grata to everybody, and more over almost all my friends and neighbors are already Locked up in the prison or dead. I am afraid of this word around me, so I ratter be better of to stay at the prison walls . Over a month I was in this desperate situation, awaiting thanavoidable. Finally one night I heard in the yard a whistle. Yes, "they" are here, the NKVD is here for me. I am ready for them,completely dressed,only to put on the shoese and coat and ready to go the "Moloch". No mistake. The whistle is for the janitor, he is the witness to the arrest. Now Is two o'clock at night. They knocked in the door, I open and two NKVD "wertuchaj" [this is the surname for NKVD soldiers] with the janitor came in They even didn't show the order for arrest but right away started the search Really the demolition of the room. I didn't have the right to talk, to move only To sit on my chair. They, the jackals are throwing all my books, notes, papers photos into a big sack.When my husband was arrested they did the same now They finishing the robbery. They found photos of my family, my brotheers in France together with me And my husband .-Look- said one "wertuchaj" to The other- this is a picture of real burjua spy,s and throwing it into the Bag. They coming to our country eating our bread and spying for the fascists .-, The demolition ended and the janitor took my key to luck the door. He squeesed my hand very hard, looked me in my eyes with tears in his. The Two soldiers refused to take my parcel, which was quite big and heavy. -You not going to Crime, you don't need that much cloth, we not taking it. -I will not go without my belongings. My husband you took empty handed telling him he be right back, so I will not go without `my parcel. It was already 4.30 in the morning.They,the jackals are working only at night,they must deliver me to the prison on NKVD before 5 ocl.in the morning. One of the manikins went to make a call to the NKVD for an advise. He came back with a truck [this is a unbelievable case] and they were helping me to carry my very heavy sack, Because they were late. They cursed me in their very "Russian" dialect The two manikins brought me 5 AM strait to the prison "Cholodnaja Gora" and handed over to another manikin in the office., he show me a place in The next room and told me to wait. This room was foggy from tabaco smoke. Her were Shadows of men, in rugs,, dirty, holding with their hands the pens, because the NKVD Jackal taking the bells away.They all looked like taken out from a dungeon, from a coal mine This are my husbands brothers they now are returning from the so very Known interrogations. First they were looking at me with wonder, shaking their hads, Some just crying. Is not allow to contact somebody, but they couldn't resist .One Of them took a risk and sat on the floor near me he recogniswed in me a new comer, fresh from the life world with life collers on the chicks in contrast to their w wax faces.I am more terrified, this my picture tomorrow . One whispered to me :so young, so young. Remember dear sign rith away everything what thnhe interrogator will ask, everything, don"t hesitate, remember this. I don"t anderstand him, only later I did. He was cold and hi went sanding me a kiss with his hand Another "shadow" is whispering to me: "if you have same werthful items try to hide. With you into the cell take only a few most necessary Changings, the rest give away to the prison storage. I told him I have a gold Parker set- a pen and a pencil. -Do you have a soap cake? Push the pen and the pencil into To flat pieces of soap. -How about my watch? It is also gold. About your watch - forget it, they will hide it alright forever.. He also Told me about the interrogator :"don't be smart with them, don't argue,everything is ready even the verdict." I am very sceptical, why the second inmate is telling me the same think In the morning about 7AM all prisoners gone and I am all alone in the room . The office stukatch notised me and yelled: "Why are you here. What are you doing here now?" -I a m a new arrested last night- I answered. -Your name. I am giving my name. He find my papers - the Arrest order and shout -Why you didn't come to my table right away, why were you sitting her all night? -I never was inn prison .I think I didn't miss nothing. He is running out and inn, calling somebody tgo take me to the cell, hisw night work is finished. Another manikin caqme for me and took me to the basement to the repository custody camera where I gave away my parcel for safe.I received a receipt for everything even my golden watch, which I never saw again. From there I was taken to a room. A women told me to undress completely, she checked my body, my hear, tshe took away my hair pins, ordered me to make two braids from my hair, than she made photos of me enface, profile. She ordered me to "play piano". This is to dip all fingers from your hands in black ink and made finger prints on the prepared list. The ink is staying on the fingers for months not possible to washed them off. Another "wiertuchaj" picked me up to take me to the cell. The two manikins brought me strait to the prison C holodnaja Gora at 5 AM And handed me over to the prison manikin .He told me to go into the other room. There were people, shadows, the room was in a tabacco fog. When my eyes got use to the mist I recognized right away our kind of people. They all looked like cool miners, in ruggs, dirty, not shaved, They were looking at me with tears in the eyes, shaking their heads. They whispered to me, that they are " 58 statia" - article polit arrestants coming back from interrogations. All are ash gray holding their pants with their hands, because the NKVD worried about the health of the inmates They right away recognized a new commer with fresh life colleurs on the face In contrast to the wax faces.I am terrified, this is a picture of my husband and of my tomorrow. One inmate sat on the floor near me and whispered : -so young, so young. Listen carrfull, I will talk fast, because I don't have the right to talk to nobody. Everything what the interrogator will ask you to sign don't hessitate, signet Don't argue or ask him something under any circumstances, remember, if you want To live. I don't really UNDERSTAND what he is talking about to me but He was called out. I understood him only later. .. Another shadow of a inmate Sat near me and whispered : -If you have some worthfull thinngs try to hide ,into the cell take only a few most necessary close etc,the rest give away to the prison storage. -I nhave a set of Parkers gold pen and pencil. - I told him.. -Do you have a soap cake? cat into tin pieces and pull in one the pen in the other the pencil.. I can see you watch and ring, this you will never see again, they will hid it all right. He also told me about the interrogfations:-don't be smart with them, everything is prepared even the verdickt, don't argue with them. . I gave him my husbands and my name and he went. In the morning about 6.30 all prisoners were taken to their cells and I am all alone in the room. The office "stukatch"-employ noticed me and shout:-why are you here, what are you doing now here? -I am a new arrested last night-I answered. -Your name. I am giving my name. He found the arrest order and again:- why you didn't come to my table right away? Why you sityting here all night? -I never was in prison, I think I didn't miss nothiong He is furious, is running out and inn looking for somebody to take me to The cell. His night work is finished. Another manikin came in and he took my papers and me he took to the basement to the prison storage -repository or custody cammera. Room where I left my luggage. I received a receipt even for my golden watch and ring From there I was taken to another room. And the "stukatch"(guard) told me he be back to pick me Up in a half hour. A women ordered me to undress completely, she checked my body in qa very ruff insulting way, took away my hair pins, order me to make two braids of my very long hair, than she made of me photos enface, profile . She ordered me to "play piano". This is to dip all 10 fingers of your hand in black ink and made fingers print on the prepared list . The ink is staying on your fingers for months not to be washed away.. The "stukatch " came to pick me up. To take me the cell. We were wandering in a labirint of doors, gates, passages, buildings, stairs. By a mistic sign from the "wertuchaj" an iron door opened, closed, then another gate on every fev meters is an observation turn with a guard in the top. When we came near the soldier on the turm he yalled:" stop, who is there?" .My Guard gave some sign and we went trough more gates, more yardes,buildings Finely Finely we came to a big red building, again by a magic sign my " wertuchaj" handed me over to the building guard and left. My ne "angel of deadt" Started to walk with me in the front of him trough a long no end to see hall. If he heard Some noise or walk he is giving a few bangs on the metal nuckel on his belt and he Pushed me with to the wall To let pass the oncoming party. The hall is illuminated with very strong lights but for me is dark like Walking in a catacomb to nowhere. The hall smels with carbol and other cleaning chemicals. From both sides of the hall one near the other are looking at me big iron doors. Which of those Doors will swallow me? The hall ended and we came to wide stony steps, we walked up a flat. Again a long hall and in the end we stopped near one of a iron door..Her a young women-guard took Me over, she opened the door with a bunch of keys hanging on her belt and pushed me in. This was My cell Nr.215./. I see nothing. A thick fog, a wave of choking air came into my face. I freeze. .When I got Use to the place I sah a mass of human bodies shoulder to shoulder standing, whispering.Nobody Lokked even at me. I am completely lost.. One of the wax yellow figures is pushing herself trough the Mass and coming to me. I am shaking, I staped back.,I I hear her voice: " Don't be afraid, daughter. Her All are like you. Cone with me, don't hesitate "and she burst out in a spasm cry. -Who are you? Do I know you?- I asked. -O.yes.You know me well.I am Anna Green from Lodz. Our husbands are friends from Lodz.We met not long ago at Mieteks house. O! Is it really You? O yes, now I recognize You. How long are You in this "sanatorium"? -Soon be three months. -I don't want to made You o compliment, but I wouldn't recognize You... This is the very well known prison Cholodnaja Gora. Prin z Potiemkin build this prison in time of The tzarina Katrin II, contents a group of strong big iron, brick and stone buildings with high big windows cover from outside with tin "glasses" high on the top is a small openning for the light coming into the cell, We called this "glasses" "dog muuzzls" . The wall in the cell are painted dark To let pass the uncoming party. The hall is illuminated with very strong lights but for me is dark like Walking in a catacomb to nowhere. The hall smels with carbol and other cleaning chemicals. From both sides of the hall one near the other are looking at me big iron doors. Which of those Doors will swallow me? The hall ended and we came to wide stony steps, we walked up a flat. Again a long hall and in the end we stoped near one of a iron door..Her a young women-guard took Me over, she opened the door with a bunch of keys hanging on her belt and pushed me in. This was My cell Nr.215./. I see nothing. A thick fog, a wave of choking air came into my face. I freeze. .When I got Use to the place I sah a mass of human bodies shoulder to shoulder standing, whispering.Nobody Lokked even at me. I am completely lost.. One of the wax yellow figures is pushing herself trough the Mass and coming to me. I am shaking, I staped back.,I I hear her voice: " Don't be afraid, daughter. Her All are like you. Cone with me, don't hesitate "and she burst out in a spasm cry. -Who are you? Do I know you?- I asked. -O.yes.You know me well.I am Anna Green from Lodz. Our husbands are friends from Lodz.We met not long ago at Mieteks house. O! Is it really You? O yess,now I recognize You. How long are You in this "sanatorium"? -Soon be three months. -I don't want to made You o compliment, but I wouldn't recognize You... This is the very well known prison Cholodnaja Gora. Prin z Potiemkin build this prison in time of The tzarina Katrin II, contents a group of strong big iron, brick and stone buildings with high big windows cover from outside with tin "glasses"..high on the top is a small openning for the light coming into the cell,.We called this "glasses" "dog muuzzls" . The wall in the cell are painted dark Red.The inmates are calling them "bloody walls", they soaked in our blood. One unit sustain of four Buildings around a sq uare of 3-4 yard . The prisoners, if they not panished have the right to walk every day 15 minut in this yard. The sun is never there because of the high walls.The prisoners must walk In a circle, the hands fold in back, had down, no talking. deaf-mute Red.The inmates are calling them "bloody walls", "they soaked in our blood. " One unit sustain of four Buildings around a sq uare of 3-4 yard . The prisoners, if they not panished have the right to walk every day 15 minut in this yard. The sun is never there because of the high walls.The prisoners must walk In a circle, the hands fold in back, had down, no talking. deaf-mute Anna took me to her "apartment" In the cell were at that time [could change every moment] 95 women .In "normal "time in a cell are 5-6 prisoners .Now, in Stalin's "harvest" the cells are "from rubber" they squesing in not counting.. The "political" buildings are all over full and they locating the women prisoners in the criminals buildings. Anna Green was 48 years old . .Toll, nice looking blond women. She came with Her husband and two daughters tob Russia from Lodz, Poland in 1928. Her husband was A specialist of textile machines One daughter is a doctor-medic.the other an artist at The National Jewish Theatre in Kiew. And now is everything the same : the wife arrested, what will happen to the children nobody knows. The husband is accused in trockism, bundism, zionism .Anna told me, that her interrogator told her :-Your husband is a Bundist, he came to Russia as a spy and because a Bundist is a Zionist, only he is afraid of the ocean that why he came to Russia. Anna answer him: -O. I know, this is Plechanows joke - The interrogator jumped up, banking the table, screaming at her :-Shut up you trockite, you bundist.You are coming to us to spy, to sabotage our growing socialism He send me back to the cell. -I never have see him again. Now I have another interrogator,just the same, they have to feel out their plan [Plechanow was Lenins co-fighter for the revolution, he was the theoretic of the Party .Stalin killed him. as all old comunists,bolshevicks.]. Anna became my "Mother" daughter and until her tragic end. The Stalins sadist were from time to time changing the "decoration" in the Cell We, 80-90- even 112 in the cell were standing pressed to rich other Sleeping on the cement floor. Once we Came back from the bad "bania" and in th The cell were put iron beds, cots, detached one to the other so close with no space to Walk.. From now on . we slept 6 and 8 women on one cot. In the width with the legs hanging down .We are pressed together that if one of us want to turn the other will Woke, Often an arm of a neighbour landed od the face of the3 other .During the day we are forst to sit banded on the piece of the belonging cot. During the day is not allowed to sleep .,talk to loud,sing, cry - in prison "must be quit"- we are, re3minded by the guard-watchers, in the door is a round small hall trough which the "stukach" - Twister is checking our mooves in the cell. For any "rong" doing - _karcer - dungeon. In our cell were women from all over the world, all nacionalities..He shifted Them to the prisons and camps and the International -Komintern was lucked up in the Butirki, Cholodnaja Gora, Kolyma, Karaganda .Stalin said :all klasses are likwidated in Soviet Russia O yes, he was right,because he put them all also in the camps,prisons. Now in Soviet Russia the criminals are the privilledge class but he cre4ated a new Class - a class of prisoners " [ class tiuremshchikow]. The criminals are only for "correction", the prison for them is a school, but the politicals are "enemies of the people and condemn by the people" They, the emigrants are "homeless" cosmopoliticians .- the "father" Stalin s definition for us .. The emigrants run away from the fascist oppression to the "socialist" Russia and her Stalin arrested all,took away the passports, personal belongings, the children and put the criminal bandits, murderers, thiefs, speculants to be the watch-dogs, the care takers of building socialism. In prison we don't need a mirror because my neighbor is our mirror. The sens of beauty, estheticis dead in prison, but we are pedantic relatively for clean holding because a we realized that dirt is the worst anigma in prison. We are carefully watching rich other, especially long.My hair were very long in braids. No water,no soap enough. When we are going every second week to the bad[bania] we receiving a small piece of soap, the first to wash are women with long hair.Very often the water is running very hot, and again very cold and so on The windows in the bad are without glass.. Back in the cell the neighbour is helping the women with long hair comb, untangle the hair. In the cell on the wall is a prominent scratch with same metal, a kind of an eppitet:" who wan't her, will be, who was will never forget".,and another: "Better Give in at once, I will get you anyway" Those scraches were made by inmates . Also on the prison wall was hanging under glass a poster of regulations, sign by Yagoda,then by Yezhow, now by Beria. The first to names stretch out still visible. The conditions in the cell were so miserable, that every day were sick people with heart, lever and other sicknesses. Most sick were summer time, because the air in the cell so dump so thick only to cut with a nife We were unsuccessful in calling for help. It took very long the nurse to come, but in result always was one and only one medicine - aspirine. With serious sickness like heart attack they took out the sick and we newer knew what happen to her. All day was in the cell a cry " were are my children? Who is taking care of my children?" Nearly all women were married with children. The NKVD took away the Children undwer 12 yeas old and replaced them in Government institutions changing their names never to be found again. In the beginning I couldn't sleep, because every 15 minutes the soldier higfh on the tower outside was whistling and shouting:" stop, who is there?", Then on the ceiling all night was burning a strong electrical light. We were sleeping on one iron cot 6-7 women in the width, the legs down hanging . No mattress, no bedspread, no pillow.,I was very lucky I took my fur coat and I used it as a cover for the hall bed for all 6 women. My bed was named " the Marie Antoanette bed" .. In our cell were from 80 to 115 women. With difference character, behaviour, mentality but we comprehend that the first and almost important need her is mutual tolerant,understanding, even lowe to richother.This aspect was the essence, the necessity to hold on, not to fall into despair, resignation, capitulation. We were telling to rich other all kind of stories about the children,the husbands, about everything .,about literature,movies, theater,concerts etc. The most painfull was the subject -children. We were talking about everything in the World, but omiting the subject - politic..This Was hanging over us like Democles sword" We knew Stalins way : everywhere are his "stukatches" -spy!s .provocators. But the constant subject was about the children and about food.The permanent hunger Unconscient brought up the subject- food. And every women knew the "secret" of so many unknow to others dishes.They were improvising menues "good for a king" We were feeling the smell, the taste but swallowing the saliva .We were bagging not to talk about food,but we were like drunkards, we know is dangerouse ,we promising not to do, but .no way.One women was telling about some dish so exclusive that she insured us she tried it her self Matter of fact, when I was out of the GULAG I tried this soffisticated dish and I throw it away . This was a result of a hunger hallucination.. But, it was enough when one women started to cry "where are my children" all of them follow.. The desperate situation saved the two of our inmates, a professor of literature Maria Slivniak from Warsaw and Ekaterina Wladimirowna Morozowa . They started our Prison University . Later all inmates became "lecturers" aqt the "University". They were yesterdays professors, doctors, professionals. We want to "over scream the storm" [King Leer]. Katia was a "krasavitza" a beauty extra-ordiner .Toll,sleem. Blond hair, blue eyes. She was educated in the Liceum of Carskoje Selo, this was an university build by An Italien architekt Rostrielifor the czar Aleksander I exclusive for children of the czar Family and high aristocracy. The name of the fimale part of the university was Liceum Blagorodnych Dewitz" [ Liceum For High born Majdens. Aleksander Pushkin was there Educated..Katia finished the Liceum together with Annaq Akhmatowa. She often was telling us about her life in the Carskoje Selo [The Czars Village]. She recited by heart Pushkin, Lermontow, Akhmatowa etc.We were deprived of books, paper, pencils. She read to us Niekrasow "The Railroad", Our University " made us forget for a while our tragic helpless situation. Katias husband was a medic doctor in the Czar army. In the time of the revolution he fought against the Bolsheviks. He was later shoot. Katia, to survive with her two children married later a soviet general Morozow.. Now, in the Stalins "cleening" years the second husband was shot and his wife Katia arrested. She expected the maximum verdict - dead or a 25-year sentence to camp for her two generals Katia was an exceptional extra-ordinere .Always "sober", logically thinking, good nature, always ready to help.She never cryied. One dark day when two women return in the morning after a night interrogation in the cell was "Dantes Hell", the two were sadisticly bitten by Stalins Torquemado our good smart Katia c ome to rescue . Listen to me, please my dear sisters, we all are here in this "sanatorium" with Broken hearts and life, I want to tell You about Leonid Andreews "Day of Anger" [Den Gniewa] .This is a story written by a genius about us,about the psycology of men, about The sinister agly world we live.I will retell the story, I will "read" really the story, improvise how much I steel remember. You remember sure that we don't have here any books, so I will try .In a moment of despair when all the cell is in tears Katia Was the savier . "Day of Anger" Andreews is an elegy to freedom, liberty.For freedom humanity is fighting eternity.Everyone is born free but we never sure what and when we can loose our freedom.. [I am trying to bring this part in the form, the context according to Katias improvisation]. The most beautiful creations, songs, music are dedicated to freedom. In prison The thoughts about Freedom was like balsam, essence .We were crying, mourning,singing Freedom songs. The prisoner - sings Andreew - seeing the might, the Colos of the prison, which men build to luck up Treedom,didn't dream even about Freedom.He is afraid even to mention this word, because boyh -=the prisoner and Freedom are closed up in this mighty prison walls. It is dangerous to call Freedom in prison because you grabing Freedom by yourself or you dead. Once writes Andreew - the prisoner heard extra ordinary sounds,whispers, noisews,buzzes,roars, than shakings and at once the cells door, this monster mighty iron door fling open by itself, no, not by mans hand with a key, no, by itself birst Open with a crack. We coudnt understand how a few of us are still alife, we are standing bewitched, freeze, couldn't move from this cursed damned prison, we are seeing the mighty walls in ruins and we standing like dames wonder about the might which tear this mighty prison into pieces like paper . together with the iron bars Torn, bend,curved, Cement, iron, stone crached lying like rags..The iron bars were Forever strong powerful and now torn! Only now we started to understand that we are f r e e, f r e e, f r e e ! O Andreew, genius ! His words improvised by Katia cheering us up and in the Same time we are afraid here in this prison of them.Will Freedom never come to us By itself? Or must only nature catastrophy, a higher might help to give us Liberty? O! Is it Frace Kafka's Metamorfosis Our heart now have windows, eyes, tears.We whisper, cry calling Andreew's Freedom .Freedom! Our Katia and with her we all fell in extase .Freedom! If we could collect all songs in the world an throw them into the air, took together all childrens l laughter, mothers love, a friends hag,, if We gather all flowers, collect all lights from the cosmos, even than I am enable to describe you, crown you O Freedom!. Liberty! Only who lost you, can describe you - [like A dam Mickiewicz said]. Katia didn't stop even all are crying - My dear sisters! I know is very painful but Andreew is giving us hope, think about it. He is telling us that yes, Freedom is Far, but he is giving us hope mabe it will not come by men of our time, but it will Come unespected We sitting squise together on Stalin's prison bed holding on another, whispering, forgetting for a minute our present. But no, we will and can forget -the "twister" - guard open the iron door with a yell: " -progulka -walking in Five minut! This is our "Freedom" Every day, if we are not panished for some "guilt" We are walking in the prison yard for 15 minute. A new "guest" in the cell. One day the iron door of our cell opened and the "stukatch" pushed in a newcommer. When we see here we all in one voice shouted" who is this, O!O! who is this?" A women dressed in shorts and brassiere, what is unusual in Russia, like on a bitch .Her face what scared us. A flat nose, no forehead, the chin prominent out. Her physiognomy was in complete agreement with Darwin s theory She jumped over all beds right to the window. We got two windows in the cell, one in side of a yard, were all transports like prisoners convicted to camp, wagons with dead bodies, Prisoners to and from interrogations . and the other windows facing the street of the prison gates. Both windows were covered inside with thick barrs,from outside with tin nozzle only on the top was a small opening of the tin to let in a little light into the cell.. .The bed near the window facing the street we reserved for sick people, this was Our "hospital". Motka [this was her name] jumped over all beds to the "hospital" yelling: in her dirty underworld lexicon to the two sick women: "out, this is my bed from now on, you Trockists, enemies of the people. From now on I am her the bos.My name is Motka Bandit and you will do everything what I will tell you.. We are a class Of "blatnyie urki"- tricketsters thiefs . we have now all rights, not you, we will teach you how to behave in our country. She was talking non stop, nobody . react, . Motka was telling us about the life of the criminals.-We, urki-thiefs, rubbers etc are also in prison, but we are not enemies of our country like you all educated doctors, professors, . You are spies for the fascists, you want to murder our Stalin. Because of this so many of yours are in prison and camps and we will overeducated your people to become soviet patriots, Motka was telling the truth .In the camps the criminals are formans instructors to the political 58 statia, the criminals are not working in the camps, they were the brigadiers and steeling from the workers the norms putting them on their own name. Motka become fresh more and more because of our silence .We new very well about the NKVD ways of putting spies and provocateurs into the cells of political prisoners, but to send in a political 58 cell a criminal monster is only to brake us morally, to humiliate, abuse us political inmates. We knew we definitely cant give in, Capitulate to this provocation .We must right away brake her wings .But it wasn't so easy. Her first step was to be the "boss" of the cell. Until now was another inmate the "starosta"- monitor, her function was to distribute the food, to take care of sick etc. Every day at 12 noon two workers criminal from the kitchen brought in the "dinner" in a tin cattle the soup.Only the criminals were "privileged" to work in the kitchen or in the workshops, the political prisoners will work as slaves in the camps. The soup consist of water and some time a few pieces of cabbage or potato. We use to joke : we need a bathing suite to swim in the soup to find a piece of something Now Motka decleard : she is the monitor and will distribute the dinner .The first day we didn't object, we want to see how she will behave herself. Motka first of all took soup for herself, fishing out the few pieces of cabbage, than she started to choose whom she like, at the end many were left without dinner. The next day we choose our monitor ignoring completely her swearing .She started to knock into the dooor and when the guard open the door,she gave to him a "report - the trokcist [ she didn't now how to properly said "trockist"] are agitating here, whispering all the time..,they are against me The guard told her to listen better and first of all listen to the monitor. Motka was furious, She lie down on the kot all alone singing her "blatnye" underworld songs about Odessa, the" Moldawanka and Peresip" gangs. She was asking questions and answering by herself. - This day our teacher Maria Slivniak was "reading " Anna Karenina" by Lew Tolstoy . She is telling us about the love to Wronski by Anna Karenina, how she left her husband and child.,how she is suffering and want to see herchild motka Bandit jumped over all beds to the lecturers cot kneeling on the bed and started to listen very intensely with an open mouth looking strait into Maries face.Maria finished the "" reading" :Anna Karenina couldn't gate her child, Wronski changed his feelings to her and she trough herself under the train Motka is bitter crying stretching out her arms to Maria " Dear dove continue .I will be good from now on, I thought that uou political prisoners are our enemies, I was told so . This was a surprise for us. She said crying : "I want to sleep with you together, I want to be your friend .I dont want the hospital bed for myself. Please, let the two sick women take back the bed. But we refused to let her sleep with us, also the sick women refused to return to the window, . The next day Katia started the second part of Leonid Andreiews "The Day of Unger". -I described to you in my previous talk about the collapse of a Prison colos building by earthquake, about astonished few saved prisoners .Now,if You agree I will continue, trying to talk inn Andreews language, how much I remember, because his classic language is such a beauty that we use to learn it by heart. I will now "sing " in Andreews words how much I remember. So the man is brutal, his hands are still shaking from yesterdays fear by the earthquake, but he is already grabbing the keys to lock the doors with a lock. When one hears the sound of gold,he must hear the sound of chains How fast O! man you are building prisons! You have, O man, even haven locked with your keys! But, when you, O man! Will peaceful sleep with the keys in your hand, the underground mighty power will hurl, fling the keys from your hand, in your heart Will grow ears and you shall hear the dead with your last breath and the watch Will stop. We were talking trough teares -when will the underground power trough out the prison keys from the jailers hand., will this happen in our time? Another lector recite a parody of Shekspirs Hamlet "To be or not to be":
To be or not to be - To beat or not to beat This is a prison parody - To wyts or not to wyts To howl or to scream or not to howl To zhit or not to zhit - To live or not to live And so, in Dantes Hell we 100 or 110 or 120 women with torn from grievance heart crying were again and again begging our Katia to "sing " Andrejew. Motka Bandit cry together with us.. She knock the door asking the guard to send her back to the kitchen to work. He told her to wait "we will tell you when to go"-he said. I am, you remember, a criminal Motka Bandit I was working in the kitchen. - she is demanding. Later we understood why she wanted so badly back to the kitchen. The next day Motka was taken out from our cell. She was bitter crying : I will not forget you, dear women. Motka was now working in the kitchen and bringing to as every day our dinner. Every day was another "present" hidden in her packet for the teacher and she would say through teers :"this is for todays teacher" or a piece of bread or fish or potato "this is for the hospital". This is why Motka demanded to send her back to work in the kitchen.. The soup was now ticker, better and more as usual. Motka was working in the kitchen from 7 morning till 2 afternoon than she Came back to our cell.. Our "prison cywilization " become very popular in prison. All criminals from now on are "respecting" us. No more calling "enemies," "trokcist", nomore Trowing on us dirt trough the window when we going for our 25 minut walk in the prison yard When Motka brought a "present" for the teacher she would say: "this is for the teacher, why should she scuffle her throat for us for nothing?". Motka dressed herself now in a dress, no more shorts and brassiere. Before Motka became our "patron" the criminals were very often abusing us. Once they pulled on us the dirt from the "parasha". The "twister" was laughing. We refused after that to go for a walk for two days. But now the same Prostituts, thiefs, murderers, instigated by the NKVD against the political enemies of the people" are throwing to us trough the same windows "presents", unbeliev able change brought in Motka Bandit. More over Motka assured us :no more Insults, no more names. "I told my friends -she said- that her is haven, no stealing, No beating, no card playing . her is a school, you know I never vent to a school?. The other criminals bringing to as "breakfast" or "supper" always brought something for a "present" .We were begging them to be careful because we are 58 article . Motka not only profited from us, as she use to say, but she "enriched" our lexicon -vocabulary with unknown to majority of us words, epithets, we were sure very often embarast, but it was "fun", something "extra-ordinner" , new in our so dark present . I doubt if the so "juicy " Russian rich Motkas vocabulary will Comply or correspond accordingly in English I shall bring a few "flowers" of Motkas wise quibbles. He is smart with hia lover back part". "Disaster,mischief doesn't walk alone". "My eyes sah it with my own hands". A new pressed interrogator" ."Pauper smart to invent anuthing". "Our life is poor,pitifull,we are bitten, smitten but for as -nobody to tuch". "For what you fought that you got". "Kolyma wonderful planet 12 months winter, the rest summer". The nobels are fighting but by the poor the teeth are shaking". "Yesterday dirt- today prince - and this is the hall liberty". Motkas vocabulary for us was a revelation, so rich in folks quibbles. The resignation, protest, desperation of a prisoner, almost no hope for friedom, they cant Revolt or protest against the oppressors all grief they spit out with the specific improvised vocabulary. We often were red in the face, confused with the accuracy of their synonimes . We were never repeating or using the criminals lexicon.I would like very much to bring here the most interesting strong "dirty" words, but I can,t O! you stinking "wrediteli" sabotage enemies intelligentia with your golden thong "was Motka,s compliment for us Motka was telling us about the life of the criminals. -We "urki" thiefs,, Rubers, murderers are in prison but we are not enemies of the people like you all educated doctors, professors, you are spies for the fascists, you want to murder our Stalin . Because of this so many of yours are in the camps, in prisons and we aqre over educating your people to became Soviet patriot. She was telling the "truth". In the c amps the criminals don't work, They became the brigadiers, masters, chiefs over the 58 article prisoners -the politicals, they lived an account of the campers work, stilling from them the bread, food, cloth and most importend - the norms of the workers they Put on their account, depriving the politicals of receiving food. Necessity is the mother of invention and how is this proper in prison! We were inventing in the cell the most needed things .For example : we desperately needed a needle. Our cloth is getting thorn, burn in the "lause Mashine", our stockings and other part of our "garderobe" are gating ruin . Not to have the opportunity to wash or clean. .From time to time we had for "dinner" a fish soup -"ucha" in which were only fish bones, never any fish. We made a use of the fish bones perticulair of the long pointy bones .With a match [from the cigarette smokers] we incandesce with another very tin bon heated on a burning match the wider part of the bon a small hole and we got a "perfect" needle . We used also the fish bones as a pen. Ink we made from the scrubbed paint from the red wall mixed with a drop of soup. When we went every two weeks to the bad [bania] we wrote our names on the bad wall with the red paint and also with a piece of soap. When I wrote mine name on the prison bad wall I remined myself About another wall where I was writing my name When we were in Paris with my hausband Herman we went to see the wall of the Paris Commune - the French Revolution. On this wall every visitor is putting his name for hundred years from the French Revolution. -Ania - I call my mother- write your name here on the anti-Commune Wall every one of the prisoners are doing the same. But when we are finished the criminals are coming in washing of all writings. . We were so sick from the life in prison, day and night sitting or lying down with Your legs down .Eve when you die, you are getting your place for your all Body, but Stalin cut your place on earth even in prison We all want to end faster this Dante hell and go to camp .Nobody was even dreaming about friedom, home. "NKVD is not making mistakes" is their slogan. In the Soviet Encyklopedia is a definition for a concentration camp : "Concentration camp is a closed up place in fascist states us a continuation of prison.This is a place for revolutioners and antifascists. There is a brutal terror against the prisoners. Polit arrested are worst of than the criminals The fascists are sending the politic. Arrested to the camps without a court verdict " This definition of a concentration camp was published in 1937 in the Soviet Encyklopedia. And we, the soviet prisoners were asking whispering in the ears "How about Stalins definition about a camp?" .. Stalin said: the Soviet prisons and camps are schools for workers to reeducate them " ..Nadiezhda Mandelstam said: "Stalin remake Rusia into a P r i s o n E d u c a t i o n C a m p". Engels said: Teror is the tactic of people who are themselves terrorists. Stalin was called by his shadows: "Father of the people", he became their God . .God didn't have a family, so "God " Stalin killed his wife Allelujewa and her all family. He thought the children to denounce Their own parents to the NKVD if they think them anticommunist. The manikins found right away a real "patriot", a boy Pavlik Morozow. By denouncing his parents as anti - stalinists . The boy became a folks- hero. His portraits, sculptors were put on every corner. Motka was telling us about the life of criminal prisoners in the camps. We, "yrki" [this is the name of a criminal in the criminals lexicon] tiffs, rubbers are also in prison, but we are not enemies of our country like you all Educated doctors, professors, teachers You are spies for the fascists. You want to Murder our father Stalin . Because of this so many of yours are in the camps, in prison. We, you should know that, we, the criminals are reeducating your People to became soviet patriots . Motka was telling the truth. In the camp the criminals don't work, they Are the "watchers" over the "enemies of the people". They rubbing the 58 politicals from everything: cloth, shoes and most impotent they lived on account of the stolen from the political prisoners norms and putting them on their own account. The camp administration is approving the brutal robbery, they not taking any complains from a "spy". They the administration is content because they are afraid of the criminals not of the politicals.