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Gulag Quotes

Quotes tagged as "gulag" Showing 1-30 of 43
Milan Kundera
“Totalitarianism is not only hell, but all the dream of paradise-- the age-old dream of a world where everybody would live in harmony, united by a single common will and faith, without secrets from one another. Andre Breton, too, dreamed of this paradise when he talked about the glass house in which he longed to live. If totalitarianism did not exploit these archetypes, which are deep inside us all and rooted deep in all religions, it could never attract so many people, especially during the early phases of its existence. Once the dream of paradise starts to turn into reality, however, here and there people begin to crop up who stand in its way, and so the rulers of paradise must build a little gulag on the side of Eden. In the course of time this gulag grows ever bigger and more perfect, while the adjoining paradise gets even smaller and poorer.”
Milan Kundera, The Book of Laughter and Forgetting

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“...you are strong only as long as you don't deprive people of everything. For a person you've taken everything from is no longer in your power. He's free all over again.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The First Circle

Orlando Figes
“Sveta had much less to say, but she sat with Lev and held his hand, and when I asked her what had made her fall in love with him, she replied, ‘I knew he was my future. When he was not there, I would look for him, and he would always appear by my side. That is love.’

Sveta”
Orlando Figes, Just Send Me Word: A True Story of Love and Survival in the Gulag

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“When our life crackles and sparks like a torch, we curse the necessity of spending eight hours uselessly in sleep. When we have been deprived of everything, when we have been deprived of hope, then bless you, fourteen hours of sleep!”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918 - 1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II

Varlam Shalamov
“If bones could freeze, then the brain could also be dulled and the soul could freeze over. And the soul shuddered and froze- perhaps to remain frozen forever.”
Varlam Shalamov, Kolyma Tales

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Work, he reckoned, was the best medicine of all.
Work is what horses die of. Everybody should know that.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Els dirigents passen, l'Arxipèlag perdura.”
Alexander Solzhenitsyn
tags: gulag

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“​Those prisoners who had been in Buchenwald and survived were, in fact, imprisoned for that very reason in our own camps: How could you have survived an annihilation camp? Something doesn't smell right!​”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

Dalia Grinkevičiūtė
“We’ve covered ourselves with everything we own, plus a snow blanket on top. It does provide warmth. The snow is everywhere - our pillows, our hair. You stick your head out, take a deal breath, slip under the covers again and breathe out. Feels warm. The snow on your hair melts, then turns to ice. A winter hat. Silence. Darkness... The only thing visible is the snow.”
Dalia Grinkevičiūtė, Shadows on the Tundra

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“To taste the sea, all one needs is one gulp.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago 1918–1956

Monika Zgustová
“Experimenté algo todavía más cruel, más refinadamente cruel. En pleno invierno, cuando no hay luz nunca y el sol no aparece ni por asomo, me enviaron junto con otros presos a construir un muro con piedras tan pesadas que costaba levantarlas. Un día nos obligaban a construirlo y al día siguiente nos ordenaban que destruyéramos lo erigido; y así una y otra vez. La mayor tortura de todas las que he vivido consistía en la inutilidad de un trabajo sobrehumano.”
Monika Zgustová, Vestidas para un baile en la nieve

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Here’s the sort of people they were. A letter from her fifteen-year-old
daughter came to Yelizaveta Tsvetkova in the Kazan Prison for long-term
prisoners: “Mama! Tell me, write to me — are you guilty or not? I hope you
weren’t guilty, because then I won’t join the Komsomol, and I won’t forgive
them because of you. But if you are guilty—I won’t write you any more and
will hate you.” And the mother was stricken by remorse in her damp
gravelike cell with its dim little lamp: How could her daughter live without
the Komsomol? How could she be permitted to hate Soviet power? Better
that she should hate me. And she wrote: “I am guilty. . . . Enter the
Komsomol!”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918 - 1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books I-II

Evgenia Ginzburg
“Ahora, cuando estoy llegando al final de mi vida, lo sé con toda certeza: Anton Walter tenía razón. En cada corazón late un mea culpa, y sólo hay que saber cuándo prestará oído el hombre a esas dos palabras que resuenan en lo más hondo de su ser.
Durante las noches de insomnio se oyen muy claramente. Esas noches de insomnio en las que, como dice Pushkin, todos «releemos la vida con horror», y nos estremecemos, y maldecimos. En el insomnio, la conciencia no se consuela por no haber participado directamente en los asesinatos y en las traiciones. Porque no sólo mata el que asesta el golpe, sino los que han avivado su odio. De uno u otro modo. Repitiendo irreflexivamente peligrosas fórmulas teóricas. Levantando en silencio la mano derecha. Escribiendo cobardemente una verdad a medias. Mea culpa… Y creo, cada vez más, que dieciocho años de infierno en la tierra no bastan para una culpa como ésta.”
Evgenia Ginzburg, Within the Whirlwind

C.G. Faulkner
“You know I won’t take a chance with your lives…” Ethan replied. “You’re the future of the Fortner family.” He smiled and took her hand in his. “Like I said, don’t worry…before you know it you’ll have Jeff back and you can tell him he’s going to be a father!”
C.G. Faulkner, White Room: A Cold War Thriller

Varlam Shalamov
“For many months there day and night, at the morning and the evening checks, innumerable execution orders were read out. In a temperature of fifty below zero [Fahrenheit] the musicians from among the non-political offenders played a flourish before and after each order was read. The smoking gasoline torches ripped apart the darkness…. The thin sheet on which the order was written was covered with hoarfrost, and some chief or other who was reading the order would brush the snowflakes from it with his sleeve so as to decipher and shout out the name of the next man on the list of those shot.”
Varlam Shalamov, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
Marx, concerning himself with a less remote time ("Critique of the Gotha Program"), declared with equal conviction that the one and only means of correcting offenders (true, he referred to criminals; he never even conceived that his pupils might consider politicals offenders) was not solitary contemplation, not moral soul-searching, not repentance, and not languishing (for all that was superstructures!)—but productive labor. He himself had never taken a pick in hand. To the end of his days he never pushed a wheelbarrow, mined coal, felled timber, and we don't even know how his firewood was split—but he wrote that down on paper, and the paper did not resist.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Creo que con lo expuesto aquí queda demostrado que en el exterminio de millones de hombres, y en su destierro al Gulag, hubo una coherencia fría y meditada y un incansable tesón.
Que en nuestro país las cárceles nunca estuvieron vacías, sino repletas o incluso atiborradas.
Que mientras vosotros andabais gratamente ocupados con los inofensivos secretos del átomo, estudiabais la influencia de Heidegger en Sartre, coleccionabais reproducciones de Picasso, viajabais en coche-cama a los balnearios o terminabais de edificar vuestra dacha en las afueras de Moscú, los "cuervos" recorrían incansablemente las calles y la Seguridad del Estado llamaba, con los nudillos o el timbre, a las puertas.
Y creo que con lo expuesto queda demostrado también que los Órganos jamás vivieron de la sopa boba.”
Alexandr Solzhenitsyn, ARCHIPIELAGO GULAG I

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“You know who dies first, the guy who licks our bowls and puts his faith in the sick bay, or squeals to the godfather.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich
tags: gulag

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Can any work in a prison camp merge with your dreams, absorb your whole soul, rob you of sleep? It can—but only the work you do to escape!”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books V-VII

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“A committed escaper! One who never for a minute doubts that a man cannot live behind bars—not even as the most comfortable of trusties, in the accounts office, in the Culture and Education Section, or in charge of the bread ration. One who once he lands in prison spends every waking hour thinking about escape and dreams of escape at night. One who has vowed never to resign himself, and subordinates every action to his need to escape. One for whom a day in prison can never be just another day; there are only days of preparation for escape, days on the run, and days in the punishment cells after recapture and a beating.

A committed escaper! This means one who knows what he is undertaking. One who has seen the bullet-riddled bodies of other escapers on display along the central tract. He has also seen those brought back alive—like the man who was taken from hut to hut, black and blue and coughing blood, and made o shout: "Prisoners! Look at what happened to me! It can happen to you, too!" He knows that a runaway's body is usually too heavy to be delivered to camp. And that therefore the head alone is brought back in a duffel bag, sometimes (this is more reliable proof, according to the rulebook) together with the right arm, chopped off at the elbow, so that the Special Section can check the fingerprints and write the man off.

A committed escaper! It is for his benefit that window bars are set in cement, that the camp area is encircled with dozens of strands of barbed wire, towers, fences, reinforced barriers, that ambushes and booby traps are set, that red meat is fed to gray dogs.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books V-VII

“Todo me parecía trivial. Nada tenía sentido. Nadie en libertad podía imaginarse ni por asomo lo que yo había experimentado. Y a mí me parecía que ellos no tenían vivencias. Al menos no lo que yo llamaba vivencias. El mundo de la gente en libertad era radicalmente distinto al mío.”
Zgustová

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“Without even discussing the question of talent, can a person become a jailer in a prison or camp if he is capable of the very least kind of useful activity? Let us ask: On the whole, can a camp keeper be a good human being? What system of moral selection does life arrange for them? The first selection takes place on assignment to the MVD armies, MVD schools, or MVD courses. Every man with the slightest speck of spiritual training, with a minimally circumspect conscience, or capacity to distinguish good from evil, is instinctively going to back out and use every available means to avoid joining this dark legion. But let us concede that he did not succeed in backing out. A second selection comes during training and the first service assignment, when the bosses themselves take a close look and eliminate all those who manifest laxity (kindness) instead of strong will and firmness (cruelty and mercilessness). And then a third selection takes place over a period of many years: All those who had not visualized where and into what they were getting themselves now come to understand and are horrified. To be constantly a weapon of violence, a constant participant in evil! Not everyone can bring himself to this, and certainly not right off. You see, you are trampling on others' lives. And inside yourself something tightens and bursts. You can't go on this was any longer! And although it is belated, men can still begin to fight their way out, report themselves ill, get disability certificates, accept lower pay, take off their shoulder boards—anything just to get out, get out, get out!
Does that mean the rest of them have got used to it? Yes. The rest of them have got used to it, and their life already seems normal to them. And useful too, of course. And even honorable. And some didn't have to get used to it; they had been that way from the start.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV

“To destroy communism we must be willing to risk our lives. If we are unwilling to do this, then we won't survive. The Red Dictatorship will triumph. Cruelty, war, famine and distress will rule the earth. Then, truly, would come the end of history --- and a world where The Gulag Archipelago sings its woeful tune, like some broken record, through all posterity.
"Origins of the Fourth World War”
J.R.Nyquist

“While there is real merit in worrying about Corporate Psychopaths, there is much more merit in worrying about political psychopathy. For what is our modern politician but a charming manipulator with a calculating mind? What else can be made of the lack of accountability we find in politicians today, or the glib way in which they deflect questions and criticism? And what holds out the promise of power more than politics? If a psychopath seeks power in business, he may yet be stopped by that accounting which all private businesses must make. If he enters politics, he need only repeat the big lie while turning his charisma toward the media.
Yes, indeed, Political Psychopaths have produced more victims than Corporate Psychopaths; and while we may read of corporate greed or embezzlement in the news, we may rest assured that the Soviet Gulag, the Chinese Labor camps, and crimes of the Nazis were not the work of capitalists, but the work of capitalism’s enemies.”
J.R.Nyquist

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“And the conclusion is: Survive to reach it! Survive! At any price!
This is simply a turn of phrase, a sort of habit of speech: "at any price."
But then the words swell up with their full meaning, and an awesome vow takes shape: to survive at any price.
And whoever takes that vow, whoever does not blink before its crimson burst—allows his own misfortune to overshadow both the entire common misfortune and the whole world.
This is the great fork of camp life. From this point the roads go to the right and to the left. One of them will rise and the other will descend. If you go to the right—you lose your life, and if you go to the left—you lose your conscience.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV

C.G. Faulkner
“Aleksandr’s match with the big Mongolian known only as ‘Genghis’ had been going for over eight minutes. No prior fighter had lasted more than two minutes. They circled each other like two Bengal tigers that had both happened upon the same prey after weeks of starvation.”
C.G. Faulkner, White Room: A Cold War Thriller

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“The wind whistles over the bare steppe — hot and dry in the summer, freezing in winter. Nothing has ever been known to grow on that steppe, least of all between four barbed-wire fences.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
“For centuries it was considered that a criminal was given a sentence for precisely this purpose, to think about his crime for the whole period of his sentence, be conscience-stricken, repent, and gradually reform.

But the Gulag Archipelago knows no pangs of conscience! Out of one hundred natives—five are thieves, and their transgressions are no reproach in their own eyes, but a mark of valor. They dream of carrying out such feats in the future even more brazenly and cleverly. They have nothing to repent. Another five… stole on a big scale, but not from people; in our times, the only place where one can steal on a big scale is from the state, which itself squanders the people's money without pity or sense—so what was there for such types to repent of? Maybe that they had not stolen more and divvied up—and thus remained free? And, so far as another 85 percent of the natives were concerned—they had never committed any crimes whatever. What were they supposed to repent of? That they has thought what they thought? (Nonetheless, they managed to pound and muddle some of them to such an extent that they did repent—of being so depraved….) Or that a man had surrendered and become a POW in a hopeless situation? Or that he had taken employment under the Germans instead of dying of starvation? (Nonetheless, the managed so to confuse what was permitted and what was forbidden that there were some such who were tormented greatly: I would have done better to die than to have earned that bread.) Or that while working for nothing in the collective-farm fields, he had taken a mite to feed his children? Or that he had taken something from a factory for the same reason?

No, not only do you not repent, but your clean conscience, like a clear mountain lake, shines in your eyes.”
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, Books III-IV

Dean Cavanagh
“Closed minds lead to the opening of concentration camps and gulags.”
Dean Cavanagh

Michael Parenti
“...The gulag—with its millions of victims, if you listen to Solzehnitsyn and Sakharov—supposedly existed in the Soviet Union right down to the very last days of communism. If so—as I've asked before—where did it disappear to? That is, when the communist states were overthrown, where were the millions of stricken victims pouring out of the internment camps with their tales of torment? I'm not saying they don't exist; I'm just asking, where are they? One of the last remaining camps, Perm-35—visited in 1989 and again in '90 by Western observers—held only a few dozen prisoners, some of whom were outright spies, as reported in the Washington Post. Others were refuseniks who tried to flee the country. The inmates complained about poor-quality food, the bitter cold, occasional mistreatment by guards. I should point out that these labor camps were that: they were work camps. They weren't death camps that you had under Nazism where there was a systematic extermination of the people in the camps. So there was a relatively high survival rate. The visitors also noted that throughout the 1980s, hundreds of political prisoners had been released from the various camps, but hundreds are not millions. Even with the great fall that took place after Stalin, under Khrushchev, when most of the camps were closed down...there was no sign of millions pouring back into Soviet life—the numbers released were in the thousands. Why—where are the victims? Why no uncovering of mass graves? No Nuremburg-style public trials of communist leaders, documenting the widespread atrocities against these millions—or hundreds of millions, if we want to believe our friend at the Claremont Institute. Surely the new...anti-communist rulers in eastern Europe and Russia would have leaped at the opportunity to put these people on trial. And the best that the West Germans could do was to charge East German leader Erich Honecker and seven of his border guards with shooting persons who tried to escape over the Berlin Wall. It's a serious enough crime, that is, but it's hardly a gulag. In 1955[sic], the former secretary of the Prague communist party was sentenced to two and a half years in prison. 'Ah, a gulag criminal!' No, it was for ordering police to use tear gas and water cannons against demonstrators in 1988. Is this the best example of bloodthirsty communist repression that the capitalist restorationists could find in Czechoslovakia? An action that doesn't even qualify as a crime in most Western nations—water cannons and tear gas! Are they kidding? No one should deny that crimes were committed, but perhaps most of the gulag millions existed less in reality and more in the buckets of anti-communist propaganda that were poured over our heads for decades.”
Michael Parenti

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