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Silence Was Salvation

Silence Was Salvation: Child Survivors of Stalin's Terror and World War II in the Soviet Union

Cathy A. Frierson
Copyright Date: 2015
Published by: Yale University Press
Pages: 288
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt13x1tkd
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  • Book Info
    Silence Was Salvation
    Book Description:

    Roughly ten million children were victims of political repression in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era, the sons and daughters of peasants, workers, scientists, physicians, and political leaders considered by the regime to be dangerous to the political order. Ten grown victims, who as children suffered banishment, starvation, disease, anti-Semitism, and trauma resulting from their parents' condemnation and arrest, now freely share their stories. The result is a powerful and moving oral history that will profoundly deepen the reader's understanding of life in the U.S.S.R. under the despotic reign of Joseph Stalin.

    eISBN: 978-0-300-21073-6
    Subjects: History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-x)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. xi-xii)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. xiii-xiv)
  4. Author Note
    (pp. xv-xviii)
  5. Introduction: I survived. I speak.
    (pp. 1-23)

    This book introduces ten people who were survivors of childhood trauma during the Soviet era and who were still living in Russia in 2005–2007. The Soviet government created their suffering when it orphaned them in the 1930s and 1940s by arresting one or both of their parents, whom the state then imprisoned, exiled, or executed. The children subsequently endured social, political, and economic stigmas as offspring of “enemies of the people” or “traitors to the motherland.” These categories excluded them for life from many opportunities their peers enjoyed as unstigmatized Soviet citizens. When World War II began in Poland...

  6. CHAPTER ONE “If you are interested in this kind of detail, I have remembered for all these years the smell of the perfume she was wearing and the color of her blouse”
    (pp. 24-36)
    ALEKSANDR YUDELEVICH ZAKGEIM

    Born in Moscow in 1930, Aleksandr Yudelevich Zakgeim was the son of secular Jewish parents who were not members of the Communist Party. His father was a professor at Moscow State University; his mother was an economist in the trade union bureaucracy. They lived well, with a peasant nanny who had been displaced from her village by the policies of dekulakization and collectivization. Aleksandr Yudelevich Zakgeim’s father, Yudel, was arrested in 1936 for reasons the family never fully understood. Family members believed that his comments about state policies during special seminars with his Moscow State University students contributed to his...

  7. CHAPTER TWO “And we began to live there in twenty-six square meters; there were thirteen of us”
    (pp. 37-66)
    INNA ARONOVNA SHIKHEEVA-GAISTER

    Inna Aronovna Gaister was born in Moscow in 1925 to two Communist Party members who subsequently rose to high positions in the Soviet state and the Party. Both parents were Jews from the Pale of Settlement who had joined the Bolshevik Party during the civil war. Their many siblings had followed similar paths to prominence in Soviet Moscow. Aron Gaister’s young family lived at Government House, the most prestigious residential address in Moscow in the mid-1930s. Young Inna Aronovna even had her own room from the time she started school, as well as a beloved nanny who cared for her...

  8. CHAPTER THREE “I, you understand, for my generation, . . . we have the psychology of persons devoted to society. We can’t separate ourselves from society”
    (pp. 67-84)
    ANDREI IVANOVICH VOROBYOV

    Andrei Ivanovich Vorobyov was born in Moscow on New Year’s Day, 1928, to parents who already understood they were likely to become victims of Stalin’s rise to power. Ivan Ivanovich Vorobyov and Maria (Mirra) Samuilovna Kizelshtein were Old Bolsheviks who “were always in the opposition” to Stalin, and totally committed to Vladimir Lenin and Leon Trotsky. Both were prominent in their fields. Ivan Vorobyov was a professor at the First Medical Institute of Moscow, and Kizelshtein was a prominent research scientist specializing in endocrinology. As soon as Trotsky lost out to Stalin in the struggle to succeed Lenin as leader...

  9. CHAPTER FOUR “I would ride as far as Karabas Station, but then, I don’t recall, I had to go about fifty–sixty kilometers on foot”
    (pp. 85-116)
    VALENTIN TIKHONOVICH MURAVSKY

    Valentin Tikhonovich Muravsky was born in 1928 in Leningrad. His mother was a medic and a member of the Communist Party. His father, a radio engineer, was not a member of the Party. The family lived prosperously until the Great Terror. As a “child of the Gulag,” young Valentin Tikhonovich endured a life of exceptional displacement, family loss and separation, and imprisonment. He lost his father to arrest as an enemy of the people in 1937. The Soviet government then exiled him and his mother and older sister to Central Asia for being relatives of an enemy of the people....

  10. CHAPTER FIVE “Silence was salvation. That’s what I knew”
    (pp. 117-143)
    IRINA ANDREEVNA DUBROVINA

    Irina Andreevna Dubrovina was born in 1928 in Tsaritsyn (also known as Stalingrad and Volgograd). Her father, Andrei Matveev, had been an elected delegate of the Socialist Revolutionary (SR) Party to the Constituent Assembly in January 1918. He left the SR Party and withdrew from all political activity after Lenin’s Soviet government shut the Constituent Assembly down through a military show of force on what would have been its second day in session. Irina Andreevna’s mother was an educated young woman who was not a member of the Communist Party, and she was working in library development in Smolensk when...

  11. CHAPTER SIX “I was so overjoyed that I had found you”
    (pp. 144-156)
    VERA MIKHAILOVNA KOSTINA and VERA YULYANOVNA SKIBA

    When Vera Mikhailovna filled out an information form I had given her at the beginning of our interview, she filled in the lines for “Family Name,” “First Name and Patronymic” thus: Kostina (maiden family names: Skiba and Teplukhina) Vera Mikhailovna. During her interview, she explained that her birth father’s name was Yulian. Thus, she was named Vera Yulyanovna Skiba when she was born in western Belorussia to parents of Polish background in 1940. Coming to understand her various names and choosing the names by which to identify herself became steps in her childhood survival and construction of her adult self....

  12. CHAPTER SEVEN “The feeling of loneliness has stalked me always”
    (pp. 157-172)
    TAMARA NIKOLAEVNA MOROZOVA

    According to family lore, German bombers were flying overhead when Tamara Nikolaevna Morozova was born in November 1941 in a village outside Tver. Her mother, a worker of peasant origin, had fled Leningrad on the eve of the war while pregnant with Tamara. She had received a warning from her husband and his brother that war was imminent. She took her older daughter with her to her mother-in-law’s home in the village. Her husband disappeared almost immediately after the German invasion; only in 1943 did mother and daughters receive word that he was in the Gulag, sentenced to ten years...

  13. CHAPTER EIGHT “I had a completely non-Soviet worldview”
    (pp. 173-189)
    ALEKSANDR NIKOLAEVICH KOZYREV

    Aleksandr Nikolaevich Kozyrev was born in Leningrad in 1932 to members of the Soviet intelligentsia who were not members of the Communist Party. His father, Nikolai Kozyrev, worked in theoretical astrophysics in the 1930s before his arrest. Neither parent was executed, although both were arrested. His father was arrested in 1936 in connection with the “Pulkovo Affair” at the Pulkovo Observatory outside Leningrad. His mother was arrested as a wife of an enemy of the people as a result of Operational Order 00486 of August 1937. After his father’s arrest, young Aleksandr Nikolaevich was able to remain in Leningrad with...

  14. CHAPTER NINE “I have dreamed my entire life, for me this would be a great joy to find my relatives”
    (pp. 190-235)
    MAYA RUDOLFOVNA LEVITINA

    Maya Rudolfovna Levitina was born in Smolensk in 1928 to two Soviet physicians who had joined the Bolsheviks as Red Army soldiers in 1918. Her parents were both from the periphery of the Russian empire. Her mother, Antonina Konstantinovna Nosovich, was the daughter of prosperous Polish farmers. Her father, Rudolf Ennovich Yakson, was the son of a German mother and a Latvian father living in Riga as prosperous members of the bourgeoisie. When the Stalinist repressions began, Maya Rudolfovna’s family lived in Leningrad, where Rudolf Yakson was deputy director of Ivan Pavlov’s Institute for Experimental Medicine, and Antonina Nosovich practiced...

  15. CHAPTER TEN “Well, probably, essentially, they destroyed my life, of course”
    (pp. 236-250)
    VLADIMIR VALERIANOVICH TIMOFEEV

    Vladimir Valerianovich Timofeev was born in 1937 in the medieval city of Vologda in the Russian north. He described himself as a descendant on his father’s side of noble military servitors to the tsars, from Ivan IV (the Terrible) in the sixteenth century through World War I in the twentieth century. His mother came from a prosperous merchant family in Vologda. Vladimir Valerianovich’s father was arrested in 1940, accused of spying for Poland, for no apparent reason other than that he had learned Polish in his prerevolutionary military school. Timofeev, his older brother, and their mother subsequently endured grinding poverty....

  16. Appendix I: Amendments to Criminal Code (Decree of December 1, 1934)
    (pp. 251-251)
  17. Appendix II: Excerpt from NKVD Operational Order 00447
    (pp. 252-252)
  18. Appendix III: Operational Order No. 00486
    (pp. 253-256)
  19. Chronology
    (pp. 257-262)
  20. Selected Glossary of Names, Places, and Institutions
    (pp. 263-264)
  21. Index
    (pp. 265-268)
  22. Back Matter
    (pp. 269-270)