In the history of medieval Russia, those ready to fight for a common cause were called “soratniks,” that is, combatants. Were the revolutionaries in Russia combatants? No!
Their causes were different! Thus, Lenin and Trotsky were Bolsheviks, who wanted all the power resulting from the revolution for the Bolsheviks. But other revolutionaries, such as Social Revolutionaries, regarded the Bolsheviks as a variety of tsarist officials, talking Marxism and establishing a new countrywide Marxist prison.
Besides, the Bolsheviks fought one another for power, and the Bolshevik Stalin exiled the Bolshevik Trotsky from Russia in 1929 and finally had him killed in Mexico in 1940.
Neither I nor anyone of my age knew what the Bolshevik Trotsky even looked like. His very photographs were seditious — like the pictures of the devil in the early Middle Ages. On the other hand, the images of Stalin were ubiquitous.
Since the Bolshevik Stalin feared that some other famous Bolshevik might replace him, who could not even speak Russian well, these flamboyant Bolsheviks were sporadically shot as heinous traitors, sometimes associated with Trotsky, and Stalin’s combatants finally became prosaic boring officials. A special giant apartment house was built for them in Moscow, and called, properly, “The House of the Government.”
In the 1930s, a family in Moscow occupied one room of a former five- or six- room apartment, and shared the kitchen and other facilities. You can imagine the luxury of The House of the Government. Each apartment had the study for the head of the family, a room for his wife, complete with closets of foreign dresses, a room for each child, and a room for a house maid, not to mention a sophisticated kitchen and other facilities.
In summertime, the family lived in their summer house, complete with their private car (though having a private car could well be compared to having in New York a 30-meter ocean-going vessel).
And suddenly . . .
All private telephones were old in Moscow. But in The House of the Government they were all new, and the tenants used them with zeal and pleasure. They did not guess that for the Secret Police, the new telephone was a new way to have all private conversations recorded.
Speaking of the Jewish family in the House of the Government I knew: He (an important scientist, a Jew) and his wife were arrested. He was shot; she was sent to a concentration camp; and their children were distributed among relatives and orphanages.
Up to the death of Stalin in1953, Stalin’s combatants continued to disappear, and here Stalin began to discover a new threat for himself and his power: the absence of religion. How stupid of him it was to suppose that “the fear of being caught” would be enough to prevent a “hostile terrorist act.”
Stalin hatched up a plan to exile Jews into a “remote locality.” According to rumors after Stalin’s death, when the trains carrying exiled Jews would move over a bridge across a lake, they all would be thrown off the trains into the water where they drowned.
Jews such as Trotsky were accused in pre-1917 Russia of causing unrest, trouble, mutiny, and attacking Orthodox Christianity. Now, 36 years later, Stalin accused them of the same.
Nevertheless, the daughter of those Jewish parents who were arrested in The House of the Government said, “Well, I have lived a beautiful life.”
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