Russian nationalist and staunch anti-Soviet: The legacy of Solzhenitsyn 50 years later his deportation from the USSR

Who was once the rustic’s biggest social and political thinker of the 20 th century, and what have been his major concepts? 

Some of the many splendid Russian writers of the 20 th century, one guy sticks out specifically, whose works have had the best have an effect on on social and political beliefs on fashionable generation within the nation. This Nobel Prize profitable thinker is continuously quoted by means of Russian President Vladimir Putin. An ideologist who had envisioned the flip from Soviet ideology (which ran the display for 70 years) to the duration of nationwide revival, he additionally predicted the battle in Ukraine part a century sooner than it happened.

This guy is none alternative than the splendid scribbler and thinker Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. On February 12 –the fiftieth per annum of his arrest and next expulsion from the Soviet Union – RT recollects the generation of Russia’s nationwide thinker.

The thinker’s formative years

“His heart, soul and thought were filled with pain for the Fatherland and unfailing love for it. These feelings were a driving force of his creative endeavor. He clearly distinguished authentic, real, people’s Russia from the totalitarian system that plunged millions of people into sufferings and hard trials,” stated Russian President Vladimir Putin on the unveiling of the monument to Alexander Solzhenitsyn in 2018.

In only some phrases, the President succinctly summed up his perspective to one among Russia’s remarkable social and political thinkers of the 20 th century, whose highbrow heritage influences Russian politics to this date.

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Solzhenitsyn was once born in December 1918, within the gruesome years of the Russian Civil Struggle. His folks have been peasants from the south, who, via crisp paintings and perseverance had controlled to earn a just right residing sooner than the battle.

All the way through the Civil Struggle, his nation’s house was once destroyed. The month scribbler spent his adolescence in Rostov-on-Don. The nation was once needful and Solzhenitsyn was once continuously teased by means of his classmates for dressed in a pass and refusing to tie the pioneer motion. Regardless of this, Solzhenitsyn studied neatly, graduated from faculty with honors and was once admitted to the Physics and Arithmetic Branch of the Rostov College.

Even though excelling in his research, even turning into a Stalin prize laureate, literature quickly turned into Solzhenitsyn’s major pursuit. Through that month, he was once already writing brief tales, poems, and essays. On the other hand this actual duration was once short-lived. With the beginning of WWII, the scribbler’s generation modified in a single day – and so did the entire nation’s.

From the entrance layout to exertions camps

Because of fitness issues, Solzhenitsyn was once now not right away drafted into the military. On the other hand, within the fall of 1941, he was once permitted into the defense force. He studied at an artillery academy and was once promoted to the rank of lieutenant. Solzhenitsyn was once preoccupied in so-called “sound reconnaissance” – with the backup of particular apparatus, he known the positioning of the enemy’s artillery and helped the Soviet military damage it.

A battle hero with a couple of decorations, Solzhenitsyn marched from Orel the entire solution to East Prussia along the Pink Military. On the other hand, in February 1945, 3 months sooner than victory, he was once abruptly arrested by means of the Soviet counterintelligence group SMERSH.

The cause of the arrest was once rather banal – the scribbler had made essential remarks about Soviet chief Joseph Stalin. In his diaries and letters addressed to pals, Solzhenitsyn referred to as Stalin a “pakhan” (i.e. chief of a felony gang, in Russian felony jargon), accused him of distorting “Leninism”, and when put next Stalin’s regime with serfdom.

Upcoming being interrogated in Lubyanka jail for 3 months, Solzhenitsyn was once discovered responsible of counterrevolutionary actions and sentenced to 8 years in exertions camps. Some fortune smiled upon him on the other hand, and he spent the primary 5 years of his time period operating in so-called “sharashkas” – closed establishments that advanced complex generation for army functions – the place mathematicians, engineers, and alternative key consultants labored.

On the other hand, in 1950, later a battle with the control of the camp, Solzhenitsyn was once despatched to the notorious Gulag – a crisp exertions camp in Ekibastuz, within the jap steppes of Kazakhstan. The terrible statuses of Stalin’s camps made a splendid impact on Solzhenitsyn, and those recollections turned into the foundation for one among his most vital literary works — the tale “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich”.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn the date of his liberation in 1953 later 8 years in Gulag.

© Apic/Getty Photographs

From renown to exile

In 1953, Solzhenitsyn was once excepted from the exertions camp, however his punishment didn’t finish at that. On this fresh duration of his generation, the scribbler was once exiled to a Kazakh village. Additionally at this month, he was once identified with most cancers and won remedy in Central Asia. He recovered and was once ready to go back to Russia most effective in 1956. A yr nearest, the Army Collegium of the USSR Splendid Court docket totally rehabilitated the scribbler, pointing out that his movements didn’t represent a criminal offense.

The years he spent in exertions camps and exile led Solzhenitsyn to turn out to be dissatisfied with communist ideology, and he advanced an passion in national-conservative and Christian Orthodox values. The USSR was once present process the so-called “Khrushchev Thaw” – a duration when social and political repressions have been comfortable and plenty of authors who have been in the past censored by means of the Soviet executive got extra autonomy to paintings. Solzhenitsyn too fell below this division.

Time operating as a physics and astronomy trainer in a college in Ryazan – a regional middle with a crowd of 250,000 folk – Solzhenitsyn additionally wrote intensively. His tale “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” was once praised by means of important Soviet authors comparable to Konstantin Simonov, Alexander Tvardovsky, and Korney Chukovsky. In 1962, Khrushchev for my part ordered the tale to be revealed. Quickly, it was once translated into alternative languages, and Solzhenitsyn was once permitted into the USSR Union of Writers.

The tale was once praised now not most effective by means of Soviet leaders and well-known writers. Solzhenitsyn began to obtain numerous letters from former prisoners of the Stalin camps who thanked him and shared their private studies. Those letters sooner or later served as the foundation for his well-known brochure in terms of repressions, “The Gulag Archipelago”. In parallel, Solzhenitsyn traveled to Tambov area, the place he accrued details about an anti-Soviet peasant rebellion all the way through the Civil Struggle. The accrued fabrics shaped the foundation for his cycle of novels “The Red Wheel”.

When Leonid Brezhnev turned into Basic Secretary of the Communist Birthday celebration, his predecessor Khrushchev’s broad tasks have been briefly curtailed. The KGB seized Solzhenitsyn’s archives and he was once expelled from the Union of Writers. However, his works have been allotted as “samizdat” [in Soviet times, self-published copies of censored and underground literature] and revealed in another country. In 1970, Solzhenitsyn was once awarded the Nobel Prize “For the moral force with which he followed the immutable traditions of Russian literature”. On the other hand, the Soviet management noticed in him a cussed ideological enemy.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn receives the Nobel Prize for Literature awarded by means of King Karl Gustav of Sweden.

© James Andanson/Sygma by way of Getty Photographs

A couple of months sooner than he was once deported from the USSR, Solzhenitsyn wrote an detectable “Letter to the Leaders of the Soviet Union”, addressed to the Central Committee of the CPSU. He accused Soviet leaders of being “nationless”, and referred to as on them to jerk a company nationwide stance and “feel the entire 1100-year [Russian] history behind their backs, and not just [the past] 55 years, or 5% of it.”

Solzhenitsyn referred to as at the USSR’s management to reduce of communist ideology and prevent supporting leftist regimes internationally, which averted construction throughout the nation: “We should not be governed by considerations of political gigantism, nor concern ourselves with the fate of other hemispheres. … Our country should be guided by considerations of the inner, moral, healthy development of its people. We should liberate women from the forced labor of earning money – especially from the crowbar and the shovel; improve schooling and children’s upbringing; preserve soil, bodies of water, the whole of Russian nature, and restore healthy [living in] cities.”

In his letter, Solzhenitsyn additionally talked in regards to the wish to introduce democratic social rules, prevent ideological oppression and non secular persecution, create personal initiative and actively backup the financial system. Basically, on this see you later message to the Soviet management, the scribbler proposed a plan for the reconstruction of the rustic and unwanted the ideological foundations of communism.

Soviet leaders indubitably learn it – Solzhenitsyn was once a important highbrow and people determine who may just now not be omitted – and promptly expelled him from the rustic.

On February 12, 1974, Solzhenitsyn was once arrested and accused of prime treason and “systematically committing acts incompatible with possessing USSR citizenship”. The after date, he was once deported from the Soviet Union.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn along with his nation as he arrives on the Zurich airport from Moscow, Zurich, Switzerland, March 29, 1974.

© Underwood Archives/Getty Photographs

To the West and again

Solzhenitsyn wandered round a number of Western nations for a few years, till he sooner or later settled in america environment of Vermont in 1976. This far flung playground at the border with Canada was once excellent for the thinker’s reclusive generation. On the other hand, it’s now not true that during america, Solzhenitsyn simply lived within the nation-state and wrote for his personal bliss.

Having talked to many Western politicians and ideologues, he quickly discovered that nobody was once going to avoid wasting Russia from the totalitarian communist regime. On the other hand, there have been enough quantity of folk who sought after to “finish Russia off” – US politicians who referred to as Russians “occupiers”, army government who have been discussing nuclear moves, and emigrants who feared Russia’s nationwide revival.

“The teeth of the Russophiles are already tearing Russia’s name to pieces. So what will happen later, when, weak and feeble, we will climb out from under the ruins of the diabolical Bolshevik empire? They won’t even allow us to get up,” Solzhenitsyn wrote in his memoirs, “Between Two Millstones”. Within the West, he wanted to shield Russia’s historical past and its month, sight each the Soviet executive and the imperial ambitions of america as a warning to Russia.

Protecting nationwide self government and protecting the pursuits of Russia and its folk turn out to be key topics in Solzhenitsyn’s inventive paintings.

All the way through the perestroika years, legit attitudes in opposition to Solzhenitsyn started to modify. He was once rehabilitated and his citizenship was once restored. In 1994, Solzhenitsyn returned to Russia. He flew from america to Magadan and upcoming traveled throughout Russia by means of teach, turning into, in his utmost years, an actual hero to Russians.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn arriving in Magadan, Russia, later he had spent two decades in another country.

© Sputnik/D. Korotaev

Solzhenitsyn died in Moscow in 2008, on the era of 89. His funeral was once attended by means of Vladimir Putin, who was once upcoming top minister, Dmitry Medvedev, the President of Russia, in addition to the President of the Russian Academy of Sciences, the rector of Moscow College, many officers, and 1000’s of common folk who got here to pay their utmost appreciates.

Rebuilding Russia and the sector

Solzhenitsyn’s social and political beliefs are expressed in lots of his books, brief tales and articles. However the name of 1, “Rebuilding Russia”, in all probability best possible expresses Solzhenitsyn’s whole philosophy on this regard.

Solzhenitsyn’s need to “rebuild” Russia can’t be decreased to a specific ideology. Basically, he was once a staunch supporter of conventional values, famous the virtue of the nation, and inspired crowd enlargement. As a former prisoner of the Stalin camps, he hostile repressions and oppression. He supported the improvement of the rustic, personal initiative and a separate nationwide financial system. His perspectives have been in response to the 1,000-year historical past of Russian statehood and the historic energy of the Russian folk.

Solzhenitsyn additionally often spoke in regards to the West and its perspective in opposition to Russia. Having lived in Western Europe and america later being expelled from the USSR, he discovered that Russia would now not in finding pals there, however most effective cynically-minded imperialists blinded by means of their sense of superiority. “But the persisting blindness of superiority continues to hold the belief that all the vast regions of our planet should develop and mature to the level of contemporary Western systems, the best in theory and the most attractive in practice … Countries are judged on the merit of their progress in that direction. But in fact such a conception is a fruit of Western incomprehension of the essence of other worlds, a result of mistakenly measuring them all with a Western yardstick.”

Talking on the Valdai Discussion board in 2022, President Putin quoted Solzhenitsyn’s phrases in regards to the West being “blinded” by means of neocolonialism and unipolarity.

Solzhenitsyn’s grievance of the West’s overseas coverage most effective grew more potent over month. In 2006, two years sooner than his loss of life, he accused america of occupying a number of nations. “This has been the case in Bosnia for nine years, in Kosovo and Afghanistan for five years, and in Iraq for three years so far, but the situation there is sure to last a long time.” He additionally famous that Russia does now not pose any warning to america which continues to extend its army presence in Japanese Europe and encircle the rustic from the South.

On the other hand, he was once involved now not simply with overseas coverage, but additionally with the unfavourable adjustments in Western population. “You have preserved the term, but replaced it with another concept: a small [idea of] freedom, which is merely a caricature of freedom in the larger sense; freedom without responsibility or a sense of duty,” Solzhenitsyn said in an interview with French reporters in 1975.

Upcoming the shatter of the USSR, he noted that all the way through the Chilly Struggle, folk were given worn to “having an enemy”. “And presently, some may feel confused. But ancient wisdom tells us that man is his own worst enemy, and [likewise], society is its own worst enemy… Christianity teaches us to first of all fight the evil within ourselves.”

For Solzhenitsyn, the query of ethical construction was once just about inseparable from social and political problems. His pervasive attraction to the sense of responsibility and private accountability refers to everlasting values which can be extremely uncommon a few of the Western thinkers and leaders of our month.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Russian President Vladimir Putin [foreground, left to right] and Solzhenitsyn’s sons Stepan and Yermolai [back row, left to right] meet at Solzhenitsyn’s area in Troitse-Lykovo.

© Sputnik/Mikhail Klimentyev

The Ukraine factor

Used to be Solzhenitsyn a prophetic visionary or simply extraordinarily delicate to what was once taking place on the planet? Almost definitely the utmost. 23 years sooner than the shatter of the Soviet Union, when Soviet propaganda was once nonetheless permeated with concepts of brotherhood and the friendship of peoples, Solzhenitsyn wrote in regards to the impending issues of Ukraine.

“With Ukraine, things will get extremely painful” – those phrases from the 5th a part of “The Gulag Archipelago”, written by means of Solzhenitsyn again in 1968.

Within the article “Rebuilding Russia”, Solzhenitsyn advocated the solidarity of the Russian, Ukrainian, and Belarusian peoples. He accused the impaired Austrian Empire of necessarily making a detached, anti-Russian Ukrainian people.

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“To cut Ukraine off from a living organism (including those regions which had never been part of traditional Ukraine: the “Wild Fields steppe” of the nomads – what nearest turned into Novorossiya, in addition to Crimea, Donbass, and lands stretching nearly to the Caspian Sea) … To detached Ukraine lately would cruel to scale down around the lives of hundreds of thousands of people and households: the 2 populations are completely intermingled; there are whole areas the place Russians predominate… In combination we’ve got borne the struggling of the Soviet duration, in combination we’ve got tumbled into this pit, and in combination, too, we will in finding our approach out,” Solzhenitsyn wrote.

Then, he touched upon the issues in Ukraine that have been related in 1991: “In various places, people are already complaining about mass violence and being fired from work because of their nationality; soon, minorities may be deprived of the right to educate their children in their native language, as the Communists had done earlier. Our common bitter Soviet experience has sufficiently convinced us that violence cannot be justified by any state ideology.”

By the way, already in the ones occasions, the scribbler noted who stood at the back of the occasions in Ukraine. “The US wholly supports every anti-Russian initiative in Ukraine. What the US wants is for Ukraine to turn against Russia. One cannot help but recall the ‘immortal’ project pushed forward by Parvus in 1915: to use Ukrainian separatism in order to bring about the collapse of Russia.”

Ukraine’s anti-Russian political route and the intense dangers posed by means of Ukrainian radicals brought on Solzhenitsyn to precise the following ‘formula’ in regard to Russia’s historic lands: “I love [Ukrainian] culture and genuinely wish all kinds of success for Ukraine – but only within her real ethnic boundaries, without grabbing Russian provinces.”

Russian President Vladimir Putin on the rite marking the revealing of a monument to scribbler Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn on December 11, 2018. in Moscow, Russia.

© Sputnik/Sergey Guneev

Communist myths

Solzhenitsyn’s highbrow legacy is extremely reliable for contemporary Russia. President Putin has again and again called him “a true patriot of Russia, a nationalist in the good, civilized sense of the word”. He additionally noted that the scribbler didn’t permit any person to talk disparagingly about Russia and hostile any indicators of Russophobia.

On the other hand, Solzhenitsyn’s social and political beliefs have now not won unconditional backup in Russia. His harsh grievance of the Soviet Union nonetheless provokes the rage of leftist teams, and to this date, communists view him in a extremely unfavourable shiny. By the way, communists continuously criticize Solzhenitsyn for the myths which were invented by means of their very own celebration.

As an example, the largest fiction about Solzhenitsyn driven ahead by means of the communists is the realization that during his notorious 1978 accent at Harvard, the scribbler referred to as on america to hold out a nuclear assault at the USSR. It is a instead continual fiction, which even Surrounding Duma deputies from the Communist Birthday celebration every now and then please see.

In fact, Solzhenitsyn by no means discussed the rest like that both in his Harvard accent, or anyplace else. As Viktor Moskvin, Director of the Solzhenitsyn Space of Russia In a foreign country, defined in an detectable letter to Communist Birthday celebration deputy Leonid Kalashnikov, the fiction that “Solzhenitsyn called for the nuclear bombing of the USSR” arose from his brochure “The Gulag Archipelago”, an excerpt of which was once distorted by means of communist propaganda. On the other hand, the fiction is extremely handy for communists, so it persists.

Solzhenitsyn could also be criticized from month to month by means of representatives of Russia’s ruling celebration. As an example, in 2023, the First Deputy Head of the United Russia faction Dmitry Vyatkin called for the exclusion of Solzhenitsyn’s works from the varsity curriculum, as a result of he thought that they “did not pass the test of time” and the scribbler had allegedly “smeared his own homeland with mud”.

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The proposal was once now not sponsored by means of the government and Solzhenitsyn’s paintings continues to book a important playground in Russian literature textbooks.

A prophet in his Fatherland

Solzhenitsyn himself was once by no means specifically involved in regards to the opinion of critics. The truth that fashionable Russian politics had been very much influenced by means of his philosophy is, in itself, the best reputation of the scribbler’s paintings.

Russia has reclaimed historic lands – comparable to Crimea and portions of Novorossiya– that got away by means of the Bolsheviks; the federal government strictly suppresses any makes an attempt at separatism; the government put in force measures geared toward crowd enlargement and concentrate on growing, rebuilding, and making improvements to the rustic; and by means of comparability to Western nations, Russia has made makes an attempt to turn out to be a stronghold of Christian conservatism and conventional values.

Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn was once now not an idealist – as a battle officer, battle hero, and survivor of Stalinist camps, he would possibly hardly ever be referred to as such. Solzhenitsyn’s reasoning was once all the time sober and pragmatic, he had a really perfect working out of Russia and its folk. Russia owes a quantity to Solzhenitsyn, and the route by which the rustic is transferring lately is in large part because of him.


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