21.11 Samizdat update

No 21 : 11 September 1971

[1] A. I. Solzhenitsyn, August 1914

At the beginning of June 1971 there appeared a report of the publication of A. I. Solzhenitsyn’s new novel August 1914 (YMCA Press, Paris). The author’s “Afterword“ to the novel specifies the circumstances which prevented it from being printed by Soviet publishing-houses: “This book cannot now be printed in our homeland except in samizdat, because of objections by the censorship which are unintelligible to normal human reason: even if everything else were acceptable it would be obligatory to write the word ‘God’ with a small initial letter.”

[2] Social Problems, issue No. 11, May-June 1971. Compiled by V. Chalidze.

Contents:

Documents of the Committee for Human Rights [see this issue, CCE 21.5]:

– Protocols of 20 May 1971 (on the election of I. R. Shafarevich to membership of the Committee);
R. A. Medvedev: “Compulsory psychiatric hospitalisation for political reasons” (a report to the Committee);
A. S. Volpin: An opinion on R. A. Medvedev’s report;
V. N. Chalidze: The rights of persons who have been judged to be mentally ill;
– An opinion of the Committee on the question of the rights of persons who have been judged to be mentally ill;
A. D. Sakharov, A. N. Tverdokhlebov, V. N. Chalidze, I. R. Shafarevich:
Letter to the Legislative Proposals Commission of the USSR Supreme Soviet, to B.. V. Petrovsky, USSR Minister of Health, and to N. A. Shchelokov, USSR Minister of Internal Affairs;
– An appeal by the Committee for Human Rights to the Fifth World Congress of Psychiatrists.

[3] V. Chalidze, Reflections on Man.

This book consists of four sections: “Manifestations of the will”, “Human behaviour”, “Society”, “The ending of bondage”. The author discusses human bio-sociology, ethics and law.

[4] P. Yakir, Childhood in Prison (part 1).

The author relates what he saw on being arrested in 1937, aged fourteen. These memoirs cover the years 1937-1944. [Publication begun in Russkaya mysl, 91, rue du Faubourg St. Denis, Paris 10, 28 October 1971.]

[5] Smirnovsky, Marxism-Leninism under lock and key. Moscow, 1971.

An essay on the artificial creation in our country of obstacles to the circulation of the foreign communist press. Soyuzpechat [the official Soviet agency] sells such publications as Unita, L’Humanite, The Morning Star and so on, but in the opinion of the author a number of special measures are taken in order to restrict their accessibility to the reader. These measures are: delay in the sale of the newspapers, which reduces the topicality of the information; the preservation of “seditious” issues in the special sections of libraries; increases in the price of the newspapers.

[6] G. Svirsky [27], Letter to V. I. Mishin, lecturer at Gorky University.

In his book Social [Obshchestvennyi] Progress (Gorky, Vyatka publishing-house, 1970) V. I. Mishin calls for a “national levelling-out” regarding persons with higher education and for the “maintenance of an equal level of development among the peoples of the USSR”: “A key role in the question of the development of national relationships in the period of the construction of communism . . . will be played by a further equalisation in the level of development of all the nations and peoples of the USSR”, since “there exist in our country not only the remains of an old inequality, but also elements of a new inequality which has arisen during the years of Soviet authority . . . In 1929 the proportion of students among Georgians and Armenians was twice as high as their share of the population of the USSR, while among Jews it was seven times as high. The result of this was to give a picture of obvious unevenness in the distribution of specialists.”

Svirsky asks the author of the book what he means by the “conscious control of the development of national relationships”, and demonstrates by means of material from the book that the term “levelling-out” in fact means the barring of Jews from universities and institutes – as was done in tsarist Russia (when it was motivated by the large proportion of Jews among the revolutionaries). It is common knowledge that during the reign of Alexander III a numerus clausus was established for the admission of Jews to educational institutions: in the two capitals, 3%; in provincial cities, 5%; and within the Jewish Pale of Settlement, 10%.

“Judging by your table and by your comments on ‘the new inequality’, you would wish, for example, the number of Jewish, Georgian and Armenian students not to exceed the ‘proportion of the population of the USSR made up by these nationalities. Jews, let us say, comprise 1.1% of the population, and so the quota of Jewish students should not exceed this figure. If we proceed on the basis of this principle, then the quota of Jewish students (which is inevitably introduced by the very term ‘levelling-out’) must be even lower than it was under Alexander. Three to five times lower” . . . “To campaign for this is to campaign for intellectual genocide”, G. Svirsky concludes.

[7] Open Letter to the editorial board of Literaturnaya gazeta.

On 7 June Literaturnaya gazeta published an article by B. Antonov and V. Katin entitled “Wipe away your tears, gentlemen”, which dealt with the trials in Leningrad (CCE 20.1) and Riga (CCE 20.2).

Ten Soviet citizens (Joseph Begun, Leonid Makhlis, Alexander Krimgold, Mikhail Alexandrovich, Victor Polsky, David Markish, Esther Lazebnikova-Markish, Mikhail Kalik, Vladimir Zaretsky and Mark Patlakh) accuse the authors of the article of consciously distorting information about the trials. “We have taken up our pens only because we do not wish to be the passive witnesses of the campaign to misinform the general reader which is being carried out by Literaturnaya gazeta”.

NOTES

[27. See a speech by Svirsky (a writer) attacking censorship in A. Brumberg (ed.), In Quest of Justice, New York and London, 1970, document 61.]