And how we burned in the camps later, thinking: What would things have been like if every Security operative, when he went out at night to make an arrest, had been uncertain whether he would return alive and had to say good-bye to his family? Or if, during periods of mass arrests, as for example in Leningrad, when they arrested a quarter of the entire city, people had not simply sat there in their lairs, paling with terror at every bang of the downstairs door and at every step on the staircase, but had understood they had nothing left to lose and had boldly set up in the downstairs hall an ambush of half a dozen people with axes, hammers, pokers, or whatever else was at hand?… The Organs would very quickly have suffered a shortage of officers and transport and, notwithstanding all of Stalin’s thirst, the cursed machine would have ground to a halt! If…if…We didn’t love freedom enough. And even more – we had no awareness of the real situation
Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn
The Gulag Archipelago, 1918-1956: An Experiment in Literary Investigation (Volume One) page 13, footnote 5.
[I agree with this review on Amazon:
The writing style is captivating. To some extent, it has been a series of references about how certain people or groups of people were arrested and/or executed. All too easy how people disappeared without a trace and no one even missed them and couldn’t do anything if they wanted to. And the petty, heartless, political and bureaucratic reasons people were arrested makes one closely reconsider his day-to-day activities.
Chilling, as you can see the roots of this activity growing in our country daily.
It will take a while to finish all 3 volumes, but I plan on gradually finishing. It’s hard to read too much at once as your jaw gets tired of dropping constantly and your brain can only take so much astonishment at once.
I am only about a quarter of the way through the first volume (of three) so there may be other things that strike me more profoundly. But so far it is that nearly all believed “in the system”. That once “they” got things straightened out the arrestees would be set free and they would go home. This was even in cases where the NKVD was arresting 25% of an entire town. The NKVD had quotas to meet. And there was always multiple laws they had broken and would be charged with. Just as there are in our country today.
Because of this belief in the system they not only did not resist—they cooperated. At the request of the arresting NKVD they would even tiptoe out of their apartments so as to not wake their neighbors.
I would like to believe that if a similar situation came about in our country that my only attempts to be quiet would involve the use of a sound suppressor for my firearms.—Joe]