Joseph Smith, like Stalin, is a remote, god-like (or in the Mormon pantheon, an actual "god") figure unlike The Brethren or the Politburo.http://moneyrunner.blogspot.com/2013/05/if-only-stalin-knew.html
People in thrall of a powerful leader are tempted to believe that all the bad things that happen to them are the fault of the leader’s underlings. For years after the Terror began in the Soviet Union, the people whose friends and relatives disappeared in the Gulag would say “if only Comrade Stalin knew …” From ''Children of the Arbat''. The year is 1934, the beginning of Stalin's terror, when even relatives of the victims could still believe that the unexplained disappearance of their loved ones was some kind of mistake that would soon be set right, if only they could get word to Stalin.http://www.nytimes.com/1987/03/14/world/if-only-stalin-knew-vain-hopes-in-the-terror.html?pagewanted=all
IF ONLY STALIN KNEW: VAIN HOPES IN THE TERROR
Special to the New York Times
MOSCOW, March 13— Following is an excerpt from a section of ''Children of the Arbat'' that the author, Anatoly Rybakov, selected for publication in the magazine Ogonyok. The scene is the Arbat, the intelligentsia's quarter in central Moscow that is now largely demolished. The year is 1934, the beginning of Stalin's terror, when even relatives of the victims could still believe that the unexplained disappearance of their loved ones was some kind of mistake that would soon be set right, if only they could get word to Stalin. The excerpt begins shortly after the arrest of the novel's protagonist, Sasha Pankratov, a student. It is printed by permission of Anatoly Rybakov and Ogonyok, and was translated by Kate Cook for The New York Times.
THE biggest house in Arbat is between Nikolsky Lane and Denezhny Lane, which are now called Plotnikov Lane and Vesnina Street. The eight-story blocks stand close behind one another. The facade of the first is faced with white glazed tiling. Low archways link the two deep courtyards.
By the Arbat Art Cinema the girls were already parading in pairs, Arbat girls, and Dorogomilovskaya girls, and girls from Plyushchikha, their coat collars turned carelessly up, lips painted, eyelashes curled, eyes expectant, with coloured scarves round their necks - Arbat spring chic. The program finished, the audience was let out through the back door in the yard, and the crowd surged out into the street through the narrow gates, where there was also a flock of adolescents, the age-old owners of these parts.
Sofiya Aleksandrovna waited until the last moviegoer came out, then went into the yard.
Today she had at last managed to see the chief procurator's assistant. ''When the investigation is over, you will learn the result,'' was the answer, which she had heard many time before and which had been predicted for this occasion too.
Oppressed by the awareness of her helplessness, she returned home, to the empty and dark room, and there, lonely and suffering, uttered a prayer to the God whom she had long since abandoned, yet who remained the God of her ancestors, praying that the spirit of goodness and mercy, omnipresent and all-pervading, would soften the hearts of those who decided Sasha's fate.
She thought only of Sasha. She was next to him, knew his every moment, felt his every movement. When her heart hurt, it meant he was unwell; when she couldn't get to sleep, he was lying on a hard bed with his eyes open; when she felt a rush of fear, he was being taken to an interrogation and he was tormented, anxious and suffering. She remembered how she had once punished him and he would not let her into the theater. He had cried from injured pride then, not from pain, for she had humiliated him. Now he was being beaten by life. * * *
In the mornings the clatter of the post box got her out of bed. She was waiting for an answer from the procurator's office, a letter from some secret but influential well-wisher, waiting for a letter from Sasha himself which he had given to someone or other - that did happen, she had been told so - but there were no replies, no letters. She would take out the newspapers and gaze at the pictures of Stalin, his simple clothes, the kind wrinkles round his eyes, the wise, calm face of a man with a clear conscience. He was 53. His oldest son was probably the same age as Sasha, and there was another son and a daughter. He knew what family grief was - he had only just lost his wife. If only Sasha's case got to him. She was pinning all her hopes on Mark, her brother. He was the head of a huge construction project in the east, a favorite of Ordzhonikidze's. The whole country knew who he was. Stalin knew him, received him and talked to him. Mark would tell Stalin about Sasha. Stalin would ask for the file, perhaps even call Sasha to him. And he'd like Sasha, he couldn't help liking Sasha.
Yet she realized how futile these hopes were. Mark would not talk to Stalin about Sasha. But he had talked about Sasha to other highly placed and influential people. She trusted Mark. He had not tried to deceive her or calm her. He would do everything he could.
She trusted Mark. But even more than Mark, she trusted the women in the prison queues. Their truth was higher and more convincing than his truth. There everything was clear, simple and fair. These weak women somehow managed to defend their dear ones, to warm them, to satisfy their hunger with the little that they tore away from their own meager rations, to send them their love and hope through the blank stone walls. There Sofiya Aleksandrovna did not feel alone. Her grief was shared by other mothers. They taught her how to look for Sasha, how to organize parcels for him and what to put in them, where to apply, what to write and to whom. The right place to apply and write to was precisely as they advised her. In the queues they knew what to do if Sasha was sentenced, what to pack, what to give him to take and what to send on separately. They knew the whole path. That path was also one of life's paths. People went along it, too. And this reassured her more than the hopes and promises. * * *
And when the block superintendant came, Sofiya Aleksandrovna was prepared for it. She had been warned that Sasha's room would be sealed. The superintendant had to do this, although he probably did not find it a pleasant job. Only Sofiya Aleksandrovna was afraid that in his embarrassment he would be rude to her, and she had prepared a few words especially in case this happened.
''Viktor Ivanovich,'' she would say to him. ''if you speak to me quietly, I will understand you better.'' But the superintendant was not rude. ''It's the regulations, Sofiya Aleksandrovna. When the time comes and Sasha returns home, we'll unseal it. It's better for you like this. Or anyone might move in and you'd never get rid of them. I'll send the yard-man to carry out anything you want moved. But leave what you don't need - it's your room.''
He gave her to understand that she shouldn't move out everything, and Sofiya Aleksandrovna realized this herself. As long as their were things in the room, no one could just move into it. But she refused the yard-man's help. She would have had to pay him, and she had no money.
She vacated not the bigger room where Sasha had slept and worked, but her own small bedroom. She had to carry out everything she would need from there and to move Sasha's desk, divan and wardrobe in there. * * *
While she was doing this, Varya arrived. She took off her coat quickly and began to help. She got the linen out of the cupboard, put the pillows on top and picked up the pile, using her chin to help carry it. It was heavy and awkward, but she still looked at herself in the mirror as she went past.
''You little flirt,'' Sofiya Aleksandrovna smiled.
Sofiya Aleksandrovna liked having the girl's help and liked the girl herself. She was quick on the uptake and daring, which Sofiya Aleksandrovna was not, particularly there, in the queues. Varya was never at a loss there as Sofiya Aleksandrovna was. She was a child of the street, afraid of nothing and nobody.
Varya would go to a prison early in the morning, get a place in the queue and stand there in the bitter cold until Sofiya Aleksandrovna arrived, then the two of them would gradually move up to the window. Sofiya Aleksandrovna could not argue. She was afraid of upsetting the person sitting behind it, worried about holding up the queue of tired, angry people who had been standing outside all night along the high, long, cold prison wall. Varya was not put out by anyone, she stood for hours in the freezing cold herself. At the window they were given a form to fill up, then waited two, three hours for the answer. ''Not here.' Then Varya would ask boldly, ''Where is he then?'' ''We don't know.'' ''Then who does know? You took him away, so you should know.'' * * *
Sofiya Aleksandrovna sometimes thought that she might be wrong getting Varya involved in this life of hers, this misfortune of hers, but Varya's compassion and urge to help were so strong that she couldn't imagine how she could send the girl away. Eventually, Sofiya Aleksandrovna reassured herself, all this childish, immature, unstable side of Varya would soon disappear and, God grant, be forgotten forever.
''Have you heard anything?'' Varya asked.
''Not yet,'' Sofiya Aleksandrovna sighed.
''There are people like that at our school too,'' Varya said. ''Just waiting to do someone the dirty. 'Ivanova is writing a cribsheet on her knees.' I stretched out my legs and asked, 'Where is the cribsheet?' ''
Varya stretched out her legs to show how she had done it in class.
''And Kuzya, the math teacher, blushed like a beetroot. 'Stop that, Ivanova.' Why pick on me? It was Lyapkin. He was cheating himself and telling tales about the others. I can't stand people like that.''
These words - ''class,'' ''meeting,'' ''cribsheet'' - were from Sasha's childhood, and Kuzmin, the math teacher, was also part of Sasha's childhood. He had once taught in Sasha's class, and Sasha had called him Kuzya too.
''How can you make a cribsheet?'' Sofiya Aleksandrovna asked sadly.
''It's as easy as anything,'' Varya slapped her knees. ''I just write it with an ink pencil and there you are.''
In the cupboard behind a suitcase she suddenly saw a pair of skates.
''Are those Sasha's skates?''
''Yes, Sasha was looking for them last winter, but he couldn't find them. So that's where they were. Would you like them?''
''They're too big for me,'' Varya laughed. ''I was just asking.''
But Varya hadn't just asked. The skates reminded her of that first and last evening which she had spent with Sasha, almost a year ago.
Edited 1 time(s). Last edit at 02/19/2017 05:46PM by anybody.