Letter to Bolshevik


To the Presidium of the Central Executive Committee of    
             the All-Union Communist Party (Bolshevik)

      We appeal to you, asking you to pay a minimum of attention
to our request.

     We are prisoners who are returning from the Solovetsky
concentration camp because of our poor health.  We went there
full of energy and good health, and now we are returning as
invalids, broken and crippled emotionally and physically.  We are
asking you to draw your attention to the arbitrary use of power
and the violence that reign at the Solovetsky concentration camp
in Kemi and in all sections of the concentration camp.  It is
difficult for a human being even to imagine such terror, tyranny,
violence, and lawlessness.  When we went there, we could not
conceive of such a horror, and now we, crippled ourselves,
together with several thousands who are still there, appeal to
the ruling center of the Soviet state to curb the terror that
reigns there.  As though it weren't enough that the Unified State
Political Directorate [OGPU] without oversight and due process
sends workers and peasants there who are by and large innocent
(we are not talking about criminals who deserve to be punished),
the former tsarist penal servitude system in comparison to
Solovky had 99% more humanity, fairness, and legality.  [...]

     People die like flies, i.e., they die a slow and painful
death; we repeat that all this torment and suffering is placed
only on the shoulders of the proletariat without money, i.e., on 
workers who, we repeat, were unfortunate to find themselves in
the period of hunger and destruction accompanying the events of
the October Revolution, and who committed crimes only to save
themselves and their families from death by starvation; they have
already borne the punishment for these crimes, and the vast
majority of them subsequently chose the path of honest labor. 
Now because of their past, for whose crime they have already
paid, they are fired from their jobs.  Yet, the main thing is
that the entire weight of this scandalous abuse of power, brute
violence, and lawlessness that reign at Solovky and other
sections of the OGPU concentration camp is placed on the
shoulders of workers and peasants; others, such as
counterrevolutionaries, profiteers and so on, have full wallets
and have set themselves up and live in clover in the Soviet
State, while next to them, in the literal meaning of the word,
the penniless proletariat dies from hunger, cold, and back-
breaking 14-16 hour days under the tyranny and lawlessness of
inmates who are the agents and collaborators of the State
Political Directorate [GPU].

     If you complain or write anything ("Heaven forbid"), they
will frame you for an attempted escape or for something else, and
they will shoot you like a dog.  They line us up naked and
barefoot at 22 degrees below zero and keep us outside for up to
an hour.  It is difficult to describe all the chaos and terror
that is going on in Kemi, Solovky, and the other sections of the
concentrations camp.  All annual inspections uncover a lot of
abuses.  But what they discover in comparison to what actually
exists is only a part of the horror and abuse of power, which the
inspection accidently uncovers.  (One example is the following
fact, one of a thousand, which is registered in GPU and for which
the guilty have been punished: THEY FORCED THE INMATES TO EAT
THEIR OWN FECES.  "Comrades," if we dare to use this phrase,
verify that this is a fact from reality, about which, we repeat,
OGPU has the official evidence, and judge for yourself the full
extent of effrontery and humiliation in the supervision by those
who want to make a career for themselves.  [...] 

     We are sure and we hope that in the All-Union Communist
Party there are people, as we have been told, who are humane and
sympathetic; it is possible, that you might think that it is our
imagination, but we swear to you all, by everything that is
sacred to us, that this is only one small part of the nightmarish
truth, because it makes no sense to make this up.  We repeat, and
will repeat 100 times, that yes, indeed there are some guilty
people, but the majority suffer innocently, as is described
above.  The word law, according to the law of the GPU
concentration camps, does not exist; what does exist is only the
autocratic power of petty tyrants, i.e., collaborators, serving
time, who have power over life and death.  Everything described
above is the truth and we, ourselves, who are close to the grave
after 3 years in Solovky and Kemi and other sections, are asking
you to improve the pathetic, tortured existence of those who are
there who languish under the yoke of the OGPU's tyranny,
violence, and complete lawlessness....
  
To this we subscribe: G. Zheleznov, Vinogradov, F. Belinskii.

Dec. 14, 1926

True copy 
 
.................................................................
TRANSLATOR'S COMMENTS: The letter is written in very poor
Russian.   For the sake of clarity, the translator corrected the
grammar and substituted a few words.


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