Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, Gulags and Stalin

“The little daughter’s on the mattress,

Dead. How many have been on it

A platoon, a company perhaps?

A girl’s been turned into a woman,

A woman turned into a corpse.

It’s all come down to simple phrases:

Do not forget! Do not forgive!

Blood for blood! A tooth for a tooth!”

-Prussian Nights by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn


Aleksandr was Russian novelist, who also served in army. He was outspoken critic of Stalin and Communist Russia.

During Second World War he witnessed atrocities committed by Russian army on Germans esp. rape and killing of German women. He has expressed atrocities in his poem “Prussian Nights”.

Post war he was critical of Stalin esp. the so called Gulag system- using prisoners as forced labour. He has described condition of Gulag in his books “One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich” and “The Gulag Archipelago”.

gulagone day

Communist Russia was not amused by views of Aleksandr, he was imprisoned for his views, later he was diagnosed with cancer, and he got admitted in a hospital. He has written about his experiences in novel “Cancer Ward”.  Inspite of bad treatment, he continued to stay in Russia, but he was finally expelled from Russia. He felt that after living in Stalinist Russia he had no desire to be free.


“The most confusing thing about the imprisoned animals was that even supposing Oleg took their side and had the power, he would still not want to break into the cages and liberate them. This was because, deprived of their home surroundings, they had lost the idea of rational freedom. It would only make things harder for them, suddenly to set them free.”

-Aleksander in Cancer Ward

Aleksander won Noble Prize for Literature in 1970. He finally managed to return to Russia in 1994 after Soviet Union was dissolved.


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