Friday, July 09, 2004

Life in the Soviet Union

In 1926 Irma Mendel, a Hungarian, obtained through the Comintern two front-row tickets to the Bolshoi Theatre. Interrogator Klegel was courting her at the time and she invited him to go with her. They sat through the show very affectionately, and when it was over he took her -- straight to the Lubyanka. And if on a flowery June day in 1927 on Kuznetsky Most, the plump-cheeked, redheaded beauty Anna Skripnikova, who had just bought some navy-blue material for a dress, climbed into a hansom cab with a young man-about-town, you can be sure it wasn't a lovers' tryst at all, as the cabman understood and showed very well by his frown (he knew the Organs don't pay). It was an arrest. In just a moment they would turn on the Lubyanka and enter the black maw of the gates. No, one can certainly not say that daylight arrest, arrest during a journey, or arrest in the middle of a crowd has ever been neglected in our country.
- Aleksandr I. Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago: 1918-1956