Author Topic: From Nicholas II to Stalin  (Read 3361 times)

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Offline Rodney_G.

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From Nicholas II to Stalin
« on: May 23, 2013, 06:12:19 PM »
I'm reading An American in the Gulag by Alexander Dolgun, about a young American embassy employee swept up into the Soviet Gulag system in 1948 and his amazing survival story. It's inspiring and depressing at the same time. But here I just want to pass along a few items he mentions in his narrative that are   references or artifacts that have carried over,in a sense , from the time of Nicholas II's reign. In a way they are understandable,but nevertheless striking to me,or maybe just poignant.
 
In one prison, Lefortovo(?) he meets another prisoner, one Krovoshein. Though Alexander is only twenty-two, and  American-born,  he's able to recognise and have a sense for Nicholas' highly regarded Minister of Agriculture  First name(?) Krivoshein, who in the last years of WWI
tried to organise  Russia's dire food needs., only to be ultimately overtaken by political disaster. Alexander doesn't know if Krivoshein is related to the late Minister.

On another occasion as  Alexander was driven in an MGB van one morning through cold Moscow streets, he  saw that he was on Kalyaevskaya Ulitsa, named after the assassin who blew up Grand Duke Serge Alexandrovich in February, 1905, Ivan Kalyaev. It's not clear if Dolgun makes the association.

Finally,(or for now), Alexander D. is transported to a   slave labor camp in Kazakhstan in a "Stolypin "railway car. These were apparently an innovation of Nicholas II's Interior and Prime Minister Peter Stolypin from the period post-1905 Revolution. They were prisoner transport cars attached to regular railway trains, but painted  as mail cars. They were originally sleeping wagons with four tiers of bunks converted to  cells to hold four to seven  times that number of 'passengers.' At least as described herein the conditions were horrible. These were Stolypin cars in the period of Beria and Stalin, though  undoubtedly without Orient Express comfort levels of comfort  even in Stolypin's original design.

Typically, Dolgun observed that Soviet citizens  rarely remarked on the need for four or five such  large mail cars on ordinary passenger routes.

The young man is observing things here that were between thirty and forty years removed from significance in Nicholas II's time. To me that is not much time at all. In the framework of high Stalinism, they seem references to a different world, one Stalin and his generation remembered well, but often chose to selectively forget.
« Last Edit: May 23, 2013, 06:16:57 PM by Rodney_G. »
Rodney G.

Offline TimM

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Re: From Nicholas II to Stalin
« Reply #1 on: May 25, 2013, 12:03:51 PM »
It was not so much as CHOOSING to forget tsarist times as being FORCED to forget.  In Stalin's day, if you even said "Nicholas II" out loud, you were either hauled off and shot, or sent to a gulag in Siberia.
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Offline JamesAPrattIII

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Re: From Nicholas II to Stalin
« Reply #2 on: May 27, 2013, 04:05:11 PM »
The man was Alexander V. Krivoshein he was Minister of Agriculture from 1908 to the fall of 1915. He was a very good minister but he fell out of favor and was fired for protesting Nicholas decision to take command of the Russian army. Nicholas supposedly considered making him Prime Minester shortly before he abdicated. In 1920 Baron Wrangel, the last White leader put him in charge of the civilian administration of the Crimea. He died in exile in France in 1921. For more information on the Stolipin Cars see "The Gulag Archipeligo" volume 1 I believe.

Offline Rodney_G.

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Re: From Nicholas II to Stalin
« Reply #3 on: May 27, 2013, 06:54:08 PM »
The man was Alexander V. Krivoshein he was Minister of Agriculture from 1908 to the fall of 1915. He was a very good minister but he fell out of favor and was fired for protesting Nicholas decision to take command of the Russian army. Nicholas supposedly considered making him Prime Minester shortly before he abdicated. In 1920 Baron Wrangel, the last White leader put him in charge of the civilian administration of the Crimea. He died in exile in France in 1921. For more information on the Stolipin Cars see "The Gulag Archipeligo" volume 1 I believe.

Right-o, James. That synopsizes Krivoshein very well.
Rodney G.