A Child’s Memory

“On the back of the slip was written ‘Read 5.25.34’ and the signature of my father. The file — indeed the whole ‘case’ — gave me a heavy sinking feeling. I kept leafing through the documents trying to understand. Shouldn’t there have been some kind of logic to these stories? Did the Chekists’ machinery really so senselessly gobble up people? Perhaps my life would have taken a different turn if been able to see my father’s file earlier. If I could have been convinced without a doubt of what ordinary, banal horror our industry, our powerful Soviet reality was steeped in.”

“My father never spoke about any of this with me. He blanked this piece of his life out of his memory as if it had never existed. It is forbidden to speak of this subject in our family.”

“I was only three years old at the time of my father’s arrest, but I remember to this day all the horror and fear. One night people came into our barracks room. I remember my mother shouting and crying. I woke up and also began to cry. I was crying not because my father was going away (I was still too young to “understand” what was happening to him). I was crying because I saw my mother and saw how frightened she was. Her fear and her tears were transferred to me. My father was taken away, and my mother threw herself at me, hugging me until I calmed down and fell asleep.”  Continue reading