Thursday, November 21, 2013

Steppes song

It's not just that a lot of people believed in the system even after they were repressed in the Soviet Union. It is that, in general, those who were pun-
ished were quite sure there had been some kind of mistake. 

And if that is what you think, it can only be because you hold the system itself to be fundamentally sound. You are the victim of a judicial mistake, whereas your fellow prisoners are surely criminals. You see your own case as exceptional, and that seems to rescue the victims of the universal system.

.. the experience of communism leaves its intellectual survivors peculiarly preoccupied with their own beliefs -  more than they are with the crimes themselves: in retrospect, it is the delusory allegiance which accounts for their trauma, more than anything they have suffered at the hands of their jailors. The title of Annie Kriegel's memoir, What I Thought I Understood, nicely captures it. It is the sense of reiterated self-interrogation: did I misunderstand it?
.. most were arrested in the middle of the night, individual-
ly. This left them and their families in no position to under-
stand what had happened .. that terrifying grayness, indefinite uncertainty, remains part of the landscape of memory ..

Tony Judt
Timothy Snyder
Thinking the Twentieth Century
op. cit.

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