This is Alexander Solzhenitsyn after his release from the GULAG in 1953. He was sentenced to 8 years in a prison camp in Siberia for cracking a joke about Joseph Stalin’s mustache. Before he was sentenced, he was beaten and tortured mercilessly in the bowels of the Lyubyanka until he finally confessed his crime.
It amazes me how the human spirit can endure so much without being broken.
Over a half century ago, while I was still a child, I recall hearing a number of old people offer the following explanation for the great disasters that had befallen Russia: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.” Since then I have spent well-nigh 50 years working on the history of our revolution; in the process I have read hundreds of books, collected hundreds of personal testimonies, and have already contributed eight volumes of my own toward the effort of clearing away the rubble left by that upheaval. But if I were asked today to formulate as concisely as possible the main cause of the ruinous revolution that swallowed up some 60 million of our people, I could not put it more accurately than to repeat: “Men have forgotten God; that’s why all this has happened.”