Fighting, toiling – that’s the people’s story
In our grand and lovely Motherland.
We shall sing a happy song of glory,
Glory to our leader and our friend!
— Vasily Lebedev-Kumach
You, Comrade Stalin, are a famous linguist,
A savvy scholar of philology,
And I am just a simple Soviet convict,
And only furry wolves are friends with me.
For my conviction, I don’t know the reason.
The judges must know more about my crime.
So, here I sit in a Siberian prison.
I heard the Czar exiled you here one time.
Convoys that took us to our fate were sprawling.
We readily confessed to made-up crimes.
We trusted you so fully, Comrade Stalin,
More than we trusted our own selves sometimes.
I sit here in a lockup in Siberia.
The guards are more like guard dogs, mean and gruff.
I understand, it’s meeting all criteria
For the class struggle getting really rough.
It rains, it snows, the gnats and bugs are swarming.
We’re working in the woods from dark to dark.
My thanks to you, I find it very warming,
The flame which you’ve ignited from a spark.
You’re father to the world. Your job’s more grueling
Through dreary nighttime hours that you must keep.
Inside the Kremlin room from which you’re ruling,
You pace, you smoke — and not a wink of sleep.
We bear our crosses; no one pays our wages,
Through rain that drives us mad, through frost that bites.
We’re felled like trunks on bunks inside our cages,
While leaders such as you have sleepless nights.
We dream of you; we see you come out strolling
In spiffy uniform upon Red Square.
Like enemies of Stalin, trees are falling,
With spiky splinters flying everywhere.
Last night, we got two die-hard Marxists buried.
We wrapped their bodies up in Marxist red:
One guilty of the leftie thoughts he carried,
The other harmless, as they later said.
His dying wish was for your benediction,
And with the final gasp that left his breast,
He begged that you look into his conviction.
He softly cried out: “Stalin is the best!”
May you smoke on forever, Comrade Stalin!
I’ll croak tomorrow – but it doesn’t count,
When I believe that we’ll have steel and iron
Per capita in plentiful amount!
На просторах родины чудесной.
Закаляясь в битвах и труде,
Мы сложили радостную песню
О великом друге и вожде.
— В. Лебедев-Кумач
Товарищ Сталин, вы большой ученый,
В языкознанье знаете вы толк,
А я простой советский заключенный,
И мне товарищ серый брянский волк.
За что сижу, поистине не знаю,
Но прокуроры, видимо, правы,
Сижу я нынче в Туруханском крае,
Где при царе бывали в ссылке вы.
В чужих грехах мы сходу сознавались,
Этапом шли навстречу злой судьбе,
Но верили вам так, товарищ Сталин,
Как, может быть, не верили себе.
Так вот сижу я в Туруханском крае,
Где конвоиры, словно псы, грубы,
Я это все, конечно, понимаю
Как обостренье классовой борьбы.
То дождь, то снег, то мошкара над нами,
А мы в тайге с утра и до утра.
Вы здесь из искры разводили пламя,
Спасибо вам, я греюсь у костра.
Вам тяжелей, вы обо всех на свете
Заботитесь в ночной тоскливый час,
Шагаете в кремлевском кабинете,
Дымите трубкой, не смыкая глаз.
Мы наш нелегкий крест несем задаром
Морозом дымным и в тоске дождей.
Мы, как деревья, валимся на нары,
Не ведая бессонницы вождей.
Вы снитесь нам, когда в партийной кепке
И в кителе идете на парад.
Мы рубим лес по-сталински, а щепки,
А щепки во все стороны летят.
Вчера мы хоронили двух марксистов,
Тела одели красным кумачом.
Один из них был правым уклонистом,
Другой, как оказалось, ни при чем.
Он перед тем, как навсегда скончаться,
Вам завещал последние слова,
Велел в евонном деле разобраться
И тихо вскрикнул: “Сталин – голова!”
Дымите тыщу лет, товарищ Сталин,
И пусть в тайге придется сдохнуть мне,
Я верю – будет чугуна и стали
На душу населения вполне!
Iosif Efimovich Aleshkovsky, known as Yuz Aleshkovsky, was a modern Russian writer, poet, playwright, and performer of his own songs. He was born on September 21, 1929, Krasnoyarsk, Russia. In 1949 Aleshkovsky was drafted into the Soviet Navy, but because of breaking the disciplinary code, he had to serve four years in jail (1950–1953). After serving the term, Aleshkovsky moved back to Moscow and began writing books for children. Aleshkovsky wrote songs and performed them. Some, especially “Товарищ Сталин, вы большой ученый” (“Comrade Stalin, you are a great scholar”) and “Окурочек” (“Little cigarette butt”), became extremely popular in the Soviet Union and are considered folk classics. Aleshkovsky also wrote screenplays for movies and television in the Soviet Union. He emigrated from the USSR in 1979. In addition to his songs, his work includes eleven novels, a collection of short stories, two novellas for children, and four well-known screenplays.
Anna Krushelnitskaya (b.1975) lives in Ann Arbor, MI. Anna’s original texts and translations appear in Russian and in English in various print and online publications. She has authored two collections of poems in English. Anna’s most voluminous work is the 700-page bilingual interview collection Cold War Casual/ Простая холодная война (2019).
A book of poems in Russian by Victor Enyutin (San Francisco, 1983). Victor Enyutin is a Russian writer, poet, and sociologist who emigrated to the US from the Soviet Union in 1975.
This collection of personal essays by a bi-national Russian/U.S. author offers glimpses into many things Soviet and post-Soviet: the sacred, the profane, the mundane, the little-discussed and the often-overlooked. What was a Soviet school dance like? Did communists go to church? Did communists listen to Donna Summer? If you want to find out, read on!
“Cold War Casual” is a collection of transcribed oral testimony and interviews translated from Russian into English and from English into Russian that delve into the effect of the events and the government propaganda of the Cold War era on regular citizens of countries on both sides of the Iron Curtain.
Julia Wiener was born in the USSR a few years before the Second World War; her youth was spent during the “Thaw” period, and her maturity coincided with the years of “Soviet stagnation”, which, in her case, ended with her emigration to Israel in the early 1970s. Her wartime childhood, her Komsomol-student youth, her subsequent disillusionment, her meetings with well-known writers (Andrei Platonov, Victor Nekrasov, etc.) are described in a humorous style and colorful detail. Julia brings to life colorful characters – from her Moscow communal apartment neighbors to a hippie London lord, or an Arab family, headed by a devotee of classical Russian literature. No less diverse are the landscapes against which the events unfold: the steppes of Kazakhstan, the Garden of Gethsemane, New York, Amsterdam, London.
Julia Wiener’s novels focus on those moments when illusory human existence collapses in the face of true life, be it spiritual purity, love, old age, or death.