Here is my review, recently appearing at Amazon.
Review of The First Guidebook to the USSR to prisons and concentration camps in the Soviet Union, by Avraham Shifrin. 1980.
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
Soviet Gulag System Alive and Well Decades After Stalin
Some people think that Communism was a great idea until it went bad because of Stalin, and that the Gulag system was a product of Stalinism. Far from it. The Gulag system long preceded Stalin, and long survived him. The items in this book date from the 1970’s Brezhnev era.
This comprehensive catalogue, based upon the author’s experiences as well as eyewitness accounts, lists thousands of detention facilities, according to city, town, and region, in the USSR. The facilities are located not only in remote areas of the Soviet Union, but also population centers, including the seized Polish city of Lvov (Lwow, Lviv). (p. 80).
Many of the conditions of incarceration are no better than they were in the days of Stalin. For instance, in the notorious logging camps, prisoners toil long hours in 40 or 50 below Celsius weather. Owing to their meager and unbalanced diet, they experience scurvy (p. 167), if not avitaminosis.
It has been argued that there were no death camps under the Communist system comparable to the Nazi death camps—to which admission guaranteed death. There certainly were, even in the 1970’s. (e. g., p. 31-on, 73, 228, 266, 269, 285). These included the camps where poorly protected or unprotected workers deal with uranium, facing very close to 100% mortality. Interestingly, one “ordinary” camp had a phrase praising work as a means of freedom—chillingly reminiscent of the ARBEIT MACHT FREI sign at Auschwitz. (p. 10).
Non-criminal prisoners are housed with common criminals (p. 88). They often face abuse, some organized by the prison staff, from the latter. Those incarcerated include political dissidents, nationalists advocating their homeland’s freedom from the Soviet empire, Jews (including the author) guilty of “Zionism” in wishing to emigrate from the USSR to Israel, etc.
Anti-religion and especially anti-Christianity has always been a staple of the political left, and, under Communism, it was honed to perfection. In psychiatric hospitals, those who believe in God are considered insane. The most commonly-mentioned offense for incarceration in the Soviet prisons and camps is professed belief in God and wanting to teach religion to one’s own children (p. 66, 155-156, 194, 200, and many more). One eyewitness describes such a situation as follows, “An atmosphere of hopelessness and despair reigned in the camps. Only the religious prisoners were able to stand above the human degradation. They believed that they were being tested by God and that they had to endure their sufferings. The others, however, fought each other over food or reduced themselves to acts of homosexuality or even sodomy.” (p. 167).
There have been quite a few large revolts against the unjust incarcerations and living conditions in the prisons and camps. (150, 152, 240-241, 298). Some of them were successful for a few days before being drowned in blood by Soviet forces or the KGB, the successor to the NKVD.
Shifrin warns leftists in the West who support, or are sympathetic to, Communism. He points out that the Communist secret police first killed the leftists. (p. 362).
Review of The World Significance of the Russian Revolution, by George Pitt-Rivers. (1920; reprinted 2006). Basil Blackwell, Oxford.
Reviewer: Mr. Jan Peczkis
Impending Aggression Against Poland (RE: 1920 Polish-Soviet War) and Three Views of Jewish Communism
Although Communism is supposed to be a worker’s movement [Review based on the original 1920 edition], the active local Communists up to the time of the Russian Revolution contained a relatively small contingent of peasants and proletariat (factory workers). Russia’s Communists consisted mostly of decadent specimens of the upper classes, and young peasants who had lost their livelihoods, but had been educated at universities thanks to the liberalism of Alexander II. (p. 7).
The author believes that Lenin and his small very-disproportionately Jewish cadre was able to seize power in Russia because Communist propaganda, appealing to acquisitive and covetous instincts (p. 37), had fooled the masses, and the Communists had full control before the peoples realized that they had been duped. (pp. 4-5). The Communists used long pre-planned unlimited terror (pp. 29-30) to achieve their goals and solidify their rule, and this was very reminiscent of the Jacobins of the French Revolution. (p. 30).
It is obvious that peasant resistance to collective farming had long preceded the famed 1930’s kulaks. In fact, the Soviet peasants, immediately after 1917, resented the fact that their land was subject to confiscation. To counter this, the Bolsheviks organized committees of the “poorest peasants”, which included the waster [wastrel] and the criminal dregs of the villages. These were given power over their more industrious and thrifty neighbors. (p. 38).
This book does not mention the Polish-Bolshevik War (1920), as it evidently appeared in print just before its occurrence. Pitt-Rivers alludes to the fact that, contrary to Communist apologists and Polonophobes, the Soviets were the aggressors in this war-to-be. He comments: “There is something exquisitely humorous in the `Hands off Russia’ cry in the face of Lenin’s declaration of war against the civilized world. We may, it is true, profess to have no further concern in the affairs of Russia, but Lenin and his international Jewish satellites have no intention of relying in the same lofty spirit `Hands off Western Europe.’ On the contrary, they announced with exultant effrontery their intention of making predatory onslaughts upon Poland, Persia and India.” (p. 3).
On another subject, the author believes that the abundance of Jews in Russia [of course, also earlier and later when these territories were part of Poland] had been facilitated by peasantry’s [initial] economic illiteracy, allowing Jews to freely exercise their “usurer instinct” and to fill the niche of the middle class. In time, the Russian peasant’s resentment at being exploited by the Jewish overclass, and the government’s real or perceived laxness in keeping Jews in check, led to hatred of Jews and to pogroms. (p. 7, 20). [A similar situation existed among Poles.]
Three possible explanations (of course, not mutually exclusive) for Jewish support of Communism are: 1) A response to oppression, 2) A malevolent drive for greater power and influence, and 3) Misguided idealism. This work entertains all three.
In the Preface, Dr. Oscar Levy, a Jew, defends the overall validity of the author’s reasoning, contending that Pitt-Rivers is an enlightened critic of Jewish conduct, and not a vulgar anti-Semite. (p. viii). Pitt-Rivers, for his part, realizes that most Jews are anti-Communist (p. 39), that the oppressive conditions faced by Jews is a factor in their disproportionate support for Communism (p. 19, 20), and that Communism itself is not a Jewish movement. (p. 20).
However, the reality of the Zydokomuna (Bolshevized Judaism) is unmistakable. Apart from international Jewish support and the overabundance of Jewish Communists, the “Jewish Bund” had been a formidable factor in Russia. (p. 20). In addition, the following situation after the Russian Revolution is instructive: “The commissaries [commissars], mainly Jews, have perfected an organization by which the `convinced’ Communists are secretly distributed among the staffs and rank and file of the Army, and throughout the Soviet governmental and administrative machinery, on a plan analogous to secret masonic organizations.” (p. 9).
What about the apparent paradox of internationally influential Jewish capitalists supporting Communism? Pitt-Rivers answers: “It was Weininger, a Jew–and also a Jew hater–who explained why so many Jews are naturally Communists. Communism is not only an International creed, but it implies the abnegation of real property, especially property in land, and Jews, being international, have never acquired a taste for real property; they prefer money. Money is an instrument of power…Thus the same motives prompt the Jew Communist and his apparent enemy, the financial Jew.” (p. 41).
Oscar Levy suggests that revolutionary Jews are motivated by misguided idealism, not malevolence. (p. viii). Commensurate with this, Pitt-Rivers thinks that Jews sometimes bring about events that they end up disapproving. This happened once again when religious Jews came to regret their earlier support for Communism once they saw the unbridled power of Jewish atheists in the USSR. (p. 39).
Here is my review, recently appearing at Amazon.