Lyubov Shaporina's diary/Notes

[1] St Petersburg: A Cultural History, p. 414.

[2] For an examination of current scholarship on the Kirov murder, see Who Killed Kirov?: The Kremlin's Greatest Mystery by Amy Knight (Hill & Wang, 1999).

[3] General term for the Soviet secret police, after the original incarnation of Lenin's security organ, the Cheka (Extraordinary Commission), founded in December 1917.

[4] Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, p. 304.

[5] Also called the trial of "the anti-Soviet Trotskyite Centre", a fictitious conspiracy supposedly comprising Yuri Pyatakov (Deputy Commissar for Heavy Industry), Karl Radek (former editor of Pravda), Grigori Sokolnikov, and Leonid Serebryakov.

[6] Fitzpatrick, Everyday Stalinism, p. 215.

[7] A. A. Shestov, an NKVD agent for the Kemerovo industrial district who was ordered to pose as a co-conspirator. (He was found guilty and shot.)

[8] Lion Feuchtwanger, a pro-Communist German writer who covered the Pyatakov show-trial and justified it in his notorious Moscow 1937. NKVD rumour has it that Feuchtwanger struck a deal with Stalin to write this book -- as an antidote to Gide's damagingly anti-Soviet Retour de L'URSS -- in exchange for not executing Radek.

[9] Director of the Moscow Children's Theatre, Natalia Satz (b. 1930) commissioned Peter and the Wolf in February 1936. A former wife of Mikhail Tukhachevsky, she was arrested in 1937 and sent to the Gulag. She survived and later returned to the Children's Theatre, where she resumed her work, eventually dying on 18th December 1993. (See Satz, Roksana Nikolaevna, Put' k sebe. O mame Natalii Satz, liubvi, iskaniiakh, teatre [Moskva: Voskresen'e, 1998].)

[10] Probably Aleksandr Vasilevich Aleksandrov (1883-1946), composer of the Soviet National Anthem (see Wilson, op. cit., pp. 179-81).

[11] Shaporina had been separated from Shaporin for some years.

[12] Op. cit., pp. 422-3.

[13] The reference is to Dostoyevsky's The Devils (1871-2) in which he attacked the amoral radicalism of the late 19th-century Nihilists. Shostakovich read the novel -- as he seems to have read most classic Russian literature -- during his late teens. In his letters to Tanya Glivenko, he speaks of reading lots of Dostoyevsky (5th February 1924) and of writing a poem after the style of Captain Lebyadkin, a burlesque figure in The Devils. He writes: "Altogether Dostoyevsky is a brick. He was a master to create such people as Feodor Karamazov and Lebyadkin." (24th January 1924.) In The Nose, he incorporated Smerdyakov's song from The Brothers Karamazov (1879-80); likewise the final act of Lady Macbeth is influenced by Dostoyevsky's The House of the Dead (1861-2). In a letter to Abraam Gozenpud, Shostakovich wrote of Dostoyevsky, "I love him and admire him as a great artist, I admire his love for the people, for the humiliated and the wretched". When, in 1971, Gozenpud gave him the typescript of his book Dostoyevsky and Music, Shostakovich invited him to visit him at Repino: "He mentioned[...] that he had been re-reading The Possessed [The Devils] and was more firmly convinced than ever that this was a prophetic book, a warning about the dangers that threaten mankind if political murderers, demagogues and executioners seize power." (Wilson, Shostakovich: A Life Remembered, pp. 458-62.)

[14] Shaporina had apparently had "premonitions" of Yagoda's downfall, which she confided to her son, Vasya. By "the emperor", she means Stalin.

[15] Shaporina refers to Pravda reports of the trial of the so-called "Right-Trotskyite Centre" (Bukharin, Rykov, Yagoda, 18 others). On 8th March 1938, the prosecution "revealed" Yagoda's alleged murders -- with the aid of "doctor poisoners" -- of Maxim Gorky, his son Max Peshkov, and Vyacheslav Menzhinsky, former boss of the GPU.

[16] The Kresty was Leningrad's largest prison, acting as a holding jail before prisoners were transferred to the Gulag. The Butyrka [Butyrki] was Moscow's equivalent prison.

[17] BAMlag (Baikal-Amur Magistral [Mainline Railway Camp]) is referred to in Vol. 2 of The Gulag Archipelago.

[18] See Volkov, op. cit., p. 522.

[19] See Ginzburg, Into the Whirlwind (1967) and Within the Whirlwind (1979).

[20] N. Mandel'shtam, Hope Against Hope, p. 64.

[21] Shaporina here accepts part of the story given out at the final Moscow show trial, whereby Yagoda was blamed for the early purges and several murders of prominent Soviet people, including Kirov. His successor Yezhov, who fell from power at the end of 1939, was in turn charged with similar crimes vis-à-vis his own period in office.

[22] From 1937 onwards, those given relatively short sentences in the Gulag were often, on expiry of their terms, resentenced to further terms of ten or even twenty-five years. They were known in the camps as "repeaters". Most resentenced in this way died of simple moral collapse soon after receiving news of their fresh terms.

[23] The Pravda journalist Mikhail Koltsov, author of Spanish (Civil War) Diaries (1938), was arrested on 12th December 1938 and shot as a "spy" on 1st February 1940. For more on Koltsov, see Stephen Koch, Double Lives: Stalin, Willi Munzenberg, and the Seduction of the Intellectuals (1994).

[24] Lyudmila Tarsheva, Count Tolstoy's second wife, whom he married in 1935.

[25] 18th Congress of the Communist Party, March 1939. "Of the applauding delegates [at the 17th Party Congress, or Congress of Victors, in January 1934], who numbered 1,966, only 59 were to take part on the next congress, the Eighteenth, in 1939. Nearly two-thirds of the delegates to the Congress of Victors were arrested in the intervening five years. Of those, only a few survived." (Heller and Nekrich, Utopia in Power, p. 250.)

[26] The composer Georgiy Sviridov, then a composition student of Shostakovich at the Leningrad Conservatory.

[27] Galina von Meck, imprisoned during the first wave of intelligenty arrests in 1930, claims to have seen the official figures for deportation to the camps in secret files at Borovlianka in 1933: 17 million (As I Remember Them, p. 412). Conceivably, this figure was thereafter passed around intelligenty circles, reaching Shaporina's ears. Cf. far lower figures given in Chapter 11 of The Black Book of Communism (1997/9).

[28] The Treaty of Brest-Litovsk, wherewith Lenin ended the war with Germany in 1918 by giving away the Ukraine, Russia's Polish and Baltic territories, and Finland.

[29] "Russian swine-scoundrels", one of Hitler's racial insults.

[30] See Sally W. Stoecker, Forging Stalin's Army: Marshal Tukhachevsky and the Politics of Military Innovation (Westview Press, 1998).

[31] For anti-Semitism in 1917, on both the Right (Black Hundreds) and the Left (Bolsheviks), see Orlando Figes and Boris Kolonitskii, Interpreting the Russian Revolution: The Language and Symbols of 1917 (Yale UP, 1999), pp. 91-2, 156-8.

Back to article.