Leningrad in the late 20s – early 30s

After the publication of “Anno Domini” Akhmatova practically ceased to publish. In 1925, RAPP was created – the Russian Association of Proletarian Writers. Members of this association were provided with a “green street”. After Akhmatova’s “New Year’s ballad” was publicly read in 1925, it became clear that it was not suitable for “fellow travelers” either. In the “New Year’s ballad” it is proposed to drink for “the one who is not with us yet.” This unnamed man, who is “not with us,” aroused dull irritation among the “competent comrades.” Poems had to be unambiguous, slogan-understandable, which was not characteristic of Akhmatova’s work.
In a conversation with Akhmatova, Marietta Shaginyan, admitted to the “corridors of power,” said in 1925 that a resolution of the Central Executive Committee had been adopted, excluding the possibility for Akhmatova to publish. Akhmatova believed this, but in fact there was no personal prescription then. In 1929, an attempt to publish a collection of poems by Akhmatova was made by Konstantin Fedin, loyal to the Soviet government and quite influential. But even he failed. This time, the repeated mention of God became an obstacle: the words “Lord”, “Our Lady”, “God” (and even with a capital letter!) in Akhmatova’s poems were unacceptable to censorship. The poems of Akhmatova, a poet with a deeply rooted religious tradition, expressed, in particular, in vocabulary, were out of time.
The anti-religious policy of the socialist state manifested itself not only in the removal of the words “God” and others from the language, in the persecution of clergy, in the transformation of devastated churches into kerosene shops, repair shops, but also in the destruction of church buildings themselves, often valuable architectural structures. In 1925, A.V., brought from the family estate, was dismantled. Suvorov in connection with the centenary of his death and in 1901 the renaming of Rozhdestvensky Prospekt into Suvorovsky log church, which stood near the General Staff building at the corner of Suvorovsky Prospekt and Tavricheskaya Street. In the early 1930s, the Trinity Cathedral, the Matveevskaya, the Vvedenskaya churches on the Petrogradskaya side, the Znamenskaya near the Moscow railway station, the aforementioned Church of the Savior on the Waters and a number of others disappeared. Wastelands, squares and construction sites appeared in their place.
Completely changed its appearance in the early 30s Troitskaya Square – the first square of the city. Its architectural dominant, the Trinity Cathedral, has disappeared. The area on the eastern side was clearly limited by a new six-story gray building – the House of Political Prisoners. As conceived by the architects Simonov and Abrosimov, the apartments in this house did not have kitchens. This corresponded to the new ideology, which did not recognize the old traditional way of life. The first floor, placed on a high stylobate with fully glazed windows, was intended for a public dining room, a public nursery, etc. Clearly corresponding to the functional expediency, this house has become a typical constructivist building of the 20-30s.
In the neighborhood, on the site of the wooden circus “Modern”, known not only for circus performances, but also for crowded rallies during the revolutionary period, a building was built in the same style for the Transport Academy (Kronverksky pr., house 7). By the same principle, a factory-kitchen was built on the Vyborg side, the House of Culture of industrial cooperation (DK Lensoviet) on Petrogradskaya, buildings that form a hammer and sickle in plan – a new state emblem – built for the regional Soviet and party authorities behind the Moscow and Narva outposts, and a number of other architectural structures of the late 20s and early 30s with asymmetry characteristic of quiet buildings.
But soon a modest (compared to Europe) design experiment was replaced by the construction of monumental buildings of the right volumes. This was prescribed by the Decree of the Central Committee of 1932. This is how the Soyuzpushnina building was built near the Novodevichy Convent, and in the center of the city a complex of houses No. 4 and No. 6 along Liteiny Prospekt. House No. 6 along Liteiny was built on the site of the demolished church of Sergei Radonezh. House number 4 rose on the site of the district court burned during the February Revolution. The people called it the Big House, probably not only for its eight-story volume, but also for its unlimited power over the destinies of the townspeople. It housed the Main Political Directorate – the GPU, then the Leningrad branch of the NKVD, the MGB, the KGB and, finally, the FSB. Apparently, the impression from this infamous since the 30s of the Big House caused Akhmatova’s remark: “Have you noticed: at the end of Liteiny, whenever you look, there is a cloud. It comes in different colors, but it always lies there.”
Akhmatova, as Punin claimed, had an amazing sense of architecture, in general – of spatial form. About the old crumbling houses, devoid of balconies, cornices, pilasters, she said that they stand “like Roman ruins.” And about modern houses, she said that if you “scrape the new facades, there will be clumsy empty boxes” 126 .
In 1925, the first monument to Lenin was erected on the Shlisselburg tract behind the Nevskaya Zastava. From that time until 1970, 29 monuments were erected, not counting busts and memorial plaques, to the person whose name the city bore for almost 70 years. The most successful monument was recognized at the Finland Station, transferred in 1945 directly from the station, where it was originally installed, to the square, which took shape at a later time and bears the name of Lenin. The street on the Petrograd side, where Akhmatova lived her last five years, also bears the name of Lenin. Both in the 30s and after the war, a large number of monuments and busts of I.V. Stalin. One monument to Stalin was even erected in the garden of the Sheremetev Palace. These monuments to the leaders characterized the face of socialist Leningrad.


“Second Clinical Hunger”

Life got better
life became more fun.

By the end of the 1920s, the NEP was practically eliminated. The Nepmen were repressed, their property was nationalized, and the multistructural economy was replaced by a “planned economy.” This immediately affected the daily life of the townspeople. And with the beginning of the dispossession of the villages, with the complete ruin of agriculture, famine again came to the city.
Akhmatova calls the period from 1928 to 1932 “the second clinical famine”. The distribution card system was again introduced. From the starving village, people fled to the city, trying to settle in it by hook or by crook. And, although all sorts of obstacles were placed on them, the population of the city increased at their expense. For the city of that period, an abundance of beggars and homeless people is typical. By the end of the 1920s, the population of Leningrad had already exceeded one and a half million people . Interruptions arose not only with food, but also with fuel and kerosene, and in the kitchen there were stoves and kerosene stoves.
I. Punina told how old ends protruding from stacks of logs were dragged from under the nose of the janitor. At home, they sawed them for firewood. “This was our constant occupation in the 30s” 128 .
With the introduction of the “planned economy”, queues entered the life of the inhabitants of Leningrad for many decades. Akhmatova told L. Chukovskaya how one day someone in line recognized her: “… when you stand in the yard, under wet snow, in line for herrings, and the smell of middles is so piercing that both shoes and coats will smell like ten more days, and suddenly someone says from behind: “Smell fresh and pungent of the sea on a dish of oysters in ice” … I was so angry that I didn’t even look back” 129 . And she told Nyman that she was selling ration saddles, and someone recognized her. When she told her interlocutors, she “lost” each of these options. In reality, the life of that time could be real both episodes. But Akhmatova did not have to trade often, and she had to stand in lines systematically.
There were queues for everything: groceries, manufactured goods, any essentials. Citizens spent a significant part of their time in queues, often to the detriment of other necessary and urgent matters. Queues stood in all bureaucratic instances, in polyclinics, as a rule, I sat in queues in dark corridors. Akhmatova knew all this thoroughly.
Communal apartments were another phenomenon of the new way of life from the first post-revolutionary years. Their appearance and introduction into urban life corresponded to the internal policy of the state. The people who moved from the unsettled workers’ outskirts were grateful to the new government. The workers were settled in comfortable “bourgeois” apartments in the city center, turning them into communal apartments, thereby eliminating any kind of comfort. Large lordly kitchens and bathrooms were turned into living quarters. Fireplaces have been replaced by potbelly stoves. All that remained were the high ceilings, which were not characteristic of later construction.
“The interior decoration of the apartments also suffered – they knocked down the molding on the ceilings and walls, ruthlessly destroyed the old parquet” 130 . “Consolidation” in the apartments led to the division of large rooms, and only the stucco on the ceiling, if any, reminded the tenant that he lived in a quarter or a third of the original room. The former owners, if they were not expelled or arrested at all, occupied by no means the best premises in these utterly altered apartments. Almost all apartments in the city center have become communal apartments, with a list of the names of the tenants and an indication of how many times to call one or another tenant at the front door, and with their own specific way of life. A new community of people appeared – neighbors in a communal apartment. Most often these were people who were united by nothing but the so-called “common areas”.
Sensitive to language, Akhmatova noticed how the meaning of words changed with the new way of life. Thus, the word “neighbor” used to be close to the concept of “neighbourly”, while “neighbor” in a communal apartment is most often associated with the concept of hostility. There were, of course, exceptions.
Akhmatova lived most of her life in communal apartments. When she lived with O.A. Glebovoy-Sudeikina on emb. Fontanka, house 2, their neighbor was a benevolent simple old woman who, observing the process of Akhmatova’s creativity, said: “Buzzing!” It was old Makushina. She first called Akhmatova “Deer”: “Before, at least buzzed, but now she looses her hair and walks like a deer!” Akhmatova willingly signed letters to Punin – “Deer”. This became her house name 131 .
An apartment in the wing of the Fountain House, where Akhmatova moved to N.N. Punin, was also communal. OK. Chukovskaya recalls her first visit to this apartment (in November 1938): “A woman opened the door to me, wiping steam from her hands. Somehow I didn’t expect this foam and peeling of the front, where the wallpaper hung in shreds – the kitchen: on ropes linen slapping wet on the face…” 132 .
Akhmatova suffered greatly when a neighbor beat her boys and stood up for them. In addition, in the gloomy reality of those years, she had reason to believe that her neighbor, on behalf of the “authorities”, was following her, as she discovered signs of surveillance 133 .
In Akhmatova’s Notebooks there is a satirical sketch: “In apartment 113”:
In apartment 113, three people went crazy. The former housekeeper of the old people Venav, who went to Poland to their stepsons and stepdaughters and sent bad news from there, Lieutenant General of the MGB Samovarov, who was removed from his place “for humanity”, and the artist Fedya, who was called a genius for two years, and then someone came from where something, and everything changed. Here Fedya became completely confused and collapsed. The rest of the tenants of apartment 113 were in good health, fought in the kitchen with a call to the police and (without) emergency assistance, wrote denunciations against each other (collectively and alone), sued from seven to seventy times a year due to the failure of the light in the lavatory and finally, to everyone’s joy, they ensured that the latrine, and at the same time the water supply, were permanently boarded up.
Then the dove of peace with an olive branch in its beak soared over the square. 113, and she received some kind of commendation sheet, which was hung in the hallway next to the frame of the bicycle and over the children’s bath” 134 .
The sketch is no worse than M. Zoshchenko’s prose.
In 1939 A.A. Fadeev, as a member of the Central Committee, turned to Vyshinsky: “… Akhmatova still does not have a single meter of her own living space. She lives in the room of her ex-husband, with whom she divorced a long time ago. There is no need to prove how humiliating this is for her” 135 . These efforts were fruitless. In the apartment on emb. Fontanka, house 34, where she moved in the mid-20s, she lived for almost 30 years.
The crowded apartments in the center are a characteristic feature of the city of the socialist era. The pace of urban life has accelerated. A new type of transport appeared – the municipal bus, which gradually replaced cab drivers. But horse-drawn malposts for four passengers met until the mid-30s. Horse-drawn transport was gradually replaced by trucks. In 1930, the first automatic traffic light 136 was installed at the corner of Nevsky and Liteiny.
Akhmatova was afraid of city highways overloaded with vehicles, experienced genuine fear when crossing the streets and carefully followed the traffic light signal. The closest to the house where Akhmatova lived, and the busiest was this particular intersection – at the intersection of Liteiny and Nevsky.
It is hard to imagine now that the Fontanka in those winters froze so much that they arranged Christmas trees right on the ice and went skiing. “Anna Andreevna,” I.N. Punina recalls, “loved walks on the ice of the Fontanka.” So when Akhmatova admits: “I have lived in the Fontanka …”, then you can add – and walked on winter ice, and passed on skis. New Year trees (not Christmas trees!) were allowed only in 1936, so that the cited memoirs refer to this time 137 .


“Everything is the same – only … worse.”
Cultural life in the 30s

In 1932, Akhmatova wrote to her great friend N.I. Khardzhiev to Moscow: “… Everything is the same with us – only worse. Yesterday I was in the Hermitage. Desert” 138 . Akhmatova knew the Hermitage collections of paintings very well. Many famous canvases had disappeared by that time. And not only paintings. In 1928, tapestries and bronzes from the Gatchina Palace and the Hermitage were sold at auction in Berlin. In May 1931, almost the entire Stroganov collection went under the hammer in Berlin. Their Hermitage paintings were sold to the West, mainly to American millionaires. The Washington National Gallery has 23 paintings that were once in the Hermitage 22* . 5 paintings by Rembrandt, 3 by Raphael, 3 by Van Dyck, paintings by Botticelli, Titian, Veronese and a number of other famous masters migrated to another continent. And how many objects of applied art went abroad at that time, it is hard even to imagine . This was done in deep secrecy. Hence Akhmatov’s laconic “Desert”.
In the same letter to Khardzhiev: “A huge coat of arms was attached to the Menshikov chambers (they are being painted). Monstrous!” The huge coat of arms of the Cadet Corps is still kept in the Menshikov Palace. It is doubtful that he was exposed. Most likely, it was the Soviet coat of arms. At that time, the Menshikov Palace housed the Law Institute. Maybe the coat of arms was supposed to remind that jurists and lawyers protect the interests of the state.
Against the ominous background of the events of 1937, the centenary of the death of Pushkin was celebrated. It was very solemn. Pushkin House prepared a ten-volume academic edition of Pushkin, which Akhmatova’s close friends worked on, and she herself was not aloof from this work. It was decided to move the Opekushinsky monument to the poet, standing from the last century, from a quiet street near the Moscow railway station to another, more prestigious place. It was supposed to be transferred to Detskoe Selo, renamed in connection with the memorable date in the city of Pushkin. But the unexpected happened: when the necessary equipment was delivered for this operation, small children, who usually walked in a tiny square near the monument, raised such a howl, expressed their protest so actively that the arriving workers did not dare to remove the monument from the pedestal. They called their superiors, explained the situation to the children’s crying. It was decided to abandon this idea. Akhmatova writes about this with undisguised tenderness in the essay “Pushkin and Children”.
Akhmatova spent the day of the centenary of the death of Pushkin all alone. In the evening, V.N. visited her. Anikeeva – Verochka, as Akhmatova and Punin affectionately called her – and found A.A. alone at home, very sad. Akhmatova, who said more than once that all the luxurious palaces of the royal capital with their magnificent halls are interesting and valuable only because Pushkin was there or not, who so keenly felt his presence in the city glorified by him, who so closely studied his work and wrote about him, was not invited to the ceremonial meeting on February 10… 139 Akhmatova felt very lonely.
She sought and found solace in music.

And the music alone gave peace,
There is nothing more beautiful in the world.
She seemed to take me away
At the end of my existence…

Akhmatova often attended concerts, sometimes she even had season tickets. In 1937, the first performance of Shostakovich’s 5th symphony took place at the Philharmonic. Conducted by Mravinsky. The great pianist M.V. gave concerts at the Philharmonic. Yudin, with whom Akhmatova was familiar and whose performances she always went to.
She also went to the theater, but less often than before. She listened to the “Queen of Spades” staged by Meyerhold at the Maly Opera Theater (MALEGOT) in 1935. The libretto based on Pushkin’s text was written by V. Stenich, with whom Akhmatova was well acquainted. (Later she was briefly friends for the rest of her days with his widow). “The Queen of Spades” staged by Meyerhold had an emphatically Petersburg flavor. “The same old city of The Queen of Spades will be found in its drafts. Immediately after the overture, when the curtain rose, the audience-listeners saw a” piece “of the gloomy autumn capital landscape behind the openwork cast-iron gate lattice. Apparently, after visiting the opera, her lines were born:

From me, as from that countess,
Went up the spiral staircase,
To see the cold blue
Strict hour over the snowy Neva

Under the pseudonym Dr. Dapertutto Meyerhold in pre-revolutionary St. Petersburg published the magazine “Love for Three Oranges”, in the first issue of which Akhmatova’s poems dedicated to A. Blok and his poems addressed to her were published. Hence the mention of Meyerhold in “A Poem Without a Hero” among the “New Year’s tomboys” – Dapertutto.

… This Faust, that Don Juan,
Dapertutto, Jokanaan…

Elsewhere in the “Poem” appear “Meyerhold’s blacks”:

You see, there, behind the grainy vine,
Meyerhold’s blacks
They start fussing again

In Molière’s Don Giovanni, Meyerhold, the tireless inventor, put the little blacks to close and open the curtain, carry away and bring in props, and so on. Their “fuss” greatly enlivened the performance.
Meyerhold is known as the director of the anniversary street festivities in Leningrad, which were distinguished by special pomposity. His last visit to Leningrad was connected with the preparation of a grandiose physical culture parade, planned for the next proletarian holiday.
In October 1930, the premiere of Shostakovich’s ballet The Golden Age took place at the Mariinsky Theatre. This ballet was very well received by the audience, and was performed 16 times during the first theatrical season. In the same year, the ballet “Nose” according to N.V. Gogol to the music of Shostakovich, and in 1931 on the same stage – the ballet “Bolt”. (It was a strange ballet “on a production theme”). In January 1934, Shostakovich’s opera “Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District” by N. Leskov was staged in MALEGOTH. She was a great success. But it was this one, in 1934, that became a turning point in the whole life of Leningrad, including cultural.
After the murder of S.M. Kirov On December 1, 1934, all life in the city changed 24* .
“Purges” and personnel changes affected almost all state institutions. A wave of mass repressions took place in the city. Great changes took place in the ideological and artistic life.
Literary creativity and all forms of art from that time were rigidly clamped into the framework of “socialist realism”. Under this slogan, the First Congress of the Union of Soviet Writers was held in Moscow, to which Akhmatova was not invited (and did not fill out an application form for joining the newly created Union). In all spheres of art there was a struggle against the “formalists”. And many of Akhmatova’s friends from the Zubov Institute were declared to be them.
In music they were D. Shostakovich, S. Prokofiev. In January 1936, the editorial of Pravda appeared, it was called “Muddle instead of music.” The greatest composers were accused of the fact that their music was incomprehensible to the people, devoid of folk roots and not optimistic enough for the wonderful time in which it was created. All ballets and operas by Shostakovich were removed from the 25* stage.
Since the mid-1930s, falsehood has become one of the characteristic features of the life of society. Continuous chanting of our happy life (“I don’t know another such country where a person breathes so freely”) and an equally continuous growth of unjustified repressions. From that time on, the life of every citizen proceeds in different planes – a kind of Kafkaesque combination of fear and enthusiasm. The more fear, the more enthusiasm. Truly, as Akhmatova wrote, “Kafka came up with such things”… Enthusiasm for the cause was not so much social as psychological defense.
As a former tsarist officer, the husband of the ballerina T. Vecheslova was expelled, and her passport was taken away. This meant the threat of deportation at any moment. She needed to prove her indispensability here. On the stage of the Kirov Theatre, she becomes one of the stars of our ballet. It was not only a calculation – she escaped from fear, leaving for creativity.
On the stage of the Kirov Theater there were classical ballets – “Swan Lake”, “Sleeping Beauty”. The ballet troupe of the theater has deservedly earned worldwide fame. It included Ulanova, Sergeev, Balabina, Vecheslova and a number of other famous ballerinas and dancers. And the opera singers there were also excellent: Migai, Preobrazhenskaya.
In the 1920s and 1930s, a number of cinemas opened in the city, and by 1930 there were about fifty of them. The state encouraged the development of cinematography, rightly seeing it as an unsurpassed instrument of mass agitation. But fortunately, his role did not end there. And when the film began to be accompanied by a sound track – sound appeared – it acquired a new and at first unexpected great significance. Great masters have come to the cinema. Music for films was often written by the same Shostakovich. Among the film directors were then still young Kozintsev, Romm, Trauberg, Ermler. The Leningrad film studio (at first it was called “Sovkino”) “Lenfilm”, located in the former restaurant “Aquarium” (Kamennoostrovsky pr., building 10), became the leader in the country. Akhmatova’s attitude to cinema has changed over the years. The first “living pictures” did not arouse her approval. But already in the 30s, she closely followed its development, understanding its artistic possibilities. Later, I even conceived a screenplay …
Akhmatova was aware of the theatrical life of the city. In the theatrical environment, she always had friends. It is appropriate here to recall the actress E.V. Junger and the theater, where her husband N.P. was the director and artist. Akimov. He always had an interesting, one might even say – an exquisite repertoire. The special stamp of Akimov’s talent, the elegant style of his productions made the theater where he worked a notable cultural phenomenon. Almost all of his creative life is connected with the Comedy Theatre. In 1939 he staged “The Valencian Widow” translated by M. Lozinsky. In her memoirs, Akhmatova writes that Lozinsky invited her to the premiere. “When we watched The Valencian Widow together, I just gasped:“ Mikhail Leonidovich, it’s a miracle! Not a single banal rhyme!” He only smiled and said: “It seems so.” And it is impossible to get rid of the feeling that there are more rhymes in the Russian language than it seemed before. On the same stage, Lope de Vega’s “Dog in the Manger” in the same translation, as Akhmatova recalls, had “a resounding success”.
Among the drama theaters of that time were the now forgotten TAM (The Theater of Acting) and TRAM – the Theater of Working Youth. In the latter, from 1930 to 1933, the musical part was directed by Shostakovich. There were also the Reader’s Theatre, the Transport (Railway) Theatre, which gave performances more on the club stages of the railway stations of the Kirov Railway, and in the city was based in the former Panina’s People’s House. The artists of this theater came from the studio of L. Vivien, an outstanding theatrical figure.
It should be noted that the theater halls were full. I wanted to escape from the horrors that happened then. “… And we did not pretend. We really were interested either in some book, or in a friendly meeting, laughed, composing comic poems, enjoyed the performances of Akimov’s theater – the Comedy Theater” 141 , wrote literary critic V. Admoni.
On the posters of the Youth Theater, which then occupied the hall of the former Tenishevsky school (Mokhovaya, house 35), so familiar to Akhmatova from the first post-revolutionary years, the name of Yevgeny Schwartz appeared. In one of the group photographs of the second half of the 1920s, one can see Akhmatova, Schwartz, the artist Kaluzhnik, whose paintings are now exhibited at the A. Akhmatova Museum, among a number of other figures of Leningrad culture. This photograph confirms that A. Akhmatova’s acquaintance with Evg. Schwartz took place back in the 20s. Akhmatova highly appreciated his wit. Schwartz worked closely with Detgiz, which had been led by Marshak since 1925. The editorial office was located in the house of the Singer company (House of Books).
With S.Ya. Marshak Akhmatova had known each other since 1927. She maintained warm friendships with him. I visited him when he lived in Leningrad, and in Moscow when he moved there. She also talked with his sister, Elena Yakovlevna Ilyina. Akhmatova also knew those who worked in his editorial office. It included young, cheerful, talented people: D. Kharms, N. Oleinikov, Yu. Vladimirov, A. Vvedensky, T. Gabbe, L. Chukovskaya, A. Lyubarskaya, I. Andronikov …
The atmosphere of humor and prank created an amazing oasis in the truly terrible world that surrounded them. Humor was a challenge to time and power. Following Chaplin, who appeared on our screens, these people could say: “Laughter is a challenge to fate. We laugh, realizing our helplessness. We laugh so as not to go crazy.”
Akhmatova knew a lot about wit, and even more so appreciated “the caustic gaiety of a literary joke.” In May 1940, she met Kharms, he was somewhat reminiscent of Stenich, who had disappeared by that time. “He told me that, in his opinion, a genius should have three properties: clairvoyance, authority and intelligence. Khlebnikov had clairvoyance, but did not possess intelligence and authority. I read to him “The Way of All the Earth.” He said:“ Yes, authority you, perhaps, have, but there is little intelligence” 142 .
However, Kharms was wrong: life has shown that there was plenty of both clairvoyance and intelligence in Akhmatova.
Unfortunately, they didn’t have much time to fool around. As it was then practiced, a campaign of slander, denunciations, insinuations began. There were arrests. The arrested were required to testify against S. Marshak. He was saved by a sudden (similar to flight) move to Moscow. And most of his young and cheerful employees suffered a terrible fate.


“And dangled with an unnecessary pendant
near the prisons of their Leningrad … “

“… During the time of terror, when someone died, at home they considered him lucky, and about those who died earlier, mothers, widows and children said: Thank God that he is gone.” It was easy to plant someone, but this did not mean that you yourself would not sit down in 6 weeks. ” 143 the lines of the “Introduction” in “Requiem” echo with innuendo:

It was when I smiled
Only the dead are happy with peace …

Akhmatova herself was never arrested, she was not summoned for interrogation, she was not expelled. But her words, full of dramatic meaning, cannot but be heard: “I lived under the wing of death all thirty years.” This wing hung over her in 1921, after the execution of N. Gumilyov.
In 1925, a large group was arrested – about 100 people – graduates and teachers of the Alexander Lyceum. Among those arrested were friends and acquaintances of Akhmatova and Punin. Their “fault” was that, following the lyceum tradition that had developed back in Pushkin’s times, they annually gathered on October 19 (“anti-Soviet gatherings”!), served a memorial service for the dead lyceum students (“religious departures”!) And had a mutual aid fund (“for counter-revolutionary needs”!).
In the summer of the same year, N. Punin writes in his diary: “On July 18, 1925, lyceum students were shot. They say 52 people. The rest were exiled, their property, including children’s toys and warm clothes, was confiscated. There are no official reports, but everyone knows. with horror and disgust, but without surprise and real indignation . In this entry, not only a statement of fact is interesting, but also evidence of the state of society, its intimidation and depression. And it was still 1925!
Ahead in line were the arrests of local historians, most painfully responded in Leningrad – here was the Central Bureau of Local Lore. They were accused of espionage.
With the arrest of N.P. Antsiferov’s local history, necessary for studying, enlightening, instilling true love for the “small” motherland, was decapitated and virtually eliminated. This was in 1928.
At the same time, many participants in the long-disintegrated Volfila were arrested – R.V. Ivanov-Razumnik, D.M. Pines and others 145 . Philosophical understanding of reality was not relevant. R.V. Ivanov-Razumnik was arrested several times. But he died in freedom, having managed to recognize the German camps for displaced persons. And D.M. Pines, after several years of imprisonment in one of the Ural camps, was exiled to Arkhangelsk, where he was again arrested and shot.
At the turn of the 1930s, the process of the Industrial Party was organized, in which the technical intelligentsia suffered. And since 1929, the so-called “academic business” began and stretched for several years. Of the 259 Academicians and Corresponding Members of the Academy of Sciences living in Leningrad by that time, 71 people were subjected to a “purge”, that is, they were expelled from those scientific institutions in which they had previously worked. Arrests followed. A total of 115 people were convicted in the “academic case”. Very young, twenty-two years old, he was arrested for attending an unofficial circle of philologists D.S. Likhachev. Veteran scientists were also arrested, such as I.M. Grevs, S.F. Platonov. Many were specially brought to testify from the Solovetsky camp. After all, the leadership of the Academy of Sciences – its presidium – until 1934 was in Leningrad 146 .
Apparently, Akhmatova was acquainted with Vladimir Nikolayevich Beneshevich, a professor at the University and a longtime collaborator at the Public Library. He was a byzantologist, archeographer, historian of church law, which was part of Akhmatova’s sphere of interests. In 1924 he was elected a corresponding member of the USSR Academy of Sciences. By this time he was already a member of a number of foreign academies. In July 1922, he was arrested in the case of Metropolitan Veniamin, which was officially called “On the resistance of the clergy to the seizure of church valuables.” In this case, 86 people were arrested, four of them were shot. After several months of detention, Benešević was released for lack of evidence. In 1924 he was arrested again, but at the insistence of the President of Poland he was released and sent to Warsaw. His father-in-law, a prominent Polish scientist, was busy with this. In 1928 he returned to Leningrad and was soon arrested on one of the many church cases at that time. In addition, he was accused of belonging to a “counter-revolutionary organization of Eurasians” and that he was allegedly an agent of the Vatican, Poland and German intelligence. And espionage information, according to the conclusion of the Chekists, was sent under the guise of scientific articles to the German journal Byzantine Chronicle. One could call it paranoid delusions, if this “delusion” did not have catastrophic consequences. Beneshevich was kept in the DPZ (Shpalernaya, house 25). In June 1929, he was sent to Kem, but in the spring of 1930 he was arrested again there, brought to a Leningrad prison and brought on an “academic case” as one of the main defendants. On August 28, 1931, the Military Collegium sentenced him under article 58-11 to 5 years in a camp. At the same time, the brother and wife were convicted. Until March 1933, he was in Ukhtpechlag in the Arctic. At the end of his term, he returned home and found his library ravaged to the ground. Most of his works perished. Of the 49 descriptions of Byzantine manuscripts he made, only 3 have survived. He was completely restored at the University and returned to work at the GPB. In May 1937, the 1st volume of the collection of ecclesiastical and legal articles by Julian Scholastic, who lived in the 6th century, prepared by Beneshevich, was published in Munich. “For the publication of work in Nazi Germany” he was removed from the professorship. In the autumn, a devastating article about the “scientist’s betrayal” appeared in the Izvestiya newspaper. First his sons were arrested, then he himself, later his brother. All of them were shot. (Rehabilitated in 1958, 1967) 147 .
Such is the fate of only one very prominent scientist, his relatives and friends. For 15 years, starting in 1922, arrests, prisons, camps, exiles, confiscations, repressions of loved ones and execution. But there were hundreds of such destinies, and maybe hundreds of thousands in Leningrad alone. And it started long before 1937.
Throughout the 20-30s, the persecution of the clergy did not stop. On February 18, 1932, mass arrests of monastics took place in Leningrad. About 500 people were arrested, including 40 monks of the Alexander Nevsky Lavra 148 .
Arrests did not stop in the literary environment. In his notes for 1932, L.Ya. Ginzburg writes: “The unprecedented mutual and self-immolation of scientists and writers must stop in the near future. Someone said that it will stop due to the absence of those who fight. In addition, books will stop being published, because a published book is almost suicide. Literature will either have to be closed , or to calm the people who are distraught with fear” 149 .
A close friend of Akhmatova, Lidia Yakovlevna, who had been friends with her since 1928, was with B.Ya. Bukhshtab – a well-known literary critic, their mutual friend – invited Akhmatova to visit when Mandelstam arrived in Leningrad in 1933. Akhmatova had to say to the visiting spouses Mandelstam: “Here’s the cheese, here’s the sausage. There are no guests. They’ve been arrested .”

Archive transcript

About the availability of information
From the documents of the archival fund of the Federal Security Service of the Russian Federation for St. Petersburg and the region, it follows that
GINZBURG Lidia Yakovlevna, born in 1902,
native of Odessa, Jewish,
higher education, writer-teacher,
lived at the address: Leningrad, canal
Griboedova, 24, apt. 5, worked
Russian language teacher at the courses
advanced training of the plant “Hydraulics”,
was arrested on February 25, 1933.
Family composition at the time of arrest: mother, brother.
Accused of a crime under Art. 58-11.
By the decision of the PG OGPU in the Leningrad Military District of April 20, 1933, the case against GINZBURG L.Ya. terminated,
because guilt GINZBURG L.Ya.
investigation was not confirmed.
March 8, 1933 GINZBURG L.Ya. released from custody.

Archival staff member
FSB in St. Petersburg
and region VARTSABA N.K.

Archive transcript

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