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Articles tagged "Soviet Union"

from “Purge”

When the Baltic Germans were invited into Germany in the fall of 1939, one of the sisters’ German classmates from school and confirmation classes came to say good-bye, and promised to return. She was just going to make a tour of a country that she’d never seen before, and then she would come back and tell them what Germany was really like. They waved good-bye and Aliide watched as Hans’s hands wrapped around Ingel’s waist and moved toward her rear end. Their...

A Journey to Spitsbergen

I On the flight from Oslo to Tromsø, two worlds: the land far below me, the map on my lap. Outside, the sun is setting. The clouds hanging over the land on my map have been painted by Max Ernst, surreal, puffy sky formations, squadrons whizzing past us, fire within the gray, the land below already dark, less and less visible, a mere assumption. And mysterious as it may be, it cannot be chaos because roads have been drawn on the map, there are towns, harbors, names. The thin green...

Farewell to the Queue

An era can be judged by street conversations. "Look, there's a line." "What're they giving out?" "Just get on it, then we'll find out." "How much should I get?" "As much as they'll give you." This touching dialogue from the Brezhnev era should be etched on the stern granite of Lenin's mausoleum—in memory of the great era of socialist paradise. And if anyone were to think seriously about a monument to that period, I would suggest that the empty...

Girls

Darka saw her in the trolley, the sweaty, June-soaked trolley, brimming with people and their smells: sweet, almost corpselike, female, heavy, equestrian, yet oddly palatable, and even stimulating, sexual, distinctly male. Suddenly all the smells switched off, leaving only a girlish profile on the sunny side of the car, angular as a Braque: abrupt, soaring cheekbones, a fine pug nose, mulatto lips, and a sharp, childlike fist of a chin—a capricious, fragile geometry which...

The Wondrous Deer of the Eternal Hunt

If he hadn't been who he was, I never would have married again. I had everything: a child, a job, my freedom. And suddenly there he was . . . clumsy, practically blind, wheezing. Letting someone into your world with so much baggage—twelve years in Stalinist camps, they took him as a boy, sixteen years old. . . . With the burden of that knowledge . . . the differences. That's not what I'd call freedom. What is it? What's the point? Admit that I only pitied him? No. It...

An Interview with Wladimir Kaminer

Boris Fishman interviewed Wladimir Kaminer September 3, 2003. Boris Fishman: Did you start writing before emigrating to Germany? What did you do in the Soviet Union? Wladimir Kaminer: In the Soviet Union, I graduated from music school, with a concentration in music for theatre and television. I worked for a year, then went into the army, got out in 1989. By then, perestroika was in full swing, and many of my colleagues were rushing to take advantage of the increased freedom of...

from Me and So Forth

Me and Perestroika Now I will tell you how perestroika collapsed. To be more precise, it hasn't collapsed yet, but it definitely will due to the archaic institutions of the family and marriage, which dominate in times of real socialism. To be fair, one must add that history recalls a few cases when trivia stood in the way of great achievements. Such was the case with the emperor Peter Fedorovich, who didn't succeed in carrying out his reformist program only because, several...

Nancy

Nancy was this woman. From America. A woman general. And not just a general, but an advisor to the president. Rumor even had it she could do the same amount of push-ups as any other American general and advisor to the president. And here she was coming all the way to the great Russian North to pay us a visit. Back then our country was in the throes of perestroika, and she was visiting us just to see whether we were doing as bad a job of it as the rest of the world was inclined to think....

from Cuneiform

Hadjar bore seven children. Aga Akbar was the youngest, and he was born deaf and mute. She knew it even in the first month. She saw that he didn't react. But she didn't want to believe it. She never left him alone, and no one else was allowed to stay with him for long. For six months she kept that up. Everyone knew the child was deaf, but no one was allowed to speak of it. Until, finally, Kazem Khan, Hadjar's eldest brother, felt it was time to get involved. Kazem Khan...

Paris Lost

Our first official German document, which we got at police headquarters on the Alexanderplatz in 1990, was an East German residence permit. We didn't get any closer to our old dream: the right to travel freely. Right on the first page of the document it said: On departure from the German Democratic Republic, this permit must be surrendered to the appropriate civic authorities, or to the border control. Valid until 8/30/2000. We didn't have a big trip planned at first; back then,...

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