Sunday, June 19, 2011

Solzhenitsyn on Churchill and Roosevelt

    In their own countries Roosevelt and Churchill are honored as embodiments of statesmanlike wisdom. To us, in our Russian prison conversations, their consistent shortsightedness and stupidity stood out as astonishingly obvious. How could they, in their decline from 1941 to 1945, fail to secure any guarantees whatever of the independence of Eastern Europe? How could they give away broad regions of Saxony and Thuringia in exchange for the preposterous toy of a four-zone Berlin, their own future Achilles' heel? And what was the military or political sense in their surrendering to destruction at Stalin's hands hundreds of thousands of armed Soviet citizens determined not to surrender? They say it was the price they paid for Stalin's agreeing to enter the war against Japan. With the atom bomb already in their hands, they paid Stalin for not refusing to occupy Manchuria, for strengthening Mao Tse-tung in China, and for giving Kim Il Sung control of half Korea! What bankruptcy of political thought! And when subsequently, the Russians pushed out Mikolajczyk, when Benes and Masaryk came to their ends, when Berlin was blockaded, and Budapest flamed and fell silent, and Korea went up in smoke, and Britain’s Conservatives fled Suez, could one really beleive that those among them with the most accurate memories did not at least recall that episode of the Cossacks?
So Aleksandr Isayevich Solzhenitsyn reminds us in The Gulag Archipelago Volume 1: An Experiment in Literary Investigation. The episode referred to, which Mr. Solzhenitsyn calls "an act of double-dealing consistent with the spirit of traditional English diplomacy," was when "Churchill... turned over to the Soviet command the Cossack corps of 90,000 men... and wagonloads of old people, women, and children who did not want to return to their native Cossack rivers." He continues, "This great hero, monuments to whom will in time cover all England, ordered that they, too, be surrendered to their deaths." No wonder this giant was as little popular in the West as he was in Soviet Russia.

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2 Comments:

Blogger Pints in NYC said...

His Harvard Address is quite powerful as well.

10:01 AM  
Blogger The Western Confucian said...

Indeed. Here it is: Solzhenitsyn's Harvard Address.

3:22 AM  

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