Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn speaks to us timeless words of warning as meaningful today as when originally spoken. Listen to him.
This was a classic warning of the flagrant lie that is Communism and
the liars who are Marxists, delivered by one who lived through the lies,
to American working men and to American organized labor.
Most of those present here today are workers.
Creative workers. And I myself, having spent many
years of my life as a stone cutter, as a
foundryman, as a manual worker, in the name of all
who have shared this forced labor with me, like
the two Gulag prisoners whom you just saw, and on
behalf of those who are doing forced labor in our
country, I can start my speech today with the
greeting "Brothers!" "Brothers in Labor."
And not to forget, also, the many honored
guests present here tonight, let me add: "Ladies
"Workers of the world unite!" Who of us has
not heard this slogan, which has been sounding
through the world for 125 years? Today you can
find it in any Soviet pamphlet as well as in every
issue of Pravda. But never have the leaders of the
Communist revolution in the Soviet Union made
application of these words sincerely and in their
full meaning. When many lies have accumulated over
the decades, we forget the radical and basic lie
which is not on the leaves of the tree, but at its
Now, it's almost impossible to remember or to
believe.. For instance, I recently published - had
reprinted - a pamphlet from the year 1918. This
was a precise record of a meeting of all
representatives of the Petrograd factories, that
being the city known in our country as the "cradle
of the Revolution."
I repeat, this was March 1918 - only four
months after the October Revolution - and all the
representatives of the Petrograd factories were
cursing the Communists, who had deceived them in
all of their promises. What is more, not only had
they abandoned Petrograd to cold and hunger,
themselves having fled from Petrograd to Moscow,
but had given orders to machine-gun the crowds
of workers in the courtyards of the factories who
were demanding the election of independent factory
Let me remind you, this was March 1918.
Scarcely anyone now can recall the crushing of
the Petrograd strikes in 1921, or the shooting of
workers in Kolpino in the same year.
Among the leadership, the Central Committee
of the Communist Party, at the beginning of the
Revolution, all were emigre intellectuals who had
returned, after the uprisings had already broken
out in Russia, in order to carry through the
Communist Revolution. One of them was a genuine
worker, a highly skilled lathe operator until the
last day of his life. This was Alexander
Shliapnikov. Who knows that name today? Precisely
because he expressed the true interests of the
workers within the Communist leadership. In the
years before the Revolution it was Shliapnikov who
ran the whole Communist Party in Russia - not
Lenin, who was an emigre. In 1921, he headed the
Workers' Opposition which was charging the
Communist leadership with betraying the workers'
interests, with crushing and oppressing the
proletariat and transforming itself into a
Shliapnikov disappeared from sight. He was
arrested somewhat later and since he firmly stood
his ground he was shot in prison and his name is
perhaps unknown to most people here today. But I
remind you: before the Revolution the head of the
Communist Party of Russia was Shliapnikov - not
Since that time, the working class has never
been able to stand up for its rights, and in
distinction from all the western countries our
working class only receives what they hand out to
it. It only gets handouts. It cannot defend its
simplest, everyday interests, and the least strike
for pay or for better living conditions is viewed
as counter-revolutionary. Thanks to the closed
nature of the Soviet system, you have probably
never heard of the textile strikes in 1930 in
Ivanovo, or of the 1961 worker unrest in Murom and
Alexandrovo, or of the major workers' uprising in
Novocherkassk in 1962 - this in the time of
Khrushchev, after the thaw.
This story will shortly be published in
detail in your country in Gulag Archipelago,
volume 3. It is a story of how workers went in a
peaceful demonstration to the Party City Committee,
carrying portraits of Lenin, to request a change
in economic conditions. They fired at them with
machine guns and dispersed the crowds with tanks.
No family dared even to collect its wounded and
dead, but all were taken away in secret by the
Precisely to those present here I don't have
to explain that in our country, since the
Revolution, there's never been such a thing as a
free trade union.
The leaders of the British trade unions are
free to play the unworthy game of visiting
Russia's so-called trade unions and receiving
visits in return. But the AFL-CIO has never given
in to these illusions.
The American workers' movement has never
allowed itself to be blinded and to mistake
slavery for freedom. And I, today, on behalf of
all of our oppressed people, thank you for this!
When liberal thinkers and wise men of the
West, who had forgotten the meaning of the word
"liberty," were swearing that in the Soviet Union
there were no concentration camps at all, the
American Federation of Labor, published in 1947, a
map of our concentration camps, and on behalf of
all of the prisoners of those times, I want to
thank the American workers' movement for this.
But just as we feel ourselves your allies
here, there also exists another alliance - at
first glance a strange one, a surprising one - but
if you think about it, in fact, one which is
well-grounded and easy to understand this is the
alliance between our Communist leaders and your
This alliance is not new. The very famous
Armand Hammer, who is flourishing here today, laid
the basis for this when he made the first
exploratory trip into Russia, still in Lenin's
time, in the very first years of the Revolution.
He was extremely successful in this intelligence
mission and since that time for all these 50
years, we observe continuous and steady support by
the businessmen of the West of the Soviet
Their clumsy and awkward economy, which could
never overcome its own difficulties by itself, is
continually getting material and technological
assistance. The major construction projects in the
initial five-year plan were built exclusively with
American technology and materials. Even Stalin
recognized that two-thirds of what was needed was
obtained from the West. And if today the Soviet
Union has powerful military and police forces - in
a country which is by contemporary standards poor
- they are used to crush our movement for freedom
in the Soviet Union - and we have western capital
to thank for this also.
Let me remind you of a recent incident which
some of you may have seen in the newspapers,
although others might have missed it: Certain of
your businessmen, on their own initiative,
established an exhibition of criminological
technology in Moscow. This was the most recent and
elaborate technology, which here, in your country,
is used to catch criminals, to bug them, to spy on
them, to photograph them, to tail them, to
identify criminals. This was taken to Moscow to an
exhibition in order that the Soviet KGB agents
could study it, as if not understanding what sort
of criminals, who would be hunted by the KGB.
The Soviet government was extremely
interested in this technology, and decided to
purchase it. And your businessmen were quite
willing to sell it. Only when a few sober voices
here raised an uproar against it was this deal
blocked. Only for this reason it didn't take
place. But you have to realize how clever the KGB
is. This technology didn't have to stay two or
three weeks in a Soviet building under Soviet
guard. Two or three nights were enough for the KGB
there to look through it and copy it. And if today,
persons are being hunted down by the best and most
advanced technology, for this, I can also thank
your western capitalists.
This is something which is almost
incomprehensible to the human mind: that burning
greed for profit which goes beyond all reason, all
self-control, all conscience, only to get money.
I must say that Lenin foretold this whole
process. Lenin, who spent most of his life in the
West and not in Russia, who knew the West much
better than Russia, always wrote and said that the
western capitalists would do anything to
strengthen the economy of the USSR. They will
compete with each other to sell us goods cheaper
and sell them quicker, so that the Soviets will
buy from one rather than from the other. He said:
They will bring it themselves without thinking
about their future. And, in a difficult moment, at
a party meeting in Moscow, he said: "Comrades,
don't panic, when things go very hard for us, we
will give a rope to the bourgeoisie, and the
bourgeoisie will hang itself."
Then, Karl Radek, whom you may have heard of,
who was a very resourceful wit, said: "Vladimir
Ilyich, but where are we going to get enough rope
to hang the whole bourgeoisie?"
Lenin effortlessly replied, "They'll supply
us with it."
Through the decades of the 1920s, the 1930s,
the 1940s, the 1950s, the whole Soviet press
wrote: Western capitalism, your end is near.
But it was as if the capitalists had not
heard, could not understand, could not believe
Nikita Khrushchev came here and said, "We
will bury you!" They didn't believe that, either.
They took it as a joke.
Now, of course, they have become more clever
in our country. Now they don't say "we are going
to bury you" anymore, now they say "detente."
Nothing has changed in Communist ideology.
The goals are the same as they were, but instead
of the artless Khrushchev, who couldn't hold his
tongue, now they say "detente."
In order to understand this, I will take the
liberty of making a short historic survey - the
history of such relations, which in different
periods have been called "trade," "stabilization
of the situation," "recognition of realities," and
now "detente." These relations 'now are at least
40 years old.
Let me remind you with what sort of system
- The system was installed by armed uprising.
- It dispersed the Constituent Assembly.
- It capitulated to Germany - the common enemy.
- It introduced execution without trial.
- It crushed workers' strikes.
- It plundered the villagers to such an
unbelievable extent that the peasants revolted,
and when this happened it crushed the peasants in
the bloodiest possible way.
- It shattered the Church.
- It reduced 20 provinces of our country to a
condition of famine.
This was in 1921, the famous Volga famine. A
very typical Communist technique: To seize power
without thinking of the fact that the productive
forces will collapse, that the fields will not be
sown, the factories will stop, that the country
will decline into poverty and famine - but when
poverty and hunger come, then they request the
humanitarian world to help them.
We see this in North Vietnam today, perhaps
Portugal is approaching this also. And the same
thing happened in Russia in 1921. When the three-
year civil war, started by the Communists - and
"civil war" was a slogan of the Communists, civil
war was Lenin's purpose; read Lenin, this was his
aim and his slogan - when they had ruined Russia
by this civil war, then they asked America,
"America, feed our hungry." And indeed, generous
and magnanimous America did feed our hungry.
The so-called American Relief Administration
was set up, headed by your future President Hoover,
and indeed many millions of Russian lives were
saved by this organization of yours.
But what sort of gratitude did you receive
for this? In the USSR not only did they try to
erase this whole event from the popular memory -
it's almost impossible today in the Soviet press
to find any reference to the American Relief
Administration - but they even denounce it as a
clever spy organization, a clever scheme of
American imperialism to set up a spy network in
Russia. I repeat, it was a system that introduced
concentration camps for the first time in the
history of the world.
A system that, in the 20th Century, was the
first to introduce the use of hostages, that is to
say, not to seize the person whom they were
seeking, but rather a member of his family or
someone at random, and shoot that person.
This system of hostages and persecution of
the family exists to this day. It is still the
most powerful weapon of persecution, because the
bravest person, who is not afraid for himself,
still shivers at the threat to his family.
It is a system which was the first - long
before Hitler - to employ false registration, that
is, to say: "Such and such people have to come in
to register." People would comply and then they
were taken away to be annihilated.
We didn't have gas chambers in those days. We
used barges. A hundred or a thousand persons were
put into a barge and then it was sunk.
It was a system which deceived the workers in
all of its decrees - the decree on land, the
decree on peace, the decree on factories, the
decree on freedom of the press.
It was a system which exterminated all
additional parties, and let me make it clear to
you that it not only disbanded the party itself,
but destroyed its members. All members of every
other party were exterminated. It was a system
which carried out genocide of the peasantry; 15
million peasants were sent off to extermination.
It was a system which introduced serfdom, the
so-called "passport system."
It was a system which, in time of peace,
artificially created a famine, causing 6 million
persons to die in the Ukraine in 1932 and 1933.
They died on the very edge of Europe. And Europe
didn't even notice it. The world didn't even
notice it - 6 million persons!
I could keep on enumerating these endlessly,
but I have to stop because I have come to the year
1933 when, with all I have enumerated behind us,
your President Roosevelt and your Congress
recognized this system as one worthy of diplomatic
recognition, of friendship and of assistance.
Let me remind you that the great Washington
did not agree to recognize the French Convention
because of its savagery. Let me remind you that in
1933, voices were raised in your country objecting
to recognition of the Soviet Union. However, the
recognition took place and this was the beginning
of friendship and ultimately of a military
Let us remember that in 1904, the American
press was delighted at the Japanese victories and
everyone wanted Russia's defeat because it was a
conservative country. I want to remind you that in
1914 reproaches were directed at France and
England for having entered into an alliance with
such a conservative country as Russia.
The scope and the direction of my speech
today do not permit me to say more about
prerevolutionary Russia. I will just say that
information about pre-revolutionary Russia was
obtained by the West from persons who were either
not sufficiently competent or not sufficiently
conscientious. I will just cite for the sake of
comparison a number of figures which you can read
for yourself in Gulag Archipelago, volume 1, which
has been published in the United States, and
perhaps many of you may have read it. These are
According to calculations by specialists,
based on the most precise objective statistics, in
prerevolutionary Russia, during the 80 years
before the revolution - years of the revolutionary
movement when there were attempts on the Tsar's
life, assassination of a Tsar, revolution - during
these years about 17 persons a year were executed.
The famous Spanish Inquisition, during the decades
when it was at the height of its persecution,
destroyed perhaps 10 persons a month. In the
Archipelago - I cite a book which was published by
the Cheka in 1920, proudly reporting on its
revolutionary work in 1918 and 1919 and
apologizing that its data were not quite complete
- in 1918 and 1919 the Cheka executed, without
trial, more than a thousand persons a month! This
was written by the Cheka itself, before it
understood how this would look to history.
At the height of Stalin's terror in 1937-38,
if we divide the number of persons executed by the
number of months, we get more than 40,000 persons
shot per month! Here are the figures: 17 a year,
10 a month, more than 1,000 a month, more than
40,000 a month! Thus, that which had made it
difficult for the democratic West to form an
alliance with pre-revolutionary Russia had, by
1941, grown to such an extent and still did not
prevent the entire united democracy of the world -
England, France, the United States, Canada,
Australia and small countries - from entering into
a military alliance with the Soviet Union. How is
this to be explained? How can we understand it?
Here we can offer a few explanations. The first, I
think, is that the entire united democracy of the
world was too weak to fight against Hitler's
Germany alone. If this is the case, then it is a
terrible sign. It is a terrible portent for the
present day. If all these countries together could
not defeat Hitler's little Germany, what are they
going to do today, when more than half the globe
is flooded with totalitarianism? I don't want to
accept this explanation.
The second explanation is perhaps that there
was simply an attack of panic - of fear - among
the statesmen of the day. They simply didn't have
sufficient confidence in themselves, they simply
had no strength of spirit, and in this confused
state decided to enter into an alliance with
Soviet totalitarianism. This is also not
flattering to the West.
Finally, the third explanation is that it was
a deliberate device. Democracy did not want to
defend itself. For defense it wanted to use
another totalitarian system, the Soviet
I'm not talking now about the moral
evaluation of this, I'm going to talk about that
later. But in terms of simple calculation, how
shortsighted, what profound self-deception!
We have a Russian proverb: "Do not call a
wolf to help you against the dogs." If dogs are
attacking and tearing at you, fight against the
dogs, but do not call a wolf for help. Because
when the wolves come, they will destroy the dogs,
but they will also tear you apart.
World democracy could have defeated one
totalitarian regime after another, the German,
then the Soviet. Instead, it strengthened Soviet
totalitarianism, helped bring into existence a
third totalitarianism, that of China, and all this
finally precipitated the present world situation.
Roosevelt, in Teheran, during one of his last
toasts, said the following: "I do not doubt that
the three of us" - meaning Roosevelt, Churchill
and Stalin - "lead our peoples in accordance with
their desires, in accordance with their aims." How
are we to explain this? Let the historians worry
about that. At the time, we listened and were
astonished. We thought, "when we reach Europe, we
will meet the Americans, and we will tell them." I
was among the troops that were marching towards
the Elbe. A little bit more and I would have
reached the Elbe and would have shaken the hands
of your American soldiers. But just before that
happened, I was taken off to prison and my meeting
did not take place.
But now, after all this great delay, the same
hand has thrown me out of the country and here I
am, instead of the meeting at the Elbe. After a
delay of 30 years, my Elbe is here today. I am
here to tell you, as a friend of the United
States, what, as friends, we wanted to tell you
then, but which our soldiers were prevented from
telling you on the Elbe.
There is another Russian proverb: "The yes-
man is your enemy, but your friend will argue with
you." It is precisely because I am the friend of
the United States, precisely because my speech is
prompted by friendship, that I have come to tell
you: "My friends, I'm not going to tell you sweet
words. The situation in the world is not just
dangerous, it isn't just threatening, it is
Something that is incomprehensible to the
ordinary human mind has taken place. We over
there, the powerless, average Soviet people,
couldn't understand, year after year and decade
after decade, what was happening. How were we to
explain this? England, France, the United States,
were victorious in World War II. Victorious states
always dictate peace; they receive firm
conditions; they create the sort of situation
which accords with their philosophy, their concept
of liberty, their concept of national interest.
Instead of this, beginning in Yalta, your
statesmen of the West, for some inexplicable
reason, have signed one capitulation after
another. Never did the West or your President
Roosevelt impose any conditions on the Soviet
Union for obtaining aid. He gave unlimited aid,
and then unlimited concessions. Already in Yalta,
without any necessity, the occupation of Mongolia,
Moldavia, Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania was silently
recognized. Immediately after that, almost nothing
was done to protect eastern Europe, and seven or
eight more countries were surrendered.
Stalin demanded that the Soviet citizens who
did not want to return home be handed over to him,
and the western countries handed over 1.5 million
human beings. How was this done? They took them by
force. English soldiers killed Russians who did
not want to become prisoners of Stalin, and drove
them by force to Stalin to be exterminated. This
has recently come to light - just a few years ago
- a million and a half human beings. How could the
Western democracies have done this?
And after that, for another 30 years, the
constant retreat, the surrender of one country
after another, to such a point that there are
Soviet satellites even in Africa; almost all of
Asia is taken over by them; Portugal is rolling
down the precipice.
During those 30 years, more was surrendered
to totalitarianism than any defeated country has
ever surrendered after any war in history. There
was no war, but there might as well have been.
For a long time we in the East couldn't
understand this. We couldn't understand the
flabbiness of the truce concluded in Vietnam. Any
average Soviet citizen understood that this was a
sly device which made it possible for North
Vietnam to take over South Vietnam when it so
chose. And suddenly, this was rewarded by the
Nobel Prize for Peace - a tragic and ironic prize.
A very dangerous state of mind can arise as a
result of this 30 years of retreat: give in as
quickly as possible, give up as quickly as
possible, peace and quiet at any cost.
This is what many western papers wrote:
"Let's hurry up an end the bloodshed in Vietnam
and have national unity there." But at the Berlin
Wall no one talked of national unity. One of your
leading newspapers, after the end of Vietnam, had
a full headline: "The Blessed Silence." I would
not wish that kind of "blessed silence" on my
worst enemy. I would not wish that kind of
national unity on my worst enemy.
I spent 11 years in the Archipelago, and for
half of my lifetime I have studied this question.
Looking at this terrible tragedy in Vietnam from a
distance, I can tell you, a million persons will
be simply exterminated, while 4 to 5 million (in
accordance with the scale of Vietnam) will find
themselves in concentration camps and will be
rebuilding Vietnam. And what is happening in
Cambodia you already know. It is genocide. It is
full and complete destruction but in a new form.
Once again their technology is not up to building
So, in a few hours, the entire capital city -
the guilty capital city - is emptied out: old
people, women, children are driven out without
belongings without food "Go and die!" This is very
dangerous for one's view of the world when this
feeling comes on: "Go ahead, give it up."
We already hear voices in your country and in
the West "Give up Korea and we will live quietly.
Give up Portugal, of course: give up Japan, give
up Israel, give up Taiwan, the Philippines,
Malaysia, Thailand, give up 10 more African
countries. Just let us live in peace and quiet.
Just let us drive our big cars on our splendid
highways; just let us play tennis and golf, in
peace and quiet; just let us mix our cocktails in
peace and quiet as we are accustomed to doing;
just let us see the beautiful toothy smile with a
glass in hand on every advertisement page of our
But look how things have turned out: Now in
the West this has all turned into an accusation
against the United States. Now, in the West, we
hear very many voices saying, "It's your fault,
America." And, here, I must decisively defend the
United States against these accusations.
I have to say that the United States, of all
the countries of the West, is the least guilty in
all this and has done the most in order to prevent
it. The United States has helped Europe to win the
First and the Second World Wars. It twice raised
Europe from post-war destruction - twice - for 10,
20, 30 years it has stood as a shield protecting
Europe while European countries were counting
their nickels, to avoid paying for their armies
(better yet to have none at all) to avoid paying
for armaments, thinking about how to leave NATO,
knowing that in any case America will protect them
anyway. These countries started it all, despite
their thousands of years of civilization and
culture, even though they are closer and should
have known better.
I came to your continent - for two months I
have been travelling in its wide open spaces and I
agree: here you do not feel the nearness of it
all, the immediacy of it all. And here it is
possible to miscalculate. Here you must make a
spiritual effort to understand the acuteness of
the world situation. The United States of America
has long shown itself to be the most magnanimous,
the most generous country in the world. Wherever
there is a flood, an earthquake, a fire, a natural
disaster, disease, who is the first to help? The
United States. Who helps the most and unselfishly?
The United States.
And what do we hear in reply? Reproaches,
curses, "Yankee Go Home." American cultural
centers are burned, and the representatives of the
Third World jump on tables to vote against the
But this does not take the load off America's
shoulders. The course of history - whether you
like it or not - has made you the leaders of the
world. Your country can no longer think
provincially. Your political leaders can no longer
think only of their own states, of their parties,
of petty arrangements which may or may not lead to
promotion. You must think about the whole world,
and when the new political crisis in the world
will arise (I think we have just come to the end
of a very acute crisis and the next one will come
any moment) the main decisions will fall anyway on
the shoulders of the United States of America.
And while already here, I have heard some
explanations of the situation. Let me quote some
of them: "It is impossible to protect those who do
not have the will to defend themselves." I agree
with that, but this was said about South Vietnam.
In one-half of today's Europe and in three-
quarters of today's world the will to defend
oneself is even less than it was in South Vietnam.
We are told: "We cannot defend those who are
unable to defend themselves with their own human
resources." But against the overwhelming powers of
totalitarianism, when all of this power is thrown
against a country - no country can defend itself
with its own resources. For instance, Japan
doesn't have a standing army.
We are told, "We should not protect those who
do not have full democracy." This is the most
remarkable argument of the lot. This is the
Leitmotif I hear in your newspapers and in the
speeches of some of your political leaders. Who in
the world, ever, on the front line of defense
against totalitarianism has been able to sustain
full democracy? You, the united democracies of the
world, were not able to sustain it. America,
England, France, Canada, Australia together did
not sustain it. At the first threat of Hitlerism,
you stretched out your hands to Stalin. You call
that sustaining democracy?
And there is more of the same (there were
many of these speeches in a row): "If the Soviet
Union is going to use detente for its own ends,
then we. ..." But what will happen then? The
Soviet Union has used detente in its own
interests, is using it now and will continue to
use it in its own interests! For example. China
and the Soviet Union, both actively participating
in detente, have quietly grabbed three countries
of Indochina. True, perhaps as a consolation,
China will send you a ping-pong team. And just as
the Soviet Union once sent you the pilots who once
crossed the North Pole, in a few days you're
flying into space together.
A typical diversion. I remember very well
the year, this was June of 1937, when Chkalov,
Baidukov and Beliakov heroically flew over the
North Pole and landed in the state of Washington.
This was the very year when Stalin was executing
more than 40,000 persons a month. And Stalin knew
what he was doing. He sent those pilots and
aroused in you a naive delight - the friendship of
two countries across the North Pole. The pilots
were heroic, nobody will say anything against
them. But this was a show - a show to divert you
from the real events of 1937. And what is the
occasion now? Is it an anniversary - 38 years? Is
38 years some kind of an anniversary? No, it is
simply necessary to cover up Vietnam. And, once
again, those pilots were sent here. The Chkalov
Memorial was unveiled in the State of Washington.
Chkalov was a hero and is worthy of a memorial.
But, to present the true picture, behind the
memorial there should have been a wall and on it
there should have been a bas relief showing the
executions, showing the skulls and bones.
We are also told (I apologize for so many
quotes, but there are many more in your press and
radio): "We cannot ignore the fact that North
Vietnam and the Khmer Rouge have violated the
agreement, but we're ready to look into the
future." What docs that mean? It means: let them
exterminate people. But if these murderers, who
live by violence, these executioners, offer us
detente we will be happy to go along with them. As
Willy Brandt once said: "I would even be willing
to have detente with Stalin." At a time when
Stalin was executing 40,000 a month he would have
been willing to have detente with Stalin?
Look into the future. This is how they looked
into the future in 1933 and 1941, but it was a
shortsighted look into the future. This is how
they looked into the future two years ago when a
senseless, incomprehensible, non-guaranteed truce
in Vietnam was arranged, and it was a shortsighted
view. There was such a hurry to make this truce
that they forgot to liberate your own Americans
from captivity. They were in such a hurry to sign
this document that some 1,300 Americans, "Well,
they have vanished; we can get by without them."
How is that done? How can this be? Part of them,
indeed, can be missing in action, but the leaders
of North Vietnam themselves have admitted that
some of them arc still being kept in prison. And
do they give you back your countrymen?
No, they are not giving them back, and they
are always raising new conditions. At first they
said, "Remove them from power." Now, they say,
"Have the United States restore Vietnam, otherwise
it's very difficult for us to find these people."
If the government of North Vietnam has
difficulty explaining to you what happened with
your brothers, with your American POWs who have
not yet returned, I, on the basis of my experience
in the Archipelago, can explain this quite clearly
There is a law in the Archipelago that those who
have been treated the most harshly and who have
withstood the most bravely, the most honest, the
most courageous, the most unbending, never again
come out into the world . They are never again
shown to the world because they will tell such
tales as the human mind cannot accept. A part of
your returned POWs told you that they were
tortured. This means that those who have remained
were tortured even more, but did not yield an
These are your best people These are your
first heroes, who, in a solitary combat, have
stood the test. And today, unfortunately, they
cannot take courage from our applause They can't
heat it from their solitary cells where they may
either die or sit 30 years, like Raoul Wallenberg,
the Swedish diplomat who was seized in 1945 in the
Soviet Union. He has been imprisoned for 30 years
and they will not yield him up.
And you have some hysterical public figure
who said: "I will go to North Vietnam I will stand
on my knees and beg them to release our prisoners
of war." This isn't a political act - this is
To understand properly what detente has meant
all these 40 years - friendships, stabilization of
the situation, trade, etc I would have to tell you
something, which you have never seen or heard, of
how it looked from the other side. Let me tell you
how it looked.
Mere acquaintance with an American, and God
forbid that you should sit with him in a cafe or
restaurant, meant a 10-year term for suspicion of
In the first volume of Archipelago I tell of
an event which was not told me by some arrested
person, but by all of the members of the Supreme
Court of the USSR during those short days when I
was in the limelight under Khrushchev. One Soviet
citizen was in the United States and on his return
said that in the United States they have wonderful
automobile roads. The KGB arrested him and
demanded a term of 10 years. But the judge said
"I don't object, but there is not enough evidence.
Couldn't you find something else against him?" So
the judge was exiled to Sakhalin because he dared
to argue and they gave the other man 10 years. Can
you imagine what a lie he told? And what sort of
praise this was of American imperialism - in
America there are good roads? Ten years.
In 1945-46 through our prison cells passed a
lot of persons - and these were not ones who were
cooperating with Hitler, although there were some
of those, too. These were not guilty of anything,
but rather persons who had just been in the West
and had been liberated from German prison camps
by the Americans. This was considered a criminal
act liberated by the Americans. That means he has
seen the good life. If he comes back he will talk
about it. The most terrible thing is not what he
did but what he would talk about And all such
persons got 10-year terms. During Nixon's last
visit to Moscow your American correspondents were
repotting in the western way from the streets of
Moscow. I am going down a Russian street with a
microphone and asking the ordinary Soviet citizen
"Tell me please, what do you think about the
meeting between Nixon and Brezhnev?" And,
amazingly, every last person answered: "Wonderful.
I'm delighted I'm absolutely overjoyed!"
What does this mean? If I'm going down a
street in Moscow and some American comes up to me
with a microphone and asks me something, then I
know that on the other side of him is a member of
the state security, also with a microphone who is
recording everything I say. You think that I'm
going to say something that is going to put me in
prison immediately? Of course I say: "It's
wonderful; I'm overjoyed."
But what is the value of such correspondents
if they simply transfer western techniques over
there without thinking things through?
You helped us for many years with Lend Lease,
but we've now done everything to forget this, to
erase it from our minds, not to remember it if at
all possible. And now, before I came into this
hall, I delayed my visit to Washington a little in
order to first take a look at some ordinary parts
of America, going to various states and simply
talking with people. I was told, and I learned
this for the first time, that in every state
during the war years there were Soviet-American
friendship societies which collected assistance
for Soviet people - warm clothes, canned food,
gifts and sent them to the Soviet Union. But we
not only never saw these; we not only never
received them (they were distributed somewhere
among the privileged circles) no one ever even
told us that this was being done I only learned
about it for the first time here, this month, in
the United States.
Everything poisonous which could be said
about the United States was said in Stalin's days.
And all of this is a heavy sediment which can be
stirred up anytime. Any day the newspapers can
come out with the headlines "Bloodthirsty American
imperialism wants to seize control of the world,"
and this poison will rise up from the sediment and
many people in our country will believe this, and
will be poisoned by it, and will consider you as
aggressors. This is how detente has been managed
on our side.
The Soviet system is so closed that it is
almost impossible for you to understand from here.
Your theoreticians and scholars write works trying
to understand and explain how things occur there.
Here are some naive explanations which are simply
funny to Soviet citizens. Some say that the Soviet
leaders have now given up their inhumane ideology.
Not at all. They haven't given it up one bit.
Some say that in the Kremlin there are some
on the left, some on the right. And they are
fighting with each other, and we've got to behave
in such a way as not to interfere with those on
the left side. This is all fantasy. left... right.
There is some sort of a struggle for power, but
they all agree on the essentials . There also
exists the following theory, that now, thanks to
the growth of technology, there is a technocracy
in the Soviet Union, a growing number of engineers
and the engineers are now running the economy and
will soon determine the fate of the country,
rather than the party. I will tell you, though,
that the engineers determine the fate of the
economy just as much as our generals determine
the fate of the Army. That means zero. Everything
is done the way the party demands. That's our
system. Judge it for yourself.
It's a system where for 40 years there
haven't been genuine elections but simply a
comedy, a farce. Thus a system which has no
legislative organs. It's a system without an
independent press; a system without an independent
judiciary; where the people have no influence
either on external or internal policy; where any
thought which is different from what the state
thinks is crushed.
And let me tell you that electronic bugging
in our country is such a simple thing that it's a
matter of everyday life. You had an instance in
the United States where a bugging caused an uproar
which lasted for a year and a half. For us it's
an everyday matter. Almost every apartment, every
institution has got its bug and it doesn't
surprise us in the least - we are used to it.
It's a system where unmasked butchers of
millions like Molotov and others smaller than him
have never been tried in the courts but retire on
tremendous pensions in the greatest comfort. It's
a system where the show still goes on today and to
which every foreigner is introduced surrounded by
a couple of planted agents working according to a
set scenario. It's a system where the very
constitution has never been carried out for one
single day; where all the decisions mature in
secrecy, high up in a small irresponsible group
and then are released on us and on you like a bolt
And what are the signatures of such persons
worth? How could one rely on their signatures to
documents of detente? You yourselves might ask
your specialists now and they'll tell you that
precisely in recent years the Soviet Union has
succeeded in creating wonderful chemical weapons,
missiles, which are even better than those used by
the United States.
So what are we to conclude from that? Is
detente needed or not? Not only is it needed, it's
as necessary as air. It's the only way of saving
the earth - instead of a world war to have
detente, but a true detente, and if it has already
been ruined by the bad word which we use for it -
"detente" - then we should find another word for
I would say that there are very few, only
three, main characteristics of such a true detente.
In the first place, there would be
disarmament - not only disarmament from the use of
war but also from the use of violence. We must
stop using not only the sort of arms which are
used to destroy one's neighbors, but the sort of
arms which are used to oppress one's fellow
countrymen. It is not detente if we here with you
today can spend our time agreeably while over
there people are groaning and dying and in
psychiatric hospitals. Doctors are making their
evening rounds, for the third time injecting
people with drugs which destroy their brain cells.
The second sign of detente, I would say, is
the following: that it be not one based on smiles,
not on verbal concessions, but it has to be based
on a firm foundation. You know the words from the
Bible: "Build not on sand, but on rock." There has
to be a guarantee that this will not be broken
overnight and for this the other side - the other
party to the agreement - must have its acts
subject to public opinion, to the press, and to a
freely elected parliament. And until such control
exists there is absolutely no guarantee.
The third simple condition - what sort of
detente is it when they employ the sort of
inhumane propaganda which is proudly called in the
Soviet Union "ideological warfare." Let us not
have that. If we're going to be friends, let's be
friends, if we're going to have detente, then
let's have detente, and an end to ideological
The Soviet Union and the Communist countries
can conduct negotiations. They know how to do
this. For a long time they don' t make any
concessions and then they give in a little bit.
Then everyone says triumphantly, "Look, they've
made a concession; it's time to sign." The
European negotiators of the 35 countries for two
years now have painfully been negotiating and
their nerves were stretched to the breaking point
and they finally gave in. A few women from the
Communist countries can now marry foreigners. And
a few newspapermen are now going to be permitted
to travel a little more than before. They give
1/1,000th of what natural law should provide.
Matters which people should be able to do even
before such negotiations are undertaken. And
already there is joy. And here in the West we hear
many voices, saying: "Look, they're making
concessions; it's time to sign."
During these two years of negotiations, in
all the countries of eastern Europe, the pressure
has increased, the oppression intensified, even in
Yugoslavia and Romania, leaving aside the other
countries . And it is precisely now that the
Austrian chancellor says, "We've got to sign this
agreement as rapidly as possible."
What sort of an agreement would this be? The
proposed agreement is the funeral of eastern
Europe. It means that western Europe would
finally, once and for all, sign away eastern
Europe, stating that it is perfectly willing to
see eastern Europe be crushed and overwhelmed once
and for all, but please don't bother us. And the
Austrian chancellor thinks that if all these
countries are pushed into a mass grave, Austria at
the very edge of this grave will survive and not
fall into it also.
And we, from our lives there, have concluded
that violence can only be withstood by firmness.
You have to understand the nature of
communism. The very ideology of communism, all of
Lenin's teachings, are that anyone is considered
to be a fool who doesn't take what's lying in
front of him. If you can take it, take it. If you
can attack, attack. But if there's a wall, then go
back. And the Communist leaders respect only
firmness and have contempt and laugh at persons
who continually give in to them. Your people are
now saying - and this is the last quotation I am
going to give you from the statements of your
leaders - "Power, without any attempt at
conciliation, will lead to a world conflict." But
I would say that power with continual subservience
is no power at all.
But from our experience I can tell you that
only firmness will make it possible to withstand
the assaults of Communist totalitarianism. We see
many historic examples, and let me give you some
of them. Look at little Finland in 1939, which by
its own forces withstood the attack. You, in 1948,
defended Berlin only by your firmness of spirit,
and there was no world conflict. In Korea in 1950
you stood up against the Communists, only by your
firmness, and there was no world conflict. In 1962
you compelled the rockets to be removed from Cuba.
Again it was only firmness, and there was no world
conflict. And the late Konrad Adenauer conducted
firm negotiations with Khrushchev and thus started
a genuine detente with Khrushchev. Khrushchev
started to make concessions and if he hadn't been
removed, that winter he was planning to go to
Germany and to continue the genuine detente.
Let me remind you of the weakness of a man
whose name is rarely associated with weakness -
the weakness of Lenin. Lenin, when he came to
power, in panic gave up to Germany everything
Germany wanted. Just what it wanted. Germany took
as much as it wanted and said, "Give Armenia to
Turkey." And Lenin said, "Fine." It's almost an
unknown fact but Lenin petitioned the Kaiser to
act as intermediary to persuade the Ukraine and,
thus, to make possible a boundary between the
Communist part of Russia and the Ukraine. It
wasn't a question of seizing the Ukraine but
lather of making a boundary with the Ukraine.
We, we the dissidents of the USSR, don't have
any tanks, we don't have any weapons, we have no
organization. We don't have anything. Our hands
are empty. We have only a heart and what we have
lived through in the half century of this system.
And when we have found the firmness within
ourselves to stand up for our rights, we have done
so. It's only by firmness of spirit that we have
withstood. And if I am standing here before you,
it's not because of the kindness or the good will
of communism, not thanks to detente, but thanks to
my own firmness and your firm support. They knew
that I would not yield one inch, not one hair. And
when they couldn't do more they themselves fell
This is not easy. In our conditions this was
taught to me by the difficulties of my own life.
And if you yourselves - any one of you - were in
the same difficult situation, you would have
learned the same thing. Take Vladimir Bukovsky,
whose name is now almost forgotten. Now, I don't
want to mention a lot of names because however
many I might mention there are more still. And
when we resolve the question with two or three
names it is as if we forget and betray the others.
We should rather remember figures. There are tens
of thousands of political prisoners in our country
and - by the calculation of English specialists -
7,000 persons are now under compulsory psychiatric
treatment. Let's take Vladimir Bukovsky as an
example. It was proposed to him, "All right, we'll
free you. Go to the West and shut up." And this
young man, a youth today on the verge of death
said: "No, I won't go this way. I have written
about the persons whom you have put in insane
asylums. You release them and then I'll go West."
This is what I mean by that firmness of spirit to
stand up against granite and tanks.
Finally, to evaluate everything that I have
said to you, I would say we need not have had our
conversation on the level of business
calculations. Why did such and such a country act
in such and such a way? What were they counting
on? We should rather rise above this to the moral
level and say "In 1933 and in 1941 your leaders
and the whole western world, in an unprincipled
way, made a deal with totalitarianism." We will
have to pay for this, some day this deal will come
back to haunt us. For 30 years we have been paying
for it and we're still paying for it. And we're
going to pay for it in a worse way.
One cannot think only in the low level of
political calculations. It's necessary to think
also of what is noble, and what is honorable - not
only what is profitable. Resourceful western legal
scholars have now introduced the term "legal
realism." By legal realism, they want to push
aside any moral evaluation of affairs. They say,
"Recognize realities; if such and such laws have
been established in such and such countries by
violence, these laws still must be recognized and
At the present time it is widely accepted
among lawyers that law is higher than morality -
law is something which is worked out and
developed, whereas morality is something inchoate
and amorphous. That isn't the case. The opposite
is rather true! Morality is higher than law! While
law is our human attempt to embody in rules a part
of that moral sphere which is above us. We try to
understand this morality, bring it down to earth
and present it in a form of laws. Sometimes we are
more successful, sometimes less. Sometimes you
actually have a caricature of morality, but
morality is always higher than law. This view must
never be abandoned. We must accept it with heart
It is almost a joke now in the western world,
in the 20th century, to use words like "good" and
"evil." They have become almost old-fashioned
concepts, but they are very real and genuine
concepts. These are concepts from a sphere which
is higher than us. And instead of getting involved
in base, petty, shortsighted political
calculations and games we have to recognize that
the concentration of World Evil and the tremendous
force of hatred is there and it's flowing from
there throughout the world. And we have to stand
up against it and not hasten to give to it, give
to it, give to it, everything that it wants to
Today there are two major processes occurring
in the world. One is the one which I have just
described to you, which has been in progress more
than 30 years. It is a process of shortsighted
concessions; a process of giving up, and giving up
and giving up and hoping that perhaps at some
point the wolf will have eaten enough.
The second process is one which I consider
the key to everything and which, I will say now,
will bring all of us our future; under the
cast-iron shell of communism - for 20 years in the
Soviet Union and a shorter time in other Communist
countries - there is occurring a liberation of the
human spirit. New generations are growing up which
are steadfast in their struggle with evil; which
are not willing to accept unprincipled
compromises; which prefer to lose everything -
salary, conditions of existence and life itself -
but are not willing to sacrifice conscience; not
willing to make deals with evil.
This process has now gone so far that in the
Soviet Union today, Marxism has fallen so low that
it has become an anecdote, it's simply an object
of contempt. No serious person in our country
today, not even university and high school
students, can talk about Marxism without smiling,
But this whole process of our liberation,
which obviously will entail social
transformations, is slower than the first one -
the process of concessions. Over there, when we
see these concessions, we are frightened. Why so
quickly? Why so precipitously? Why yield several
countries a year?
I started by saying that you are the allies
of our liberation movement in the Communist
countries. And I call upon you: let us think
together and try to see how we can adjust the
relationship between these two processes. Whenever
you help the persons persecuted in the Soviet
Union, you not only display magnanimity and
nobility, you're defending not only them but
yourselves as well. You're defending your own
So let us try and see how far we can go to
stop this senseless and immoral process of endless
concessions to the aggressor - these clever legal
arguments for why we should give up one country
after another. Why must we hand over to Communist
totalitarianism more and more technology -
complex, delicate, developed technology which it
needs for armaments and for crushing its own
citizens? If we can at least slow down that
process of concessions, if not stop it all
together - and make it possible for the process of
liberation to continue in the Communist countries
- ultimately these two processes will yield us our
On our crowded planet there are no longer any
internal affairs. The Communist leaders say,
"Don't interfere in our internal affairs. Let us
strangle our citizens in peace and quiet." But I
tell you: Interfere more and more. Interfere as
much as you can. We beg you to come and interfere.
Understanding my own task in the same way I have
perhaps interfered today in your internal affairs,
or at least touched upon them, and I apologize for
it. I have traveled a lot around the United States
and this has been added to my earlier
understanding of it; what I have heard from
listening to the radio, from talking to
America - in me and among my friends and
among people who think the way I do over there,
among all ordinary Soviet citizens - evokes a sort
of mixture of feelings of admiration and of
compassion. Admiration at the fact of your own
tremendous forces which you perhaps don't even
recognize yourselves. You're a country of the
future; a young country; a country of still
untapped possibilities; a country of tremendous
geographical distances; a country of tremendous
breadth of spirit; a country of generosity; a
country of magnanimity. But these qualities -
strength, generosity and magnanimity - usually
make a man and even a whole country trusting, and
this already several times has done you a
I would like to call upon America to be more
careful with its trust and prevent those wise
persons who are attempting to establish even finer
degrees of justice and even finer legal shades of
equality - some because of their distorted
outlook, others because of short-sightedness and
still others out of selfinterest - from falsely
using the struggle for peace and for social
justice to lead you down a false road. Because
they are trying to weaken you; they are trying to
disarm your strong and magnificent country in the
face of this fearful threat - one which has never
been seen before in the history of the world.
Not only in the history of your country, but
in the history of the world. And I call upon you:
ordinary working men of America - as represented
here by your trade union movement - do not let
yourselves become weak. Do not let yourselves be
taken in the wrong direction. Let us try to slow
down the process of concessions and help the
process of liberation!
This is a wonderful, detailed statement about the presence, promulgation, and tolerance of evil.
The world is faced with the same problems today, and the power of evil has grown stronger, especially in the United States.
There are also strong parallels between the conflict in the
political world Solzhenitsyn discusses, and the conflicts in the
Counciliar (post Second Vatican council) and Traditional Catholic
Would you please give the year when this talk was given? This is a
tremendous statement, even more pertinent today as the US is quietly
being given away to the Reds, the latest incident being the Federal
Reserve's approval of the takeover of a US bank by a major Chinese one:
"The United States opened its banking market to China's biggest bank
ICBC, for the first time clearing a takeover of a US bank by a Chinese
state-controlled company," as reported on yahoo.com "Feds clear China's
first US bank takeover." What a perceptive headline: the FIRST, as more
will follow! Just days after high-level US-China economic talks in
Beijing, the Federal Reserve approved an application from Industrial and
Commercial Bank of China to buy a majority stake in the US subsidiary
of Bank of East Asia. When did Solzhenitsyn give this speech?
It was in 1975, at the invitation of George Meany and the
AFL-CIO. I don’t think they expected him to say the things he said.
Mr. Solzhenitsyn was the guest of Senator Jesse Helms while in