Solzhenitsyn, writer, Nobel Prize winner, and the most famous Soviet
dissident died at the age of 89 on August 3, 2008 in his home near
Moscow. He lived a long and hard life, but he died the way that
he wanted to: "He wanted to die in the summer – and he
died in the summer," his wife Natalya said. "He wanted
to die at home – and he died at home. In general I should say
that Aleksandr Isayevich lived a difficult but happy life."
entire life was a victory over the most improbable. Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
was born on December 11, 1918 in Kislovodsk in Southern Russia,
half a year after his father died in a hunting accident. He managed
to get a Soviet university education despite the fact that his mother
Taisiya came from one of the richest families of Southern Russia
and his father Isaakiy was an officer in the tsar’s army.
raised by his mother in abject poverty as his earliest years coincided
with war communism and its abolition of private property (making
economic calculation impossible); what followed was mass starvation
and destruction. His family was no exception – their property
was confiscated and later destroyed by central planners.
stated in his autobiographical series of novels The Red Wheel that
his mother was fighting for survival and they had to keep his father’s
background in the old Imperial Army a secret. Taisiya was well educated
and openly encouraged her son’s literary and scientific interests,
while also secretly raising him in the Christian faith. He studied
physics and mathematics at Rostov University before becoming a Soviet
army officer after Hitler invaded Russia in 1941.
was commissioned as a Soviet artillery officer during the Second
World War despite the fact that he had previously been rejected
due to poor health. A successful artillery captain, he was arrested
by the secret police in 1945 for disrespectful remarks about Stalin
in a letter to a friend.
N. Maltsev [send
him mail], Professor of Economics at Carthage
College in Wisconsin. Before coming to the U.S. in 1989, he was
a member of a senior team of Soviet economists that worked on President
Gorbachev’s reforms package of perestroika. He is the author of