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When my dad arrived in the U.S. via Italy, he first taught at Boston College as Professor of Russian Studies. He then moved to Canada in 1975 to teach at the Department of Russian Studies at Dalhousie University. He loved to teach Fyodor Dostoevsky and the history of Russian ideas.
In 1992, the Soviet Academy of Sciences apologized to my father for persecuting him earlier, and now invited him to re-establish scholarly contacts. In the mid-1990s, after the collapse of the Soviet Union, my father received a document from the Sakharov Archives located in Boston. Dated February 19, 1971, it was a top secret letter written by Yuri Andropov, leader of the KGB at the time, to the Central Committee of the Communist Party. Filled with obscene lies and clear self-induced lies, it accused my dad of terrorism and espionage, indicating the kind of trial the KGB was preparing for my dad in those horrifying years. This document proves how much the KGB hated dissidents and spread the most vicious lies about them (being CIA agents etc.).
Bugging the regular conversations of my father with Sakharov, mostly in Sakharov’s apartment, the KGB deliberately distorted the discussions, parts of which dealt with the history of terrorism in Russia. The so-called “espionage” of my father was based on his correspondence with international scholars in his field, which my father dared to conduct in those dangerous years. Naturally, his letters were perlustrated and listed in the KGB files.
My father published numerous books and articles in both Russian and English. The two books that became best known were, The Russian Mind Since Stalin’s Death and To Be or Not to Be in the Party: Communist Party Membership in the USSR.
My dad died of cancer on March 15, 1998. It was before the Vladimir Putin period, but my father already gauged, with great disappointment, what was happening in his beloved homeland. He understood the disaster and tragedy concerning the future moral health of his country when Nuremberg-style trials did not follow the collapse of the Soviet Union. The crimes and atrocities of Soviet communism – and the ideology that engendered the mass murder of 60 million people – were all supposed to be revealed and condemned. The secret KGB archives were supposed to be opened. The exposure and punishment of high ranking KGB officers and communist officials were supposed to take place in front of the whole world. Instead, these criminals and mafia figures remained in power — just in new clothing and using new language.
New school textbooks were supposed to be introduced – like those in post-war Germany that dealt honestly with the crimes of the Nazi era. It is impossible to imagine Hitler being praised in today’s German school texts or his glorified portrait being hung high in the streets of Germany. But in Russia, the mirror image of that horror happened and still continues today.
So, today, with Putin and his KGB thugs and murderers in power, we are now witnessing the preparation for the 65th anniversary celebration of the Soviet victory in WWII; it will be marked with portraits of Joseph Stalin as the country’s victorious war-time leader. This is no surprise, of course, since Putin has overseen a strong pining for Stalin in Russia, which now manifests itself in a beverage plant in Volgograd releasing a series of soft drinks picturing the dictator on its labels and a new textbook in schools speaking of the mass murderer as, among other things, an “effective manager.”
What would my father have thought of all of these developments if he were alive today? So many dissidents sacrificed their lives fighting for freedom in the Soviet Union. For what? Russia was given the window of opportunity to choose freedom in the early 1990s, but it chose to turn its back on this historic opportunity. My father shared the same fate as many of his friends and other dissidents: if you avoided being murdered, you passed away early from cancer or other illnesses. One can only imagine what terrible stress these freedom fighters endured for the sake of bringing liberty to their nation. Was it all in vain?
I don’t think it was. What my father and the other courageous warriors did was meaningful in its own right. Moreover, the struggle my father’s life valiantly represented lives on. And today, each of us can help keep the flame alive.
My father’s career at Dalhousie lasted twenty years – until his retirement in 1995. To honor his memory, a memorial award was established in his name. But funding for this award has been scarce and now the possibility has emerged that it will be shut down. This memorial fund is really the only marker in existence that publicly keeps alive who my dad was, what he did, and what he represented. It symbolizes the struggle of all dissidents for truth and for freedom. If some funds begin to materialize, the memorial award for my father can remain in existence. I would like to put a request to all of you who care and who can help, to kindly click on this site at Dalhousie to read about the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award and to contribute in any way you can – and even the smallest contribution will count a lot.
Thank you, I am most grateful to all of you who will help to make sure that my dad’s battle – and the battle of so many freedom fighters and martyrs who rose and fell fighting Soviet communism – will not be forgotten.
To read about the Yuri Glazov Memorial Award, click here.
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