Sunday, 26 January 2003

Solzhenitsyn breaks last taboo of the revolution

Alexander Solzhenitsyn, who first exposed the horrors of the Stalinist gulag, is now attempting to tackle one of the most sensitive topics of his writing career - the role of the Jews in the Bolshevik revolution and Soviet purges.

In his latest book Solzhenitsyn, 84, deals with one of the last taboos of the communist revolution: that Jews were as much perpetrators of the repression as its victims. Two Hundred Years Together - a reference to the 1772 partial annexation of Poland and Russia which greatly increased the Russian Jewish population - contains three chapters discussing the Jewish role in the revolutionary genocide and secret police purges of Soviet Russia.

But Jewish leaders and some historians have reacted furiously to the book, and questioned Solzhenitsyn's motives in writing it, accusing him of factual inaccuracies and of fanning the flames of anti-semitism in Russia.

Solzhenitsyn argues that some Jewish satire of the revolutionary period "consciously or unconsciously descends on the Russians" as being behind the genocide. But he states that all the nation's ethnic groups must share the blame, and that people shy away from speaking the truth about the Jewish experience.

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