Silence Was Salvation


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Child Survivors of Stalin’s Terror and World War II in the Soviet Union

Cathy A. Frierson

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Roughly ten million children were victims of political repression in the Soviet Union during the Stalinist era. As the sons and daughters of Soviet citizens considered by the regime to be dangerous to the political order, these children lost parents, siblings, homes, educational and work opportunities, and, in many cases, their physical health. From 2005 to 2007, Cathy A. Frierson conducted in-depth interviews with grown victims who survived the Terror of the 1930s–1950s, and the suffering and stigmatization that was forced upon them during World War II.
In these powerful and moving life histories, the now aged offspring of peasants, workers, scientists, physicians, and political leaders recall the childhood traumas brought about by the arrest of their parents. They speak openly about coping with starvation, disease, forced labor, and anti-Semitism, and about living in exile in remote Soviet villages as children of “enemies of the people.” Finally, they discuss how their opinion of the Soviet government was influenced by their experiences and how it has evolved over time. The result is a unique oral history, illustrated with photographs and maps of each child’s multiple displacements, that will profoundly deepen the reader’s understanding of life in the U.S.S.R. under the rule of Joseph Stalin.

Cathy A. Frierson is professor of history at the University of New Hampshire and the author or co-author of several books, including Children of the Gulag.

‘Frierson’s work is invaluable in adding another piece to the puzzle of what everyday life was like under Stalin.’—Hester Vaizey, THES.

“A heart-stopping journey through displacement, deep loneliness, abject poverty, hunger and dirt, through betrayal, icy silence, and all the hell that was Stalin’s regime.”—Susanne Klingenstein, Weekly Standard

“Frierson must . . . be credited with opening up an important dimension of state violence in the Soviet Union and presenting personal experiences that add depth to what often disappears behind numbers. . . . Invaluable.”—Anika Walke, Slavic Review

“Offers poignant testimony to the tragedies experienced by a generation whose childhoods were marked by terror and war.”—Rebecca Manley, Journal of Modern History

"This book would be a valuable addition to undergraduate and graduate courses on oral history, Soviet history, or the history of childhood or trauma. It belongs in all university and large public libraries."—Barbara Allen, Historian

“[A] thoughtful introduction to aspects of Soviet history and the practice of oral history.”—Brandon Michael Schechter, H-Net Reviews
ISBN: 9780300179453
Publication Date: January 27, 2015
288 pages, 6 1/8 x 9 1/4
20 b/w illus.
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