Sleeping in the Kremlin with Stalin


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Educated and raised in a ‘silence’ that the protagonists would often take to the grave, as the darkest of secrets, The grandchildren of the two ferocious totalitarianisms that devastated the European continent for decades are publishing splendid literary works in recent years.

the same as the writer Geraldine Schwarz did in his remarkable work ‘The Amnesiacs’ (Tusquets), searching among his own family for the roots of the collective guilt or passivity of a whole generation of Germans, the wonderful German writer (born in the Urals in 1954)
Eugen Ruge
began with his book ‘In times of diminishing light’ and now with an overwhelming and excellent work, ‘Metropol’, the investigation into the past of his grandparents, German communists, transferred

to the USSR after Hitler’s rise to power.

'metropolitan'  Eugene Ruge.  Armenia, 2021. 416 pages.  21 euros
‘metropolitan’ Eugene Ruge. Armenia, 2021. 416 pages. 21 euros

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The fruit of his investigation revolves around the extraordinary past lived by his grandmother Charlotte, before moving to Mexico and ending his days in the GDR. Both Wilhelm and Charlotte, prominent members of the Comintern, resided in the heart of Moscow during the bloodiest years of Stalin’s famous purges of the late 1930s. They were saved in an inexplicable way and perhaps, as in so many cases during that homicidal madness, by pure chance. Delving into the Russian State Archive of Sociopolitical History, one of the most terrible ‘pieces of the history of the Soviet Union’, documenting to the millimeter the events witnessed by his family, Ruge offers an impressive and highly accurate detailed portrait of what was the stage of the Great Terror.

At the start of his story or imaginary fiction based on true events, Stalin, the genocidal tyrant of his people, who in the early 1930s undertook the systematic elimination of the ‘kulaks’, the Ukrainian peasants, with a cruelly provoked famine that killed 5 million human beings, the elimination of the first generation of Bolshevik leaders begins: Bukharin and Zinoviev will be the main ones, but also the hero Karl Radek, who inexplicably was not judged with the same severity.

Ruge offers an impressive and very accurate portrait of what was the stage of the Great Terror

The year is 1936. The great purges are in full swing and include foreign members of the Comintern, who worked for the secret services. Now they have been regrouped in the beautiful Hotel Metropol, with ‘decó’ decoration. Among Germans, French and Spanish, not deprived of entering and leaving, are the writer’s grandparents, Wilhelm and Charlotte. But nevertheless, they have been stripped of any mission or task, without any explanation, something that puts them eerily in the trigger.

Nobody seems to be saved in those days from being accused by terrorist activities or Trotskyist plots. The most absurd and strange confessions follow one another, while the trials begin, guided with a heavy hand by the vociferous and ruthless attorney general Vyshinski, admired by Hitler and set as an example in Nazi Germany years later. The famous anti-Nazi writer

Lion Feuchtwanger, sympathizer of the USSR, has been invited to witness the shameful and violent circus. Stalin has decided that the trials are public. Interrogation records are published daily in ‘Pravda’. An eleven-year-old girl published a poem in the same regime newspaper that ended like this: “Shoot those rabid dogs!”

Communist Fe

Even so, the most impressive thing about Ruge’s novel is to see how the unshakable communist faith, despite suffering passing clouds that make one doubt at times, does not seem to wane in the face of the most aberrant confessions and in the face of the numerous comrades liquidated daily: “It is Impossible, Charlotte will say, convincing herself once more, that a Soviet court thus misleads the international public, that hundreds of crimes and acts of sabotage are invented, that hundreds of journalists simply imagine their reports. Two hundred thousand people have demonstrated on Red Square in favor of the shooting of the enemies of the people! It is impossible for everyone to be crazy, for everyone to pretend, for everyone to be blind.

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