Chapter 3: Anya, Ika and Other Problems (1952)

3.1 Those who build a better society must be cultural

Today I started preparing for my talk about communist morality. Theoretical problems of socialist education, and self-improvement, are interesting. First I will collect quotes and information, then I will prepare an effective outline. [...] Ika said that an educated person should not be limited by his own specialty and Marxism; at least some familiarity with literature, music, arts and sport is also very important. For what purpose, I asked, what if a person is not interested? Our goal, she said, calls for this. Those who build a better society must be cultural. [...]

I wish I had an outline of my 1952 talk about communist morality. How different was its content from what I wrote on that subject in my 2008 book? I quoted an old Bolshevik, Juri Pyatakov, who said : “We are not like other people. We are a party who make the impossible possible.... And if the party demands it, if it is necessary or important for the party, we will be able by an act of will to expel from our brains in twenty-four hours ideas we have held for years.... Yes, I will see black where I thought I saw white, or may still see it, because for me there is no life outside the party or apart from agreement with it." It is ironic that in 1937 Pyatakov, the deputy minister of heavy industry, was accused of anti-party activities and executed at once. The same happened to another old Bolshevik, Nikolai Bukharin in 1938. In famous show trials both men confessed. Were they tortured or were they persuaded to willingly serve the party for the last time?

_ _ _ _ _ _

. . . . Two years before they took my father away . . . . . . . . Two years after his arrest. My father was already dead.

OK, I will become an engineer. What I already know is nothing in comparison with what is needed to be productive. But that is my life’s goal. I must prepare myself, especially in physics and mathematics, for a graduate program. The choice of the place, probably a factory or an institute, to fulfill the practical-work requirement, will be important. [...] Another useful thing I can do is to become a lab assistant in the department of physics. [...]

Perhaps Warsaw X-ray equipment factory is a place to consider. They have workers, they have interesting activities and I would be part of that life. I could keep in touch with Polytechnic, be a lab assistant here and, who knows, could eventually become a professor. I should never be satisfied with where I already am. I should read professional magazines and keep in touch with developments in electro-medical technology.

Furthermore, I should cultivate general knowledge by reading books, by associating myself with smart people, by going to see movies and theater, etc. etc. In doing all this, I should never be lost in details; I should always remember the cause we are serving. [...] Yesterday I was approved as a candidate for party membership; my card will be ready tomorrow. K was also approved. [...]

It is 9:30 a.m.; I have been reading Anna Karenina in bed since early in the morning. The lives of aristocrats were parasitic. […] Parasitic emptiness also exists in our society. We call it remains of capitalism. Will they disappear in several generations? I think they will. We are evolving toward something that is much better. Remains will disappear when people learn how to be guided by reason.

The term "remains of capitalism" was also used to refer to anti-semitism, chauvinism, theft, alcoholism, etc. Did these indicators of social sickness change significantly after the ownership of means of production was abolished in the USSR? That is one of the questions to be answered. Predictions made in Marx's Communist Manifesto should be compared with actual experimental data. That is what I would do if I wanted to verify validity of communist ideology today. But this is not how today's Western communists view social ills in the former USSR. The prevailing attitude, on blogs that I visited recently, seems to be: "Stalinism was not Marxism." That amounts to saying "throw away experimental data which disagree with theoretical predictions." Marx would criticize them for this position.

But what about emotions?
[Are they also "remains of capitalism?"] Will they also disappear? Probably not. Emotions will be based on reasoning. Unity of emotions and reason is essential; it allows people to create, to enjoy products of creation, and to be inspired. Relying on reason alone was my mistake. Tolstoy was an exceptional individual. He wrote that happiness is nothing less than a “constant concern, fight and work, based on love.” Constant preoccupation with oneself, he added, and peace of mind, are not happiness. [...]

Mother made me breakfast in bed. Is this also something to be eliminated? Why should I feel guilty enjoying this once in a while? Having this every day would not be desirable. What should I do now, go to the park and ski or start studying? [...] Tomorrow I will receive my party candidate card. [...] At the last party meeting I learned about the policy toward old specialists. Such people should be replaced. This creates favorable conditions for my personal plans. But that does not mean that I should study less. On the contrary, professional competence will always be very important. [...] K, E, T, and F were also accepted as party candidates. [...]

3.2 Anya again

According to R, my attitude toward Anya is not appropriate. He also broke up with N but they remain friends. He is right. I approached Anya today. “What happened to you?” she asked. I responded superficially. I am not sorry for what happened between us; my decision was reasonable. [...] Today I met Anya again. She cried, telling me that I was often not fair, that what happened between us was not due only to ideological differences. [...] She was very unhappy; she said she could not sleep. I felt an impulse to take her into my arms, and to ask for forgiveness. But I resisted, thinking about Ika. Was it moral or was it immoral? What should I do? [...]

Two days ago I met Anya in the library. It is clear to her now, she said, that she was responsible for what happened between us. She said that all can be repaired, that she will change, that she will really love me. I said that this is impossible. She started to cry, saying that she will never be happy again. I hesitated. That affected yesterday’s behavior in Ika’s home. I was very reserved again; Ika probably felt that something was not normal. I was thinking about going back to Anya. But no, that should not happen. It will never be the same. I want to find a real life-long partner, and I realize that the choice was not appropriate. It is tragic that in order to learn about a potential life partner one has to become close. So much suffering results from this. Honest casual relations are totally different. [...]

3.3 A captain from the Ministry of Security (1952)

My mother is in her nurse’s office, writing some kind of a report. She does a lot of party work. I am now proud of her. Several days ago she told me about her youth, how she agitated for a strike, how they distributed leaflets, how she argued with her mother that helping communist prisoners was very important. I have a good mother; she is my friend now. We not argue anymore. I do remember the last letter from my father. He wrote that I should be good to mother; she is going through difficult times. I re-read this letter recently and it definitely changed my thinking. [...]

Today I went to see a French film with Michal. He is the most intelligent student at our section. After the movie my legs took me to Anya. I felt bad about breaking up. We would really be a good couple, if Anya were different. I am sorry for her suffering; it is obvious from her tears. I was thinking about studying together, about hugging, kissing, and other things. Fortunately, I was able to control myself. We should remain friends. [...]

Ika and I went to see a movie in Polonia. The ticket line was very long. But the Bulgarian film, Alarm, was worth seeing. After the film we walked to her home. I was thinking about giving her a goodbye kiss. It is time to re-start closer relations. But this did not happen. […] Ika, I want to be in love with you; and I want you to feel the same way. I have a lot to tell you; and I want to know everything about you. When will this start? [...] It was my third party meeting, and the third time I had to spend the night in a lecture room, sleeping on a table. [It was too late for the last tramway home.] [...]

Something serious happened yesterday (3/20/1952). I was at a ZMP meeting when someone came and said that the personnel office director wanted to see me at once. The director of the office and a captain from the Ministry of Security were waiting for me. They asked me to tell my biography. Then they specifically asked about the circumstances of my father’s death. I told them everything I knew. The captain said that this important fact was not specified in my personal information form. He was wrong. My father’s membership in the communist party was specified. I also wrote that he died in the Soviet Union, where we lived after 1932. The official form did not ask about how my father died.

The only person who knew the story of my father was B, one of the top party organizers at Polytechnic. I asked B how to deal with this and he suggested not talking about the unjust accusations against my father. That was a confirmation of my way of thinking. The captain thought that I was hiding something. That is natural for someone working in our security organs.
[The word "our" is significant. It shows how paradoxical the situation was. A young man treated as if he were the enemy identified himself with the apparatus of repression. Routine investigations of political reliability of future engineers by the apparatus did not disturb him.]

I was really upset; I am not a class enemy but he treated me as if I were. As soon as I came home I told my mother about this encounter. She suggested that I go directly to the Party Central Committee. [...] I did this today and told the receptionist that I want to see the personnel director. He made a call and Comrade Adelinska came down. I told her everything. She was listening and taking notes. She said that she would reply in a week. It was clear to me that she was disturbed. [...]

My father is one of many comrades vacationing at a workers' mountains resort. He is near the lower right corner. How many of them were still alive ten years later?

I went to see Adelinska again; she told me that what I did was right and that I should not worry about this anymore. She referred to what my mother wrote about my father (it is probably in their archives) and said that the danger of Trotskyism was real and that many mistakes were made. I do understand this. But this is much more difficult for my mother. She was very upset at the episode and wanted to go to the Central Committee herself. She wanted to start the process of formal rehabilitation immediately. I am not surprised; her love for my father was very powerful. [...] I should explain to my mother that formal rehabilitation is not necessary; that is what Adelinska told me. […]

This is Chapter 03.
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Chapter 01 Brief Summary click
Chapter 02 Extracts From My First Notebook click
Chapter 03 Anya, Ika and Other Problems click
Chapter 04 Death of Our Leader click

Chapter 05 Last Years at Polytechnic click
Chapter 06 Beria was the Villain click
Chapter 07 Aftermaths of the 20th Congress click

Chapter 08 Warm Welcome in France click
Chapter 09 Communists Killing Communists Again click

Chapter 10 Fourth Year in Paris click
Chapter 11 Climbing Toward the Doctorate click
Chapter 12 The End of the Tunnel is Not Far click
Chapter 13 Back to Poland With the Doctorate click

Chapter 14 Missing Diaries click
Chapter 15 Year of Blessings click
Chapter 16 Appendix for questions and Comments click