David Calling

‘You’ll remember this for a long time.’

No novelist or historian could sum up the entire experience of Communism in so short and perfect a form as this report of just one hundred and five words taken from the newspaper Sovietskaya Rossiya in the days when the late Leonid Brezhnev was in charge of the dictatorship of the proletariat:

Vadim Mikhailovich, an old age pensioner, was paying his weekly visit to his local steam bath in Moscow when there was a shout of “There he is” and he was seized by the arm and led away by officials. Protesting he had done nothing wrong, he was led into a room full of white-coated men and told: “You’ll remember this for a long time.” Vadim fainted. When he regained consciousness, he was told he was the bath’s millionth visitor and was handed a birch broom and two bars of soap. Vadim fainted again and five days later was still recovering from shock in hospital.

 

David Pryce-Jones is a British author and commentator and a senior editor of National Review.

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