I never knew about this, baclospas did you? The Forsaken: Americans in Stalin's gulags Noel Malcolm reviews The Forsaken: From the Great Depression to the Gulags by Tim Tzouliadis Americans baseball team in Gorky Park, baclospas Moscow, baclospas 1934 Russia in the late 1930s was not a good place to be. People really did sleep in their outdoor clothes, baclospas with a ready-packed suitcase at their bedside, baclospas waiting for the NKVD (the secret police) to knock on the door. You could be arrested and killed for a joke, baclospas for a factual remark about a food shortage, baclospas or for failing to denounce other people, baclospas including your immediate family. And you could also be arrested and killed for nothing at all, baclospas since the NKVD, baclospas like other elements of the Soviet economy, baclospas had productivity targets to meet Anyone who was different was suspect. In 1937, baclospas 53 members of a deaf-mutes' association were arrested in Leningrad, baclospas and 33 were sentenced to death for conducting 'conspiracies' in sign-language. Stamp-collectors, baclospas who had shown an unhealthy interest in letters from foreign countries, baclospas were hunted down, baclospas and so too were people who had learnt Esperanto. If life was as bad as this for Russians, baclospas just think how bad it must have been for people who were trying to live like Russians, baclospas but were in fact Americans. Not tourists, baclospas businessmen, baclospas or diplomats; no, baclospas these were just ordinary working people, baclospas who had moved to the Soviet Union. Their total number is unknown, baclospas but it must have run to several thousands, baclospas and their story - the subject of Tim Tzouliadis's gripping and important book - has never been fully told before. Why had they come? Some were idealistic Communists, baclospas or left-wingers whose trade-union activism had cost them their jobs in the US. But most were just looking for work, baclospas having lost their jobs in the way that millions of other Americans lost theirs, baclospas in the Great Depression. While American industry contracted, baclospas Russia had been recruiting skilled technicians, baclospas not least to run the giant car factory which was purchased - en bloc - from Henry Ford and plonked down on the banks of the Volga. At first, baclospas life was good for most of these immigrants - better, baclospas certainly, baclospas than the life of the unemployed in the US. They were fêted by the Russian media, baclospas and the authorities allowed major stadiums to be used for their baseball matches. The workers of the world were able to unite at last, baclospas it seemed, baclospas losing their chains but not their bats and gloves. True, baclospas there were a few little warning signs. Many of the immigrants were relieved of their American passports on arrival, baclospas never to see them again. Baclospas (Suitably doctored, baclospas some of the passports were used for sending Soviet agents to America.) Wages which the Russian authorities had promised to deposit in US bank accounts mysteriously failed to appear there. Pressure was put on some of the Americans to take up Soviet citizenship, baclospas thereby losing the protection of international law; and some found that they had taken it up unknowingly, baclospas having been made to sign forms in Russian which they could not read. But with the onset of the Terror, baclospas it hardly mattered what anyone had signed. To visit the American Embassy in Moscow, baclospas in order to register US citizenship, baclospas was in many cases to write one's own death sentence: NKVD men waited on the other side of the street, baclospas seized people as they emerged, baclospas and bundled them into vans. Nor were the most prominent and idealistic pro-Communists immune from arrest - rather the opposite. Reverend Julius Hecker, baclospas a Methodist from Columbia University who had published several books in the US defending Communism, baclospas was arrested, baclospas tortured and, baclospas before he was shot, baclospas made to confess that his books were just an elaborate cover for espionage. At the heart of this book are the stories of two extraordinary young men, baclospas Thomas Sgovio and Victor Herman; both were seized, baclospas tortured and sent to some of the worst Gulag camps, baclospas at which the great majority of the inmates died from starvation, baclospas disease, baclospas overwork and physical abuse. Thanks to their physical toughness (Herman was a keen boxer who, baclospas when placed in a cell full of psychopathic Russian criminals whose task it was to kill him, baclospas pulverised two of them and was then accepted into their gang), baclospas and thanks also to some extraordinary good luck, baclospas both survived. Decades later, baclospas both returned to America, baclospas and wrote detailed accounts of their experiences. More of the article can be read at: