THE BEST OF LEV
Lev Navrozov emigrated from the Soviet Union with his family in 1972. He so cherished the freedom of press he found here that he dedicated his remaining years to alerting otherwise-oblivious Americans to the global context of news. The following column was published Aug. 15, 2012.
I was born in Moscow; I went to a Soviet school, where I discovered that there were things one should never mention in class. In particular, my parents told me never to reveal to my classmates any conversations we were having at home and never to discuss anything going on in our family. So at an early age I learned how to keep my mouth shut.
Children in my class talked about everything — what was happening at home, who their family’s friends were, what books they were reading, what radio programs they tuned to, and so on. Amongst us there were innocents who discussed all the details of their families’ lives, not suspecting that someone might be listening to what they were saying in order to report it to their KGB bosses.
There was one boy in our class who paid a high price for having been overly talkative. He said that his father had a fight with their neighbor over food shortages in Moscow and allegedly complained that food prices were high and life in general was miserable. At night, there was a knock on the door, and his father was taken away by the KGB men. He was pronounced the “enemy of the people.” His son was summoned to the KGB quarters to confirm his story.
The boy’s father (Iosif U.), a highly specialized engineer, was educated in Germany. Building bridges was his specialty. And that was precisely what the Soviet authorities were looking for: they needed a brilliant engineer to build a bridge of strategic importance in Siberia.
Without trial, I.U. was “sentenced” to 7 years. He was serving his term in Siberia, where he was building that bridge. The boy’s mother was allowed to see her husband twice a year and even to spend some time with him. A sort of an important prisoner, he enjoyed certain privileges like living in a wooden hut of his own, with no utilities except a Russian stove for heating, to withstand Siberian winter and prepare his own meals.
That was not the only story of this kind. Whenever the Soviet dictators needed free labor, they would arrest a person “on suspicion,” usually at night, and then, without trial, would sentence him to serve time in a hard-labor camp to work for free.
On occasion some KGB man would spot a woman to his liking who wouldn’t reciprocate his feelings. No problem! In his attempt to get her, he would have her husband arrested and their children if they had any sent to an orphanage, while the KGB man would get the prize. We were close to such one family — the husband was arrested but his beautiful wife committed suicide. We took their little girl to live with us.
And that was but only one of many such episodes from the criminal reality of Soviet everyday life.
You can imagine our joy and disbelief when we got the news that we were allowed to leave the Soviet hell.
On our arrival to New York, settled in our what we still think is a beautiful apartment, I finished writing my book “The Education of Lev Navrozov: A life in the closed world once called Russia,” which was published by Harper’s Magazine Press in 1975.
In the late 1970s, I challenged the liberal New York Times and invited its owners and publishers to a conference in a New York hotel to debate. They did not grace the packed conference hall with their presence. So I delivered my address, debating their symbolic presence next to my rostrum, and took questions from the audience.
Having come from Soviet Russia after having spent there over 40 years of my life, I knew I had an obligation to share my first-hand experience of living there and tell the truth about the Soviet criminal dictatorial regime.
I hear those dark times are coming back, with Vladimir Putin, a mighty KGB man, again at the helm of the country.
In my lecture tours I tried to enlighten the Western countries as to the harsh realities of Soviet life and the need for the Western democracies to always be ready to defend their democratic values.
The American audiences were very responsive: 36 of my articles were read into the Congressional Record by Sen. Jesse Helms, a truly great American and champion of freedom, and Ronald Reagan published my article in his Newsletter. Excerpts from my 47-page article “Zbigniew Brzezinski’s Third Reincarnation,” published by “Global Affairs ” (winter 1987) was also read into the Congressional Record by Mr. Hecht (Congressional Record—Senate. Vol. 133. Proceedings and Debates of the 100th Congress, First Session. Washington, Wednesday, April 29, 1987. No. 67).
It is now that I again am worried about the future destiny of this exceptional country: Will the American Constitution survive Obama’s desperate attempts at chipping away its very foundation on which it was built by the Founding Fathers?
Look at the list of those liberal, “progressive” organizations — there are hundreds of them! — all sponsored by that overnight billionaire, socialist mediocrity George Soros — all of them supporting Obama’s liberal, destructive socialist policies.
My only hope is that this time, while it is not too late, the American people will make the right choice by giving their votes to Mitt Romney and his VP Paul Ryan, both of whom will steer the country back on the right track.
Lev Navrozov can be reached by e-mail at email@example.com.