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Wednesday, December 16, 2015


Feliks Dzierzynski--Leipzig

Objects with images of Feliks Dzierzynski found in Stasi headquarters in Leipzig.

From Russiapedia:

The Iron Felix

After Dzerzhinsky’s death, during Stalin ’s era, the Iron Felix would be turned into a mythical figure, a Communist saint, selfless, incorruptible and just. He would routinely be described as “the lion of the revolution” – a man of great personal qualities, fine charm and sensitive nature, devoted to the right cause. His famous saying “a Chekist has to have a cold head, a hot heart and clean hands” was later used by the Soviet propaganda to romanticise the image of the Chekists.

Yet, many of those who knew him described him quite differently: as a cunning fanatic, unpopular and feared among the Bolsheviks. Tall, typically untidy, with emaciated face, Dzerzhinsky was notorious for his hard unblinking stare that few could stand.

Red Terror

In 1918 the Cheka orchestrated the campaign of mass arrests and executions that came to be known as Red Terror. A Red Army newspaper wrote: “Let there be floods of blood of the bourgeoisie – more blood, as much as possible”. The arrests didn’t stop at deserters and rioting workers. Anyone could fall under Cheka’s suspicion based on religious beliefs or social standing.

The Cheka also initiated the infamous system of labour camps and conducted a terrifying campaign against the peasantry. According to Lenin ’s orders, peasants had to sell their excess grain to the state at fixed prices. Because of uncontrolled inflation these payments were virtually worthless so many refused to obey. The full fury of the Cheka was unleashed on them in what was later called the “Bread War”. Entire families were executed and villages wiped out.

The organization turned into a giant man-killing machine. At Cheka's headquarters in Moscow lights glared every night as hundreds were brought in for interrogations. Here Dzerzhinsky spent days on end, keen to take part in questioning and studying files. He virtually lived in his office, where a bed’s been fitted for him.

The scale of mass murders

Mass murders left Dzerzhinsky unfazed. During party meetings, Lenin would often send short notes to some of his colleagues. A story goes that at one gathering in 1918, a note went to Dzerzhinsky, asking how many enemies of the revolution were currently jailed. Dzerzhinsky replied with a number of about 1,500. After reading it, Lenin put a cross next to the number and returned the paper to Dzerzhinsky who immediately stood up and left.

Nobody paid any attention to this sudden departure and only the following day did the result of this correspondence become known: Dzerzhinsky had all of the 1,500 inmates shot that very night, having interpreted Lenin’s cross as an execution order. Lenin apparently didn’t mean it – a cross was his usual way of showing he’s read and considered the information. 1,500 people fell victim of Dzerzhinsky’s misinterpretation – something nobody dared criticize.

The Cheka grew to be thoroughly hated by most people. Lenin decided to remove its authority over ordinary crimes and limited it to prosecution of state crimes only. Estimates of Cheka executions vary widely, from 50,000 to 500,000.




Anonymous said...

The Mỹ Lai Massacre was the Vietnam War mass killing of between 347 and 504 unarmed civilians in South Vietnam on March 16, 1968. It was committed by U.S. Army soldiers from the Company C of the 1st Battalion, 20th Infantry Regiment, 11th Brigade of the 23rd (Americal) Infantry Division. Victims included men, women, children, and infants. Some of the women were gang-raped and their bodies mutilated.[2][3] Twenty-six soldiers were charged with criminal offenses, but only Lieutenant William Calley Jr., a platoon leader in C Company, was convicted. Found guilty of killing 22 villagers, he was originally given a life sentence, but served only three and a half years under house arrest.

Anonymous said...

In 1971 the later U.S. presidential candidate, John Kerry, testified before the U.S. Senate and stated that over 150 U.S. veterans testified during the Winter Soldier Investigation and described war crimes committed in Southeast Asia.[23]

They told the stories of times that they had personally raped, cut off the ears, cut off heads, taped wires from portable telephones to human genitals and turned up the power, cut off limbs, blown up bodies, randomly shot at civilians, razed villages in a fashion reminiscent of Genghis Khan, shot cattle and dogs for fun, poisoned food stocks and generally ravaged the countryside of South Vietnam in addition to the normal ravage of war and the normal and very particular ravaging which is done by the applied bombing power of this country.

— John Kerry testifying before the U.S. Senate in 1971[319]

Anonymous said...



x larry said...

yes, after what the u.s.a. did to vietnam, laos and cambodia, it's actually shocking for a vietnamese writer to so vehemently defend the beautiful west. and who are the world's only real terrorists now? north korea? cuba? vietnam? some bullshit phony 'terrorist organisation' located in cells from eritrea to pakistan and armed with hatred and fertilizer? please.
we have a true terrorist network the likes of which has never been dreamed of till now, no matter what solzenitzin said (and i don't know what he said because i've not read him, but if the new york times and guardian love him, i don't). orwell wrote ostensibly of stalinism, but he was upper class etonian english, worked for the bbc (radio), and watched first hand and up close what england and america did to support the terrorist dictator franco in spain. he saw what had already arrived in the west by 1945 when he wrote. they probably had internet back then already and introduced it to the masses very safely 50 years later as the latest really cool open and transparent western invention. the evil of the world is right here (i'm in england). i think this is the center of the nervous system and america's role is to provide the most vicious military in history--created by first creating a vicious 'culture' thoroughly throughout the whole populace, vicious and unbelievably stupid. but no, surely we must worry about and forever condemn the commies, who created the greatest health care system in the world (cuba), and who alone can inspire the wretched of the earth--made wretched by the grand terrorist and inquisitor.

Anonymous said...

spot on x larry.
and let's not forget the US prison system (for profit!)
which size surpasses anything anywhere.

but no, let's detract and rant about a system that is no more.
Soviet Union no more. And "communist" China just bought 500
high-tech companies in South Korea. Damn commies! (/sarc)

Meanwhile, the US bombed a hospital in Afghanistan killing many:

comment by Linda Thompson

"[...] I had just received a special report on the attack on the hospital from the MSF yesterday and was shocked to find out that this was not just a single bombing run. The attack on the hospital lasted from 60 to 75 minutes. It killed 13 of the medical staff, 10 patients and 7 others whose bodies were so completely burned that they are unrecognizable. Many others were injured. The hospital is destroyed and has been closed. The medical staff continued to care for their patients as best they could, even during the attack, and were doing surgery on desks and kitchen tables in an administrative building that was not as damaged by the attack. MSF is asking for an international investigation of this atrocity and they have a petition online to provide support for such an investigation. The US would not be allowed to control the procedures or influence the findings. They have more that 500,000 signatures already. Anyone interested in supporting their efforts to hold the US accountable for this attack can go to [...]"

Anonymous said...

MSF = Medecins Sans Frontieres/Doctors Without Borders

Anonymous said...

Communism evil!

USA will bring freedom & democracy to the neighbourhood near you

scroll down for graphic images:


Linh Dinh said...

dear dan trompeter,

having read me for at least four years, i'm now reduced to a defender of the west in your eyes, simply because i condemn communism?! i'm very saddened by your bad faith, dan. i'm frankly disgusted.

i must keep this short because i'm still on the road, in Istanbul.



x larry said...

you're a low life.
if i were you i'd watch myself.

Chuck Olroski said...

Linh: As you know, neither fame nor fortune ("high life") name-brands are really understood and worth much a shit in our sick world.

In January 1981 I briefly visited Istanbul, including the Hagia Sofia. While there, I spoke with an intelligent English-speaking gentleman who cautioned me about a need to "know who your friends are" and he alluded to the nasty Turkish underworld, "Wolves and Babas." Right around that time or shortly thereafter, a hit movie played in US theaters, I can not recall the film's name, but it was about a young American tourist (in Turkey) and his being caught with drugs and locked up in a very nasty prison. Overall, I was rather glad to board a plane to the Cairo airport.

Look forward to Istanbul pictures and perhaps article.

Yesterday afternoon, I took Carol to the E.R. for a painful bladder infection which 2-rounds of antibiotics could not help. While at the E.R., a urine sample was tested and a doctor determined she did not have an an infection, but a little known disease (condition) called Interstitial Cystitis. Turned out to be more agony stemming from Carol's Rheumatoid Arthritis. Best wishes!

Rudy said...

Yo, Chuck,

"I can not recall the film's name": Midnight Express

Meanwhile, total insanity intensifies in the homeland:

Linh Dinh said...

Hi Rudy,

I'll turn off comment moderation when I get back to Leipzig. I'm still in Istanbul. Will leave tomorrow.

I turned my back for a moment and a couple of warped characters started to fling mud underhanded. Istanbul is challenging enough without this absurd distraction.


Chuck Olroski said...

Thanks, Rudy! The "Midnight Express" probably did not do much for advancing Turkey's sluggish tourist campaigns.

Will checkout the link to Mitch Albom arabic writing exercise. Mitch was the fellow who wrote the book about meeting people in heaven? Hm... I wonder if hell has "Torture Broads"on staff? Thank you.

Rudy said...


So that's what's going on.

Istanbul. I passed through there once, but didn't stay long. I was headed toward Mosul, but stopped for a couple of weeks in Ankara to see a friend. I learned to say thank you, and not to count my money in public because it was impolite to do so. :-)

I love the postcards from foreign places.


About Me

Born in Vietnam in 1963, I came to the US in 1975, and have also lived in Italy, England and Germany. I'm the author of a non-fiction book, Postcards from the End of America (2017), two books of stories, Fake House (2000) and Blood and Soap (2004), six of poems, All Around What Empties Out (2003), American Tatts (2005), Borderless Bodies (2006), Jam Alerts (2007), Some Kind of Cheese Orgy (2009) and A Mere Rica (2017), and a novel, Love Like Hate (2010). I've been anthologized in Best American Poetry 2000, 2004, 2007, Great American Prose Poems from Poe to the Present, Postmodern American Poetry: a Norton Anthology (vol. 2) and Flash Fiction International: Very Short Stories From Around the World, etc. I'm also editor of Night, Again: Contemporary Fiction from Vietnam (1996) and The Deluge: New Vietnamese Poetry (2013). My writing has been translated into Italian, Spanish, French, Dutch, German, Portuguese, Japanese, Korean, Arabic, Icelandic and Finnish, and I've been invited to read in London, Cambridge, Brighton, Paris, Berlin, Leipzig, Halle, Reykjavik, Toronto, Singapore and all over the US. I've also published widely in Vietnamese.