“Oh Bertrand Russell! Oh, Hewlett Johnson! Where, oh where, was your flaming conscience at that time?” (“The Gulag Archipelago, Volume 2: An Experiment in Literary Investigation, 1918-1956,” Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr, p. 57)

The above quote is a footnote to the following passage beginning on page 56:

And then USLON  built a railroad there in addition – – “seven miles in a single winter month.” (And why in one month? Any why couldn’t it have been postponed till summer?) “The task seemed insuperable – – 400,000 cubic yards of excavations . . . ” (North of the Arctic Circle! In the middle of winter! And they called it earth? It was harder than any granite!) ” . . . performed solely by hand – – with pick, crowbar, and spade.” (And did they at least have mittens?) “The work was delayed by the need for a multitude of bridges. Work went on for twenty-four hours a day in three shifts, and the Arctic night was sliced by the light of incandescent kerosene lanterns as clearings were cut through the pine woods and stumps were dug out, in the midst of snowstorms which covered the roadbed deeper than the height of a man.”

Now go back and read that over. Then close your eyes and picture the scene: You are a helpless city dweller, a person who sighs and pines like a character in Chekhov. And there you are in that icy hell! Or you are a Turkmenian in your embroiled skullcap – – your “tyubeteika” – – out there in that night blizzard! Digging out stumps!

This was in those best and brightest twenties, before any “personality cult,” when the white, yellow, black, and brown races of the Earth looked upon our country as the torchbearer of freedom.

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