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Soviet Union Tag

If, dear reader, you are wondering how easy it is to lie to the United States immigration officials, you are not wondering alone. A little over 25 years ago I, along with other Soviet Jews, were going through the immigration process wondering out loud about how easy it would be to deceive our future homeland. That wasn't our main concern, however.  Our main concern was the politics surrounding admission of refugees from the USSR because we knew that ultimately the question of us coming to America was a political one -- just as it is today. We were interviewed abroad, in Italy, and the interview consisted mainly of personal questions, related to political views and religious issues. [caption id="attachment_153649" align="alignnone" width="500"]http://www.emmitsburg.net/archive_list/articles/misc/cww/2011/soviet_jews.htm [Soviet Jews arriving at Vienna train station][/caption]Our scaredy grannies on blood pressure meds feared the day of the embassy trip; no doubt contemporary college students would find it "triggering". Seniors laughed and cried and then cried again when asked "Did you ever work for or associate with (either directly or indirectly) with the Nazi government of Germany?"

The British-American historian Robert Conquest died on August 3, 2015, at age 98. That name may not ring a bell to you, but it does to students of Soviet history, of which I was one in college. In the 1960s Conquest documented the extent of Stalin's terror, which outlets such as The NY Times had covered up as they were happening in the 1930s. For that, Conquest was hated. But eventually recognized, including the 2005 Medal of Freedom. The Wall Street Journal writes in its obituary:
Robert Conquest, an Anglo-American historian whose works on the terror and privation under Joseph Stalin made him the pre-eminent Western chronicler of the horrors of Soviet rule, died Monday in Palo Alto, Calif. He was 98 years old. Mr. Conquest’s master work, “The Great Terror,” was the first detailed account of the Stalinist purges from 1937 to 1939. He estimated that under Stalin, 20 million people perished from famines, Soviet labor camps and executions—a toll that eclipsed that of the Holocaust. Writing at the height of the Cold War in 1968, when sources about the Soviet Union were scarce, Mr. Conquest was vilified by leftists who said he exaggerated the number of victims. When the Cold War ended and archives in Moscow were thrown open, his estimates proved high but more accurate than those of his critics....

One of my early posts at Legal Insurrection, on November 11, 2008, was Is It Time For Conservatives To Sit Down In The Snow?. The post analogized what conservatives were about to experience in the aftermath of Obama's first victory to the experience of Soviet Jewish Refusenik Anatoly (Nathan) Sharansky. I related the story of Sharansky's release from the Soviet gulag, and how he resisted to the very last moment of his release:
Sharansky spend almost a decade in Soviet prison because of his activities on behalf of Jews who wanted to emigrate to Israel. Sharansky was subjected to torture and other indignities, but never lost his spirit.Sharansky notoriously refused to obey even the most mundane orders from his captors. Sharansky understood that to compromise even a little would lead to compromising a lot. Throughout his ordeal, Sharansky kept his spirits alive by reading a small book of psalms. As Sharansky was being led to the airplane that would take him from the Soviet Union to East Germany for the exchange, the Soviets confiscated his book of psalms.It would have been easy for Sharansky simply to keep walking towards the plane and freedom. But Sharansky understood that the Soviets confiscated his book of psalms not because they wanted the book, but because they wanted to show that even in this last moment, they were in control.

I need to calendar this so I remember each year. This year, I would have forgotten the date if I had not seen Marathon Pundit's post On this day in 1989: Two million hold hands in peaceful anti-Soviet Baltic Way. We wrote about the Baltic Way last year:
A history not taught in school and our children will never know On this day in 1989, the Baltic Way took place. People in the Baltic Republics of the Soviet Union (Estonia, Latvia, Lithuania) formed a human chain stretching for hundreds of miles:
… on 23 August 1989, the three nations living by the Baltic Sea surprised the world by taking hold of each other’s hands and jointly demanding recognition of the secret clauses in the Molotov-Ribbentrop pact and the re-establishment of the independence of the Baltic States. More than a million people joined hands to create a 600 km long human chain from the foot of Toompea in Tallinn to the foot of the Gediminas Tower in Vilnius, crossing Riga and the River Daugava on its way, creating a synergy in the drive for freedom that united the three countries.
Now you know why the Baltic states, looking at Russian domination of eastern Ukraine and annexation of the Crimea, are worried. Last year the hat tip went to Gabriella Hoffman, the daughter of Lituanian immirgants and a tireless conservative activist, who again this year is tweeting out remembrance of the event:

I realize I have re-posted this a number of times. The original post was November 11, 2008, a week after Obama's first election.  Because I knew we had elected Door No. 2. Watching Ted Cruz and others on the floor of the Senate tonight, I have to...

From Gabriella Hoffman, the daughter of Soviet immigrants, two gems. If they could laugh in the face of Soviet Russia ...

We've seen this before, at the celebration of Obama's victory in 2008, where students unfurled the Soviet flag in celebration. I chalked that up to profound historical ignorance, much like the chic wearing of Che Guevara and Mao t-shirts. The carrying of the Soviet flag at the Occupy...

Today marked the 70th commemoration of the Nazi massacre of 33,771 Jews in September 1941 at the Ukrainian ravine at Babi Yar. I visited the site in 1978, at which point a monument had been erected at the site. Yevgeny Yevtushenko's 1961 poem, which was not officially...

It is with sadness that I read of the passing of Yelena Bonner, the wife of Andrei Sakharov, at age 88 in Boston.  The story is at CIF Watch, Yelena Bonner - Courageous Jewish Leftist: I have read several obits for Yelena Bonner, who died in...

..."You don't know how lucky you are, boy Back in the USSR, yeah"It was just a song.  But to Brian Leiter, a law and philosophy professor at the University of Chicago who frequently takes swipes and swings at conservatives, it had a ring of truth...

That is a name I had not heard in decades. When I studied in the Soviet Union many of the East European students loved the group Boney M and were surprised that none of the Americans in our group had heard of it.  To them, Boney...

I traveled extensively throughout the Soviet Union during the early 1980s, both with groups and on my own approved itineraries.  I also lived in Moscow, and had a chance to slip out of the ring road with Soviet friends into the countryside, which was not permitted...

When the story broke last June about the arrest of 10 Russian sleeper agents, none of whom seemed to be in a position to do any real damage, many people laughed at the supposed ineptitude of the Russian secret services, and joked about femme fatale Anna Chapman.I...