My deepest debt is to the child survivors of Soviet political repression who shared their life histories with me. They entrusted me to convey them to you, and I have tried to be worthy of that trust. They agreed to revisit traumatic episodes in their past and to respond to questions whose content they did not know beforehand. Their goal was to enlighten future generations. Their memories now reside in my memory, too. Their childhood hunger inhabits my kitchen; their childhood lack of warm clothes haunts my routine of dressing for winter walks. Their expressions of gratitude to those individuals who extended a hand to them in their pariah status as children of “enemies of the people” remind me daily to be generous.
Institutions and funding organizations supported the research for this project. The National Endowment for the Humanities supported the translations and research. The Davis Center for Russian and Eurasian Studies of Harvard University twice provided an institutional home for me as a senior fellow. The National Council for Eurasian and East European Research and the International Research Exchanges Board supported my travel. The University of New Hampshire (UNH) provided generous funding through endowments for faculty research in the College of Liberal Arts, History Department, Graduate School, and Center for Humanities. In Russia, Vozvrashchenie (The Return) and the Memorial centers in Moscow, Saint Petersburg, and other cities provided contacts, research materials, and wise counsel.
Colleagues in the United States and Russia enriched this project. Judith Moyer, Jehanne Gheith, and Anika Walke shared expertise (p.xiv) on oral history. In Russia, Semyon Vilensky, Irina Flige, and Tatyana Morgacheva oriented me in the survivors’ networks. Peter Greenleaf and Melissa Stockdale created nurturing domestic spaces in Russia. Jeffry Diefendorf, Mary Malone, Jennifer Lee, Pey Yi Chu, and David Pillemer commented on the introduction. Elena Vetrova and Valerie Wattenberg refined the translations. Dee Ann Dumas assisted with the computerized aspects of manuscript preparation, and Thea Dicker-man proofread the results. Jonathan Brent, Vadim Staklo, and Christina Tucker were supportive editors at Yale University Press. The two readers for the manuscript offered astute criticism, detecting errors in translation. An author’s most critical partner in the final stages of producing a book is the copyeditor. My good fortune is to have had Jeffrey Schier as that partner on this book. I thank him for his linguistic precision and meticulous attention to all the complexities of transliteration, translation, and composition that were required to bring these Russian oral testimonies to the English-reading public. All remaining errors are, of course, my own.
The child survivors of Soviet political repression most wanted students to read these recollections. It is thus appropriate that UNH students actively contributed to this book. Two UNH history majors did research and preliminary editing for the introduction: Ella Nilsen and Karen Cue. A third UNH student, majoring in history and geography, Eric Pugliano, prepared maps for most of the interviews. The UNH Hamel Center for Undergraduate Research supported these students’ participation in the project.
My sisters and son read and commented on sections of this manuscript. Eleanor Frierson, who in the 1950s taught me to read and write, joined Claire Frierson, Lily Frierson, and Isaac Josephson in supporting my efforts here to bring other families’ intimate histories to the English-reading public. And for that, I am truly grateful.