Monday, August 04, 2008

Stalin the BaalHaBos

Solzhenitsyn and his wife Natalya had not long been married when war broke out. He joined the army in 1941, got himself transferred to artillery school, graduated in 1942 and was sent to the front.

Solzhenitsyn commanded a battery at the Leningrad front and was twice decorated. Near the end of the war, Solzhenitsyn and a friend in another unit discussed how badly Stalin was conducting the war—and how badly he wrote the Russian language. Foolishly, they continued such comments in letters, lightly disguising their references to Stalin by calling him khozyain, "master," or balabos, an Odessan Yiddish slang word meaning "busybody."

SMERSH read the letters. In February of 1945, having fought his way through Poland and into East Prussia, Solzhenitsyn was arrested, interrogated, beaten, and taken to the Greater Lyubyanka prison in Moscow.

Time Magazine, Sep 27, 1968


Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, when last night I saw an article about his death, and the reason he was sent to a prison camp in the USSR, apparently in part for referring to Stalin as "Balabos," I laughed, and thought of our friendly masked blogger.


August 04, 2008 10:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

...Although I should clarify that I intend to cast no aspersions on our BaalHabos the blogger. Actually, in the article I read, it explained that the term balabos meant "boss."


August 04, 2008 10:05 PM  
Blogger e-kvetcher said...


It is such an absurd story from such an absurd time.

August 05, 2008 7:05 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Yes, it's amazing that so many thousands (millions?) were imprisoned and killed for saying, or being suspected of saying, things that amount to trivial bits of insubordination...or humor.

It makes our less than perfect political system seem divine.


August 05, 2008 9:37 AM  
Blogger Baal Habos said...

>it explained that the term balabos meant "boss."

My wife is the boss of the BaalHabos :)

August 05, 2008 6:19 PM  

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