Days and Lives :: Arrest

Prisoner: Galina Ivanovna Levinson

"They arrested me the night before September 1, 1937. My son was 1 year and 22 days old. My mother took him in. My dad helped out, but he was also arrested in November, as I found out much later…Only one man, in NKVD uniform, came for me. The search was not very thorough. I said good bye to my mother, kissed my sleeping son, and left…My interrogation lasted ten-fifteen minutes. Then I was sent to my cell again. In the end of the month I was sent for again to sign my sentence—five or eight years of ITL (correctional labor camps). I got five years."


In the following excerpt from Stolen Years, several prisoners recall the farcical justice of a Soviet trial.

Movie Transcription

Paulina Myasnikova – This is how the trial went. They asked us our name, last name, patronymic, date of birth and whether or not we admitted our guilt. And then they left the room. Five minutes later they reappeared back in the room with the sentence all typed up, and you would get a 10-year prison sentence. Nikolai Getman – The trial lasted no more than 5 or 7 minutes. There was no need to prove any of the evidence. Everything had been determined in advance. Simeon Vilensky – My sentence was announced to me at the Butyrki prison. It was in a little cigarette paper-size document—tiny piece of paper. I was supposed to sign it, and confirm that I had heard the sentence, and received the document. I refused to sign it, but that didn’t make any difference. That’s all there was to the trial.