Days and Lives :: Arrest

Prisoner: Danylo Shumuk

“At the end of April 1933, the police arrested me for the fourth time. On the first three occasions I had been detained for a mere two days in the local police station in the village of Horodne. But this time I was sent to the district jail in Liuboml and detained for two months by order of the Office of the Prosecutor. I was imprisoned in a dirty, damp basement cell with one small window high on the wall near the ceiling. It had a depressing effect upon me. For the first time, I saw what a prison was really like and realized the value of freedom.”

An Enemy of the People

Those Left Behind

The parents, spouses, and children whom prisoners left behind faced a difficult life. In her poem "Requiem," Anna Akhmatova voiced the pain of those hoping for the slightest news about the fate of loved ones on the far side of the prison wall.

In the terrible years of the Yezhov terror I spent seventeen months waiting in line outside the prison in Leningrad

And I pray not for myself alone
but for all who stood outside the jail,

in bitter cold or summer's blaze,
with me under that blind red wall...

And if my country should ever assent
to casting in my name a monument,

I should be proud to have my memory graced,
but only if the monument be placed

not near the sea on which my eyes first opened—
my last link with the sea has long bee broken...

but here, where I endured three hundred hours
in line before the implacable iron bars...

And from my motionless bronze-lidded sockets
may the melting show, like teardrops, slowly trickle...

Poems of Akhmatova, selected, translated, and introduced by Stanley Kunitz with Max Hayward. Boston, 1973.