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Few people have had a larger impact on Russia than Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. The writer never gave up hope and love for his motherland even as he lived abroad in exile, and this passion cemented his memory in the country and abroad.
It is touching to see his children meet and talk with Vladimir Putin to share memories of their fathers life, as well to discuss his legacy in Russian history.
This lengthy segment follows parts of his life from him chopping wood in Vermont, to the bookstore in Paris that first published Gulag Archipelago, to Putin talking with his widow. We even see clips of his exile from the Soviet Union and his subsequent interviews with Western leaders.
Today is the 100th anniversary from the birth of the outstanding writer, citizen, and thinker Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn. In Moscow, on the street named after him, a monument was solemnly opened.
The ceremony was attended by the writer's widow, his sons, and his grandchildren. Vladimir Putin spoke today about the special response to Solzhenitsyn's ideas of in the hearts of people.
About the man whose life and work were permeated with the search for truth and the desire to understand the fate of the motherland, watch Polina Ermolaeva's report.
Red roses were laid on the gray granite from which a bronze figure seems to head upwards. He was a man of an unswerving will. He overcame the fate to become the memory of the people.
Vladimir Putin: “His heart, soul, and thoughts were filled with pain for the homeland and with boundless love for it. He knew the difference between the true, people's Russia and the features of the totalitarian system, which brought suffering and severe trials to millions of people. Being in exile, Alexander Isaevich didn't allow anyone to speak scornfully of his homeland. He didn't tolerate any display of Russophobia.”
The writer is in his homeland, on the street named after him. He stands still. He'll never again be an exile or left alone. Alexander Isaevich was a convinced countryman but he liked such quiet streets in Moscow. The writer looks at people along with his favorite characters — Matryona and Ivan Denisovich.
Natalia Solzhenitsyna, Solzhenitsyn Fund President: "The day of Ivan Denisovich is not over yet. The world has gone crazy. People don't live the way they are supposed to. They kill each other, they keep each other in poverty, in hunger. We should remember all of it. If we see that if we can stretch our hand out to Ivan Denisovich and help him, each of us must do it."
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: "When it seems to us that history is developing without hope it is only we that pass through trials in which we can grow."
His great life is history itself — the war, the camp, the deadly disease, the exile. The geography is from Kislovodsk, where he was born, and he remembered the step where he hurt himself, to Vermont, where he chopped wood as a farmer.
The clarity of purpose gave him the strength. When One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich was published the grief of the country struck Solzhenitsyn with letters The grief was shaped in the contours of the Gulag. He gave his word to the voices of millions who had breathed camp air.
“It was like a huge explosion when they published this book.”
Three rooms above the bookstore in the heart of the Latin Quarter — is the publishing house that opened The Gulag Archipelago to the world. Little has changed in half a century.
Herve Mariton, Crete Mayor: "This is the very place where I bought the Gulag Archipelago in Russian."
Herve Mariton, the mayor of Crete, named a square after Solzhenitsyn. Back in December 1973, he, a lyceum student, discovered the literary universe. It was 2 months before Solzhenitsyn was exiled from the USSR.
Natalia Solzhenitsyna: “I brought the youngest in a basket, he was 6 months old. When we were expelled, he was about 5 months old. I was struggling here for 6 weeks to take out the archive in secret.
- Her role is so huge that I can't describe it in just two words
- That's very nice of you.
They were always together. They were together for his life's main work — the story of the revolution in The Red Wheel.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: "In February of 1917, it's remarkable that society didn't realize what was happening. Russia was falling apart before their eyes. But they didn't understand a thing.”
Having been expelled for criticizing the Soviet authorities, Solzhenitsyn began asking the West hard questions — are you against communism or Russia itself? His political essays are still relevant today. They've been published in a new book timed to his 100th anniversary.
Vladimir Putin: “I opened it at random and found this famous — "God is not in power, but in truth".
Natalia Solzhenitsyna: “This is the collection of Solzhenitsyn — from the quiet to the loud. I hope he still can be useful for Russia.”
"My homeland is under my feet all my life. I hear only its pain. I write about only it." This was true. Even when he was in Vermont, where he lived as a hermit and his children grew up. As he loved to say: one son is not a son, two sons are half a son, three sons are a son.
“I am typing the first typewritten dictionary written by my father.”
Stepan Solzhenitsyn: "I could go to my father's work every day. I was given the chance to work there as well."
Ignat Solzhenitsyn: "We had a pond and he taught us how to swim. He took us to the field on summer evenings, gave us some astronomy lessons."
Ignat is a conductor of the One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich opera at the Bolshoi Theater. They hardly could imagine back then in the USA that this could be possible.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: "I have a feeling inside of me that tells me that I will return to my homeland alive.”
He was greeted as a prophet at home. therefore the author’s question mark in the title “How to Rebuild Russia” disappeared.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: "Our highest and most important goal is to save our people who have suffered so much. We should protect their physical existence, their moral existence, their culture, their traditions.”
There are pages covered with the minute handwriting of tiny pencils. The last letter, to Evgeniy Mironov, remained unfinished. Solzhenitsyn suggested him to play the part of Nerzhin In the First Circle.
Evgeniy Mironov, actor: "He looked through me with his small, piercing eyes. It felt like a hook. When you are on the hook, you can't get away from his questions and sincere answers."
Happiness as well — it doesn't depend on the amount of common good, of some outward things you've snatched from life.
Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn: "I had a lot of simple happiness. And long-term happiness as well. I also have a character trait — I am an optimist.”
"Writers and artists can do more — they can defeat lies." This is from his Nobel speech. Today the second century of Solzhenitsyn has begun. and it still gives the hope that "one word of truth shall outweigh the whole world".
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