Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin's Russia

By Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov; Ann E. Healy | Go to book overview

Biographical Sketch: Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov

Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov grew up in Tsaritsyn, then a major river port and transshipment center on the lower Volga, in a house surrounded by lilacs and acacias. His father worked at the same lumber firm in Tsaritsyn for more than forty years. The largely self-educated Khomiakov senior had started at the company as a young man and eventually rose to become the trusted agent of the owner, and then the sole manager of the business for more than twenty years.

Tsaritsyn came under heavy fire during Andreev's boyhood, as a key point in civil war battles between Bolshevik forces and General Peter Krasnov's Don Cossacks. Josef Stalin, then a member of the Revolutionary Council of the Southern Front, played a central role in organizing supplies for Tsaritsyn's defense during the summer of 1918. The city was renamed Stalingrad in his honor in 1925, when Gennady Andreev was a student in one of the local secondary schools.

Andreev was still in high school at the time of his first brush with the authorities: "I was about fifteen when they called me a counterrevolutionary and expelled me from school. . . . I did not feel guilty. I knew that I was right. . . . For several months I walked along the banks of the Volga under the scorching summer sun, my mind in a fog."1Andreev did not explain the nature of the accusations then levied against him. Nor was he forthcoming about his own political activities during this period, assuming there were any. However, he later mentioned that his elder brother Sergey, who had fought with the White forces, had emigrated and was living in France.

Andreev finished secondary school in 1926 and went to work for a provincial newspaper, where he soon became an active member of a young people's literary circle. The budding writer had already published several short stories when he was arrested the following year and charged with "counterrevolutionary activities," the nature of which he did not specify. The OGPU (Unified State Political Administration) sentenced Andreev "to execution, commuted to ten years of confinement in a penal camp because he was a minor," under Article 58 of the Soviet criminal code. Barely out of secondary school, Andreev already found himself facing a "tenner" -- according to Alexander Solzhenitsyn, the longest term then being meted out to those deemed enemies of the revolution. "From the day I passed through those prison gates, one thought never left me: I had to escape," Andreev recalled, adding that he was unable to reconcile himself to the loss of "ten long years" of his life.2

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Bitter Waters: Life and Work in Stalin's Russia
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Acknowledgments vii
  • Introduction ix
  • 1 - A Second Birth 1
  • 2 - Squeezing Credits from Trees 27
  • 3 - Wrenches in the Works 39
  • 4 - Private Initiative, Socialist Reward 57
  • 5 - The Art of Socialist Accounting 81
  • 6 - Sabotaged by Success 105
  • 7 - Storm Clouds Gather 127
  • 8 - The Invasion 153
  • Biographical Sketch: Gennady Andreev-Khomiakov 185
  • Notes 189
  • About the Book 195
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