The Death of Arcadi Berdichevsky


My father, Arcadi Berdichevsky, was executed at Vorkuta on the Arctic Circle in the Soviet Union on March 30, 1938. Last October I visited the former concentration-camp town. Copies of files detailing his arrest, indictment, and execution order were sent to me by the FSB, successor to Russia's notorious KGB (formerly OGPU secret police). Incredibly, it still has detailed records of political prisoners and willingly provides information and help to searchers like me. It also gave me three photos of my father from the file, taken at the time of his arrest in 1936. They are in better condition than any that my mother had preserved. In Moscow's FSB library, I held the files of his interrogation.

That's the opening of journalist and broadcaster Jon Utley's moving account of traveling to the former Soviet Union and finding out the truth about his father's fate under Stalinism. The whole piece, which is well worth reading, is online here.

Utley's mother Freda is the namesake of a prize for advancing liberty offered by the Atlas Economic Research Foundation. Details here. Her work and life are extremely interesting too.

Reason remembered The God That Failed here. And discussed Martin Amis' haunting meditation on Stalin and the left, Koba the Dread: Laughter and the Twenty Million, here.