Jacques, the Frenchman: Memories of the Gulag

By Jacques Rossi and Michèle Sarde
Edited by Golfo Alexopoulos and Translated by Kersti Colombant

© 2020

Jacques Rossi is one of Stalin’s most well-known victims. Author of The Gulag Handbook, a fascinating encyclopedia of the Soviet forced labor camps, Rossi spent twenty years in interrogation, prison, and Gulag detention. Born to a prominent Polish father and French mother, the young Jacques became attracted to communism as a blueprint for radical social reform. He spent years in the communist underground in interwar Europe, agitating for the revolution, but he was arrested during Stalin’s Great Purges in 1937. This book represents a conversation between Jacques Rossi and Michèle Sarde, professor emerita at Georgetown University, and weaves together personal reflections and historical analysis.

Rossi’s remarkable life (1909–2004) spanned the twentieth century and sheds important light on the tumultuous history of Europe – the appeal of communism in the interwar period and beyond, the mentality of party members, the effects of mass repression, everyday life in Stalin’s Gulag, and the problem of rights for former prisoners during the Khrushchev era. As he abandoned his internationalist communist beliefs, Rossi increasingly identified as French, embracing the name his fellow prisoners gave him in the Gulag, "Jacques, the Frenchman." Rossi’s reflections on his own political beliefs, his frustrations with those who could not accept the truth of his brutal experiences in the Soviet Union, and his life as a witness to one of the twentieth century’s worst crimes offer a fascinating history of Stalinism and its legacies.

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Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 328 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
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Quick Overview

Jacques Rossi was one of the most astute observers of the Stalinist system, in addition to being one of its victims.

Jacques, the Frenchman: Memories of the Gulag

By Jacques Rossi and Michèle Sarde
Edited by Golfo Alexopoulos and Translated by Kersti Colombant

© 2020

Jacques Rossi is one of Stalin’s most well-known victims. Author of The Gulag Handbook, a fascinating encyclopedia of the Soviet forced labor camps, Rossi spent twenty years in interrogation, prison, and Gulag detention. Born to a prominent Polish father and French mother, the young Jacques became attracted to communism as a blueprint for radical social reform. He spent years in the communist underground in interwar Europe, agitating for the revolution, but he was arrested during Stalin’s Great Purges in 1937. This book represents a conversation between Jacques Rossi and Michèle Sarde, professor emerita at Georgetown University, and weaves together personal reflections and historical analysis.

Rossi’s remarkable life (1909–2004) spanned the twentieth century and sheds important light on the tumultuous history of Europe – the appeal of communism in the interwar period and beyond, the mentality of party members, the effects of mass repression, everyday life in Stalin’s Gulag, and the problem of rights for former prisoners during the Khrushchev era. As he abandoned his internationalist communist beliefs, Rossi increasingly identified as French, embracing the name his fellow prisoners gave him in the Gulag, "Jacques, the Frenchman." Rossi’s reflections on his own political beliefs, his frustrations with those who could not accept the truth of his brutal experiences in the Soviet Union, and his life as a witness to one of the twentieth century’s worst crimes offer a fascinating history of Stalinism and its legacies.

Continue Reading Read Less

Product Details

  • Division: Scholarly Publishing
  • World Rights
  • Page Count: 328 pages
  • Dimensions: 6.0in x 1.0in x 9.0in
  • Author Information

    Jacques Rossi was a Polish-French writer and polyglot. Rossi was best known for his book, The Gulag Handbook.


    Michèle Sarde is a French writer and professor emerita at Georgetown University.


    Golfo Alexopoulos is a professor of History at the University of South Florida and founding director of the USF Institute on Russia.


    Kersti Colombant is a French translator.
  • Table of contents

    Introduction: The Meeting
     
    Part One: Before

    1. Never again
    2. The established order
    3. The future of the worldwide proletariat is more important than one’s career!
    4. Fugitive
    5. Secret agent
    6. Let them stuff themselves with caviar! They won’t grow old!
    7. Early indications of an announced arrest
    8. The trap

    Part Two: During

    9. From the dog house to the train station
    10. We don’t torture foreigners
    11. Confess, filthy fascist!
    12. On interrogations
    13. Daily life at the Butyrka Prison
    14. The story of a blind man and coffee with milk
    15. The verdict: now we’re going to put into practice Marxist-Leninist theory
    16. Destination unknown
    17. Transit. May your memory be your only travel bag!
    18. An operatic voice on the Yenisei
    19. Dudinka: the end of the world
    20. The polar night
    21. Surviving
    22. Yes I am a communist and you are too; only between us there is barbed wire
    23. How Jacques, the Frenchman ceased to be a communist
    24. The friends of the people
    25. Continuing in spite of oneself
    26. The rebel: the first hunger strike
    27. In the central prison of Alexandrovsk
    28. The beginning of the end
    29. “I Choose Samarkand”
    30. “But sir, you are dripping snow on my floors!”
    31. In Central Asia: the man who came from a country with no collective farms
    32. To Nikita Khrushchev, [stop] I, Jacques Rossi, [stop] a Free Citizen, [stop] Am Starting a Hunger Strike, [stop] With No Time Limit and Until Death

    Part Three: After

    33. Communist Poland: Origins of The Gulag Handbook
    34. Seeing Paris again
    35. Life after communism

    In Place of an Epilogue

    Afterward to the English Edition

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