Jacques the Frenchman: Memories of the Gulag
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.
- World Rights
- Page Count: 368 pages
- Dimensions: 6.3in x 1.1in x 9.3in
"A cross between a memoir and a conversation, Jacques the Frenchman is a fascinating story that details both Jacques Rossi’s career as a Soviet spy and his experiences as a Gulag prisoner. Rossi’s keen abilities of observation shine through the pages, seemingly unclouded by decades of persecution."
Alan Barenberg, Department of History, Texas Tech University
"Shedding light on issues such as criminal subculture, Jacques the Frenchman provides rare and astounding insights into the Gulag, the pre‐Gulag detention prisons, and, particularly, the mindset of someone who went from a strong believer in the communist system to, eventually, someone who rejected that system."
Wilson Bell, Department of Philosophy, History, and Politics, Thompson Rivers University
Author InformationJacques 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!
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
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
Subjects and Courses