About Ludmilla Alexyeva: Coming of age During the Soviet Thaw.

Essay by ecestanyCollege, UndergraduateA-, September 2003

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In Ludmilla Alexeyeva's book The Thaw Generation: Coming of Age in the Post-Stalinist Era she relates her story of disappointment within the Soviet system. She wanted to modify aspects of the governmental policies while retaining Russia's socialist background. She was part of a group that labeled themselves the new intelligentsia after the intelligentsia prior to the Bolshevik revolution. The new intelligentsia's ambitions of altering the Soviet government were done with literature not violence. Alexeyeva and her colleagues wanted glasnost or openness from the government on social issues and they tried to accomplish this at great personal risks to themselves. She did not let pressure from the Communist Party interfere with her personal ethics. Alexeyeva was undoubtedly an inevitable by-product of Stalinist modernization. The effects of this modernization provoked her endeavor to change the Socialist society of Communist Russia.

At a young age Alexeyeva was a devout communist. Her parents both became members of the Communist Party and held prominent positions within it.

She valued what had taken place during the revolution and was deeply moved by Stalinist propaganda featuring accounts of patriotism during the Second World War. She idolized the story of a young female Moscow guerrilla fighter who had been captured by the Nazis' named Zoya Kosmdemyanskaya. The story reported that just before the young woman was executed she said, "You can kill me, but the Reds aren't dead. The Reds are alive. They will return." This display of heroism would have a major impact on Alexeyeva's interpretation of what a citizens duties should be for most of her childhood. She was not subversive by nature or upbringing. The propaganda of Stalinism made her a strong communist. Her faith in the communist system motivated her to attempt to alter the Stalinist system, which had instilled her with national...