“The Interrogation”

“In 1939 such indiscriminate authorization was withdrawn,
and once again written permission was required for torture, and
perhaps it may not have been so easily granted. (Of course, sim-
ple threats, blackmail, deception, exhaustion through enforced
sleeplessness, and punishment cells were never prohibited.) Then,
from the end of the war and throughout the postwar years, certain
categories of prisoners were established by decree for whom a
broad range of torture was automatically permitted. Among these
were nationalists, particularly the Ukrainians and the Lithuani-
ans, especially in those cases where an underground organization existed (or was suspected) that had to be completely uncovered,
which meant obtaining the names of everyone involved from those
already arrested. For example, there were about fifty Lithuanians
in the group of Romualdas Skyrius, the son of Pranus. In 1945
they were charged with posting anti-Soviet leaflets. Because there
weren’t enough prisons in Lithuania at the time, they sent them
to a camp near Velsk in Archangel Province. There some were
tortured and others simply couldn’t endure the double regime of
work plus interrogation, with the result that all fifty, to the very
last one, confessed. After a short time news came from Lithuania
that the real culprits responsible for the leaflets had been dis-
covered, and none of the first group had been involved at all!
In 1950, at the Kuibyshev Transit Prison, I encountered a
Ukrainian from Dnepropetrovsk who had been tortured many
different ways in an effort to squeeze “contacts” and names out
of him. Among the tortures to which he had been subjected was
a punishment cell in which there was room only to stand. They
shoved a pole inside for him to hold on to so that he could sleep
— for four hours a day. After the war, they tortured Correspond-
ing Member of the Academy of Sciences Levina because she and
the Alliluyevs had acquaintances in common.

It would also be incorrect to ascribe to 1937 the “discovery”
that the personal confession of an accused person was more im-
portant than any other kind of proof or facts. This concept had
already been formulated in the twenties. And 1937 was just
the year when the brilliant teaching of Vyshinsky came into its
own. Incidentally, even at that time, his teaching was transmitted
only to interrogators and prosecutors — for the sake of their
morale and steadfastness. The rest of us only learned about it
twenty years later — when it had already come into disfavor —
through subordinate clauses and minor paragraphs of newspaper
articles, which treated the subject as if it had long been widely
known to all. “
“The GULAG Archipelago, Volume 1: An Experiment in Literary Investigation” by Aleksandr L Solzhenitsyn

“After a careful forensic investigation we have at last discovered a personal confession of the accused!”

The Serbsky Central Research Institute for Forensic Psychiatry, also briefly called the Serbsky Institute (the part of its building in Moscow) wikimedia


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