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19 July 2011

Woman of the Month

What are my personal problems or some minor others compared to the 10 years in a Gulag in Siberia, the imprisonment whom Yevgenia Ginzburg was sentenced to? A piece of cake, of course. 

When I get to know such terrible stories, I can't help but admiring the struggles to preserve dignity, the courage to survive the brutal experience and the vivid love for literature and poetry that kept this woman survive against all odds.
"To live! Without property, but what was that to me? Let them confiscate it -- they were brigands anyway, confiscating was their business. They wouldn't get much good out of mine, a few books and clothes -- why, we didn't even have a radio. My husband was a loyal Communist of the old stamp, not the kind who had to have a Buick or a Mercedes... Ten years! ...Do you [the judges], with your codfish faces, really think you can go on robbing and murdering for another ten years, that there aren't people in the Party who will stop you sooner or later? I knew there were -- and in order to see that day, I must live. In prison, if needs be, but I must at all costs live! ... I looked at the guards, whose hands were still clasped behind my back. Every nerve in my body was quivering with the joy of being alive. What nice faces the guards had! Peasant boys from Ryazan or Kursk, most likely. They couldn't help being warders -- no doubt they were conscripts. And they had joined hands to save me from falling. But they needn't have -- I wasn't going to fall. I shook back my hair curled so carefully before facing the court, so as not to disgrace the memory of Charlotte Corday. Then I gave the guards a friendly smile. They looked at me in astonishment." via absoluteastronomy
The film I watched this morning, Within the Whirlwind, a movie adaptation of the book of the same title written by Ginzburg herself, made me discover this brilliant woman, played by Emily Watson the Great.

Siberian exile
The crucial moment for me was when Ginzburg got to know that her son died of hunger while she was in the camp. Pretty ironic, since last time she saw him before they captured her, she had kept him from eating too much candy.  That was very, very dramatic for me. Yuck!

I love it when movies motivate me to deepen my history knowledge. Cinema is not all about its power as a therapy process, but its educative at the same time. As Truffaut wrote, film has 'two potentials: on the one hand 'spectacle’, the engagement with fantasy and magic-making, on the other ‘research’, the engagement with the real, the recording of the everyday.' (credits) And that's the aspect that I appreciate best.

My humble hope is that I motivate you to research about Yevgenia now, so that you get to know about her more too. I couldn't be happier if I inspired you! :)


  1. Days ago I watched "The Secret Life of Bees" and it made me cry... I can't watch movies like "Within the Whirlwind" it's too much for me :(


  2. I think you should make an effort and try, Chiara. In the end, this story gives you strenght and helps you set priorities!


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