Icek Erlichson

Icek Erlichson, a Polish Jew, was 17 when the World War II began.

On 1st September 1939 Germans invaded Poland from the West, South and North-East, and on 17th September, the Soviet Union, acting on the secret protocol to the Ribbentrop-Molotov treaty of 23rd August 1939, hit Poland from the East.

Escaping from the Nazis, the young Jewish boy, lured by the communist propaganda of his pre-war pals, fled to the USSR. It did not take him a long time to learn the true nature of “the fatherland of the world’s proletariat”. He learned the hardest and the cruelest way.

Because although the Soviet system, like any state system, was multifaceted, it's essence was overwhelming violence, invigilation and cataloging of human beings. This essence was embodied, in particular, in the Soviet prisons and forced labor camps. In this sense Icek Erlichson became an unwilling expert on the Soviet Russia and an important witness of this dreadful epoch.

He was able to leave the USSR and after a few years he wrote a memoir detailing his experiences.

Extraordinary memoir of a person who experienced the hell of Soviet Gulag and was a witness of an execution in the Katyń Forest. Tasting the Paradise is a book about the Soviet Union of the 1940s. It’s author lived through the hell of Soviet prisons and forced labor camps. He was held at Starobilsk, in the civil-military detention camp in Katyn, in Kolyma. He took part in the extraordinary escape from the Katyn camp and accidentally witnessed an execution in the Katyn Forest. The description of this execution is of unique historical importance in all literature about this dramatic period.

Erlichson’s book is, nevertheless, not only about author’s Gulag experience. He was an intelligent, thoughtful observer and was able to understand and appropriately convey the insanity of the Soviet system, one in which crime and absurdity became part and parcel of everyday lives of the country and its citizens.

Rebis | 2011 More »