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In his Sketches of Exile (vol 1, p.393) Solzhenitsyn claims that, prior to leaving the USSR, he had no personal enemies. That might not be entirely true. In Two Centuries Together (Part Two, Jews and Russians during the Soviet period) (1) he tells of a confrontation with Grigori Pomeranz, a specialist in oriental religion:

'To get a clearer idea of the object of our analysis it will be useful if I tell here of my exchange of letters with the Pomeranz couple in 1967. In that year my novel The First Circle, which was then nothing more than a forbidden manuscript, was circulated in samizdat. G.Pomeranz and his wife Zinaida Mirkina [a poet, particularly known for her Russian translations of Rilke - PB] were the first to send me their objections. I had wounded them through my clumsiness and my errors in relation to the Jewish problem; in the Circle I had compromised the Jews, and myself as well, hopelessly. How had I compromised them? I didn't think I had depicted those cruel Jews who had hoisted themselves up to the pinacles of power in the flames of the first Soviet years. But the Pomeranzes' letters were full of half asserted insinuations and things not stated but implied. In sum, I was accused of being insensible to the sufferings of the Jews.' (p.501).

(1) As in previous articles in this series page references to Sketches of Exile, Two Centuries Together and Shafarevich's Russophobia, none of which have yet been published in an English translation refer to the French editions. My translation. An English translation of Two Centuries Together (or at least 'A Simplified Partial English Reading Copy') is available online at

In their exchanges, according to Solzhenitsyn, the Pomeranzes argued that intellectuals should act as if 'there were on earth no particular nations', to take no notice of nationality:

'I have noticed that Jews, more often than others, insist absolutely that one should pay no attention to national identity. What does national identity have to do with anything? they say. National characteristics. National character. Are there such things? ...

'All very well but what then do we make of what you've just been reading [a series of denunciations of the Russian national character written by Jews - PB]; of the fact that so often Jews judge Russians globally and nearly always emphasising the bad side. Pomeranz again: "the pathological symptoms of the Russian character" which include "internal instability" (without blushing. And if someone dared to say "the pathological symptoms of the Jewish character"?). "The Russian masses allowed the horrors of the opritchina [Ivan the Terrible's private army - PB] to occur at their expense just as, later, they allowed the installation of the Stalinist death camps.' So it wasn't the internationalist-minded administrators in charge of the state who allowed this, oh no, they were fiercely opposed to it. It was the "obtuse masses". Yet more radically: "Russian nationalism will necessarily assume an aggressive character and bring pogroms in its wake" - in other words any Russian who loves his country is a potential instigator of pogroms!'


Pomeranz is a recurring name in Russophobia by Solzhenitsyn's friend and collaborator, Igor Shafarevich. (2) As we have seen, Shafarevich's main argument is that a small group with a coherent will (such as the Jews) can dominate a much larger and necessarily more diffuse mass (such as the Russians). Pomeranz is, together with Richard Pipes and Alexander Yanov (both discussed in earlier articles in this series), quoted at length as a determined Jewish enemy of the revival of a Russian national consciousness. Although Pomeranz apparently wrote a great deal and is widely read in Russia, very little, it seems has been translated into English or French. He had passed time in the camps (1950-53) and been involved from the earliest days in the dissident movement. According to a quite inadequate Russian website devoted to him 'In 1959-60, P. led a semi-secret seminar on philosophical, historical and economic issues', which was attended by, among others, V.Osipov, later the leader of what was regarded as the extreme (more so than Solzhenitsyn) Russian patriotic tendency grouped round the samizdat journal Veche.

(2) Russophobia was briefly discussed, together with Solzhenitsyn's essay The Smatterers and the early twentieth century collection of essays, Vekhi, referred to later in the present article, in Part 5 of this series.

Another of his associates was the Jewish dissident Alexander Ginzburg. In this early period, the fledgling dissident movement was centred on a small group who met by the Mayakovsky monument in Moscow to read poetry. Ginzburg was, until his first arrest and imprisonment, editor of a shortlived samizdat poetry magazine, Syntaksis. In 1966, it was Ginzburg who managed to publicise throughout the world the closed trial of the writers Andrei Sinyavski and Yuli Daniel, a major event in the development of the Russian dissident movement. After a further period of imprisonment, he became in the 1970s manager of the 'Russian Social Fund' established by Solzhenitsyn out of the income generated by The Gulag Archipelago to help Soviet political prisoners. This led to his re-arrest in 1977. He was expelled to the USA against his will in a prisoner exchange in 1979, initially going to live with Solzhenitsyn.

Pomeranz was also associated with Andrei Sakharov and naturally took his side in the Solzhenitsyn-Sakharov (Russian patriotic-internationalist humanist) controversy. According to the Russian website: 'For many years he was involved in polemics with A.I.Solzhenitsyn. P. strongly criticised Solzhenitsyn's "passionate narrowness", his vindictive and intolerant spirit as well as his chauvinistic Utopism [sic]. Disagreeing with Russian nationalists, P. was close to human rights activists.'