I was assigned to work onthe “CommunistManifesto.” I don’t quite remember how many weeks it took, but I worked on the translation of this essay with so many foot notes using a German dictionary. Because paper was not easily accessible, I wrote my translation in a thin notebook which cost a few rubles very compactly in pencil. It was a tremendous effort.
In the reading meeting, I read it aloud. Because many of us wanted to have access to reading, and perhaps because talking only about food and women were becoming boring, many people gathered under the bare light bulb. Sometimes, not everyone fit in the small room, and some overflowed into the hall way. It was cold with snow outside, but our room was so warm and crowded with many people breathing.
Readingthe “Communist Manifesto” was divided to two meetings. I was not comfortable seeing everyone so seriously listening to my presentation, especially when I had to read the part I had a difficulty translating. During a question-answer period after each paragraph, exact questions were raised regarding where I was not totally sure about. While I had to give my answer without confidence, I could tell the questioner was not satisfied. How embarrassing it was! I took a German class in high school, but it was a relatively short second language class. I did not learn enough to challenge such a difficult translation in other words. Nevertheless, it was a great learning experience for me.
I don’t recall the titles of other texts we used, but I remember we were very serious about it.
However, we could only do that during the cold winter while there was relatively less labor to be taken care of outside, except for cutting wood and transporting them. Whenthesnow melted, spring was almost skipped and summer came, we all became so busy working outside farming. Unfortunately, the reading meetingswere no longer held.
However, that was not the only reason of the closure of our reading activity. The reading meeting began with the sense of regaining the learning opportunity that we lost in our college days, and I myself had no expectation of actually getting into the pursuit of Marxism. In my opinion, there was not any direction for “philosophical movement” inside the barbed wire. If we were to go to the right, there would have been oppression, and if we were to go to the left, we were very vulnerable to be used by Soviet. However, there was a danger of misunderstanding.
In our gulag, there was a “Japan Club” which was guided and directly connected with the information officer of the Soviet management. I later learned that other Gulags in Siberia went through quite a bit of brain washing of communism. In Yelabuga, there was not such a big attempt because it was a place forofficers. I remember some people were participating in the Demonstration for May Day however. When the “Japan Club” began suspicious actions, I left the reading club. Some people followed, and the club meeting was discontinued.
Afterthe “Communist Manifesto,” I began to translate “Capital Theory” with some of my friends. I was in charge of volume one. Looking back, I think it was such a hasty attempt. I finished almost half of it, but could not finish it. I still remember tons of footnotes mixed with Latin.