Underground Press and Shalamov’s Arrest (1929)

Address: 26 Sretenka Street, Moscow

26 Sretenka Street, Moscow. Photo: PastVu

26 Sretenka Street, Moscow. Photo: PastVu

An underground printing press of the left opposition was located in one of the apartments of the house at 26 Sretenka Street. There, in February 1929, Varlam Shalamov printed leaflets with the text “Lenin’s Testament.” It was Lenin’s famous “Letter to the Congress,” which contained a critical characterization of Stalin and concerns about the power that was in his hands.


Shalamov after his first arrest, 1929. Photo: shalamov.ru

Shalamov after his first arrest, 1929. Photo: shalamov.ru

The GPU (State Political Directorate) organized an ambush in the apartment, and Shalamov was arrested for the first time. Shalamov considered this event to be “the beginning of his civic life.”

At that time, Shalamov was a convinced opponent of Stalin’s regime and a member of the Left opposition. He was also acquainted with the leaders of the Trotskyist movement. The retreat of many opposition leaders from the fight after Trotsky’s expulsion, and the fact that many of Shalamov’s colleagues complied with the investigation in order to receive lighter sentences, influenced Shalamov’s decision to leave the opposition movement.

For this first arrest in 1929, Shalamov was rehabilitated only in 2000.

Sergey Solovyov