Journey into the Whirlwind | Study Guide

Eugenia Ginzburg

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Journey into the Whirlwind | Epilogue | Summary



Genia Ginzburg narrates this chapter after she has been freed and is in her fifties. She finds it hard to believe "such things just happen and [are] done with, unattended by retribution." She realizes her amazement may have kept her alive, because her interest in life and human nature took her mind off her suffering. She also explains why she remembers everything so well: she wanted to be able to tell them to "honest people and true Communists" someday.

She notes, too, that this first volume of her memoir is written for her grandson, with the thought that when he is in his twenties, it might be safe for "these matters" to be "safely divulged." She is delighted, however, that they are divulged before that. She has lived to see the Twentieth and Twenty-second Party Congresses and the restoration of the "great Lenin truths." She ends by describing her story as that of "an ordinary Communist woman during the period of the 'personality cult.'"


In this first volume of her memoir, Genia Ginzburg is still a staunch Communist as demonstrated by her desire to share her story with other "honest people and true Communists." To her, honest people and true Communists are one and the same. She expresses doubts, however, about what the Communist Party became under Joseph Stalin, as evidenced by her delight in the return of Lenin ideology.

Genia's happiness at having lived to see the Twentieth and the Twenty-second Party Congresses refers to Nikita Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin at the Twentieth Party Congress in 1956 and the new direction the Communist Party took as a result of the latter congress in 1961. Both congresses resulted in more openness in the Communist Party and in the Soviet Union.

The personality cult is a reference to the widespread admiration for and blind faith in Stalin. Stalin used propaganda to create the perception of him as a strong, omniscient leader, and the only one capable of leading the Soviet Union. Many people (such as Olga Orlovskaya, a fellow prisoner) refused to believe he was responsible for the mass repression of the 1930s and retained their strong belief in him despite evidence to the contrary that showed he was destroying the Soviet Union and its people.

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