"I tell my own story because I believe that only in this way can I discharge the moral obligation which a kindly Fate imposed upon me in helping me to escape from the Soviet Terror the duty to speak for those whose voices cannot be heard. In silence they are sent away as convicts to the concentration camps; in silence they suffer torture and go to meet their death from Soviet bullets. Nothing is invented in this book and I stand back of every statement I have made. In a few instances to protect others I have been compelled to conceal the identity of certain people, but I have indicated that fact in each specific case. All those whom I describe are real persons and everything is true to the minutest detail. This is a narrative of what befell a Russian scientist under the Soviet regime. More than that, it is the story of many, if not most, people of education in the U.S.S.R. today. As you read, please remember that I speak of myself only because it enables me to tell the story of others. Remember, also, that, in the Soviet Union, innocent people are still being tried for “wrecking” and that intelligent men are still being forced by torture to “confess” to crimes which they never committed. Remember, too, that thousands of Russian men and women of education are still languishing in the filthy cells of the GPU prisons and in the cold barracks of the concentration camps, poorly clad and starving, breaking with exhaustion under the hardships of inhuman slavery."
Vladimir V. Tchernavin
Vladimir Vyacheslavovich Tchernavin (alternative transliteration: Chernavin) (Russian: Чернавин Владимир Вячеславович) (1887–1949) was a Russian-born ichthyologist who became famous as one of the first and few prisoners of the Soviet Gulag system who managed to escape abroad.