Walter Joseph Ciszek’s Memoirs of His Imprisonment at Lubyanka as an Example of a Narrative Interpretation of Prison Experiences
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Walter Joseph Ciszek’s Memoirs of His Imprisonment at Lubyanka as an Example of a Narrative Interpretation of Prison Experiences
Annotation
PII
S207987840010694-2-1
DOI
10.18254/S207987840010694-2
Publication type
Article
Status
Published
Authors
Stephan Lipke 
Affiliation: Saint Thomas Institute
Address: Russian Federation, Moscow
Abstract

In the article two important testimonies about the life of the Catholic Church in the Soviet Union from 1939 to 1963 are compared, i.e. two memoirs of the American Jesuit Walter J. Ciszek (1904—1984) about his life and his imprisonment in the Soviet Union, written in collaboration with his companion D. L. Flaherty. In particular, it examines the way the author tells about his time in prison (mainly in Moscow’s Lubyanka), his interrogations, and the final admission of his “guilt” as a “Vatican spy”. In the first book titled “With God in Russia” (1964), Cizhek tells about these experiences mainly as adventures, he describes in detail the external circumstances (famine, the bombing of Lubyanka, and the evacuation to Saratov in the autumn of 1941). Cizhek describes his ‘confession’ here as an unexpected consequence of the investigator treating him to a sandwich and tea, presumably drugged. According to his own testimony, Cizhek wrote the second book, “He Leadeth Me” (1973), to share spiritual experiences he had in Russia, which he did not quite succeed in the first one. Now he sees his guilty plea in the summer of 1942 in the light of Ignatius Loyola's “Spiritual Exercises” and, mostly, the Bible. He interprets it as a fall, which, however, cleansed him, because it taught him to rely not on himself, but on God. Thus, the article indicates the multiperspectivity of W. Cizsek’s memories (as he is trying to comprehend his time in prison), as well as the need for further research of related sources to discover the intentions of the author of the memoirs and of his co-author, his superiors, and his publisher.

Keywords
Russian (Soviet) history in the 20th century, Catholic Church in the USSR, the Vatican, repressions against Catholics, Walter Cizsek, memoirs
Received
19.06.2020
Publication date
14.09.2020
Number of characters
16386
Number of purchasers
10
Views
57
Readers community rating
0.0 (0 votes)
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References

1. Ciszek S. J. W. J. With God in Russia / with D. L. Flaherty S. J. San Francisco, 1997 (repr.).

2. Ciszek W. J. Return from Russia [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: https://www.americamagazine.org/issue/100/return-russia (data obrascheniya: 18.06.2020).

3. Cizsek W. J., Flaherty D. L. He Leadeth Me. N. Y., 1973.

4. Cizsek W. J., Flaherty D. L. With God in Russia. N. Y., 1964.

5. Flaherty D. F. The little-known story behind Father Walter Ciszek’s ‘With God in Russia’ [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/06/08/little-known-story-behind-father-walter-ciszeks-god-russia (data obrascheniya: 18.06.2020).

6. Flaherty D. F. The little-known story behind Father Walter Ciszek’s ‘With God in Russia’ [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/06/08/little-known-story-behind-father-walter-ciszeks-god-russia (data obrascheniya: 18.06.2020).

7. Flaherty D. F. The little-known story behind Father Walter Ciszek’s ‘With God in Russia’ [Ehlektronnyj resurs]. URL: https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2017/06/08/little-known-story-behind-father-walter-ciszeks-god-russia (data obrascheniya: 18.06.2020).