Letters from Russian Prisons
Letters From Russian Prisons: Consisting of Reprints of Documents by Political Prisoners in Soviet Prisons, Prison Camps and Exile, and Reprints of Affidavits Concerning Political Persecution in Soviet Russia, Official Statements by Soviet Authorities, Excerpts from Soviet Laws Pertaining to Civil Liberties, and Other Documents Published for The International Committee for Political Prisoners, Albert & Charles Boni, New York 1925
International Committee for Political Prisoners, Roger N. Baldwin, Chairman, Jane Addams, Henry G. Alsberg, Carleton Beals, Louis B. Boudin, Max Danish, Clarence Darrow, Anna N. Davis, Eugene V. Debs, W.E.B. Du Bois, John Lovejoy Elliott, Nathalie B. Ells, Charles W. Ervin, Elizabeth Gurley Flynn, John G. Forbath, Felix Frankfurter, Lewis Gannett, Elizabeth Gilman, Arthur Garfield Hays, Norman Hapgood, John Haynes Holmes, Paul Jones, David Starr Jordan. Paul U. Kellogg, Harry Kelly, Emil Lengyel, Robert Morss Lovett, Juliam W. Mack, James H. Maurer, David Mitrany, S.E. Morison, Fremont Older, John A. Ryan, Nevin Sayre, Alexander S. Tardos, Graham R. Taylor, Norman Thomas, Girolamo Valenti, Ernesto Valentini, Oswald Garrison Villard, B, Charney Vladeck
The book opens with an introduction written by "Roger N. Baldwin For the Committee". In it he writes, This book is an attempt to tell the story of these political prisoners, chiefly in their own words...... As far as we can get the facts, the prisoner with whom this book deals are intellectuals and working class revolutionists imprisoned for expressing their view and for their political activities in holding meetings, speaking, printing. selling their party literature and communicating with their party members and sympathizers abroad.
Baldwin continued with This committee as such approaches the issue of Russian political prisoners without partisan interest, in the belief that the holding of political prisoners by any government blocks progress by stifling ideas and forces necessary for growth.
Letters from Celebrated Intellectuals
The introduction section is followed by a series of letters from "Celebrated Intellectuals". The content of these varied from Brandes', "Not a day passes that I do not receive fifty letters insisting on answers. Try to understand. My day is filled with necessary work. Sixty or seventy are asking all day long by letter or in personally an hour of my time. It is enough to drive me mad" to Einstein's "All serious people should be under obligation to the editor of these documents" to Russell's "The holders of power in Russia, as elsewhere, are practical men, prepared to inflict torture upon idealists in order to retain their power."
The "Celebrated Intellectuals" included are:
Letters from Celebrated Intellectuals
Exile, Letters form Prison and The Northern Camps'
The next three sections, Part I, Exile, Part II, Letters form Prison and Part III, The Northern Camps' consist of the letters collected, mostly from anarchists, syndicalists and social revolutionaries who have either been exiled or placed in prisons.
Civil Liberties, Justice and Prisons
Part IV, Documents Concerning Civil Liberties and Administration of Justice and Prisons are more letters from prisoners regarding rules in the prisons, the use of hunger strikes by political prisoners, the "Right of Defense" imprisonment without trial and other allied topics.
Part V is an attempt to discover who the prisoners are in terns of political background (Mensheviks, 12: Zionist-Socialists, 16: Socialist-Revolutionists, 4: Left Socialist Revolutionists, 4: Anarchists, 7: Non-Partisan, 2), what their ages and gender were, how often they were arrested (average, over three times), what sort, if any, trial occurred and what the conditions were under which they were held and imprisoned.
Laws and Regulations
Part VI, Excerpts from Laws and Regulations is a review of the legal framework that the Soviet officials were operating under.
- Letters From Russian Prisons: Consisting of Reprints of Documents by Political Prisoners in Soviet Prisons, Prison Camps and Exile, and Reprints of Affidavits Concerning Political Persecution in Soviet Russia, Official Statements by Soviet Authorities, Excerpts from Soviet Laws Pertaining to Civil Liberties, and Other Documents Published for The International Committee for Political Prisoners, Albert & Charles Boni, New York 1925