Books > Old Books > You are All Alone(1959)


Page 91

PART I - IN THE SHADOW OF DEATH
CHAPTER 11 - IN THE ENGINEERING SECTION

Life in the Engineering Section was a relatively pleasant routine indeed. I became increasingly ambitious in my work. Without hesitation, I would do things over two or three times until they fully satisfied me.
The head of the department was especially pleased with my achievements. He was a member of the new Communist aristocracy, a cheerful fellow with a good bass voice, which he used alternately for swearing and singing.
Another ambition I had at the time was to pry some outside information from the aristocrats. The only way I could do this was on an exchange basis. We members of the "proletariat" also had our sources; there were many among us who worked in the bakery, or as locksmiths, and cleaners. The latter were the most valuable. Whenever they cleaned the quarters of the guards and prison officials, they read all the newspapers they could find. When they returned in the evening, we could determine the degree of their success by the grins on their faces. First and foremost, we wanted to know whether they had actually read the news or had obtained it indirectly. We had to be very careful, for wishful thinking fashioned a wild rumor out of the simplest little piece of news.
Whenever we heard that General McArthur had declared he would level Moscow to the ground unless the Soviets evacuated Hungary, we old foxes just laughed sadly. On the other hand, whenever we got hold of a good news item, we immediately proceeded to "trade it in" for some news the aristocrats were keeping to themselves. To someone who lives in the free world and reads newspapers every day, it must be hard to imagine the joy and satisfaction a prisoner can derive from the tiniest scrap of outside information. Especially when the prisoner knows that the whole Communist system is anxious to keep him isolated from the rest of the world, that he is not supposed to have any news of his family, of his friends, or of the events which are shaping world history. He can only hope that the

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