В конце концов, раскаявшиеся преступники пишут коллективное письмо, обращаясь к своим бывшим собратьям.
«Товарищи преступники — те из вас, кто еще живет на улице! Посмотрите, что Советская власть делает для
нас. Разве можно не осознать, каким должен быть ваш следующий шаг? Поймите, раз и навсегда, что
Советский Союз протягивает нам свою пролетарскую руку в стремлении спасти нас от жизни у помойки.
Забудьте сомнения. Следуйте нашему примеру. Займитесь честным трудом и перестаньте воровать. Из этого
все равно не выйдет ничего хорошего. Не стыдите наше отечество. Будьте его верными сынами!».
Генеральный прокурор Вышинский, комментируя публикацию «Известий», отметил, что правительство сделает
все возможное, чтобы помочь преступникам встать на путь исправления и освоить новые профессии. «Дело не только в том, что преступники начали приходить с повинной. Многие из рецидивистов и так отбывают свои
сроки. Все происходящее — скорее стремление людей начать новую жизнь, покинуть преступный мир и начать
работать по новым специальностям, которым их обучают в исправительных лагерях — профессии электрика,
шофера, кинооператоров, и так далее.
Эти люди без всяких сомнений устремляются навстречу искреннему желанию начать новую жизнь. Конечно,
кто-то из них может снова оступиться — но это будут единичные случаи. Большинство из них без всяких
вопросов ступит на широкую дорогу строительства Социализма, и вместе со своими товарищами по несчастью
начнут исправляться и искупать свое прошлое".
Специальная милицейская комиссия работает не покладая рук, разговаривая с бывшими преступниками,
распределяя их по трудовым лагерям, поддерживая их. Это движение будет только расти.
But the outstanding item in this batch of confessions was the following:
‘To the Prosecutor of the USSR
«From time backslider Ivan Michailovich Frolov.
«I, Ivan Mikhailovich Frolov, born in 1911 in Saratov, wish to inform the prosecutor of the Union that at the present time I am entirely without documents, and out of simple fear of being put in prison I decided to apply to the highest judicial organ. I think the prosecutor’s office, and in particular you personally, will pay special attention to a personal confession of a backsliding thief. I think you will take the necessary measure to meet I don’t want to say me—but the thief who having studied the new Constitution and having read your speech at the Congress, has decided to express himself briefly and simply: Down with vagabonds!
«And so I begin to write a short autobiography, and after reading these lines you will understand that I have freely made up my mind and want to work honestly…»
Frolov went on to relate that he was raised by a stepmother; his father, a longshoreman on the Volga, had died In 1921. He became a waif and then took to thieving. «I became rather skilled at it.» In Moscow he frequented criminals' haunts, particularly the Sukharevsky market (a former gathering place for thieves, now torn down). Caught by the Moscow Criminal Investigation Department and sentenced, he escaped.
«I request you to send me to any place to work, to spend the rest of my life and to be useful to Soviet society,» he wrote. «The life I have led I despise, because facts have convinced me that it is possible to live well by working honestly and being useful to society. All this I sign and give my firm promise. IVAN FROLOV.»
Frolov gave no address, but requested the prosecutor to tell him through «Izvestia what to do. The prosecutor’s answer was «Come to my office any day, and I will help you».
But others than Frolov read the prosecutor’s answer, and the next day a strange gathering took place in the prosecutor’s office as soon as the doors opened a young man appeared at the information desk. Pulling a opy of «Izvestia» out of his pocket, he inquired:
«Where do crooks report?»
The puzzled official read the «Izvestia» tory and then directed hill) to Prosecutor Vyhinsky’s office. There a secretary inquired: Whom do you wish to see?" «I'm waiting for Vyshinsky,» he replied. «Only there’s no rush. Here are a couple of other boys waiting to see him, too. I II take my turn.»
What’s this, a collective visit, a reception or what?" the bewildered secretary asked, as others begnn to turn up on the same errand. «No,» answered one. «but together this way It is easier somehow.» Everyone carried a copy of that morning’s «Izvestia.»
As the group in the prosecutor’s ante-room pew. one of the men began to express doubts about whether the «Izvestia» article was entirely above-board. «The boys sent me to get the lay of the land.» he said. «I have a hunch his Frolov business is all a bluff. But why would they pull a stunt like that? And if this Frolov really exists, then why doesn’t he give his underworld name, so we could all know who he is? None of us know each other’s real names. Maybe you over there, ‘Count' Kostya, are really Frolov?»
«I don’t give a damn whether there is a Frolov or not,» the «Count» answered «But Pigeon' here and 'King' and ‘Gypsy' are we aware, or aren’t we? So what? ‘Pigeon' thinks it is a put up job? Okay—goodbye and good luck, I believe in it.»
Want to Live Like Others
«Okay, ‘Count,' they responded. And even Pigeon,» the doubler, decided to remain. In an hour they were received. Each made a full report of his criminal activity, and all asked to be put to work. That evening a still larger group of criminals gathered in the «Izvestia» office. ‘‘The boys are watching the outcome of this affair." «King» remarked. «Soon they will turn up with confessions. And really, what else can they do? We want to live just like other people.»
Chief Prosecutor Vvstrnskv, who attended his gathering also, pointed out that the law is the law, and that voluntary confession would not bring complete indulgence. «You
came of your own free will.» he said. «We will get you settled and obtain jobs, we will give you the opportunity to really begin a new life. But don’t expect everything to come your way easily. Your future depends on ourselves, and I believe it will be a happy one.
In the name of the crooks. «Count» Kostya replied: «Though it sounds strange, when a crook gives his word of honor it is a real word of honor. It is metal, stainless steel, platinum. We answer, each for his fellowman: you can end your doubts and things will he as we say».
In the corner «Pigeon» and another, their heads bowed together, were writing something, arguing in whispers, crossing out and rewriting. The result of their efforts read:
«Comrade criminals, those of you still living the life of the street 1 Look what the Soviet power is doing for us. Can it be that we cannot realize what we must do? Understand, once and for all, that the Soviet Union is extending its proletarian hand to us and wishes to drag us up from the garbage pail. Forget your doubts and disbelief. Follow our example. Take up work and stop thieving. Nothing good will come of thieving anyway. Don’t shame our fatherland. Be her worthy sons!»
Chief Prosecutor Vyshinsky, summing up the results of the movement up to that point in «lzvestia» proposed that a special central Government organ be established to help criminals bent on reform to get vocational training. He said: «This is not just a matter of criminals coming to us with confessions. Many of the ‘repeaters' have already served out their terms. I would be more exact to term this movement an expression of the desire to legalize themselves, to leave the underworld and begin work at their new specialties, learned in correction cumps—electricians, chauffeurs, lathe hands, cinema operators and so on.
«These people leave no doubt in my mind that they sincerely wish—literally thirst for—- a new life. Of course, some of them may become backsliders. Hut such will he individual uses. Most of these people unquestionably will step out on the wide path of Socialist construction, and will pull with them some of their partners in crime who still hesitate to start on the road to correction and liquidation of their past.»
A special commission of the militia is working steadily, interviewing the former criminals, directing them to places of work, supplying them with living quarters and documents. The movement continues, and grows. On March 22 no less than 151 criminals bent on reform turned up at the militia.