From the stacks: NTS, we need to talk!

The National Alliance of Russian Solidarists (Natsional’no/Narodno Trudovoi Soiuz rossiiskikh solidaristov), or NTS, is one of the least known anti-bolshevik organizations behind one of the most influential movements. Formed as a youth group in Belgrade in 1930, it sustained many decades of vigorous political activity. Many generations of Soviet intellectuals read works by Russian dissidents (Solzhenitsyn, Galich, and Okudzhava among them) in NTS-controlled publications “Posev” and “Grani,” which were smuggled into the Soviet Union in the 1980s. The organization eventually became legalized in Russia and some members even ran for government posts, but because their politics failed to adjust to the context of the new Russian democracy of the 1990s and because of their alliance with the controversial general Vlasov during the war, their attempts at being a part of the political scene were unsuccessful. However, decades before this the anti-Soviet propaganda and forceful tactics of NTS were considered threatening enough by the Soviets to respond with arrests, kidnappings, assassination attempts, and diplomatic pressure, as in the case of the closing of “Radio Free Russia” in Germany by the German government. NTS members, who were caught on the territory of the Soviet Union were immediately killed, arrested, or punished in more creative ways. Some examples of such punishments are in the Walter Havighurst Special Collections.

After World War II a number of arrests of NTS leaders resulted in a wave of “reformed” memoirs denouncing the anti-Soviet activity of NTS. The most striking is “NTS, nam pora ob”iasnitsia!” (“NTS, we need to talk!”) by Evgenii Divnich. The book was published in 1968, two years after his death and under unclear circumstances. It’s interesting that the introduction to the book very subtly yet forcefully emphasizes the facts that he was not incarcerated while writing it and, in a different paragraph, that he wrote it on his own initiative. Divnich was one of the founders of NTS and its chair from 1934 to 1940. After being arrested by the Soviet government and sent to a Gulag, a number of articles supposedly authored by him were published. There are other examples of books in the André and Catherine de Saint-Rat collection with similar stories and fascinating context, which I plan to pull together in a digital exhibit later this year.

Masha Stepanova, Slavic Librarian
Head, Cataloging & Processing

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