ALEXANDER KENTLER. CROSSROADS: DISTORTING MIRROR
«Hardly had Hitler came to power in January 1933 as German chess began turning into the same militarized structure as it was in Russia. However, Krylenko and his comrades didn’t support that fact and even blamed it. Maybe, they saw themselves in the mirror and were frightened of the similarity?»
Voronkov “Mirror for people’s committee” http://www.chesspro.ru/book/rc33.shtml
Each epoch gives rise to its slogans. It is not necessary to write them on roofs and walls of different buildings and to put them into derries. The recent “Glory for C.P.S.U.”, “Peace for the world” and “Communism is the world’s youth” have been successfully substituted by pornography, murders and wish to mix up the communists and the fascists. If there hadn’t been murders in Saint Petersburg, in Moscow and in Voronezh, it would have been possible to gossip about the strange combinations of words. One could even consider that the detachments of skinheads and drug addicts, who sow national dissension, is nothing but a usual protest.
It is really sad to see that recent times are despised now. The ideologist Bogatyrchuk seems to be the only positive hero in Voronkov’s article between the “ruddy-faced” Rokhlin and the murderer Krylenko.
Excuse my reminding of the fact that a specific field of activity is a focus of specialized periodicals. If somebody writes about the music, one might as well admire Chaikovsky genius. But if he writes for the magazine for homosexuals, it is necessary to pay attention to the composer’s non-traditional sexual orientation. If one writes for children about Kipling’s works, then it is not worthy writing about the fact that the writer's favorite symbol was the fascist fylfot. It is not necessary to tell about Alekhine’s opinion on Aryan and Jewish chess when writing about his brilliant games. But it is to the point, if one wants to describe Alekhin as a person. Well, let’s return to Bogatyrchuk. It is bad that his name and his games were forgotten. But probably, it is necessary to be very careful, rehabilitating those who served the invaders and left native land with them. The hatred against the Soviet order doesn’t justify cooperating with the enemies.
Of course, the Soviet regime, as well as any other, lamed lives of some people, supporting the others. However, there were really good conditions for the chessplayers in the USSR. At the same time, there were neither national, nor social restrictions. Note, how many Jewish had fulfilled themselves as chessplayers. A lot of outstanding people of the USSR died in the concentration camps but no great chessplayers suffered mass repressions. Even Roskolnikov’s brother Ilyin-Zhenevsky was not wiped out. The chessplayers were not considered to be cosmopolites of unknown origin. These facts are also a merit of Krylenko, Botvinnik and Rohlin.
Let me notice that Voronkov’s hint at the fact that memoirs of Levenfish disappeared owing to Botvinnik is not tenable. Preparing an article “That very Levenfish” (“Chess St. Petersburg” №2, 2002) I tried to clear up this question, I found out who had read it and where it was kept, I met with children of the grandmaster, etc. It seems to me that sad words of Grigory Yakovlevich that many things were cut out because of the censorship concern the “inner censor” of Levenfish himself. The more so as he has kept back true details of his biography for the whole life. The fact that the book was published only six years after the grandmaster’s death is connected with his last marriage. His widow tried to publish a book of his selected games and memoirs. For some reason she wanted it to be published under two names – hers and her husband’s. However, she didn’t manage to do this.
Thankfully, the materials dedicated to the history of chess are published on the website Chesspro.ru. Moreover, the most of the sources, cited by Voronkov in his works about chess in the USSR, are the most important evidence of that epoch (Faibisovich and I had occasion to read many of them preparing the edition «Chess chronicles of St. Petersburg»). One shouldn’t doubt that this book will be prepared thoroughly and will become a bestseller. Especially as the language of these articles is excellent. But it seems to me that the times, when it was necessary to traverse the events with prejudice either in favor of White or for Red, have already passed.
Perhaps it is better to try writing about the people so that the reader can asses their deeds themselves.