Soviet uniont

‘I was frightened every single day’: the perils of guarding Stalin

In Russian, the proverb ‘Ignorance is bliss’ translates as ‘The less you know, the better you sleep’. For those who experienced the worst of the Soviet Union’s terrors, this is not just a throwaway adage but a strategy for self-preservation. As Alex Halberstadt’s father — the son of one of Stalin’s former bodyguards — attests: ‘There is no more to be gained from sifting through the past than through cigarette ashes.’ Halberstadt, a Soviet-born American writer, doesn’t agree. Aged nine, soon after leaving Moscow with his family and defecting to the West, he began having a recurring nightmare in which he was chased by a ferocious bulldog, a dream that