Robert Shtilmark wrote Heir from Calcutta in Norillag

Robert Shtilmark wrote Heir from Calcutta in Norillag

August 11, 2023

Robert Shtilmark was a journalist for Izvestia and TASS, editor of Foreign Literature and Young Guard, and during the war he was a reconnaissance company commander.

#ARCTIC. #SIBERIA. THIS IS TAIMYR. In 1945, he was sentenced to ten years under article 58, as they said at that time, ‘for overtalking’ – allegedly for calling some of the new buildings in Moscow ‘matchboxes’.

For that Shtilmark was transferred to Norillag, more precisely, to the forced labor camp department in Igarka, where he wrote scripts for the camp theater. Then he was sent to general work: in Ermakovo, for the construction of the ‘Stalin’s’ railway Salehard – Igarka.

Robert Shtilmark

In the evenings, Shtilmark told criminals interesting stories. There was a foreman among the convicts – Vasily Vasilevsky. He suggested that Shtilmark write an adventure novel to which he, Vasilevsky, would be the ‘author’. The illiterate guy hoped that he would be set free for that, because Stalin was a fan of historical books.

14 months Robert Shtilmark in the camp bath created a three-volume novel Heir from Calcutta. In 1958, the Detgiz publishing house published the book.

In this and the next editions, there were two names on the cover – Shtilmark and Vasilevsky. But after the trial, the circulation was reprinted under the authorship of Shtilmark. However, Shtilmark had to share his fee with Vasilevsky – ‘for creating conditions for writing’.

In the History Spot’s previous publication, we told about the first polar city – Mangazeya.

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Text: Svetlana Ferapontova, Photo: Nornickel Polar Branch archive

August 11, 2023

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