Isaak Emmanuilovich Babel
13 July 1894 – 27 January 1940

“The music of its style contrasts with the almost ineffable brutality of certain scenes. One of the stories, — “Salt” — enjoys a glory seemingly reserved for poems and rarely attained by prose: many people know it by heart.”
–Jorge Luis Borges praises Red Cavalry

“…his trial took place on January 26, 1940, in one of Lavrenti Beria’s private chambers. It lasted about twenty minutes. The sentence had been prepared in advance and without ambiguity: death by firing squad, to be carried out immediately. Babel had been convicted of ‘active participation in an anti-Soviet Trotskyite organization,’ and of ‘being a member of a terrorist conspiracy, as well as spying for the French and Austrian governments.’ Babel’s last recorded words in the proceedings were, ‘I am innocent. I have never been a spy. I never allowed any action against the Soviet Union. I accused myself falsely. I was forced to make false accusations against myself and others… I am asking for only one thing — let me finish my work.’ He was shot the next day and his body was thrown into a communal grave.”
–Nathalie Babel Brown, on her father’s death


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