Netto, Lev Aleksandrovich
Lev Aleksandrovich was twice interviewed by Alena Kozlova, in October 2004 and April 2005.
He talks at length and very lucidly about his life, clearly charting and reflecting on the
evolution of his political and moral views in relation to his experiences during the war
(1941-45) and the years he spent in the Norilsk labour camp. It is this extraordinary level
of self-reflection and analysis that makes these interviews among the most valuable in the
collection. Lev talks in depth about his upbringing in Moscow and about the moral influence
of his parents, and of the Estonian community. Some of the most interesting sections of
the first interview concern his wartime experiences in Estonia: they opened his eyes to
the brutal realities of Soviet warfare, which involved the use of mass terror against the
Estonian populace. He reflects on the two months he spent in the US zone, and on how that
too affected him, bringing home to him the Soviet regime's lack of respect for the individual.
The most important sections of the interview concern his involvement in the Democratic Party
in Noril'sk, and the influence of its leader Fedor Smirnov in particular. He talks in depth
about Smirnov's political ideas, about the underground organization of the Democratic Party
in Noril'sk, and about the planning of the uprising in the labour camp in May 1953. Lev
reflects, in particular, on the influence of Andrei Starostin, an old acquaintance from
his footballing days in the 1930s and a fellow-organizer of the Noril'sk uprising, on the
development of his political and moral views. In the second interview, Lev gives a detailed
account of the uprising, highlighting the motives and ideals of its leaders and participants,
recounting the negotiations with the Gulag authorities, and recalling the bloody suppression
of the rebellion. For Netto, who played a dangerous part in it, the revolt was above all
a protest for human dignity: it was the culmination of his own development as a politically
Interview 1 [October-04]
Interview 2 [April-05]
In 1949, when he was in the Krasnoiarsk transit prison, he joined the underground 'Democratic
Party of Russia.'
The Family Archive
The archive contains a notebook, a letter and family photographs.