The Chelyuskin was beset and sank near the Bering Strait in 1934. The book has contributions by many of the crew, including captain Schmidt, and presents a most idealistic view of Bolshevik sacrifice.
p. 25. Chapter 2, the Departure, by Meteorologist Olga Komova:
… A bit choppy. The weaker ones keep their bunks; our brigate is very chirpy, gets through the onions, turns to organizing the library service. The red corner on the Chelyuskin is a trifle cramped, but very comfortably furnished—plenty of books and plenty of visitors.
“When will books be given out?”
“Any new writers?”
“Have anything on physics?”
Most of the enquirers are seamen or stokers. We receive every new face with real satisfaction, and it becomes obvious that we shall not lack a reading public. In comes a tall lad in a striped sweater with sleeves rolled up.“Oho! That’s fine, plenty of books. Something to live on in the next eighteen months….”
“And where do you get the eighteen months from?”
“And supposing we have to spend the winter in the. . .”
Immediately there is a chorus of cries: “Grouser!” “Shurrup!” “Who asked you to prophesy!” And so.
Stoker Kiselyov goes slowly but surely over all the books on the table. He has read a great deal, and our supply does not satisfy him.
“Bit on the lean side, eh?” he said. “Why, I’ve read pretty well all you’ve got !”
We console him, tell him that we shall be taking more books when we get to Mourman [Murmansk].
p. 61, concerning ice-wintering rules after hopes of rescue ended: The everyday life of every man and woman on board was squeezed as if into a straitjacket, into a strict collective routine. The most varied studies, sports, physical work, and organized recreation, were devised to fill the long polar night completely. During that long winter the Chelyuskin party knew nothing of nostalgic inactivity or vacant demoralizing hours. [Hard to know how they did this with so little coal available for power]
p. 62: Every [radio] reception of conference news was issued as soon as possible in the form of a numbered bulletin. One copy of the bulletin would be stuck up in the Red Corner [where the library apparently was] for general use, another handed to the party cell, while I [the expedition secretary] retained a third. I may add that my set of the bulletins have all been saved.
p. 69, Chapter X is by Able-seaman journalist Alexander Mironov: Among us we had a Y.C.L. [Young Communist League] political circle, but it was not only frequented by communist youth. Baievski’s lectures, which were very interesting and attractive, drew many non-party men into the group—middle-aged carpenters, sailors, stokers, and even worthy Adam Dominikovitch Shousha [a 52-year old carpenter], and the old fellow took an enthusiastic part in discussions round the party conferences, and discussion of the differences between the Bolsheviks, Mensheviks, and social revolutionaries.
Besides the political circle we had a general educational carpenters’ circle. At Mourman we had taken on board eight carpenters and three stove-masons. Most of these could only just get the general sense of small announcements in a newspaper, and only knew two rules of arithmetic. Six months’ schooling on the Chelyuskin gave them a great deal: they went through courses of arithmetic, elementary algebra and geometry, learned the rules of grammar, and obtained a smattering of history and geography.
In the evenings, by the light of paraffin lamps, members of the expedition…gathered together in the saloon of the expedition’s command. Then Schmidt would expound to eager listeners the theory of Freud, the works of the philologist Marr, and about the Pamirs. That man’s stock of knowledge and its depth seemed inexhaustible. He was able to answer any question you liked to put, and all attempts to stump him failed….
p.171-72: after abandoning ship to ice floes the members began a camp newspaper, a wall newspaper called We Won’t Give In.