This tradition is still alive in the Ukraine, the bread basket and basket case of 20th century Europe. Within in the life span of a working school master the Ukraine saw Stalin's genocidal collectivisation of the Kulaks and subsequent mass famine, the NKVD terror of 1937, the 1943 Axis rout of soviet forces and subsequent Weirmacht control, another round of crop distruction, SS extermination of the Slavs, scorched earth Axis widthdrawl, gradual Warsaw Pact repression and bureaucratization, and then, in homage to the Gnostic view of God, the 1986 Chernobyl catastrophe just outside of Kiev (see http://www.kiddofspeed.com).
Man must suffer constraint to write, for a man with a gun needs no thought, but the prison state gives its citizens nothing but thoughts. Before words on paper, there must be words in the head, that that plaintive, demanding upwelling of reason that takes the place of action because the environment has action constrained. Where words have the power to change, the state tries hard to trap, burn, or blank them, such is its fear of their power. But where words are emasculated before birth, where words are powerless playings, smothered, half drowned kittens, scrabbling for someone, anyone to hold them, the state is fearless and words like birds, bees and other creatures of no political consequence are free. Now I offer you the following based on a tale of my grandfather's, which I have taken to using as a filter of men; women do not seem to feel it, being too full of future life to enjoy the austere bleakness of concentration camp sarcasm.
Moshe shuffled in the prisoner selection line with his daughter. When he came to the selection guard Moshe was told both father and daughter would be sent either to the extermination camp or the work camp. The guard found their numbers and said the daughter was go to the extermination camp. Moshe wailed, fell to the ground and threw his arms about the guard's legs, begging for his daugther to be spared. He kissed the guard's boots and offered his own life and the extraction of the last of his gold teeth. The guard smiled thinly and said, "Very well, but first you must pass my test. My eyes are completely indistinguishable from each other but are not the same. One is glass and was modeled on the other. Reichsmarshal Goering himself appointed the finest jewelers in Potsdam to craft it after I returned from the front. If you can find a way to distinguish the glass eye from the real one, I will trade your life for your daughter's". Moshe starred into the guard's eyes and slowly raised his hand, pointing to the left eye. The guard looked at Moshe and shouted, "What! How did you know?!". "I am sorry.. " trembled Moshe, "but the left eye looks at me with a kindly gleam".