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Alexander Solzhenitsyn was a Russian and Soviet novelist, dramatist, and historian. His writings helped to make the world aware of the Gulag, the Soviet Union's forced labour camp system.

One night while he was in prison in Siberia, his cell mate Boris Kornfeld, a Jewish doctor, told Solzhenitsyn the story of his conversion to Christ. That same night, Kornfeld was clubbed to death. He had been dealt eight blows on the skull with a plasterer's mallet while he slept. He died the next day on the operating table, without regaining consciousness. Solzhenitsyn said that Kornfeld's last words were, "lay upon me as an inheritance."

It was that experience that caused Solzhenitsyn to write: "It was only when I lay there on rotting prison straw that I sensed within myself the first stirrings of good...Bless you, prison, for having been my life."

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