Solzhenitsyn was arrested in 1945 while fighting Hitler's forces as a captain in the Red Army. His crime -- writing a letter criticizing Stalin -- earned him eight years in the slave labor camps, where tens of millions of people perished. He was released in 1953, suffering from stomach cancer, and in 1962, as part of Khrushchev's denunciation of Stalin, he was allowed to publish his scathing account of his gulag experiences "One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich."
The New Statesman
Anyone found by the KGB in possession of it would get five years in a prison camp. By that time the author was already living in Vermont, where he had bought a house with 20 hectares of land around it to guarantee his creative isolation.
He had already won the Nobel Prize for Literature. In 1974 he had been stripped of his Soviet citizenship and sent into exile as a traitor. This was the “humane face” of the Brezhnev era. After all, instead of a special flight to Germany, he could have been thrown into a train wagon bound for the camps.