Dates: 1945-present

Cover from the Posev edition of “The White Book on Siniavskii-Daniėl’ case” by A. Ginzburg.

Location: Mönchehof (1945-47), Limburg on the Lahn (1947-1952), Frankfurt am Main (1952-1991), Moscow (1992-present)

Editors: B. N. Serafimov (pseudonym of Priashnikov, 1945-46); A. S. Svetov
(pseudonym of Parfënov, 1946-47); E. R. Romanov (pseudonym of Ostrovskii, 1947-54); L. A. Rar (1954-62, 1974-80); G. S. Okolovich (1962-70); O. V. Perekrëstov (1970-74); N. B. Zhdanov (1980-92); E. A. Samsonova-Beitbart (1992-93); K. V. Rusakov (1993-)

The Posev publishing house was founded in 1945, in the Mönchehof displaced persons camp[1] – a hamlet of the municipality of Espenau, in northern Hesse (Germany) – by a group of Russian political refugees. It initially aimed to publish textbooks and handbooks for Russian-speaking refugees, but soon began to expand its catalogue and edit a weekly paper which took the same name as the publishing house, “Posev”. The first issue of the magazine was published on November 11, 1945. In 1946, the publication of a “magazine of art, literature and social thought” entitled “Grani” was also launched. The following year, after the mass emigration to overseas countries and the consequent emptying of the camp, the publishing house moved to the German city of Limburg on the Lahn. Then, in 1952, it established its headquarters in Frankfurt am Main, which became its main office until the dissolution of the USSR, when Posev moved to Russia, where it is still active today.
Posev was the publishing house of the Narodnoe-Trudovoi soiuz rossiiskikh solidaristov (National Labor Union of Russian Solidarists, NTS), an anti-communist organization founded in 1930 by a group from the so-called first wave of Russian emigration (pervaia volna), of which the magazines “Posev” and “Grani” became the official press organs.
The first editor-in-chief of the publishing house was B. V. Serafimov (pseudonym of B. Priashnikov), who was in charge from 1945 to 1946. He had been a member of the NTS since 1933 and had a reputation as a journalist and writer under the pseudonym of A. B. Lisovskii­. He was succeeded by A. S. Svetov (pseudonym of Parfënov) until 1947, when E. R. Romanov (pseudonym Ostrovsky) became editor-in-chief who remained until 1954. From 1954 to 1962 the publishing house was headed by journalist L. A. Rar, followed by G. S. Okolovich (1962-1970) and O. V. Perekrëstov (1970-1974). Rar returned from 1974 to 1980. The last editor-in-chief of Posev, before the office moved to Moscow between 1992 and 1994, was N. B. Zhdanov (1980-1992). In the transition phase the editorial director was E. A. Samsonova-Beitbart, while the first to head the new Moscow branch was K. V. Rusakov.
Browsing through the catalogue of the publishing house, three different phases can be identified which characterize its output from its foundation to 1991. The publications of the first phase (1945-48) were mainly educational and included manuals, dictionaries, and texts – often illustrated – aimed at young Russian-speaking students[2]. The second phase (1948-61) was devoted to the divulgation of texts on political, philosophical, and religious topics[3] – a practice closely related to the activity of the NTS, as evidenced by the numerous volumes dedicated to the conferences organized by the same publishing house[4]. The third and last phase (1962-1991) concentrated on publishing material free from censorship, the so called nepodtsenzurnaia literatura. Typescripts circulating in the Soviet underground were often issued by the publishing house in translation[5] as well as in Russian[6]. From 1972, Posev intensified its publication of samizdat texts and inaugurated the series “Vol’noe slovo” (Free Word) which – at first bimonthly and then quarterly – mainly printed texts spread podpol’e (underground) by the movement for the defence of human rights (pravozashchitnoe dvizhenie).[7] In the same year, this series was joined by the collection “Bibliotechka solidarista” (The small library of the solidarist) which was divided into two distinct series, the first philosophical and the second political, dedicated to texts promoting Russian solidarism[8]. Particularly important were the collections dedicated to the magazines “Grani”[9], “Posev”[10] and the Christian-Orthodox samizdat almanac, Nadezhda[11], edited by Z. Krakhmal’nikova. The publishing house did not publish Russian translations of foreign texts, with the sole exception of the novels of G. Orwell[12], whose criticism of totalitarianism suited Posev’s campaign against the Soviet regime.
The different phases in the evolution of Posev illustrate the publisher’s strategy of consolidating opposition to the regime within the vision of the NTS – an organization to which all collaborators were affiliated. During the second phase (1948-61), Posev published texts with an identifiably political and anti-communist orientation – often written by prominent members of the NTS, while the third phase promoted texts of cultural opposition to the Soviet Union as part of the “Cultural Cold War”. In the aftermath of the XX Congress of the CPSU (1956) and following the start of the “Thaw” (ottepel’) – the culmination of which was in 1962 with the publication of A. Solzhenitsyn’s One Day in the Life of Ivan Denisovich by the liberal journal “Novyi mir” headed by A. Tvardovskii – tamizdat publications [13] became a hugely effective weapon against the Soviet regime. The Posev catalogue includes names such as V. Tarsis, B. Pasternak, A. Akhmatova, A. Solzhenitsyn and other writers in opposition to Soviet culture whose works were sometimes published against the authors’ wishes.  Often, the Soviet authorities moved swiftly to repress the authors of works published in tamizdat, irrespective of whether they had agreed to the publication of their work abroad. The Posev editions, published mainly in Russian, were addressed not only to Russian-speaking readers of the various waves of emigration in the West, but also to the Soviet reader: some editions were published in a reduced format to evade customs controls so that they could be smuggled into the USSR,[14]. In the swarming underground of unofficial Soviet culture, the Posev editions were so popular that they became cult objects, symbolic of the youth counterculture. It was in honor of the publishing house that the first underground punk-rock group founded by Egor Letov – leader of the “Grazhdanskaia oborona” group – took the name “Posev” (1982-85).
After the dissolution of the USSR and the liberalization of the book market, the publishing house moved to Russia, where it has been active since 1992. Its publishing activity has been considerably reduced, mainly focused on the publication of religious, political and historical volumes, dedicated to the activities of Russian solidarists, the civil war (Grazhdanskaia voina), the “white” emigration and the fight against Bolshevism. Posev continues to publish the magazines “Posev” and “Grains”, to which the almanac Belaia Gvardiia (1997-2008) was added. The current orientation of the publishing house is strongly anti-communist and nationalist, although the official website states that its activity is aimed at supporting the line of “democratic patriotism” (demokraticheskii patriotizm).


[1] The official definition of these camps was “displaced persons camps”, often referred to by the abbreviation “d-p”. In the aftermath of World War II, several camps were established in Germany, Austria, and Italy to accommodate refugees and displaced persons from Eastern Europe, prisoners of war, and people freed from Nazi concentration camps.

[2] Among these texts are: Russkaia istoriia (uchebnik) [The History of Russia (handbook), 1945]; Uchebnik angliisckogo jazyka [The English Language Handbook, 1945]; Uchebnik latinskogo jazyka [The Latin Language Handbook, 1945]; V. P. Vakhterov, Russkii bukvar’ [Russian Abbecedary, 1946]; A. Pel’ttser (ed.), Grammatika angliiskogo jazyka [Grammar of the English Language, 1946]; B. T. Kiriushin, Russkaia istoriia [The History of Russia, 1946]; Latinskoe chtenie [Latin Reading, 1946]; M. O. Kube, Rasskazy moriaka [The Sailor’s Tales, 1946]; A. S. Pushkin, Skazka Pushkina: O tsare Saltane… [Pushkin’s Fairy Tale: Tsar Saltane, 1946]; Skazka ob Ivane-Tsareviche, zhar-ptitse i serom volke [The Fairy Tale of Ivan-Zarevich, the Firebird and the Gray Wolf, 1946]; M. Zoshchenko, O chëm pel solovei [What the Nightingale Sang About, 1946]; R. Kipling, Maugli [Mowgli, 1946]; Russko-angliiskii slovar’ [Russian-English Dictionary, 1948].

[3] These include: V. S. Mertsalov, Tragediia rossiiskogo krest’ianstva [The Tragedy of the Russian Peasants, 1948]; Bol’shevizm na skam’e podsudimykh (Otchët o parizhskom protsesse V. A. Kravсhenko) [Bolshevism in the Dock (Report about the Paris Trial <filed by> V. A. Kravchenko), 1949]; V. D. Porensky, <Molekuliarnaia> Teoriia revoliutsii v usloviiakh totalitarnogo rezhima [Theory of the <Molecular> Revolution in a Totalitarian Regime, 1949]; M. Rozanov, Zavoevateli belykh piaten [The Conquerors of the White Spots, 1951]; A. Artemov, Ideologiia solidarizma i eë razvitie [The Ideology of Solidarism and its Development, 1952]; V. D. Poremskii, Politicheskaia missiia rossiiskoi emigratsii [The Political Mission of Russian Emigration, 1954]; A. Gakkel’, O pravoslavnoi ikonopisi [On Orthodox Iconography, 1956]; V. Zen’kovskii, Osnovy khristianskoi filosofii [The Foundations of Christian Philosophy, 1960].

[4] See: L. Rzhevskii, Natsional’naia kul’tura i emigratsiia [National Culture and Emigration, 1952]; Svoboda v nastuplenii [Freedom attacks, 1956]; F. Vidovich, L. Viniarskii, Politicheskii opyt Vengerskoi revoliutsii ­- Ideologicheskaia i politicheskaia bor’ba v stranakh “narodnoi demokratii” [The Political Experience of the Hungarian Revolution – The Political and Ideological Struggle in the Countries of “Popular Democracy”, 1957]; A. Svetlanin, A. Stolypin, Pervoocherednye meropriiatiia po perestroistvu gosudarstvennoi zhizni v Rossii – Vneshniaia politika budushchei Rossii [Priority Measures for the Reconstruction of Public Life in Russia – The Foreign Policy of Future Russia, 1957].

[5] German translations include: A. Achmatowa (Achmatova), Requiem (1964); B. Pasternak, Gedichte von Julij Schiwago [The Poems of Julii Zhivago, 1965]; V. Tarsis, Botschaft aus dem Irrerihaus [Lane No. 7, 1965]; M. Sostschenko (Zoshchenko), Wovon die Nachtigall sang [What the Nightingale Sang About, 1971].

[6] V. Tarsis, Skazanie o sinei mukhe – Krasnoi i chernoe [The Legend of the Blue Fly – The Red and the Black, 1963]; E. Ginzburg, Krutoi marshrut (Journey Into the Wirlwind, 1967); B. Achmadulina, Oznob [Thrill, 1968]; B. Okudzhava, Proza i poėziia [Prose and Poetry, 1968]; A. Sakharov, Razmyshleniia o progresse, mirnom sosushchestvovanii i intellektual’noi svobode [Reflections on Progress, Peaceful Coexistence and Intellectual Freedom, 1968]; A. Solzhenitsyn, Rakovyi korpus [Cancer Division, 1968]; M. Bulgakov, Master i Margarita [The Master and Margarita, 1969].

[7] Among these, it is enough to mention the reprints of the journal “Khronika tekushchikh sobytii” (Chronicle of Current Events) – “Vol’noe slovo” No. 3 (1972), No. 4 (1972), No. 5 (1972), No. 6 (1972); the issue devoted to the testimonies of dissidents (inakomysljashchie) on irregularities and violations of the law, from searches, to show trials, and imprisonment – Svidetel’ po sobstvennomu obvineniiu [Witness to One’s Own Accusation], “Vol’noe slovo” N. 13 (1974); or the publication of the famous text by V. Al’brekht, Kak vesti sebia na obyske [How to behave during a search], “Vol’noe slovo” N. 27 (1977).

[8] Among the titles of the series are: Sotsial’naia filosofiia S. L. Franka [The Social Philosophy of S. L. Frank, 1972]; Filosofiia dukha N. A. Berdiaeva [The Philosophy of the Spirit of N. A. Berdjaev, 1972]; Solidarizm i dialektika [Solidarism and Dialectics, 1973]; D. Vladimirskii, Solidarnost’ i obshchestvennoe razvitie [Solidarism and Social Development, 1974].

[9]  See, for example, “Grani”. Izbrannoe No. 1 [“Grani.” Collection No. 1, 1975]; “Grani.” Izbrannoe No. 2 [“Grani.” Collection No. 2, 1976]; “Grani.” Izbrannoe No 3 [“Grani“. Collection No 3, 1976]; “Grani”. Izbrannoe No 4 [‘Grani’. Collection No 4, 1977].

[10] See, for example: “Posev. Izbrannye stat’i za 1968-1969 [“Posev”. Selection of Articles from 1968-1969, 1971]; “Posev”. Izbrannye stat’i za 1970 [“Posev”. Selection of Articles from 1970, 1972]; “Posev”. Izbrannye stat’i za 1971 [“Posev”. Selection of Articles from 1971, 1972]; “Posev”. Izbrannye stat’i za 1972 [“Posev”. Selection of Articles from 1972, 1973].

[11]  See: “Nadezhda” (“Nadezhda”, series 1, 1978); “Nadezhda” (“Nadezhda”, series 2, 1979); “Nadezhda” (“Nadezhda”, series 3, 1979); “Nadezhda” (“Nadezhda”, series 4, 1980).

[12]  G. Orvell (Orwell), Skotskii khutor [Animal Farm, 1950, later reissued in 1967, 1971 and 1978]; G. Orvell (Orwell), 1984 (1957).

[13] With regard to the unauthorized publication by Western publishers of manuscripts circulating clandestinely in the USSR, we need only mention the indignant reaction of V. Salamov when he learned that some stories from his Kolymskie rasskazy [The Tales of Kolyma] had been published in the magazine “Posev”; or the concern of E. Ginzburg when she realized ‘she had lost control’ over the publishing of her work Journey Into the Wirlwind; or A. Akhmatova’s worries when the magazine “Grani” published her Requiem. However, we must consider that, starting from the 1960s, the publication abroad of texts “not authorized” by the Soviet regime became a crime punishable by law in the USSR (see the Siniavskii-Daniėl’ case). Therefore, the statements published in the Soviet and foreign press – in which the authors distanced themselves from the editorial operations of the Western publishing houses that had printed their works – are to be considered, in many cases, an extreme attempt to defend themselves from the very serious charges of “anti-Soviet propaganda” and “spreading slander” against the USSR that the Soviet authorities could impute to them as provided by Articles 70 and 190-1 of the Criminal Code of the RSFSR.

[14] See, in this regard, the following publications: A. Ginzburg (ed.), Belaia kniga po delu A. Siniavskogo i Ju. Daniėlia [The White Book on the A. Siniavskii and Iu. Daniėl’ case, 1970]; A. Solzhenitsyn, Sobranie sochinenii v shesti tomakh [Opera Omnia in Six Volumes, 1971]; M. Bulgakov, Master i Margarita [The Master and Margarita, 1971]; G. Vadimov, Vernyi Ruslan [The Faithful Ruslan, 1975].

Ilaria Sicari
 [30th June 2021]

Translation by Sara Manzi


To cite this article:
Ilaria Sicari, Posev, in Voci libere in URSS. Letteratura, pensiero, arti indipendenti in Unione Sovietica e gli echi in Occidente (1953-1991), a cura di C. Pieralli, M. Sabbatini, Firenze University Press, Firenze 2021-, <>.
eISBN 978-88-5518-463-2
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