When eight-year-old Ania is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer holidays, she finds a house full of strangers and a grandmother who pretends not to know her. Ania only returns home six years later.

ANNA SANDERMOEN

THE CULT IN MY GRANDMOTHER'S HOUSE

Autobiography about childhood in an elite and illegal totalitarian cult in the USSR, dedicated to raising super-humans immune to any illness.

The book is translated from Russian to English by Stephanie Droop

THIS IS A BOOK ABOUT ADULTS BETRAYING THE CHILDREN IN THEIR CARE

FROM THE AUTHOR

“I used to get annoyed when friends and acquaintances questioned me about my childhood. Every time I started to answer, someone would immediately interrupt me, and from their very first question it was clear they didn’t believe me.

For many years I didn’t know how to talk about the cult. On one hand, it seemed to contain something great, brilliant and necessary for all humanity. On the other hand, there was a constant whisper inside me that no, something wasn’t right… Until I had a daughter, I attributed this vague misgiving to ignorance; it was more convenient to think I was simply not intelligent enough to understand the full depth and true meaning of what went on. But then my daughter was born, and when she reached the age at which I entered the cult, I suddenly, and to my own surprise, completely revised my attitude to what had gone on there and to the people connected with it.

It must be said that my husband understood from the second sentence of my story that I had been in a cult. I needed almost 40 years.”

The Stolbun’s cult has been supported for 40 years by the world-famous children's author Eduard Uspensky, known as the one who made up Cheburashka.

WHY I WROTE THIS BOOK

“I want to tell you about my experience and how my way of thinking has changed. How at first I was delighted with the ideas promoted by the cult of Viktor Davydovich Stolbun, and how then I realised what was really behind them.

My story is about at what price a person learns to think, not so much critically as independently. It is not difficult to criticise, but the ability to find the best solutions requires not only a good education, but also a lot of courage.

This is a story about how much ignorance costs us. It is about how not to bring up children. It is about what happens in the soul and psyche of a small child. I want to tell the truth, the truth about a cult that did not disappear with the collapse of the USSR, that larger “cult” which had made it all possible.

I want to tell the truth, as true as any memory or life experience can be.

This book is not fiction. It contains only facts from the childhood I spent in a cult.

For many years I held an internal discussion about whether it was worth publishing this truth. I kept expecting one of the “adults” would do it — after all, I was a child when I was there. But no one came forward, and the cult continues to exist to this day in the very centre of Moscow. Even in Switzerland, where I now live, there are followers of Stolbun’s “teachings”.

Now it is headed by another person, Vladimir Vladimirovich Streltsov, the son of Stolbun’s wife, and its members actively promote themselves on Russian social networks and continue to attract new clients. Previously, they “treated” mainly alcoholism, drug addiction and schizophrenia, but now they also say they treat tuberculosis.

There is a lot of information on the Internet, but it is scattered and sometimes fundamentally incorrect. I decided to collect between the covers of one book what I know myself, using people’s real names.”

THE AUTHOR MANAGED TO FREE HERSELF FROM THE PUPPETMASTER'S GRIP, BUT HIS APPALLING ACTIVITIES CONTINUE TO THIS DAY

INTERVIEW WITH THE AUTHOR

The video with English subtitles

An interview with Anna Sandermoen on Andrei Malakhov's live show on “Russia 1” about the Stolbun’s Cult (5 min.)

Watch full version (in Russian) (67 min.)

Cultural diary. Anna Sandermoen's book on the Stolbun's Cult

Programme on Radio Svoboda (in Russian, text - in English, translated by Google)

Cult in grandmother's house and book, conceived in childhood

(translated from Russian by Google)

Read

Anna Chedia Sandermoen about independent thought

(translated from Russian by Google)

IT WARNS US TO BE WARY OF ANYONE WHO CLAIMS TO BE "SAVING THE WORLD", AND CONTAINS TOOLS TO IDENTIFY A CULT BEFORE IT IS TOO LATE

REVIEWS

Gripping memoirs with a universal message

This is a wild ride, a warning of passive collusion letting powerful men run away with power. Shocking rawness, but also beautiful descriptive scenes the average western reader has never imagined. I enjoyed the "local colour" most. Rousing patriotic ceremonies, working on rat-infested farms, hitchhiking through central Asian truckstops, burning dung on dried-up seas. The conditions of poverty are leavened with deadpan humour.

This book shows a different side from the usual tropes found in English-language books on the USSR. Real life is rich and ambiguous so despite the poverty there is recognisable pride in aspects of Soviet life like its operas or its frontier-style natural resource culture, its dinosaur bones. Through Anna's eyes we share the pride of going on a geological expedition or being sworn into a youth organisation. The cult's methods are all the more chilling because they are built on a kernel of real science like IQ tests. The ensuing abuse and total neglect is all the more disturbing because it started with respected academics.

Full disclosure: I'm the translator of the English edition but these views are my own. I know that every word of this book is true. That the author has attained such wisdom, compassion and success in her life is testament to her resilience and spirit. Her insight shines out of this book to illuminate important issues around family and society. Read it and you might get closer to healing your own wounds too.

Stephanie Droop


Sweetmaria, Canada Loved the book I read this books in just a couple of days. I was completely absorbed. As someone who was also born in USSR and now living in a different country, Canada, although a few years younger than the author, I could really relate to the story. I heard about Stolbun’s cult before, but reading a book from an eye witness account was absolutely incredible. I also loved that the author was able to find happiness and find out that there are different, healthy ways to approach relationships and life in general. I also found my happiness in a different country, Canada so I can really relate. Highly recommend it!

Sweetmaria, Canada


MORE REVIEWS

So, I've read this book not long time ago and I really want to share you like with you. Its called "The Cult in my grandmother's house". But most importantly, what it made me think of is this social tendency to blame the victim. Or not believing the victim.

You know, when all the sexual abuse scandals, which happened like in the 70s, and now the victims are coming out with their stories, telling the world about these abusive people who died many years ago? "This person who is a celebrity, he/she/they abused me". And you know like there's always criticism. People speculate that one's being abused make it all up to get attention and publicity. "You just want to get into papers, because it's the only way for you to get noticed".

Seriously guys, just think of the one, one thing. Think how difficult it is for people to live all these years with their trauma, confusion, shame and self blame. All these doubts affecting their lives. Think of the courage needed to face it! And the courage to speak up and talk about it! And to inspire other people to speak up.

But some people don't listen. "Oh, you just want to be famous by association!"

Where's the compassion? Where the fuck is these people's compassion?

Lena Antipina, Artist

MASS MEDIA RESPONSE

(translated from Russian by Google)

Documentarie, in Russian

BOOK EXCERPT

MY NAME

“In this large group of people I was now totally alone. Over the six years in the cult I practically forgot my own name. Besides Aunt Katya, no one called me by name or only on those rare occasions when for some incomprehensible reason I suddenly became “good”, “healthy” or otherwise came into grace. Normally the adults either called me by my surname or came up with various strange nicknames. This sounded jovial, sometimes almost affectionate, but I always detected some kind of ironic derision. We children, copying the adults, also often addressed each other not by name but by various teasing epithets.

If by chance I ever heard my name, Ania, I always froze because it was so unusual. Every time I wondered what had happened, why was I suddenly Ania? Not filth, slut, arse, Chedia, Chedipops, pseudointelligentsia, sicko, evil bastard, filthy beast, or any of the things I usually got called, but Ania.

This is how children completely lose their identity. Such seemingly trivial instances soon build up and through them children lose their pride in themselves and in their name, roots, and family. They lose their pride and that means also their accountability.”

Although Stolbun's activities were banned and a criminal case was brought against him, many influential people in the country sent their children to the commune for "treatment" and supported it financially and through connections. Among them were E. Uspensky, R. Bykov, V. Shainsky, Y. Golovanov, party functionaries, scientists and many others.

About the Author

Anna Sandermoen was born in Dushanbe, Tajikistan, then a part of the Soviet Union, in 1974 and spent the first years of her life there. Her grandparents were exiled to Dushanbe during the Stalin era and founded the state university there.The family moved back to Leningrad where she went to her first year in school. When Anna was only 7 years old, her parents sent her to a "commune", where she was in isolation from her parents for almost 6 years - until she was 13-year-old. Anna has written an autobiographical book about her life in the so-called commune, which actually was a cult. The book is titled "The Cult in My Grandmother's House." In 1987 she returned from the cult back to her parents in Leningrad. A few years later her family moved to live in Moscow.

Anna has graduated from the Philosophy Faculty of Moscow State University, and also studied at the School of Translators at the Intourist of the USSR in the departments of English, French and Spanish.

Since 2014 Anna is living in Switzerland with her husband and daughter. She is the founder and managing director of Sandermoen Publishing, a publishing company with the purpose of publishing books about partnerships, cultural differences, immigration, business- and management literature. Sandermoen Publishing has also specialized in bilingual books in Russian and other languages like English, German and French.

E-book: pdf, e-pub, mobi, fb2 in zip file

Hardcopy: paperback, matt laminate, 450 g, 15x23 cm.

When eight-year-old Ania is sent to stay with her grandmother for the summer holidays, she finds a house full of strangers and a grandmother who pretends not to know her. Ania only returns home six years later. This autobiography is about childhood in an illegal cult in the USSR, involving the scientific and creative elite of the Soviet Union. The cult's leader, V. D. Stolbun, claimed to be raising a breed of superhuman immune to any physical or mental illness. Any totalitarian cult is built on a strict hierarchy and is controlled entirely by its leader, whose only motive is power. This is a book about adults betraying the children in their care. It warns us to be wary of anyone who claims to be "saving the world", and contains tools to identify a cult before it is too late.The author managed to free herself from the puppetmaster's grip, but his appalling activities continue to this day.

СЕКТА

В ДОМЕ МОЕЙ БАБУШКИ

Когда Ане было 8 лет, родители отправили ее на летние каникулы к бабушке. Но приехав в квартиру, полную счастливых воспоминаний, девочка обнаружила там множество незнакомых людей и бабушку, которая обращалась с ней как с чужой. Домой Аня вернулась только через шесть лет.

Эта книга о детстве в секте. Ее лидер В. Д. Столбун утверждал, что может создать сверхлюдей, способных преодолевать любые физические и психические заболевания.

Эта книга о том, как взрослые предают детей.

Эта книга – предупреждение для всех, кто склонен доверять людям, которые заявляют о своем намерении «спасти мир». Эта книга поможет распознать секту, пока не стало слишком поздно.

Автору удалось освободиться от власти кукловода, но его страшное дело живет до сих пор.

Несмотря на то что деятельность В. Д. Столбуна была запрещена и на него было заведено уголовное дело, в коммуну отправляли своих детей на «лечение» многие влиятельные люди страны, а также поддерживали ее финансово и с помощью связей. Среди них были Э. Успенский, Р. Быков, В. Шаинский, Я. Голованов, партийные функционеры, ученые и многие другие.