Alexander Solzhenitsyn was born in 1918, one year after the Communist revolution and one year after the apparitions at Fatima. He father was an artillery officer in WWI and died three months before he was born. He was sent off to state schools were he was indoctrinated into Communistic atheistic materialism: there is no god and humans are nothing more than producers and consumers. He became a good Party member and studied to become a mathematician. He longed to be a writer. During WWII he became an artillery officer and earned two decorations. In a letter to a friend he commented on the poor use of grammar by Lenin in a radio speech and it earned him an eight-year prison term. He possessed an excellent memory, so he set out to write an epic poem of ten to twenty lines a day, memorize them, adding them to the previous lines. He also began collecting stories from fellow prisoners and committed these stories to memory as well. When he was finally released, he wrote his epic poem, now thousands of lines long, and his books on the Russian gulag prison system. He abandoned his atheism and became an Orthodox Christian.