Preferred Citation: Witkin, Zara. An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.


An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia

The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932–1934

Edited with an Introduction by
Michael Gelb

Berkeley · Los Angeles · Oxford
© 1991 The Regents of the University of California

Preferred Citation: Witkin, Zara. An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.


I wish to thank the following for their contributions to this volume: Victoria Bonnell of the Sociology Department of the University of California at Berkeley, Sheila Levine of the University of California Press, and Elena Danielson of the Hoover Institution Archives, for their early and unflagging support for the project; Kenneth Patsel, Galina Aleksandrova, and Svetlana Afanaseva, for obtaining Emma Tsesarskaia's original consent for an interview; Liudmila Budiak and Tatiana Krylova of the All-Union Research Institute of Cinema Art in Moscow for their help in locating Tsesarskaia and arranging the interview; Holland Hunter, emeritus of the Economics Department of Haverford College, for his evaluation of Witkin's statistical work on the five-year plans; Peter Kenez of the University of California at Santa Cruz, for his expertise; Jeffrey Pott, for providing photographs of Witkin's buildings (one of which now serves as headquarters for the Church of Scientology and discharges suspicious and unpleasant chaperones to intimidate photographers); Bernard Witkin, for sharing information about his brother; the research staff of the library at Franklin and Marshall College, for answering scores of questions; Dore Brown of the University of California Press, for her painstaking and creative copyediting; and most important, Emma Tsesarskaia herself, for the kindness and generosity she showed by meeting me. At various stages of the preparation of this volume I benefited from the generous support provided by a Mellon Postdoctoral Fellowship at the Center for Slavic and East European Studies at the University of California at Berkeley; a short-term grant from the International Research Exchanges Board (IREX); and a summer research grant from Franklin and Marshall College.


A Note on the Text

This text was prepared from a copy of an original manuscript that resides in the archives of the Hoover Institution. It has been only lightly edited to correct obvious typographical, grammatical, and spelling errors. For purposes of clarity and consistency, the author's transliterations of Russian spellings have been modernized to conform to the Library of Congress system. Proper names have been edited for conventional American spelling. Where spellings have not become standardized, they have been left as Witkin spelled them; for example, names that today would end in "skii" remain "sky." Witkin's lover's name appears as "Tsesarskaia" in the introduction and notes but as "Cessarskaya" throughout the memoir itself. Witkin's translations and transcriptions of articles and letters are often approximate but have been allowed to stand. Many of his turns of phrase would not escape the editor's pencil today, but they have also been allowed to remain because they convey the charm of Witkin's innocent and idealistic personality. Endnotes and an annotated bibliography have been added to identify people and institutions now unfamiliar to most readers and to suggest further reading on subjects which figure in Witkin's memoir. Bracketed interpolations are mine.

Editor's Introduction


A chronicle of war and love, these memoirs tell the story of an American engineer's battle against the bureaucratic system that grew on the ruins of the Russian Revolution and matured under the iron rule of Joseph Stalin. They tell, too, of his dream of a better world, a dream that became personified in the woman he loved, the screen star Emma Tsesarskaia.

One of the most brilliant foreign engineers in the Soviet Union during the 1930s, Zara Witkin left for Russia in 1932, fired by the belief that a noble attempt to refashion human society was taking place there and intent on finding the woman who had come to symbolize for him the dignified and joyous race that would populate the socialist utopia now being built. In the course of his two-year stay he found, and then lost, Emma; and in his mission to help modernize Soviet construction methods he fought, and ultimately was defeated by, the red tape, cynicism, and venality that were strangling Soviet Russia more surely than the "capitalist encirclement" of which official propaganda warned. More than fifty years later, as the Soviet Union struggles to cast off the pall of Stalinism, publication of Witkin's memoirs is especially timely. His story sheds a penetrating light on the sources of the bureaucratic cancers that spread during decades of political and economic centralization and now threaten the stability of the Soviet state.

Though only thirty-one years old when he went to Russia, Witkin had already proved something of an engineering genius. Born in 1900 to a family of Jewish emigrants from Russia (his last name is an Americanized form of the Russian Utkin ), Witkin attended a polytechnic high school and entered the University of California in 1917, at the age of sixteen. He graduated with honors from the College of Civil Engineering at twenty and was elected valedictorian of his class. At fifteen he had already designed and manufactured calculating machines for the Patented Computing Company, and by the time he received his bachelor's degree he had worked as reclamation engineer for the state government,


maintenance-of-way engineer for Southern Pacific, and engineer for the San Francisco Bureau of Governmental Research. He designed the Curran Theater in San Francisco in 1921. Beginning in 1923 he served as chief engineer of a major construction firm in Los Angeles, where he supervised construction of scores of edifices, including the Hollywood Bowl and the Wilshire Temple. Not long after his return from the USSR in 1934, he founded his own firm manufacturing prefabricated housing components.

Witkin was exceptional among professional builders for his lifelong concern with justice and political change. His given name appears to be an anglicized form of the Russian zaria , or dawn, perhaps reflecting his parents' faith in the forthcoming dawn of a new era. His relatives shed their blood in the Russian Civil War, and the events of the Revolution had an electrifying effect on his family in America. Zara began to follow Soviet affairs with interest and sympathy in his teens. The Great Depression following the stock market crash of 1929 did more to persuade Witkin of the bankruptcy of capitalist civilization than any Soviet propaganda, while the initiation of a planned economy in the USSR in 1928 convinced him that this was the most promising experiment in human history, the creation of a society run not for profit but for human needs, a society based not on the anarchic laws of the market but on the rational satisfaction of the interests of the entire population. The Five-Year Plan offered grandiose horizons of planned economic growth for the benefit of all, a scheme tailor-made to capture the imagination not only of idealists but also of pragmatic engineers.

A physically vigorous man—he was a respectable tennis player and a serious amateur boxer—Witkin was also a sensitive and accomplished pianist who disdained the money-grubbing rough-and-tumble of the American construction industry. The more successful and prosperous Witkin became, the more he worried about the future of the world, and the more repelled he was by the irrationalities of a capitalism under which production benefited the few and left millions in poverty. He came to consider himself a socialist. A friend later wrote that he brushed off negative reports on Soviet conditions as "capitalist malice" and avidly accepted "every panegyric that gave color to his hope."[1] One day after an address before an engineering society on the Five-Year Plan, Witkin was approached by Alfred Zaidner of Amtorg, the Soviet American Trading Company. He was persuaded to establish collaborative business contacts, including consultation on the development of refrigerated warehouses,


assistance in the sale of Soviet marble in the United States, and selection of engineers to work on the construction of the Moscow metro.

He had already decided in principle to take his skills to the Soviet Union when he began to attend Soviet film showings. At a 1929 screening of Village of Sin (originally Baby riazanskie , or Peasant Women of Riazan ) he first beheld the lovely, dark-haired Emma Tsesarskaia. He later wrote that when she appeared on the screen he involuntarily jumped out of his seat. Tsesarskaia became the embodiment of the new Soviet womanhood for him—independent, emancipated, proud. In the film Her Way of Love the full-figured beauty again played a peasant woman liberated by communism, strong and defiant, taking up arms to defend the Revolution. Witkin became obsessed with her, returning to watch the film eight times. Slowly he convinced himself not only that his future lay in the Soviet Union but that somehow destiny would one day join him and Emma. Little could he imagine how this would happen, still less what heartbreak awaited him in the land of his dreams.

Eugene Lyons (1898–1985), the Moscow correspondent for United Press International between 1928 and 1934, was also destined to play an important role in Witkin's Soviet experience. Lyons was famous before his arrival in Moscow for his defense of Sacco and Vanzetti[2] and was well known as a fellow traveler of the Communist party. His years in the "workers' paradise" were slowly transforming him into a bitter critic of the Soviet experiment, and the journalist would one day leave a scathing account in his memoir, Assignment in Utopia .[3] After the war he emerged as a prominent cold warrior.

Before Witkin left the United States (he went with a one-month tour group and began talks with prospective employers only after arriving in Moscow) friends had written a letter of introduction to Lyons, and after settling into his new career, Witkin paid his first call. The two soon became fast friends, and it was through the agency of Lyons's wife, who played small roles in the Soviet movies, that Emma and Zara were later acquainted. Lyons left the following portrait of the idealistic young engineer who arrived in Moscow in 1932.

A dark, chunky, broad-shouldered young man with an infectious smile and tanned open features, Zara came to the United Press office in Moscow one day in the Spring of 1932 to present a letter of introduction. Methodically, and rather to my amusement, he produced a bulky scrap-


book and proceeded to back up the letter with a sort of documented lecture of self-introduction.

He pointed to some of the scores of structures on the West Coast on which he had been chief construction engineer: the Hollywood Bowl, movie studios, hotels, churches. Here were examples of his professional writings in engineering journals, and here materials on his pioneer work on prefabricated housing. For contrast there were press items about a piano recital he had given, about athletic laurels he had won. Not in the least boastful—just informative, in precise and pedagogical style.[4]

In an interview granted in 1989, Emma Tsesarskaia confirmed the spirit of Lyons's impression. Witkin was not handsome, she told me, but he had a great force of personality and magnetic charm. He was "loyal to an extreme." Of medium height and athletic build, he had a vibrant sense of humor and "knew how to walk on his hands." Tsesarskaia recalled their weekly ski trips in the environs of Moscow and characterized Witkin as a man with whom it was a pleasure to spend time, a "cultured" person, at once American and European.

On another level, however, Witkin was a sober personality. Lyons had noticed a difference between Witkin and "the high-minded Americans come to exult in 'the great experiment.' ... Here was idealism armed with a slide-rule, open-eyed, and calm to the point of pedantry.... It would be interesting to watch how far this man got with the technical education of Russian builders."[5]

Witkin was but one of tens of thousands of foreigners who came to live in the Soviet Union before the war.[6] In the 1920s most were revolutionaries and political emigrants, but in the 1930s increasing numbers of technical specialists, skilled workers, and businessmen arrived, accompanied by journalists, diplomats, and an impressive flow of tourists and adventurers. Their impressions after they arrived were often determined by their political convictions before they left home. But powerful Soviet realities often overrode preconceived notions.

Those who broke out of the cycle of Intourist hotels and guided tours found a country in the throes of tumultuous changes: cities springing up where none had existed before; colossal factories rising from a sea of Siberian mud; teeming crowds of former peasants jamming the trolley lines of Moscow, Leningrad, and Kharkov, straining the resources of overburdened and underbudgeted housing funds, pressing their children into the proliferating night schools, technicums, and institutes. The


changes were not peaceful: millions were being uprooted from their accustomed ways under economic and political duress, many at the point of a gun. Hardly any perceptive visitor failed to see evidence of forced labor or to hear about the arrests of scapegoats accused of economic sabotage, pragmatists who had cautioned against breakneck industrial expansion, and oppositionists who had resisted Stalin's dictatorship. Others reported hordes of homeless children—refugees from the violence and famine that attended the collectivization of agriculture—begging in the train stations or roving in large gangs of pickpockets, thieves, and underage prostitutes. At the same time, few remained unimpressed by the very scale of change, by the rapid promotion of education for the masses, and by the widespread sense that the current sacrifices were the necessary price of a more just and prosperous future.

Sojourners in "the first socialist society" produced a great literature of firsthand accounts, including travelogues, memoirs, and journalistic reports. Though many of these are superficial, either naively pro-Soviet or simplistically anti-Soviet, others are of great interest, describing the experiences of people whose business took them to many parts of the country. The best examples of this literature are by foreigners who resided in the USSR for an extended period, especially those who became integrated into the local life. Many among the latter group were Communists or sympathizers, and although they often colored their records accordingly, in some cases it was precisely they who most keenly appreciated the evils people encountered, and who produced—often after painful periods of tortured soul-searching—some of the most incisive accounts of Soviet reality.

A number of those who served as workers and technicians in Soviet industry recorded their experience in memoirs. John Scott's classic, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel ,[7] deservedly the best known of the genre, recounts the author's life in the frontier boomtown of Magnitogorsk. Scott was a sympathizer who, out of loyalty to the cause, suppressed much of his own experience in the book, but the 1989 edition includes long-unpublished material on forced labor and the secret police. Andrew and Maria Smith's I Was a Soviet Worker also deserves mention,[8] and though the authors spent less time in Moscow, where Andrew worked at an electronics factory, than Scott spent in Magnitogorsk, their book is more uncompromising in its portrayal of political relations inside a Soviet enterprise. Fred Beal, an American labor organizer who skipped bail after his conviction in the


notorious Gastonia Boys trial and worked for two years at the Kharkov Tractor Factory, left another valuable account of industrial life in the early 1930s in his Proletarian Journey .[9] Peter Francis's I Worked in a Soviet Factory , the sympathetic but objective record of a British student employed in a plastics factory in Orekhovo-Zuevo, is also of interest, though it is not as penetrating as the previously mentioned works.[10]

The literature left by engineers and specialists constitutes a greater mass than that by workers, but it is generally of a lower quality (the workers more often came to live, the engineers to make money and leave). The memoirs of John Westgarth (Russian Engineer ), who served as a consultant to the Soviet steel industry, are poorly written and not particularly informative. Working for the Soviets: An American Engineer in Russia by Arnold Rukeyser,[11] who worked for the Soviet asbestos trust, and Moscow, 1911–1933 by Allan Monkhouse (a British defendant in the Metro-Vickers show trial of 1933)[12] are somewhat more interesting, though also colorless and politically unsophisticated. While none of these engineers was taken in by the system of propaganda and controls calculated to veil Stalinist realities (others were more gullible),[13] none succeeded in penetrating the barriers isolating the foreigner from participation in Soviet society. Somewhat better is John Littlepage's In Search of Soviet Gold , which describes the authors' ten years in the mining industry of Siberia, Central Asia, and the Urals. Littlepage's book not only draws the reader into the daily difficulties and accomplishments of the Soviet industrialization drive but also captures much of the color of the country's frontier regions. Despite these insights, it reflects little understanding of Soviet industrial politics. A politically innocent pragmatist, Littlepage failed to pierce the smokescreen obscuring behind-the-scenes Russia. The arrest and liquidation in 1937 of his superior in the gold trust, A. E. Serebrovskii, a man for whom he felt no small admiration (and who also left a memoir of genuine value), caught him quite unawares.[14]

Against this background Zara Witkin's memoir is a welcome—indeed marvelous—exception, comparable with or superior to the best of the memoirs officially published in the Soviet Union (S. Frankfurt's Men and Steel , for example).[15] The only other memoir to which one could properly compare it is the émigré Victor Kravchenko's classic, I Chose Freedom: The Personal and Political Life of a Soviet Official ,[16] which details the authors' experiences in heavy industry from technical school to Moscow commissariat. For Witkin found himself a part not only of the inner workings of Soviet industrial administration but also of internal industrial politics . And, unlike any of his foreign colleagues, he


created a paper trail recording every step of his career and every battle of the war in which he soon became engaged.

Reading about Witkin's experience sometimes gives one the impression of having a ringside seat at a boxing match. Lyons later recalled how "the very sight of this calm, business-like American engineer gave the bureaucrats the jitters." Witkin became Lyons's champion in the latter's effort to build a cooperative apartment. Manipulated, stalled, deceived, and robbed for years, Lyons had floundered "in the practiced hands of the cooperative bureaucrats." But Witkin, touched by the journalist's "gullible helplessness," took command of the situation.

While engaged upon rationalizing construction activities for the entire Soviet Union, or supervising the construction of a great aviation school or chemical plant, he made the time to inspect the Lyons home in progress. No trick of faking in materials or workmanship escaped his trained eye. Bolder, more pugnacious, and more optimistic than I, Zara made this apartment a test case of rationalization and honesty in construction. He forced the builders to tear down walls that were ill made, watched the mixing of paints, insisted on elementary principles of decent workmanship.... He would listen to a long harangue of pyramided alibis, pretend that he did not understand a word, and remark coolly, "Khorosho! [All right!]. Now tear up this floor and do it right!"[17]

Not long after the engineer settled down to teach the Soviets the technology of prefabricated construction he came up against the pervasive lethargy, incompetence, and outright corruption of Soviet industrial administrators. Talented, energetic, and selfless, Witkin did not fit in. He produced a number of significant innovations in construction technology that saved the Soviet Union millions of rubles and, at a time when it was straining every resource to industrialize, could have saved it hundreds of millions had the socialist system encouraged innovation and enterprise. But his efforts aroused the jealousy of the officials, who saw in him a dangerous adversary who might expose their own inefficiency. The story of Witkin's design for interlocking blocks—less expensive to manufacture, stronger, more heat-retentive, and more stable in unreinforced walls than those then in use—runs through several chapters, and indeed its impact colored much of the author's experience in Russia. Stalled by indifferent bureaucrats, very nearly robbed by Soviet engineers eager to plagiarize his work, the victim of subterfuge, duplicity, laziness, venality, jealousy, and stupidity, Witkin turned to other forces more eager to free the country from its bureaucratic quagmire.


This ordeal forms another unique facet of the author's memoir. For no other foreigner worked as closely with Soviet regulatory and investigatory agencies as Witkin did. Lyons recalled that more than anything else, the interlocking blocks episode was what set Witkin on the warpath. The correspondent had a hand in the events:

Zara was in no mood for compromise. One day I decided to enlist the interest of a prominent Soviet journalist, a brilliant communist named Garri. Garri liked few things better than to smoke out bureaucratic chairwarmers. This case was exactly to his taste. For many days he conferred with Zara, ending up even more indignant than Zara or the U. P. correspondent.

Under Garri's guidance, Zara wrote a letter to Stalin; he cited names, dates, places, documents. I helped edit the letter—it was not a complaint but a matter-of-fact record. Garri undertook to deliver this to Stalin and informed us a few days later that he had done so. Soon a long and vitriolic article by Garri appeared in Izvestiia , in which the American's experience with the building block was the peg for an attack on the offending organizations.

Instantly things began to happen. The whole atmosphere in Soiuzstroi , where Zara was employed, changed. Lost papers were found; conferences were called to consider their contents; the Leningrad trust [the "graveyard of thousands of ideas" to which Muscovite incompetents had dispatched Witkin's reports] hastily recognized that it had made a mistake and essential documents were rushed to Moscow by airplane! Gratifying as it was to see the somnolent bureaucratic monster suddenly awake, the sight was both ludicrous and pathetic. The pervasive indifference had merely been replaced by pervasive fear. Everybody rushed in pitiful panic to make amends. They had heard the crack of the whip....

At last, at last, Zara thought, he would be able to deliver the gift he had brought from California. He would teach Soviet Russia the ABC of modern building! He had the love of Emma. He had the chance to work. It was assumed that Stalin was watching from his Kremlin. Soiuzstroi called on Zara to draw up a detailed plan for rationalizing construction for the entire country, and the war seemed won.

But all of us—Zara, Garri, Stalin—apparently were underestimating the strength of the entrenched bureaucracy, with its stake in the prevailing methods. For two months or so fear agitated the surface of the various departments. Then there was a gradual decline of fervor and everyone slid back into his accustomed groove. Garri was off fighting other and no less important fights. Stalin perhaps considered this problem solved. Once more the American engineer was bruising his forehead against solid walls of habit and hostility. The plans everyone praised were gathering dust; essays he wrote on order remained unpublished. Buildings collapsed precisely as he had warned they would unless preventive measures were taken. He was approximately where he had been at the start.[18]


The battle of the interlocking blocks—one is tempted to name it the battle of the interlocking blockheads—was only the beginning of the war. It came to the attention of important people that Witkin was not merely an engineer but a fighter, a potential heavy gun in the regime's own fight against the bureaucratic disease. Witkin was soon engaged by the powerful Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate—a sort of superministry of investigations responsible for routing corruption and incompetence in all state, party, and economic agencies—and was one of very few foreigners ever to work for that agency. He was possibly the only American to be engaged as an industrial expert by the secret police, the OGPU, for whom he carried out an unprecedented series of assignments at highly secret military construction sites, including an airplane factory, power plants, synthetic rubber factories, and an artificial silk factory. Lyons recalls him mercifully resisting OGPU demands to fix blame on individuals after investigations of delays and accidents: "It was not sabotage, he insisted, but sheer technical backwardness."[19]

His technical prowess earned him appointments to a variety of construction agencies. The memoir records his relations with the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, the Council of Labor and Defense, several trusts, and the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate. It is possible that no other Western specialist had Witkin's level of contact.[20] One assignment was to a commission formulating construction targets for the Second Five-Year Plan (again, he was probably the only American ever to participate in the formulation of the plan), a role that gave him access to the true figures for new construction under the First Five-Year Plan and the projected figures for the second. Based on this work, Witkin spent seven months calculating the actual figures for construction under the First Five-Year Plan (as opposed to the inflated official figures). He arrived at two stunning conclusions: in no year of the plan did total construction exceed that in Imperial Russia for 1913/14; and total physical construction for the entire first-plan period was less than that in America for an average single year between 1923 and 1932. These conclusions were subsequently published in a series of articles for Engineering News-Record in August 1934. Not enjoying the benefit of the theoretical tools and greater information available to economists today, Witkin nonetheless produced a remarkably shrewd analysis.[21]

During his two years of work on housing projects, industrial enterprises, investigatory missions, and economic planning, Witkin made numerous contributions to Soviet construction practice. Most of these were


what we would call today "appropriate technology" solutions to problems of development in a capital-poor country: new methods for employing excavation equipment, a design for very wide span trusses, a new kind of crane, the exploitation of local materials in brick manufacture, a new process for manufacturing wallboard, standardized methods for production of building components, changes in the organization of labor and administration, and dozens of other innovations. Working with almost superhuman intensity, Witkin compressed as much industrial experience into his two years in Russia as many specialists did in far longer stays!

If Witkin's career in the USSR makes his memoir a valuable historical document, the story of his love for Emma Tsesarskaia lends the manuscript the warmth and romance that set it aside from accounts by other visitors. Emma was one of the most popular Soviet actresses of the late 1920s and 1930s. Eugene Lyons and his wife knew her well, for their apartment was a favorite gathering place for Moscow society. In the months before Witkin met Lyons and confided in him his hope to meet Emma, he nearly despaired, for though her picture was to be seen on billboards, in magazines, and in shop windows, she seemed even more remote in the Soviet Union than she had in America. However, through the Lyonses Witkin met an actress named Klavdia Mikhailovna, and when he saw her walking with Tsesarskaia on a Moscow street one day he stood gaping as if struck by lightning. But he recovered his senses quickly enough to greet Klavdia, who then introduced Emma. More than fifty years later Tsesarskaia still remembered the foolish grimace on Witkin's face. She was not especially pleased that he had bumped into them, for she was constantly hounded by fans, especially men, who would sometimes mob her on the street, in the theater, at train stations. Klavdia told Lyons that night, "your friend the engineer behaved as if he were seeing ghosts."[22] Fortunately for Witkin, Lyons's wife felt challenged and arranged a party to introduce the two under more favorable circumstances. Klavdia collaborated by inviting Emma. The party went off well, "none of the other guests suspecting," Lyons wrote, "that they were mere stage props for Cupid."[23]

It is easy to understand why Tsesarskaia was so popular. Critics at home and abroad spoke highly of her intelligent performances, both before and after sound.[24] She appeared in pictures from the age of sixteen (she was born in 1909), after a director of a documentary noticed her in some cuts and was so enchanted that he detailed agents to scour the


streets of Moscow until they found the girl. In 1928 she graduated from the Tchaikovsky Film School in Moscow, having already starred in Village of Sin , one of her most important films. Writing of her beauty many years later, Lyons stated that even the movies did not do justice to "the dark brown hair, the full red lips, the large, dark hazel eyes."[25] Oldtimers today wistfully recall her full figure, straight white teeth, and peasant vigor (one retired officer with whom I spoke hastily qualified his enthusiastic comments at a black glance from his wife). At one point Emma's mother threatened in desperation to move out from their apartment because the phone never ceased ringing, as fans, mostly male, tried to contact her. Emma herself admitted to me in 1989 that on some days she "felt afraid to look in the mirror because [she] was so beautiful." She was of mixed Jewish, Ukrainian, and Moldavian background, and her features suggested to a generation the wholesome beauty of a Russian village girl, the image directors O. Preobrazhenskaia and I. Pravov sought to convey in such films as Village of Sin and The Quiet Don (based on the novel by Mikhail Sholokhov, who fell in love with her during the filming). Tsesarskaia's convincing performance of the heroines in these and other films won her the title "Honored Actress" in 1935. All in all, Tsesarskaia appeared in eighteen films during her career, as well as in numerous theatrical roles at Moscow's Central Film Actors' Studio.

Emma had a personality to match her looks, "at once poised and mischievous," as Lyons recalled, exuding life and warmth."[26] The American writer Waldo Frank, who shortly before Witkin's arrival in Moscow visited Tsesarskaia at her home—a modest, one-room apartment for two, with an oil stove for a kitchen and an unpainted bookcase filled with the classics of Russian and world literature—described her as "a girl soberly devoted to her work, who accepts life as a hard place from which one wins experience, pain, joy, even ecstasy: not 'success.' Yet she is ambitious, she loves to be praised. But when she shows you the 'stills' of her new picture, you think of a school girl rather than of a star, so simple is her anxiety for approval; and of an artist, so true is her standard of values."[27]

With Klavdia Mikhailovna interpreting during their first formal meeting at the Lyonses, it was arranged for Witkin and Tsesarskaia to exchange language lessons (Zara learned fast, Emma even more so, though she has forgotten English today). The story of the increasingly close friendship that grew from these lessons is recounted in these memoirs.


But Lyons bore independent witness to Witkin's account many years after his death: "It was pure joy to see Zara and his goddess together; he so solemn and protective, Emma gay and full of the devil. When the four of us were alone she liked to undo the heavy knot of hair on the nape of her neck and send the dark-brown torrent cascading to her knees."[28]

Before long Zara and Emma were discussing plans for marriage and eventual emigration to California. Lyons wrote that they occasionally involved him in their "earnest conferences." He sounded out his Hollywood connections through diplomatic pouch and raised some interest in featuring the Russian beauty in American films. Witkin wrote repeatedly that he drew strength for his work and his battles from Emma's inspiration, and he spoke of this as "a golden time." But in the late spring of 1933, Zara began to detect a note of anxiety in Emma's voice, subtle changes in her behavior. In Lyons's words,

Emma, until then so full of hopes and plans and mischief, seemed more and more melancholy, weighed down by secret worries. Suddenly she was afraid to be seen with Zara in public, reluctant to visit the Lyonses. Suddenly she talked of the trip to America, until then the cornerstone of their future together, as if it were only a pretty legend rather than a plan. To avoid worrying Zara, Emma Tsesarskaia pretended the old high-spirited gayety, but it now sounded hollow. Because his every effort to pierce her secret made her unhappy, he dared not press her too hard.[29]

It became ever more difficult to see Emma, or even to contact her by phone. Naturally Witkin and Lyons began to fear the worst—that the secret police were putting a damper on the plans of one of the country's most prominent personages to abandon the land of socialism for the capitalist world. Lyons confessed that he had never in his heart really believed that Emma would be allowed to leave. Emma began to plead that "her father" was adamantly opposed to all talk of emigration. Zara understood "father" to mean "OGPU." As his last rare contacts with Emma faded into the past, Zara lost his strength for the war against the bureaucrats and began to talk of returning to America.

At the same time, however, Witkin's value as an industrial troubleshooter had convinced the OGPU of the desirability of persuading him to stay in the USSR. In a series of meetings they offered the inducement of his choice of prestigious and high-paying jobs with sufficient authority to get things done. They tried to persuade him to bring his family and to accept Soviet citizenship (when this part of the memoir


was read to Tsesarskaia she stated that Witkin would surely have perished in the great purges had he accepted their suggestion). Almost despite themselves they showed their true spots. Hinting that cooperation would make relations with Emma easier, the OGPU tried to get Witkin to report on the political opinions of his friends among the foreign journalists and engineers. They were especially concerned with the German architect Ernst May, whose patience had been exhausted in the same kind of battles Witkin had had to fight, and who was preparing to leave Soviet Russia. Witkin exploded at their insolence, reminding them that he was a foreign national and not a Soviet citizen whom they could order about as they pleased. In a conversation with an American consular official in Warsaw (he renewed his passport there in December 1933) he reflected that his outburst might cause difficulties when he returned, and indeed this may partly explain his failure to obtain cooperation during his last attempts to continue work in January 1934.

Witkin had given up on reestablishing the relationship with his beloved Emma. After the futility of his plans to work had become apparent, he left the Soviet Union in February, defeated and brokenhearted. Not long before he left he met the lovely and vivacious pianist "M." at the Lyonses, and he seems nearly to have fallen in love once again: certainly "M." swore to meet him in Paris, promised to join her life to his, and offered to bear his children. Witkin understood that this could never be and left before suffering another tragic romance in Russia.

What did Emma Tsesarskaia have to say about these matters half a century later? I traveled to Moscow in the summer of 1989 to find out. It was not easy to trace her, nor to obtain the interview. She requested that the meeting take place under official auspices, and I was therefore accompanied on my visit by a representative of the All-Union Institute for the Scientific Study of the Film Arts, Tatiana Krylova, who helped to locate Tsesarskaia and took part in the interview. Tsesarskaia consented only to a one-hour meeting, and though she permitted this "hour" to expand into five, it was not possible to see her a second time. She was cordial, though, and in the best Russian tradition offered endless cups of tea while insisting that we eat yet one more candy. Her famous beauty remained, transformed by the years into a ruddy, grandmotherly warmth. Stills from her movies hung on the walls of her tastefully decorated apartment in a central Moscow neighborhood. Learning of the existence of Witkin's


memoirs so many years after the events they recount came as a great surprise to Tsesarskaia, and the passages we translated clearly flattered and moved her.

Tsesarskaia's version of events differed from Witkin's. She told me that although Witkin had been a dear friend, she had not been in love with him. Whereas Witkin spoke of 1932 as a "golden" time of his life, Tsesarskaia referred to it with gentle humor as "copper." Her inability to reciprocate Witkin's love had disturbed her, and she had sometimes wandered the empty streets at night, anguishing "like Emma Bovary" over love's failure. Lacking the strength to disenchant Zara, she had not spurned his talk of marriage; Zara took silence as consent. In May 1933 Tsesarskaia met and fell in love with the man she would marry, Maksim Stanislavskii. Her new relationship was what actually lay behind the change Witkin and Lyons had noticed, not police pressure. Neither of the two Americans ever learned of Maksim or of Emma's subsequent fate. (Indeed, before I made contact with Emma in early 1989 she knew nothing of Zara's life—and death—after his last letter in 1934. Had I arrived half a year later she would never have known of Witkin's memoirs, for she died early in 1990.)

One wonders whether Emma's love for Maksim, the passage of half a century, or other factors may have dimmed the memory of her feelings for Zara in 1932 and 1933. But even if she had been in love with him, there was reason enough to decide against his proposal. Her father was an old Bolshevik and strongly disapproved of all talk of moving to America. Emma was exceptionally close to her family and quailed at the idea of abandoning her brother, ailing with encephalitis. As she explained to me, Zara's promise to build her a villa in California had little attraction for an emancipated woman who was accustomed to rejecting gifts proffered by male admirers. And as a Soviet patriot, how could she have left her country for the mere material rewards of a career in Hollywood—if indeed that career were realized?

Unfortunately, Emma's patriotism availed her little during the terrible events to come. In 1937 the secret police, now renamed the NKVD, arrested and shot Maksim, leaving her alone with a year-old infant. As the "wife of an enemy of the people," she was banned from the movies and evicted from her apartment. She lived only on the earnings from the gradual sale of her possessions (her mother had to fulfill this task because Emma was too well known to sell her own goods on the street).

The following two years were terrible for her, but in 1939 someone


intervened on her behalf in the highest circles. An acquaintance hinted that a lawsuit against the studio that had fired her after Maksim's arrest might succeed. It did, and the settlement brought her a large sum in back pay. Tsesarskaia once again could appear in the movies, and in the last years before the war she starred in A Girl with Character, Make Noise, Little Town , and Bogdan Khmelnitskii . She never did learn the source of this change of fate, but she suspects that Polina Zhemchuzhina, the wife of People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs Vyacheslav Molotov, and a friend of Emma's mother, may have pressed her husband to obtain Tsesarskaia's partial rehabilitation (the stigma of "wife of an enemy of the people" was not formally lifted until Stanislavskii was fully, if posthumously, rehabilitated under Khrushchev).

Emma was evacuated to Central Asia during the war; during our interview she recalled with laughter an occasion when she was surrounded by an applauding crowd at a train station in Tashkent during transit. She continued her career after the war, appearing in five more movies between 1946 and 1964. When Stalin died in 1953, she admitted she "wept like everyone else," having grown accustomed to thinking of him "as a father." One of her girlfriends called her a ninny, asking how she could cry for him after all she had been through. But, in her words, "that's just how brainwashed we were [vot do togo has odurmanili ]." Still, as Tsesarskaia told me, her fate after Witkin's departure had given her good reason to rue the decision not to go to California. To this day she recalls Zara's last, prophetic, words: "Be careful, Emma!"

Tsesarskaia received one short letter from Witkin while he was still in Europe but heard nothing more of him after that. In 1937 the NKVD required Tsesarskaia's presence as witness during their midnight search of a neighbor's apartment; after that frightful experience she destroyed all correspondence from abroad, including Witkin's letter. No other mementos of their time together have survived.

After Witkin left the Soviet Union in February 1934, he and Lyons spent two months traveling through Europe, visiting Berlin, Vienna, Paris, Madrid.[30] The high point of their journey was a meeting with the French novelist and Nobel Prize laureate Romain Rolland in his self-imposed Swiss exile. Rolland was Europe's most prominent pacifist (he abandoned his pacifism during World War II) and a moral beacon for a generation. Witkin once told Tsesarskaia that he had come to Europe to meet two people: her and Romain Rolland. But Rolland, a fellow traveler


for whom the USSR represented a bastion against fascism, was unable or unwilling to comprehend Witkin's and Lyons's tales of state terror, economic chaos, and politically induced famine.[31] Rolland's obduracy was the final disillusionment for Witkin.[32]

Back at home, Witkin picked up his career where he had left it in 1931. Though as a builder he went from success to success, Witkin appears never to have achieved the happiness that seemed within his grasp in Russia. He published his study of construction during the First Five-Year Plan, and in numerous articles for technical journals he recorded his most remarkable engineering accomplishments after returning to America. In Who's Who from the late 1930s he listed tennis and swimming as his favorite activities and music, furniture, and automobile design as his hobbies. He continued to describe himself as a democrat and socialist and an article he wrote in late 1934 on the future of working-class housing in America reflects his continued (though moderated) skepticism about capitalism.[33] Witkin's brother informed me that, despite his belief in social reform, he eschewed all public life. He was married only briefly, but the union was unhappy, and he had no children.

In 1939, Witkin became vice president of the North American Film Corporation, a company whose founders included Horace Sproul, president of the University of California. The company's purpose was to produce and distribute educational films in which people who were famous for having shaped the moral consciousness of their generation would speak about themselves. Although letters of intent were signed with the philosopher Bertrand Russell, the American socialist leader Norman Thomas, the historian Charles Beard, and others, I could find no evidence that any films were actually produced. Interestingly, the Romain Rolland Archives at the Bibliothèque Nationale in Paris contain three letters written by Witkin between April and December of 1939 to secure the novelist and pacifist's agreement to make a film; regrettably, the Archives seem to have lost the responses known to have been written by Rolland to Witkin. In none of Witkin's letters does he refer to his earlier meeting with Rolland or to their correspondence in 1934; their tone remains businesslike, and except for the author's "warmest wishes" for Rolland's health, Witkin indicates no hint of personal friendship.[34]

Zara Witkin died in Los Angeles on 16 June 1940 after a long and painful illness. A business associate later wrote Lyons that "in the last few years, Zara [had] not been the same Witkin I knew before he went to Russia." Lyons had indeed been aware that "though it was not visible on


the surface, his magnificent physique and his robust spirit had been broken down. The Kremlin had conquered an American engineer and idealist."[35]

The survival of Witkin's memoirs is itself a remarkable story. The author probably started them after concluding his articles on the Five-Year Plan. He apparently finished a first version in late 1937, when Lyons made certain suggestions for its improvement, and completed the manuscript sometime after March 1938 (he mentions the trial and execution of Bukharin and other old Bolsheviks) but before the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact of August 1939 (which he does not mention). Both he and Lyons tried and failed to find a publisher for them. Possibly the two were thwarted by the attitudes of Western intellectuals, who in those years turned a blind eye to the evils of Stalinism, dismissed critical reports as reactionary propaganda, and effectively boycotted anyone who bucked this self-satisfied consensus.[36] (Eugene Lyons, Fred Beal, Andrew Smith, John Westgarth, and others have described the difficulties they faced in finding publishers, and the intellectual blacklisting they suffered after being published.)[37] It may have been impossible for Witkin to get a hearing in the New York publishing world. Then again, perhaps the editors he and Lyons contacted failed to appreciate the value of his record or were put off by the wistful, romantic style into which the hardheaded engineer lapses when he writes of Emma, the "Beloved Companion," his "Dark Goddess."

Whatever the reason, after 1938 or 1939 the two copies of the manuscript lay yellowing and forgotten. Not long after his death, Witkin's family burned his papers, leaving only Lyons's photocopy. Sometime in the mid-1960s the economic historian Antony Sutton[38] was in the National Archives in Washington reading the reports of American engineers who had worked in the USSR when he came across a record of Witkin's discussion with the official he met at the American embassy in Warsaw in 1933. Sutton searched and found his articles on the Five-Year Plan, but learned that the author had died and his papers had been destroyed. He was advised to contact Eugene Lyons, who in 1967 gave him the aging manuscript, which had miraculously survived with no significant damage. Sutton subsequently deposited it in the Hoover Institution Archives at Stanford University, where I came across it in the spring of 1988. Only now will Witkin's story finally find the audience it deserves.[39]


The Memoirs of Zara Witkin


To Eugene Lyons, whose soul was fired by the
heroic struggle of the Russian people for liberty—
whose heart was racked by their suffering,
whose hospitable door was open to all,
whose mind went to the core of political and
human mysteries; profound observer,
humanitarian, friend.



The dread shadow of war hangs over the world. At any moment annihilation may fall upon the inarticulate masses. Mankind is divided into armed camps, nation against nation, race against race, class against class. This complex array is the expression of conflicting interests, appetites, ambitions—but above all of irreconcilable social philosophies, Fascism and Communism. Temporary masters have dug up and inflamed every human hatred from the blood-encrusted burial grounds of history. In the impending conflicts humanity will be blasted to its roots and civilization itself will tremble in the balance.

Of the two social philosophies whose champions have seized absolute power in critical sections of the world, Communism is the more significant because it is related more integrally to the life and needs of the masses and because it is an extension of the age-old yearning for a juster and happier world. Communism has altered fundamentally the existing social structure, where Fascism retains capitalism and religion, perverting them to its own ends. Fascism negates and destroys modern culture, arts and education by medieval bigotry and suppression, where Communism—in intention at least—evolves a new culture on the ashes of the old. Fascism and Communism alike demand absolute surrender of the individual to an authoritarian state, which means submission to irresponsible dictators subject only to their own whims or phobias. But whereas Fascism regards this as its fixed way of life, Communism insists that the submission is temporary, for the duration of a transition period.

Naturally it is Communism which has aroused the greatest hopes, stimulated the highest aspirations and engendered the darkest fears and bitterest opposition. By its vehement supporters, its deadly foes and by thoughtful observers alike it is recognized as the greatest challenge of our epoch, socially, economically and culturally.

Comprehension of events in the U.S.S.R. is therefore of the gravest import. The searchlight of exact and impartial investigation is needed to pierce the clouds of ignorance, misrepresentation and hysterical fanati-


cism. Only in the crucible of critical analysis can the new society be tested for the residues of historical truth.

For many reasons the significant changes in the Soviet Union are extremely difficult to understand. Theory is confused with practice, professions are confounded with behavior, wishful thinking puts blinders on otherwise sincere students. The enormous country stretches from Poland to the Pacific Ocean and from the sub-tropical shores of the Black Sea to the frozen wastes of the Arctic Circle, embracing all varieties of climate, topography and geology. The variety of human beings and cultures is equally vast.

Americans may appreciate the complexity of the Soviet land better by recalling that our own country is only a fraction of the size of the U.S.S.R. With our diversity of races and stages of social development—the Negro, the "poor whites" of the South, the foreign-born settlements, the most modern urban sections and backward mountain folk—the difficulty of a simple summary of the United States is apparent. How much more difficult in the Soviet Union, much larger and with even greater internal disparities and contrasts.

The dark and terrible history of the peoples who compose the Soviet nation, so remote, shrouded in legend, marked by centuries of bloody oppression, is a profound source of misunderstandings. A knowledge of that fearful past and its heritage in the customs and psychology of today is required to grasp the present tumultuous events, many of which flow inevitably from the dark channels of that grim history.

Language itself is a serious barrier to comprehension of the Soviet enigma. Entirely distinct tongues and dialects, springing from diverse and unfamiliar directions, are spoken by the races inhabiting this gigantic land. If speech were untrammeled, it would be difficult enough to follow through the maze of languages. But the heavy hand of dictatorship strangles the normal speech, distorts it into evasions and subtle allusions beyond the mental compass of the ordinary Western observer. Real meaning is conveyed in accents and overtones.

Casual and incompetent observers, dominated by private prejudices, draw diametrically opposite conclusions from the same observations. In the U.S.S.R. the obvious is almost never true. Only a few commentators have lifted the curtain which obscures the underlying forces and trends; the rest have merely made the curtain more opaque. Professional newspaper correspondents, concerned with the event of the moment, have rarely clarified the baffling contradictions. Under the stultifying throttle


of censorship they are obliged to limit their investigation and their expression. Moreover, the vast social enterprises—industrialization of a great agrarian continent, changes in property concepts, etc.—are a complicated technological process with which few reporters are trained to cope. Failing to understand the forces, masses and quantities involved, their reports have often misled the outside world.

A striking instance was the exaggeration of the magnitude of the First Five Year Plan, which was continually reported as equalling decades of American industrialization and which echoed uncritically the fantastic claims of the Soviet leaders. This great mistake had the widest political influence. Only by a realistic understanding of that plan could they have found the secret of the Soviet Government's foreign policies and the explanation for the dreadful sufferings of the Russian people through shortage of food and goods and from the horrors of political tyranny.

Evaluation of a social order rests ultimately upon its effects on the human mind and spirit. These cannot be adequately conveyed by description; they must be experienced. It is necessary to participate in that society's constructive life and to share its hardships. Only by tasting the suffering can the motivating aspirations and the driving forces beneath the surface be apprehended. This is the unavoidable task of the sincere student of a new society.

When a new order emerges from the seething cauldron of history, it is first approached in the light of its political characteristics. Underlying these outward forms, however, is its technological foundation, which vitally affects its policies and determines the conditions of its survival.

This has been especially evident in the Soviet Union. War Communism was called forth by the industrial breakdown of corrupt and incompetent Czarism. The New Economic Policy in turn was wrung from the Communist leadership by the necessity of stimulating production until a socialist program could be set into motion effectively. The First Five Year Plan, encompassing the four-fold objective of national defense, self-sustaining heavy industry, collectivization of agriculture and the education of the masses, was entirely dependent on the available industrial base and the solution of the problem of production.[1]

This problem of production was at the very heart of the Soviet situation. The terrible penalties imposed by the Soviet State upon its people for minor property offenses were the direct consequence of the breakdowns in production. Mass exile of millions of peasants, starvation inflicted upon


entire regions, "trials" openly and behind closed doors which sent thousands to death and hundreds of thousands to forced labor camps—all of these were desperate measures to spur critically failing production. Solution of the problem of production would have minimized such horrors of suppression and punishment and state slavery, which have disfigured the Soviet Union before the world and put the very philosophy of Communism in jeopardy.

The dream of creating a happier world was the impelling urge which drove me to participate in the vast reconstruction of the shattered country. A new life was to be reared, more beautiful, more comradely, more safe than mankind had yet known. That dream touched me in my boyhood. It seemed to me bodied forth in reality when the Bolshevik Revolution came in my young manhood. My love of construction, a certain natural talent for exactitude, made engineering my chosen career and I was fortunate enough to advance far on that road at an early age.

And it was precisely the engineering and construction aspects of the Soviet undertaking which fired my imagination. The abstract dream had become a problem in building and I felt that I therefore had a special contribution to make. The idea of going to the U.S.S.R. and donating such powers as I possessed was in mind at an early stage in the Revolution, and it acquired a more tenacious hold on me with the announcement of the Five Year Plan early in 1929. Instead of vague enthusiasm, I felt prepared to bring a concrete service to the common task—it seemed to me the task not alone of the Russians but of humanity.

Later the heroic beauty of a Russian woman came to symbolize that dream for me. She seemed to me the incarnation of the splendor and creative life of the revolution. The story of my love for this woman is woven into this chronicle, and it has, indeed, a profound relation to the entire Soviet scene: in it were mirrored the best and the most sinister elements of Soviet life. But it was only the symbol. The substance was the socialist future, the anticipated fraternity in labor, the new social order in the making.

My experience in Russia was essentially a struggle against the Soviet bureaucracy. I found that the release of the creative power of the Russian people was dammed by a wall of administrative bureaucracy, forced by its very nature to attempt the obliteration of the individual. This was the antithesis of the best principles of efficient engineering administration, and in the U.S.S.R. it destroyed the essence of responsibility in control. Few observers could penetrate beneath the dissembling surface of official-


dom to watch the grim combat between individual constructors and the entrenched bureaucracy—my chronicle, I trust, will give the reader some appreciation of this gargantuan struggle. In my own share in this struggle, just one episode in a great drama, my love for that Russian woman was a sustaining influence.

My two-years' assault on the ramparts of bureaucracy became, through a series of circumstances, an epitome of the larger struggle—almost a classic example of the problem involved. Ultimately the official press, and Stalin himself, took a hand in the complicated events. In a strange land, under foul living and working conditions, surrounded by deadly inertia, the unequal fight of one foreign engineer against a system of administration was carried on. Suspicion and misrepresentation, procrastination and distortion of plans, theft of ideas freely offered did not stop me. Indifferent to material rewards, careless of health, answering only the call of my conscience and my creative social urge, I persevered. But I deserve no special credit. I was one of many, Russians and foreigners.

The sombre saga of the creators pitted against a bureaucratic State has not yet been sung. If this book sounds the motif in that great dissonant symphony of Soviet life it will help to bring a little order out of the confusions around the Soviet experiment. It will help others to distinguish between the Communist ideal and its perversions in practice. Unless the Soviet lessons are learned, the investment of life, energy and idealism will have been a waste. The interests of the Communist dream itself call for open-eyed understanding and those who would obscure the truth are enemies of the dream, no matter what political labels they may wear.



The Russian Revolution of 1917 exploded a world weltering in agony and altered forever the course of human society. Far away, on another continent, in San Francisco, California, those fateful events stirred me vitally. Our home was one in which social conditions were constantly discussed. With sympathy and horror I watched the terrible struggles of the Russian people beset by civil war, foreign intervention, industrial chaos, paralyzed transport, plague and starvation. Their heroic endurance evoked my admiration. During the tremendous birth of the Soviet Union, I entered the University of California at Berkeley. Superpatriotism and provincial bigotry, the poisoned fruits of the war, permeated academic halls as they did the nation. War-time hysteria had run a frightful course. Monstrous penalties were imposed upon those whose humane scepticism questioned the cynical official aims of the conflict.

After the thunder of the battlefields came the terrible mockery of the peace. The false idealism, for which so much blood had been uselessly spilled, was revoltingly revealed. Still lower depths of misery awaited the helpless, disillusioned masses.

The post-war defeat of liberalism in the United States and the ensuing corrupt, anti-social governmental administration hastened the degeneration of an already infected economic order. I came to know the brutal injustices and waste, as well as the wonderful productive capacity, of American capitalism. No academic idea, this knowledge was the result of my continuous work in civil engineering, begun at the age of fourteen.

Concurrent with the years of education went work in civil, mechanical, railroad, structural and municipal engineering, giving me a broad acquaintance with the wolfish competition of industry and commerce which cared nothing for the betterment of human life, looking solely to its profits.

In 1923 I entered the construction industry: the very heart-beat of the nation's growth. The ebb and flow of building work, its unwholesome financial organization and perversion by predatory capital, were


indicators to me of the flaws in the nation's economic machine, destined to collapse after a holiday of optimism and speculation.

Warnings of the approaching danger met with violent, irrational responses, deepening my conviction of the fundamental necessity for social reorganization. With others, awakened to the threatening catastrophe, my eyes were increasingly turned to the vast Soviet socio-economic plans for the control of an entire nation.

In this period, I addressed an engineering society on the Russian Fifteen Year Plan, the general program of national development that was to include the First, Second, and Third Five Year Plans. On this occasion I met the manager of the Amtorg Trading Corporation,[2] the commercial agency of the Soviet Government.

Some days later, this official requested me to act as technical consultant to Amtorg. In this capacity I assisted in the selection of qualified construction engineers for the Moscow subway and in the repackaging and distribution of Soviet candy and caviar, which were imported in bulk. I also arranged for the use of some Soviet granite in our building industry. Finally, I prepared a comprehensive program for the construction of cold-storage warehouses throughout the U.S.S.R. The Amtorg manager frequently discussed with me the enormous potentialities of applying in the U.S.S.R. methods of pre-fabricated housing which our organization had developed.

The vast panorama of Soviet engineering possibilities unfolded before my eyes. I saw its far-reaching significance. For the first time in history a great nation was rationally remolding itself. The Soviet Union planned to reconstruct human society. A nobler human life was to be developed on a vast new technological foundation.

Engineers were vitally needed. Their creative powers, perverted by the crass exploitation of capitalism, were to be used for the benefit of society. This great call to the socially minded technical brotherhood of the world rang in my soul, a challenge to the best energies of mind and imagination. Never before had such illimitable horizons opened to engineers. Spiritual and social elements of such work would, I felt, surpass any material compensation. My decision was made to participate in it. If it fulfilled my anticipations, I proposed to bring over a staff of the ablest of my technical colleagues, who could make untold contributions to the new life.

Meanwhile an incident occurred of great personal importance which spurred my plans. In Los Angeles, at the end of 1929, a series of excep-


tional foreign moving pictures were shown. Several were from Soviet Russia.

The sincerity and depth of the portrayals, their historical significance and the brilliant realistic photography under the direction of Eisenstein, Pudovkin[3] and others, impressed me profoundly. They showed strikingly the tremendous possibilities of the moving picture in the cultural life of a people, when removed from the commercial sphere.

One night I went with my sister to see one of these Soviet films. We waited impatiently through the preliminary part of the program. Suddenly the great organ rolled out the poignant chords of Tchaikovsky's Symphonie Pathétique and the screen flashed forth the rising sun of the Amkino [Soviet-American Film Company] announcement—a Soviet film called Her Way . A fleeting moment for listing of the cast, author and direction, and the drama opened. A pre-revolutionary wedding scene. The swinging censer of the priest, the chanting choir, the excited young girls in attendance, the handsome, brutal face of the bridegroom. The lowered head of the bride. A doleful shaking of heads among the old women. They whisper that the groom had beaten his last wife to death. The swift searching glance of the bride in the direction of the whisper.

As the bride raised her head, I rose involuntarily from my seat, possessed spontaneously by the deepest emotions. My sister in wonder grasped my hand and looked inquiringly at me. I found no words to convey my thoughts. In that dark, beautiful face on the screen, I had read some deep, instinctive riddle of my own destiny. I felt a singular, irresistible force emanating from that lovely countenance.

The film proceeded to unfold a drama of heroic power. At the marriage feast, the groom surreptitiously strikes the bride in resentment at her refusal to accept the drunken attentions of his brother officer. Immediately she leaves the banquet-room. Her infuriated husband rushes out after her. Down the village street she strides, he following. She passes through her gate and swings it shut behind her. The maddened husband kicks it off its hinges and stamps into the house. He seizes a vase and dashes it to the floor in wild anger. Glancing over her shoulder she slowly draws the marriage hood from her head. Then turning towards him, she approaches. Her terrible eyes hold and quench the fury in his. Suddenly she strikes him a powerful blow in the face.

War! Mobilized peasants, in ill-fitting uniforms, stand, sombre resignation on their faces. Their women cling to them, weeping. Children look on wonderingly. Alone, rocklike, she stands while her officer-husband awk-


wardly approaches her for the farewell kiss, which she receives on the forehead without response.

The old, the young and the women carry on in the village. There is much work to do on her farm; plowing, sowing, carding, spinning. Determinedly she does this alone, sometimes, in utter weariness, after the day's task, sinking to the ground.

Winter passes. Spring comes. Spring in Russia; the first green buds, the early flowers, lambs gamboling in the warm sunlight, streams flowing, children playing. The villagers dance. Tragedy is forgotten. The church bells are joyously rung. A soldier comes riding into the village with a message. A detachment of Austrian prisoners is being brought to be distributed to the farmers for work on the land. The officer in charge arrives and the assignment begins. She shoulders her way through the crowd and points at a' tall, strong prisoner. "I want this one!" she calls out vigorously. The other women smirk, but the commanding officer assigns Jan to her.

All through the summer they work together, and in their work learn to love each other deeply. The gossip by the stream's edge, where the women beat their wash, and the anger of her father-in-law only deepen that love. But the Revolution comes to destroy their quiet. She does not understand why her lover should abandon her and their babe for another war.

Three years of civil war follow. Every village is torn against itself, and this dark woman heads the Red group in her own village. The fighting sweeps that village into its orbit. The Red troops are ten kilometers away. But from the other direction the Whites are coming. Who will go to warn the Red troops? No one dares. With swift decision, she goes herself. Running all the way she stumbles hours later, utterly exhausted, into the Red lines. The sentries give her the field telephone connected with the commander. At headquarters the commander is shaving. She hears his questioning voice and recognizes it. It is Jan!

Weariness is immediately forgotten. Loving speech pours from her. Suddenly he asks of their child. Stunned, she remembers that she left him in the village, and the Whites are coming. Resolutely, she starts back for the village, knowing that torture and perhaps death await her.

The Whites march into the village. They are led by her long-absent husband. He installs his staff and calls a council. His father talks over the situation with the White commander and his officers. They feast and drink.

Into this revelry she comes. There is a dreadful encounter with her


husband. That night she sleeps in the barn with her child, marked by her husband's brutal boots.

But her warning to the Red soldiers has done its work. Through the misty dawn comes the charge of the Red cavalry, led by Jan. The Whites are asleep after the night's carousal. Officers jump out of bed at the sudden shots. Too late. The Red riders sabre their enemies. The White commander rushes out of the staff house, sees the situation at a glance and fires his revolver at Jan. Jan falls; his riderless horse canters slowly off. Immediately, the White commander is cut down.

The fight is over. The villagers come out of hiding. She stands surveying the carnage. Someone indicates to her the body of her husband. She regards it, unmoved. Then another points towards Jan's corpse. She approaches it. Bending over, she recognizes him. Her face is contorted by terrible grief. All night long she keeps lonely vigil over her fallen lover. In the gray dawn, the Red soldiers form to ride onward. In the front rank, rifle strapped to greatcoat, she rides with them.

We filed silently out of the theatre. Possessed by the wondrous beauty of the heroic role we had witnessed, it was impossible for me to speak.

What was the strange power of this unknown woman in a faraway land? Of what nature was the vital force flowing from a fleeting image which stirred the depths of my consciousness?

The secret inner drama of the mystic life remains impenetrable to those who know only the world of ponderable elements. For those who sense the mysterious currents below the surface of material existence, however, there are oceans of strange vital force, transcending reality in power and significance. Men and nations are swayed by this force.

Attuned to its subtle manifestations, my sister remained silent as we glided homeward in our car through the night. Watching thoughtfully, she understood that some crisis of the spirit was taking place. She had long known of my great interest in the U.S.S.R. and my plan to go there.

The exaltation of the evening began to assume definite, incredible form. Floods of energy poured in upon me. I had no desire to sleep. With closed eyes, I reviewed in vivid memory every incident, every gesture of the drama. Here was the perfect symbol of the heroic new woman of revolutionary Russia. In some strange manner, I suddenly felt my destiny bound up with her. She seemed the bridge between the social order in which I had been born and reared and another in travail in a distant land, her country. Between the actual woman and her role there could be


no differentiation. In my mind they were one. I must cross continents and oceans and find this woman even at the ends of the earth. The woman's name was Emma Cessarskaya, but in my mind she figured as the Dark Goddess.

The next evening I returned to the theatre to see the performance again. In the greatest excitement I awaited the opening of the unforgettable first scene. At last, the Pathétique and that glorious dark head! Struggle and sorrow, pain and death, over which her image rose in loveliness and indomitable will on her tragic way.

I sought out the manager of the theatre. We plunged into a discussion of the Russian films. Our conversation centered on Her Way . He quickly understood the profound meaning I had seen in it. In his dress clothes, he got down on his hands and knees on the dusty floor and, seizing a pair of scissors, cut up all of his display cards with photographs of the great actress and presented them to me.

To an American periodical which reviewed foreign films, I wrote of Her Way:[4]

Through the entire range of the drama, from the iron-clad, soul-stifling traditions, the religious rites and marriage enslavement, to the hopeless desolation of war, rending simple men from obscure villages to distant mutilation and death, there is a sodden, engulfing fatefulness. With vast and terrible steps the sombre forces of old Russian cruelty, oppression and degradation stalk through a setting of pastoral beauty and happier peasant folkways.

Over this dark scene soars the indomitable courage of the glorious peasant-woman whose natural majesty dims the splendor of queens, and whose beauty lifts up the spirit in adoration. The profoundly moving characterization Cessarskaya presents is beyond technique. The elemental nature of the central character is so powerfully revealed that it becomes the embodiment of the epic struggle of a great people, up from darkness, fear and misery, towards self-realization and light.

Only a woman steeped in the tumultuous currents of New Russia, only a woman through whose mighty heart those currents flowed, could portray such vital emotions with such fidelity. Never shrinking, running forward to her poignant destiny, illuminating the whole scene by the splendid fire of her dauntless spirit, she becomes the symbol of the glorious woman of the new race!

Under the moving influence of the characterization I had seen, I wrote to the unknown actress, employing for introduction an incident from the life of Richard Wagner, recorded in his Reminiscences .


As a young man he attended a performance by the celebrated singer Mme. Schröder-Devrient. Rushing out into the night, on fire with the beauty of the music, he addressed a letter to the great diva, declaring that if he ever produced any creative work, it would spring from the inspiration he had received that evening. Twenty-five years later at the premiere performance of Die Meistersinger , Mme. Schröder-Devrient, then an old lady, and a sponsor of the opera, drew from her bosom a yellowed letter and handed it to Wagner. It was the one he had written in his youth!

Beginning with this story, I told of the tremendous impression the film had made upon me and the significance of the life of New Russia I had found in it. I alluded to my own work and to my plan to come to her land to participate in its new constructive tasks and of the hope of seeing her.

I did not receive acknowledgment or answer to this letter.

Each night the film was shown, eight altogether, I returned to see it. When the last rending climax had faded and the inexpressibly sad finale of the Pathétique had died away, with that face engraved forever on my consciousness, I went out into the night. Between me and all I had known there was now a widening gulf; before me, the way which was to lead across land and sea, through nations and peoples, over barriers of strange languages and customs. To Russia!

Russia, land of horror and hope, darkness and the new light of social rebirth, misery and music; Russia of upheaval, of vast construction, of stern struggle, of ecstatic joy, of incredible suffering. Russia of tragic destiny. Russia of heroes and martyrs, bearing like her, in their glowing, unconquerable spirits, the undying fires of the future.

From that moment I ceased to live in my immediate existence. My real thoughts and my deepest emotions were already embarked upon the long journey to her land.

The weight of responsibility often crushes out the finest spontaneous expressions of our lives. Freedom to respond to the deepest impulses is the privilege of rare and blessed souls. The great Garibaldi, coming into the harbor of Montevideo, after crossing the ocean to aid the revolutionary Uruguayans, saw through his field glasses the face of a girl in the dense crowd that lined the shore. He immediately lowered a boat and, landing, found her and married her. It was she, the beloved Bianca [Anita Ribeiro da Silva], who rode with him through all the deadly battles of the Uruguayan struggle for independence.


Cutting the ties of an established professional life was a severe and extended process. Many personal affairs in my existence also had to be brought to conclusion. But the vision gleamed unwaveringly before me.

During this period I made every effort to study the experiences of those who had been to the Soviet Union. Among them I talked with Arthur Powell Davis, the distinguished reclamation engineer, whose bitter comments on the paralyzing effects of the bureaucracy were disturbing.

So swiftly did the tide of economic collapse in America run, that when I was ready in 1931 to begin work in the U.S.S.R. I felt myself not merely an individual but the forerunner of thousands of men who had helped to build America and who stared desperately at a blank and hopeless future. With me went their hopes for a new way, which I was to test in my social and technical exploration.

For several years American technical journals had recorded my work in construction. When my approaching departure to the U.S.S.R. was announced, several journals and a section of the liberal American press designated me as their European engineering correspondent.

At length, all duties were completed, all ties severed. I stood on the threshold of a new life, in the search for social construction and heroic beauty.

On the evening of March 1, 1932, my family and friends gathered at the station in Oakland, California, to bid me farewell. The wheels began to turn. The dear faces vanished slowly into the dusk. I was alone. Before me, across the world, Russia!

Through the country of my birth I journeyed. Over the stupendous Rocky Mountains, across the great western desert, empty waste land. Then vast rolling prairies with only an occasional town, for three days. Then cities and men—St. Louis, urbane, quiet, spacious. Chicago, enormous, brutal, bustling. Pittsburgh, dirty, ugly, contorted. Washington, lovely, dreamy, courteous. Philadelphia, friendly, nondescript, sprawling. Then New York, terrific, monstrous perversion of the creative power of Man; opulent, miserable, hard and suspicious, with the artificial beautification of a harlot; the metropolis of the nation, the symbol of its material power and social bankruptcy.

On my way, I encountered everywhere tremendous interest in the U.S.S.R. Executives of great corporations dropped their work for hours to discuss the possibilities of the Soviet Union. Artists, musicians, mechanics, farmers, teachers, newspapermen, all eagerly conjectured as to


the future of the strange land. In Chicago I met Derham of the McDonald Engineering Company, who had constructed several grain elevators in New Russia. He had a direct practical acquaintance with the country and especially appreciated the large scale of Soviet operations and the splendid Soviet theatre. In New York I met men with thorough knowledge of Soviet conditions, who had worked and travelled extensively there—Charles Muchnic, Dr. Walter Polakov, Dewey of International General Electric and Hugh Cooper of Dneprostroi Dam fame.[5] These men possessed lively social sympathies and cultural appreciation as well as great administrative and technical experience. They were keenly interested in Soviet development. Occasionally they dropped hints about the impassible barrier of Russian bureaucratic control. This served only to intensify my secret determination to break through.

At midnight, March 23, 1932, the great ship Bremen stood out to the Atlantic, bearing me away from my homeland to Europe.

Across the Atlantic, I encountered more baffling reactions to the U.S.S.R. England seemed remote and little interested. In Paris, a new note was introduced of profound, though dispassionate, cynicism. Work without the stimulus of personal financial aggrandizement did not appeal to many Frenchmen. The officials of a great French construction company attempted to dissuade me from proceeding to the Soviet Union, offering me membership in their firm.

Le Corbusier was hopeful of architectural development in the U.S.S.R. He had submitted a celebrated plan in the competition for the Palace of Soviets which had not been returned to him despite repeated requests. I could not then fully appreciate his unconscious humor in asking me to find these drawings for him somewhere in Moscow.

Later in Moscow, in 1932, I was asked to superintend the construction of this building which, however, was not begun until 1936. The plan finally adopted was the multiple-birthday-cake Russian design, reflecting little of the advance of modern architecture, and which resembles legendary sketches of the Tower of Babel.[6]

From France I went to Germany and saw its magnificent new cities of social housing, the fruit of cooperation between the Social Democratic government and the labor unions. Still maintaining culture, science, music, literature and the arts, Germany was staggering under intolerable economic burdens. Already the agony of travail was upon the country soon to give monstrous birth to the brutal dictatorship of the Nazis.



In Stockholm on the evening of April 22, 1932, I boarded the steamer for Trelleborg, across the Baltic Sea. As soon as I had disposed of my luggage in my stateroom I came up on deck. For several weeks I had been among strangers, hearing unknown foreign tongues. The great uncertainties of the future in Soviet Russia weighed heavily upon me.

The gray dimness of the heavily overcast sky intensified my dark mood. Sad and lonely thoughts oppressed me. I went into the writing salon and began a long letter to my sister. From time to time I glanced up from my writing. Through the doorway of the lounge I noticed a girl observing me intently. She was embroidering some fabric which she held in her lap. At length I finished my letter, rose and walked out on deck. Alone, in the fore-peak, I gazed ahead into the night as the ship plunged onward. It was the future of time rather than of route which I sought to discern. For some hours I remained in the darkness, unable to shake off the sense of approaching crisis. Then I went below and was lost in troubled slumber.

Early the next morning, I was on deck. The sun glowed in myriad reflections from the sparkling blue water. The ship was moving at reduced speed through a thin ice field, cutting the white cake like a great knife. Passengers talked excitedly, pointing out the beauty of the scene. Leaning over the rail I watched the evanescent water absorbedly. After some time I turned. The girl who had watched me in the writing salon the previous evening was at my elbow. She had a round, rosy, merry face. With a friendly smile, she said something to me in a language I could not understand. I replied first in English, then in French and German, but to no avail. She only continued to smile in an amiable fashion but obviously did not comprehend anything.

With a sudden thought I took a map of the globe from my pocket and traced the course of my route across the world. She grasped what I meant. Taking my pencil she drew me the line of her own short course


from Stockholm to Helsinki. With considerable effort she conveyed to me that she was Swedish, that she worked as a telephone operator and that she was bound for Finland for a vacation. This was a matter of a half hour and many eloquent gestures. Frequently, in mock despair over our inability to understand each other, we broke into gales of laughter. As the ship approached the shore we were joined by another girl, a Finn. She spoke Swedish and was able to converse with my acquaintance. It was, however, no easier for me. Three pairs of hands now tried to fill the gaps in our linguistic powers. Finally, by a supreme effort, I succeeded in arranging a walk together through the little town after landing. We would have to wait three hours for the train to Helsinki. This would give us ample time to see Trelleborg.

The ship docked, and we walked down the gang-plank to the quay. Our exploration began, a girl on each of my arms. We stopped in front of every shop we saw. I would name objects in the window in English, French and German; then the Swedish girl would name it in Swedish; and the other, in Finnish. This gave us a working vocabulary. Laughing at our strange sounds and efforts, we proceeded through the village. We bought ice cream and postage stamps, changed money and lunched—all on our pooled interpretative powers. The time sped by unnoticed. Glancing at my watch accidentally, I realized that we had only a few minutes to catch our train. We raced through the streets to the station and jumped aboard our car. A moment later, as we panted on the platform, the locomotive started, for Helsinki!

The line led through the Finnish countryside, with quiet fields on either side. Sombre northern forests appeared in glimpses at the base and slopes of distant hills. Late in the afternoon we reached Helsinki. I said farewell to my two new friends. The great railway station, designed by Saarinen, dominated that section of the city. Austere, powerful, massive, it embodied the spirit of the country. It seemed to grow out of the soil rather than to have been built upon it. I climbed to the tower to obtain a view over the city. For a long while I watched its red and gray buildings, its squat hills and surprisingly modern business section. As dusk fell, I came down. The station had a modern-looking barber shop. I entered, to be shaved. It was the cleanest shop I had ever seen. So skillful was the barber and so delightful the sensation of that shave that I went unrazored for two days to preserve the smooth, cool recollection. In the


station restaurant, I got a fine dinner at an absurdly low price (the American dollar had not yet been devaluated). Then I went for a stroll through the city.

The shops were modern and well stocked, the streets well paved. Modishly dressed people filled the sidewalks. I was struck by the comparative absence of beggars and prostitutes, then so prevalent throughout Europe. I returned to the station by a circuitous route. The train was already made up. I entered the sleeping car which was to take me to Soviet Russia during the night. Only one other compartment was occupied in my car. Everything was characteristically clean. I stepped into the corridor for a moment. Just then another passenger entered, a tall, blond man with clear blue eyes in a handsome, intelligent face. He greeted me in English. When I responded he asked politely if he might talk with me. I invited him into my compartment.

He was a German electrical engineer returning from five years in Chile, where he had constructed a hydro-electric power plant for a German company. The financial collapse of the company left him stranded. Charmed by the striking beauty of the country, he remained for three years, voyaging up and down its extraordinary length. A passionate lover of Nature and a skilled photographer, he had recorded Chile in several hundred magnificent photographs which he intended publishing in a book on the country. He showed me these pictures, interspersing accounts of his experiences in the Andes.

Profound dislike for cities and for most of the activities of so-called civilized men showed in his remarks. His desire to be alone in the wilds interested me deeply, as did his keen delight in danger, his indifference to the passage of time, and his emotional life away from the society of womankind.

On one occasion, while ascending a glacier, he had lost his footing and had fallen into a crevasse, breaking both of his legs. With the help of an Indian guide, he had crawled and been dragged for days before reaching a doctor. That moment of terrible danger just preceding his disastrous fall he treasured as a beautiful, fascinating memory!

Once in an airplane attempting to cross over the Andes, the motor failed at a critical instant. Losing height rapidly, the plane headed directly for the mountainside. Death stared him in the face! A hundred yards from the icy peak the motor unaccountably started again. By the narrowest of margins, the plane soared safely over the crest. In those


frightful instants when annihilation was imminent, he had experienced, he said, "a sensation of the most intense joy." "In no phase of our lives in cities," he concluded, "can we find the depth of vital reaction possible in the world of Nature, especially in the presence of great hazard, pitting skill, experience and a fit body against natural forces."

He carried with him a collection of gold nuggets representing his earnings while in Chile. These he had made into jewelry. Concealing them about his person, he had passed several frontiers and customs inspections. The reason for his return to Europe was the hope of finding his mother. Long ago she had lived in a little Finnish village. This village was on our route; early the next morning we would reach it. For seventeen years he had not seen his mother. He had written to her from Chile, but had received no reply. His letters might not have been delivered. She might have gone away from the village long ago. She might even have died, he murmured. He could not know.

He asked me if I would rise early the next morning when we arrived at Vyborg to photograph the beautiful railroad station, designed, like the one at Helsinki, by the celebrated Saarinen.[7] I agreed. We parted for a short rest in what remained of the night. Before dawn he politely knocked on my door. It was five o'clock. A few minutes later the train drew into the station and we descended.

We stood outside in the chilly spring air. Magnificent in the rosy dawn, the station reared its splendid mass of dark red Finnish granite, simple and powerful in outline. High up on the parapet was a statue of a polar bear, in white marble. The rays of the rising sun bathed the statue in light, leaving the bulk of the building in vanishing shadow. My companion caught this effect in the photograph.

In the spotless station dining-room we had a good breakfast and then boarded our train. Soon it was moving again, for me, towards the Russian border; for him, towards he knew not what. Was his mother alive? Was she in good health? Had she received his letters? Had she left her village? These possibilities we revolved in silence while we spoke of other things.

As the train plunged onward and the time approached when we were to reach the hamlet which was his destination, I sensed the tension which my acquaintance tried to conceal. His fine face glowed with excitement; he spoke with moving affection of the mother he had not seen for


seventeen years. The train began to slow down. He collected his bags. This was the moment for which he had crossed the world. What if he did not find his mother? He said he would go back to Chile. I went with him to the platform of the car, ready to help with his baggage. The train came to a stop at a tiny wooden station. He jumped off and looked eagerly around. In the distance a few houses dotted the white fields. Some slow-moving peasants appeared from behind the station. The locomotive whistled as if in impatience to be off. At that moment, a little old lady wrapped in a woolen head scarf came around the corner of the building. The engineer glanced, then leaped towards her. They were in each other's arms. I threw his bags off the car. The wheels began to revolve. From the moving steps, I watched mother and son until they vanished from view.

As we neared the Soviet border at one of the little stations, several new passengers came aboard. We were soon talking together. They were big, friendly, slow-spoken men, Swedish engineers engaged in the construction of the new power plant near Leningrad. Our main topic was conditions in Russia. In their sharply critical remarks I detected a tinge of bitterness. There were subtle warnings, too, which, at that time, I was at a loss to understand. At the last station in Finland they got off and purchased oranges, chocolate, butter, sugar and some other food. This seemed strange to me. I asked them why they were bringing common food into Russia. They smiled and suggested that I do the same.

The train lurched along approaching the frontier, where the Finnish border guards made their final inspection. In five minutes we would be on Soviet territory! Slowly the train moved onward. With suppressed excitement I awaited my first view of Communist soil, of the country which was my decade-long destination and the land of much of my social, engineering and personal hopes.



Suddenly the border! The train stops. The Soviet guards come on board. They are roughly but warmly dressed. They make a quick inspection of luggage. The passengers are asked if they want to change any money into Soviet currency. The significance of this is not clear then. About the little station clusters a group of people, clad as I have never seen people clad before, in rags and tatters of furs. They move slowly. They are slovenly. Neglect and disorder all about. The station house is broken down. Pieces of equipment lie scattered in the snow. It is a saddening sight.

An hour's wait, then the train begins to move again. We are approaching Leningrad! A few miles of frozen marsh-land and we pull into the vast station. All out! The station is unbelievably dirty, crowded, bustling. A young woman emerges from the crowd wearing a badge, indicating that she is a guide of the Intourist.[8] She asks me if I am Mr. Witkin, explains that she is to be my guide while I am in Leningrad. She arranges with the porters for my luggage, then conducts me to an automobile. It takes us through the city to a hotel.

There I am registered and she shows me to my room. The window appears never before to have been opened. When a worker of the hotel staff comes at my request to unfasten it, showers of dust fall. But I insist and it is finally budged. With fresh air provided, even though it is freezing, I am ready for the next step. This is to go to the Intourist office. At the request of an American woman friend, I have brought a fashion magazine from Paris for the woman who was her guide in Leningrad when she visited Russia. I find the guide in the office. She is overwhelmed when I present her with the gift. The women of Russia seek avidly after such fashion periodicals. They are tremendously interested in foreign dress styles and cannot get any literature on the subject.

A round of visits begins. I am given the choice of museums or scientific institutions and new constructions, such as workers' houses, clubs, etc. As I walk along the banks of the Neva, considering the strange


scenes with my guide, I have an opportunity to study this splendidly conceived city, arbitrarily imposed on unhealthy marsh-land by the ruthless will of Peter the Great. It is now in disrepair. Much of its former splendor is gone. Hordes of people crowd the sidewalks. They are wretchedly clad. A large number are of short stature. I, who am only of middle height, seem a tall man in Leningrad. We cross the city in a tram. It is incredibly crowded, the people packed in so densely that it is difficult to raise one's arms. The entire mass of occupants of the car is pushed steadily towards the front and there disgorged. To go faster or slower than the general rate of motion is almost impossible. Thus, one is usually forced out of the car before one's station is reached or overrides one's station before being able to get out.

Several of the famous buildings called to my mind historical events which transpired there in revolutionary days. My guide showed me her former home, overlooking the Nevsky Prospekt (now the Prospekt of the Twenty-fifth of October). On the day of the decisive struggle between the Bolsheviks and the Provisional Government, in 1917, she lay prone on the floor while bullets flying through the window traced patterns on the opposite wall of the room.

We visited the Optical Institute, where some remarkable experiments were being carried on under the severe handicaps of lack of proper laboratories, equipment and materials. Some of the research workers spoke English and French, besides Russian. The enthusiasm for their work, under the difficult conditions, was remarkable. One young mathematical investigator was preparing for a trip abroad, with the greatest anticipation. The men generally looked undernourished and thin and were badly clothed.

We went from there to the university. A vast building with badly worn wooden floors coming up in splinters. Hundreds of students trooped back and forth. Many smoked. Cigarette ends were strewn carelessly on the floor. My guide shook her head sadly: "Our people are still uncultured. They have no conception of responsibility for social property. But they will learn!" she said. A group of students were working on a baffling mathematical problem. They showed it to me. I suggested a new solution. They were delighted.

Leaving the university, we went to a communal dining-room in a great factory. It was a new building but already showed deterioration and marks of bad construction. Many flaws and cracks were in evidence. The confu-


sion and noise in the dining-hall was extraordinary. Many of the boys and men sat at table with their hats or caps on. There was neither linen nor napkins. The tableware was iron and aluminum, rough and unfinished. The crockery was heavy and coarse. Food was served in an indifferent manner. It was limited in variety and its odor was unappetizing.

In the evening we went to a cinema where we saw a film showing Communist activities in Germany. Wishing to know the surroundings in which a cultured girl lived at that time in Leningrad, I had expressed a desire to see the home of my guide. She hesitated at my request. Later she told me that she had reported my request to the headquarters of Intourist and had had to wait an entire day to receive the required permission.

The next day we went to her home. On the way she expressed fear at going home alone at night. This was the only time in Soviet Russia I ever met a manifestation of this kind. Later, as I lived on in the country, I found that it was the safest place I had ever known in the world. Physical assault and violent, criminal attack are extremely rare. A child may go through the darkest streets at night, unconcerned.[9]

We climbed five flights of stairs to reach the floor on which my guide lived. At the end of a dark corridor we entered her room. It was quite large and furnished with old, comfortable pieces, the upholstery of which was threadbare. There was a piano. She explained that it was often too cold to remain in her room, since heating was irregular, so she sometimes stayed with her parents. There was no bath in connection with her apartment.

That night I was to take the train for Moscow. With my guide I returned to my hotel and had dinner. Then she assisted me in transferring my luggage to the automobile. She had my ticket ready and went with me to the station. This was not the last time I was to see her, however.

The next morning (April 26, 1932) I arrived in Moscow. I had planned this in order to make arrangements for my work before the May Day holiday. I went at once to see the General Electric Company officials, to whom I bore a letter from Mr. Dewey, their manager in New York. They put all of their facilities at my disposal with unlimited courtesy. With their friendly assistance I tried to reach Mezhlauk, vice-president of the State Planning Commission.[10] We telephoned to his office. His secretary answered that he would arrive in a half hour. We called again. This time it was in an hour, then in two hours, etc. This went on for three days. A straightforward answer is difficult for a Russian. His is an Oriental,


indirect mind. It functions in devious ways, not easy for a Westerner to understand.

I communicated also with Dr. Joseph Rosen, European head of the Agro-Joint,[11] to whom I had a letter of introduction. His response was instant and cordial. He invited me to his home for dinner that evening and sent his automobile to my hotel for me because of the difficulty for a stranger in getting about the city. He had gathered several Soviet scientists whom he wished me to meet. Many questions about their work were discussed in relation to the general economic situation of the world. Whenever my French failed in these conversations, Dr. Rosen acted as my interpreter. He manifested considerable enthusiasm and hope in the Soviet social experimentation.

I had allotted five days before the May Day holiday for conferences with several Russian leaders to arrange for my work. Dr. Rosen assisted me, but like the efforts of my General Electric friends, his, too, came to naught. The Russians were unable to conduct any business for several days in advance of the holiday. It was impossible to see any of the important officials. I was finally forced to abandon my plans for concluding negotiations for my work and devoted the remaining time before May first to seeing Moscow.

One day, in my hotel, I encountered the film director Eisenstein, with whom I had become acquainted in Hollywood. It occurred to me that he could arrange a meeting with Emma. I did not speak of this to him then.

Through Intourist, I visited several institutions which they wanted to exhibit to tourists. Among them was a large, old factory engaged in the production of rubber goods. On the autobus trip to this factory was a young American named Lawrence Kessel, a graduate of Harvard University travelling around the world. Intourist officials had told me of him and had informed him that I was journeying through Russia on a route similar to his. Neither of us felt any interest in this information and neither sought the other out. Accident, however, threw us into adjacent seats of the Intourist automobile on this occasion. The friendship which quickly developed resulted in our travelling through Russia together. Years later, in the United States, after my return, it meant further happy association.

The few days before the holiday passed quietly. We visited schools, factories, nurseries, apartment houses and theatres. Our guides were none too intelligent. The tourists were frequently misdirected with humorously wasteful results. The tourists were generally of two types. The


majority were uncritically enthusiastic about everything, listening avidly to long speeches by the directors of the institutions which we visited, scarcely ever going beyond the doors of the directors' offices to obtain a first-hand view of what was actually occurring. These were the people who rushed home two weeks later to write the latest books on Soviet Russia, explaining all about industry, agriculture, education, child care, medicine, transportation, the army and propaganda. Propaganda they came in contact with, though they did not realize it.

The other type of tourist was equally uncritical in condemnation of everything because of immediate, personal reactions to the omnipresent discomfort and dirt. Neither type had any extensive knowledge of the history of old Russia. They had no clear conception of the fundamental objectives of the dictatorship, its advanced social thinking, and its brutal suppressions.

May Day, 1932, dawned clear and bright. As early as seven in the morning troops were being concentrated on the streets leading from south of the Moscow River, across the bridge and into Red Square. By eight o'clock the entire central area of the city was blocked off by lines of mounted militia. It was impossible to pass the guards without special permission or documents. Several of us, with tickets for entrance into Red Square, were assembled and led into the Square at about ten o'clock. We stood on the sidewalk on the east side. The Square, approximately four hundred feet wide and three-eighths of a mile long, was already filled by troops, at rest, in massed ranks. Across the Square, the leaders of the Soviet Union—members of the Political Bureau, Stalin among them—stood behind the parapet of Lenin's tomb. The Turkish delegation visiting Moscow were with them. Foreign correspondents and diplomats stood on the gray granite tribune to the north of the tomb. Enormous portraits of Lenin and Stalin were attached to the fronts of buildings draped with flaming red greetings to the proletariat of the world and stirring calls to revolutionary action.

For some time the troops stood at ease. Suddenly a commanding voice rang out. The soldiers instantly stiffened to attention. From the north side of the Square came Voroshilov,[12] the Commissar of War, on a gigantic black horse. He reined in and wheeled his charger before the great tomb. Facing the massed battalions, in ringing tones, he administered the Soviet oath of allegiance to the assembled troops. With a tremendous shout, they pledged themselves. The great rolling cheer began with the battalion furthest to the north, one after another taking it up, until the


combined power of the entire mass of the soldiery swelled it to a mighty roar, never to be forgotten. Overhead, hundreds of fighting planes swept across the sky, the thunder of their motors shaking the earth. After a few minutes, the deafening noise died down. The voice of Commissar Voroshilov was heard speaking in the name of the workers and the soldiers of the Soviet Republic, proclaiming the peaceful intentions of the U.S.S.R. to develop its industries and to better the living conditions of its people, but, fully prepared to repel any foreign attack.

He called upon all the workers of the world to aid the Soviet Union and to establish workers' governments everywhere. As his voice died away, the great rolling cheer swept over the Square once more.

The military bands stationed in the Square blared forth a stirring march. The battalions sprang into motion. Rank by rank in brisk precision they marched past the Lenin Mausoleum saluting their leaders in the reviewing stand. After the infantry had passed, there ensued a lull, the air full of expectancy. Then, in a terrific charge over the stony pavement, galloped the cavalry. So headlong was their rush that several horsemen were thrown from their mounts and ridden down in the press. Stretcher-bearers quickly carried them off. Next came the light artillery, followed by the heavy motorized field pieces. Then, sinister, formidable, the ponderous tanks rumbled. For almost two hours the military divisions passed with heavy tread in review through Red Square. An impressive demonstration of the fighting power of the Soviet Republic!

Then came the civilians. Thousands upon thousands, they poured in from the streets north of the Square. From factory, farm and school they came; men, women and children; armed, without uniforms, carrying banners, slogans and the records of their industrial achievements during the year. Nowhere in the world was there such a parade as this! Hour after hour they marched by. Late in the afternoon, caught up by the enthusiasm, and wishing to get a closer view of the crowds, I, too, marched with one of the worker groups. It was almost twilight, long after the leaders had left the Square, when the last contingents shuffled by, tired, with broken ranks, and dissolved into stragglers.

When not otherwise occupied I have a subconscious habit of counting. It had not been difficult to estimate the number of the military because of the regularity of their formations. The civilians were not so easily counted. However, by estimates of number in ranks and the speed and time of march, I arrived at an approximate total of the paraders.

That evening, I dined with friends at the Metropol Hotel. Among


them was a new acquaintance, a Communist official. Quite innocently, I asked how many people they estimated had marched in the day's demonstration. Three of the party guessed. Each said a million. I was surprised at such unanimity. "Do you know that three hundred thousand would be a fairly close estimate?" I asked. The atmosphere of the room changed instantly. There was a dead silence of extreme tension. Then, like a whiplash, came the voice of the Communist official. "That's counter-revolutionary mathematics!"

Startled for an instant, I laughed.

"Mathematics," I said, "is independent of social orders. It is vital to know the truth."

"Truth," sneered the Communist. "You do not understand truth as we do. With you it is only a bourgeois concept. With us it has a different meaning. 'Three hundred thousand' means nothing. When we go before the world and say a million workers marched in Red Square today, that means something. People understand the word 'million.' That is truth, from our point of view!"



Immediately after the holiday I called on Mikhail Borodin,[13] then Assistant Commissar of Labor. It was the same Borodin who had acted as Moscow's agent in the Chinese revolution, endeavoring to direct it into Communist channels. This failure had lost him his former power and prestige. At this time he was also editor of the Moscow Daily News , the English-printed Soviet newspaper.[14]

I found him in his office at the commissariat. Tall, broad-shouldered, a huge bulk of a man, in clothes of military cut, with thick, dark hair and sweeping mustaches (which caused me to nickname him "the Walrus," a name that stuck), he was an imposing figure. His voice, deep and resonant, echoed down the corridors. A remarkable linguist, he carried on conversations with half a dozen people of different races clustered about him, answering each in his own tongue. Despite his impressive and authoritative manner, I felt an undefined weakness in this man. His office was disorganized and chaotic, notes, papers and data strewn about in hopeless confusion. After a few moments' conversation with me he made an appointment to see me at his other office in the Moscow News building.

To this meeting I brought my professional record and a series of technical articles descriptive of the construction I had done in the United States. These were carried in a very fine, large, American portfolio of shark-skin leather. While Borodin conversed with me, his eyes rested on my leather case. He seemed fascinated by it. He glanced hastily at the literature, then telephoned to Comrade Nemetz, head of the All-Union Construction Trust (Soyuzstroi), arranging for me to meet Nemetz the next day. Further investigation into my work, Borodin said, was unnecessary. It was obvious from the record, he said, that I was well qualified. He seemed eager to conclude the subject. Something else gripped his attention. Leaning over, he picked up my portfolio and turned it over in his great hands with childlike interest. Smiling appreciatively, he said, "A fine bag! An American bag, yes?" When his uncontrollable curiosity


about the bag had been appeased, Borodin turned to me and asked me to come back to him after I had spoken with Nemetz.

Next day I went to see Comrade Nemetz. He received me in his large office in the building which housed the All-Union Construction Trust. Nemetz spoke excellent English, having lived and worked in the United States for seventeen years. His manner was direct and quiet, exhibiting a gentleness and understanding which later I came to know as rare among Soviet officials. I told him that I was on a month's tour of the Soviet Union to familiarize myself with the far-flung construction development. He suggested that on my return to Moscow I arrange with him for work in a trust under his direction. He mentioned three possibilities: construction of the new Palace of Soviets, to be erected on the banks of the Moscow River; the Standardized Housing Trust, designing and building apartments throughout the Soviet Union; or a construction trust in heavy industry, building industrial and power plants and housing. He asked me to talk at once with Comrade Smollin, then in charge of the architectural and engineering design forces for the Palace of Soviets.

Nemetz' manner inspired confidence. We fixed a definite date for meeting on my return to Moscow, and I left to find Smollin.

The Palace of Soviets was to be a giant edifice for use as a meeting place for the national congresses of the government and of the Communist Party. This structure was to be erected on the banks of the Moscow River, near the Kremlin, on the site formerly occupied by the great Church of the Redeemer, which had been demolished to make way for the new building.[15]

Acrid controversy had raged abroad over the destruction of this church. Some held it to have been an exceedingly beautiful structure, a great architectural monument. Magnificent mural paintings, they said, had decorated its walls. It had been built to commemorate the battle of Borodino, in which the Russian armies broke the advance of Napoleon's legions. Its demolition was described as an act of sacrilegious vandalism.

Among the adherents of this view was Arthur Powell Davis, the distinguished American reclamation engineer, who had worked in old Russia under the Czar and also for the Soviet Government for several years prior to 1932, engaged in designing a giant irrigation project in southeastern Russia.


Other observers held that the church had occupied a position on the river bank of unwarranted prominence; that it had been rococo in design and had stood in the way of the city's proper development, necessitating its removal. The truth probably lay between these two extreme views.

The Soviet authorities took no part in the controversy. They merely demolished the church.

I found Comrade Smollin in his office next to a vast drafting room occupied by almost two hundred young Russian engineers and architects busily engaged in drawing and detailing, preparatory to the construction of the new building. After some preliminaries he asked me to outline the organization of the necessary designing group and construction staff. I did so, recommending a much smaller staff than he had planned to use. He expressed his desire that I superintend the construction of the building when it was ready to proceed.

I felt a special interest in this building. Two years before, the Soviet Government had sent a commission abroad to investigate auditoria and amphitheatres throughout the world. When the commission came to Los Angeles, it was directed to me by the Amtorg Trading Corporation branch there, which I had assisted on various technical matters. My construction company had erected several large structures of this nature, which the commission wished to see. I also arranged inspections for them of buildings in San Francisco and Oakland, through my professional colleagues there. They had been grateful and had proffered me their assistance if I ever came to Russia.

My discussion with Comrade Smollin led me to conclude, however, that the building would not be started for several months. I had no wish to wait in idleness. I therefore decided against associating myself with this project. At this writing more than four years have passed—the building plans have not been completed and no construction has yet begun.

With letters of introduction from the Amtorg officials in the United States, I went to see Comrade Gasparian, the head of Standardzhilstroi (the Standardized Housing Trust). In the United States I had organized and directed a group of architects, engineers and technicians which had developed advanced methods of pre-fabrication of standardized housing. This work held a particular interest for me. Gasparian suggested the possibility of my joining his staff after my trip around Russia, during


which I intended to inspect many of the new housing developments. The matter was left in abeyance until my return to Moscow.

On May 4, I left Moscow on the night train bound for Kharkov with my guide-interpreter and Mr. Kessel, my young American friend. My tour had been arranged months in advance in the United States. Mr. Kessel was travelling third class, at about one-third the cost of my trip. Nevertheless, we were given the same accommodations, which were those to which he was entitled. On the Kharkov train bedding was not obtainable, so we had to sleep "hard," i.e., on the open board shelves which served as berths. Some food or our last-minute exertions had given us an unusual thirst, and we matched the Russians that night, drinking ten glasses of tea apiece, to our own astonishment, as well as that of our travelling companions.

At Kharkov the next morning, we were met by two young women guides and began a strenuous inspection of the city. First we went to the great House of Industry, a series of office buildings connected by bridges, from the roof of which there was a splendid view of the entire region. Various points of interest were shown us, and we acquired a general acquaintance with the surrounding district. Our next visit was to the Safety Institute for Mining, in which there was an exhibit of apparatus and methods for preventing accidents. We had one objective above all—the famous Kharkov Tractor Plant[16] —and insisted on seeing it, despite various objections which were raised. Finally our automobile was headed towards it and we rode out of the city. As we rode, I was impressed by the bad road which made transportation difficult to and from the plant for both freight and passengers. After half an hour's ride, we pulled up in front of the plant.

At that time the Kharkov Tractor Plant had been in operation several months. Production was claimed to be above capacity, which was one hundred tractors per day.

An air of confusion clung to the plant. Finished machines were scattered about the loading yards. Completed tractors were lined up awaiting shipment, exposed to the weather with their wheels already rusted. To our disappointment we were not permitted to go inside. We were informed that it was a "rest-day" for the plant and that no work was going on.

Near the factory a group of large apartment houses had been built to house the workers, engineers, foreign mechanics and consultants em-


ployed at the plant. We asked to see them. The recent rains had converted the dirt roads into mud, through which our car wallowed. This condition prevailed right up to the buildings. There had been no grading nor drainage around them. Mud and dirt had been tracked into the buildings. The staircases and walls were soiled. Though the houses had been "completed" the previous year, rubbish and waste material remained in disorderly piles on the site. In one of the buildings we met an American engineer. He gave us some insight into the conditions prevailing in the tractor plant. Among other serious defects, there was little critical inspection or proper manufacturing standards. Much spoilage resulted and many defective machines were sent out which should have been rejected. I came away with the definite conclusion that the plant was operating well below capacity, with considerable waste and bad work.

In Moscow, a month later, on my return, I made this observation to Eugene Lyons, the American correspondent. Several days afterwards, the Kharkov Tractor Plant and several of its managers received the Order of Lenin, the highest Soviet decoration for outstanding performance and meritorious work! When this was announced, I was astounded. Lyons probably doubted the accuracy of my observations. But sixty days later, the Kharkov Tractor Plant was subjected to rigorous investigation by a commission of the highest officials in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry for failure to fulfill its program, bad workmanship, waste of material, etc. This incident was followed by several other such cases, especially the high award of honors to the Kursk railway, which soon after broke down and almost ceased operation. Frequently, it seemed like the blind judging the halt.

Our guides, feeling the need of relief from our critical industrial inspections, took us to a theatre that evening, where we heard the celebrated Madame Yauntzen sing folk-songs and native themes. One of the famed artists of the Soviet Union, she seemed to us to exaggerate her interpretations. This resulted in an occasional series of wild walls, rather than musical expression. Our guides were disappointed at our lack of enthusiasm for the singer. They told us that she had sung much better on other occasions. We hoped they were correct.

The next day we drove out to see the stadium. It was situated in the environs of the city. It contained a full-size football field. There was ample evidence of a great new interest in sports and of a large scale usage of the facilities which, however, were elementary and obviously insufficient.[17]


On our way back to the city, we stopped at a commune for homeless children. It was one of several such communities organized by the O.G.P.U., the State Political Police.[18] It was a revelation of the contradictions in this strange land. The O.G.P.U., notorious for its devious methods, holding life and death powers over the populace, keeping them in a state of abject fear and terror, had carefully gathered up the thousands of homeless children, orphans of the Great War, the Revolution, and the ensuing civil and interventionist wars, and had built here a small city for them, where they might learn to do useful work and be restored to health. A period of difficulties and severe adjustments had followed. Many children had run away. They were caught and brought back. Again and again they escaped and were recaptured.

Finally the O.G.P.U. hit on the idea of self-government for these "wild" children. Given responsibility and authority, their wits and talents had come into play. The commune took firm root. The children imposed their own discipline. Now, all was in running order. Electric drills and various mechanical tools were manufactured in the plant which they operated and which was equipped with the best modern machinery. The premises were noticeably in better condition than many of the adult factories we had already seen. Some of these young boys showed exceptional skill in the operation of their machines. In the noon hour the children's band played for us in the auditorium of the building. Never had I heard more spirited music. Their rendition of the Russian martial songs thrilled us. With flushed, happy faces, after the impromptu program, the boys and girls crowded around us, asking innumerable questions. The director and our guide tried unsuccessfully to divert them.[19]

In the city again, we went to visit the local soviet building.[20] One of the officials was a woman who manifested great pride in the institution. As we entered I noticed that the heavy front door had no stop and swung against the plastered wall, which the knob had shattered at that point. I showed this to the lady official and asked her why this was neglected. It was their own building. It was quite easy to place a stop and prevent this damage. In my country such a condition would not be tolerated, I said. She smiled sheepishly and shrugged her shoulders.

We found such wanton neglect habitual as we travelled further. In a letter to America at that time, I wrote:

The physical aspect of the cities is dreadful. Stench, filth, dilapidation batter the senses at every turn. Under the surface of this repellant outward appear-


ance lies a more dangerous condition. Communism has destroyed private property. As yet it has signally failed to erect a counter-balancing social concept of property. Buildings, valuable machinery, equipment and apparatus are neglected. Little maintenance is visible. Deterioration is rapid and soon irrevocable. Greater communal discipline is urgently needed. Pride of workmanship is practically non-existent. There is no critical inspection. Of the hundreds of workers' apartment houses which I have inspected, from Leningrad to the Black Sea, there is hardly one which I would not condemn for grossly faulty workmanship, mechanical weaknesses, failure to provide drainage, walks and streets. Many Communists are naively proud of their political formulae and resounding phrases. Accomplishments seem relatively puerile. All are taking care of the Five Year Plan. Few have time to do their own job.

On May 6, we went to Rostov-on-Don. Again we travelled second class. Bedding was not available. This time there was no tea either. We made the best of our uncomfortable situation.

In the morning, on our arrival at Rostov, we were taken to a hotel which was being refinished. The corridors were being painted. Throughout the entire building the floors of the corridors were covered with several inches of sawdust. The rooms were full of dirt and dust tracked in from the halls. I watched the workmen a while, then began to talk with them. I suggested that the work be carried on in sections. In this way only a small part of the floor at the position of the immediate work would be covered, requiring very little of the sawdust and shavings which were being used. The rest of the building would be left clear and clean. The sawdust could then be moved to a new section. This was a new idea to them. They were amazed and delighted, and set about transforming their method of work.

Our tour of the town began with the great agricultural machinery plant. Starting with the foundry, we went through each department. One of the conveyor lines was out of commission, broken. We inquired about it. Various explanations were made. Each outdid the other in fantasy. None admitted the obvious fact of breakdown. Piles of metal and broken machinery stood in the open, without protection, rusting away. However, many completed combines and other machines were standing on the loading docks ready for shipment. The woman guide conducting us through the plant had married an American engineer. He was chief inspector of the plant. Apparently he had succumbed to Russian habits. Instead of being at the end of the production line, checking machines, we found him in the office. Comfortably propped up in his chair, he told us


about many of the conditions in the plant, in a guarded fashion. Occasionally his wife stopped him when he came too near the real causes of the confusion we had seen. We stayed until lunch time.

That afternoon we visited a maternity hospital. Mothers lay in small, separate rooms, which were fairly clean and orderly. The bedding was coarse and the furnishings meager. In the operating room the plumbing was dirty. Old bandages, clotted with blood, lay scattered about on the floor. No attempt was made to dispose of them. It occurred to us to find out how the food supplies were kept. After much hesitation and debate we were reluctantly conducted to the basement. It was poorly lighted and badly ventilated. A huge mass of butter lay uncovered on a wood board, open to flies and vermin. It was typical of the condition of the rest of the food.[21]

Several hours' ride from Rostov-on-Don was the famous State Experimental Farm of Verblud, second largest of the enormous State farms in the Soviet Union, since then cut up into smaller units. It had acquired considerable reputation from the writings of visiting journalists and tourists. We were eager to see it. The Don River was then in flood-stage and had inundated the region around Rostov.[22] It was impossible to reach Verblud by automobile. We had to take the train. At midnight we went down to the railway station. Owing to some confusion on the part of our guide, we were led to the side of the station opposite to that where our train was standing. With only a few minutes remaining before departure, we had to run almost a quarter of a mile through the crowded station, carrying our heavy luggage, over platforms, climbing through five or six trains standing on parallel tracks, before we reached our own in the nick of time. Exhausted, we settled down on the dirty, hard boards of the third-class car for another night of travel.

The continued failure of Intourist to provide proper travelling accommodations broke down my patience at this point. As soon as we arrived at Verblud, though I was grimy, sleepy and hungry, I first telegraphed to Intourist headquarters in Moscow. In my message I warned them that they would receive a telegram from me from every point thereafter at which their agents would fail to make proper arrangements; also that I would hold them strictly accountable for the difference in cost between the accommodations received and those I had paid for. Our guide, in terror, tried in vain to dissuade me.

It was not yet dawn when we were brought to the hotel at the adminis-


trative center of the farm. This building, then completed only one year, already showed marked deterioration. Plumbing defects, particularly, annoyed us as, tired and dirty, we tried to wash and secure a few hours' sleep.

We intended to make a thorough inspection of the farm. Its management methods were of especial interest to us. To allow ample time for the officials to begin their work and get out the necessary daily orders, we did not appear at the director's office until ten o'clock. It was locked! No one was there! We waited three-quarters of an hour. Then the bookkeeper came. I recalled the reputation of the manager, Margolin, who had been so lauded in descriptions of this farm in several books on Soviet Russia.

A few minutes later the assistant director arrived. It was then about eleven o'clock. This official invited us in. We were seated and he began to tell us about the farm. We asked about the distribution of various crops. He pointed to some maps which hung on the wall. They were in colored crayon showing different crops under cultivation. This graphical study pleased me. It seemed systematic. Here, at least, was a sign of order. We decided to go into the fields to see the cultivation of some particular crop. Spring wheat was selected, shown in green on the map. The assistant director hesitated peculiarly. We pressed our guide for explanation. There was a short, lively colloquy between her and the assistant director. When the conversational smoke cleared, we discovered that the map was two years old and bore no relation to the present crops in the fields! The assistant director could not tell us of their actual position or extent.

"Take us to any part of the farm where work is in progress," I said. "I want to see the methods in use, the machinery employed and the way of handling the farm employees in collective cultivation."

Our guide and the assistant director entered the automobile with us, and we began a strange tour of the farm. We dashed erratically several miles in various directions, but found no one at work! The fields were deserted! The director seemed quite as astonished as we were. Evidently he did not know what work was in progress nor where. An hour was spent in this futile search. Finally, we sighted three tractors at work, and a foreman on horseback. As we drove closer, the foreman rode up to us. The sides of his horse were torn and bleeding. I asked why the animal was ridden in such a condition. The foreman, grinning cynically, informed us that the wounds were caused by the sun! Even our guide seemed disgusted by this callous brutality.


The extraordinary emptiness of the fields amazed us. We were told that plowing was being done at night because of the fierce midday heat. The tractors, therefore, must have carried lights. We asked to see them and were conducted to the spot where the machines were parked. All the headlights were broken! Not one was in operating condition! The assistant director hurried to explain the visible idleness. He said that this was a "rest-day." But some people were at work, we observed. Other excuses for the paralysis which hung over the farm were tentatively put forward. As quickly as we discovered that one was false, another was suggested.

Work was actually at a standstill. That was the fact. There was nothing to do but return to the headquarters of the farm. There, we looked through the machine-shop where tractors and other farm machinery were repaired. It was in indescribable confusion. The floor was piled high with broken parts, metal cuttings and oiled waste. Several machines lay about in various stages of dis-assembly. Lathes, presses and other machines looked dirty and uncared for. It was a disheartening sight.

Across the road, a gang of workers were moving a tractor and wagon out of the field, through an opening in the fence. By amazing maneuvering, the driver of the tractor had managed to get the wagon wheel hooked in the fence. Vociferous debate alternating with sudden hysterical attempts to move the wagon resulted almost in uprooting the fence. This was too much for my silent endurance. I walked over to the men and directed them to get a strong plank. With it we wedged the wagon over so that it cleared the fence opening. Then it was pulled through triumphantly.

By this time it was well past the lunch hour, and we hurried to the dining-room. A toilet, too foul for use, opened directly into it. The odors did not enhance the appetite. On the great Verblud State Experimental Farm of the Soviet Union, we had anticipated some wholesome farm food. Soup, milk and coffee were served to us. The soup was made of the customary sour cabbage. The milk had a peculiar taste. After one swallow we rejected it. The "coffee" was a grain substitute, none too palatable. Soon after the meal we suffered mild stomach disturbances. That was the last straw. We decided to return to Rostov at once and to go on to Dneprostroi.

The great dam across the Dnieper was our next objective. Waiting for our train afforded us another day in Rostov. A school for formerly illiterate women was shown us. The alertness of these girls and their eagerness to learn was remarkable. Afterwards we cut loose of our guide


and took a long walk through the town. In the Torgsin store,[23] which sold only for gold, silver or foreign currency, we purchased some dried prunes and dried apricots. Back again in our hotel, we opened our packages and found they contained all prunes!

The Soviet sales "system" in stores is an interesting example of unshakable bureaucracy. To buy an article, one must first stand in line and indicate the article desired. Then one is obliged to get into another line to pay for the purchase. Finally a third line is entered to receive one's purchases, which are already wrapped. No inspection of the wrapped article is possible. In this amazing process, without sense or reason, the purchaser frequently gets what he did not buy. There is no recourse. In the U.S.S.R. the customer is always wrong.



Entraining from Rostov in the evening, we travelled all night again in third-class cars without bedding. This time Intourist officials had added their final touch. They had failed to provide even platskartnye (tickets entitling one to a seat). The train was crowded and we were forced to stand up all night long. More tickets had been sold than there were places on the train.

The Rostov Intourist manager had promised repeatedly to communicate with Dnepropetrovsk, the way point to Dneprostroi. This also had not been fulfilled. There was no one to meet us at the station. Our worried and distracted guide had to pay an outrageous fare for a droshky[24] to take us to the hotel. The Intourist office was closed. No information could be obtained about trains to Dneprostroi. Consequently we had to remain in the town the entire day before proceeding on our journey.

Dnepropetrovsk, formerly Ekaterinoslav, proved intensely interesting. As we strolled on the main street in the hot, dusty afternoon, stores with some actual goods on display attracted our attention. There was more color and individuality among the people in this district than we had encountered till then. This was the Ukraine.

All our fresh linen had been used up on our hurried, dirty travels. When we returned to our hotel, I washed the collars of several shirts and stretched [starched?] them carefully. Then I placed them in the sunny balcony of the hotel room to dry. This expedient would have to suffice me a few more weeks. Exhausted from our sleepless travelling, we fell asleep in the afternoon.

That evening we caught the train for Dneprostroi. Again we had no places to sit. At the first stop I telegraphed grimly to Intourist in Moscow. Our guide was terrified, fearing that my message might have severe consequences for her, but I assured her that the responsibility was not hers and that I would see that it was placed where it belonged.

Early the next morning, we arrived at the town which had been built


near the great dam on the Dnieper River. We were brought to the hotel over unpaved roads from which the hot, dry wind blew up continual clouds of fine dust.

Our first thought was to wash off the accumulated dirt of several nights and days. No towels were to be found in our room. With the guide, I went to the manager's room and rapped on the door. No answer. I pounded while the guide pleaded with me to desist. Suddenly the door was opened and an angry face appeared. "Are you the manager?" I demanded. He nodded affirmatively. "We want towels," I said. He looked blankly at me and made no answer. I repeated my request, the guide translating, and the manager expostulating in Russian. He was furious at being awakened as early as 9:30 in the morning!

At this my accumulated irritation of many days exploded in a terrific denunciation of the Intourist officials, here, en route, in Moscow, everywhere. We would not move one step, I said, until the manager produced towels. Suddenly he spoke to me in English! We found this evasiveness frequently in the U.S.S.R. But we got the towels.

The luxury of that bath—even though only cold water—the first in a week of filthy travel! We dressed and ate hurriedly, eager to see the great dam. It was a mile away through the dusty streets. By the time we had walked to the river's edge, the fine dust had filled every exposed pore. We dug it out of our eyes and looked about us.

The wide river surged against the great concrete wall and broke into clouds of foam. It was a tremendous and inspiring sight. Locomotive cranes moved slowly and irresistibly over the dam. On the farther side was the enormous power-house, under construction. Transmission towers, like great steel giants, stalked away into the distant hills. For some minutes I watched the scene. Then we started over the dam, across the river, carefully observing the concrete form-work, conveying systems and the construction equipment in use. Much of it was of American make. Various tools lay scattered, half buried in the sand and debris. In mid-stream we met a lovely phenomenon. The water pouring through the sluice gates in great cascades caused a continual spray which the wind caught and blew back over the dam. This cool, refreshing mist enveloped us in the midst of the burning, dusty day. A perpetual rainbow gleamed in this vapor-cloud.

On the other river-bank we visited the community which had been built for the foreign engineers on the work. It was composed of separate cottages and offices for the administration. Then we entered the power-


house, descending deep into the bowels of this gigantic building, to watch the setting of a giant turbine. Then we came up and went back across the river over the dam. We had seen the greatest project of the new Soviet industrialization and electrification program, Dneprostroi!

Our route was now to the south. We collected our luggage for the next trip, which was to be by the night train to Sevastopol. There was no passenger automobile available. A light truck was to take us to the station. We bounced several miles over rough, stony roads. On assurances that a dining-car was attached to our train, no food had been given us. The exact hour of the arrival of the train was unknown. We simply had to wait until it came. Hundreds of people, ragged, lying or sitting in the dirt, some in mud, with their belongings in sacks, also awaited some train to carry them elsewhere. They were almost indistinguishable from their bags.

About an hour later our train arrived. Fearful of another telegram from me to Moscow Intourist headquarters, the officials gave us first-class accommodations in an "International" (Pullman) sleeping-car. This was the first time since the night we had left Moscow that we were to ride in a berth. With profound relief and keen anticipation of a good rest we entered our car. But the dust of Dneprostroi had saturated my nasal passages. Soon after we pulled out of the station, my nose began to bleed profusely. This night, too, was lost to sleep. I had to get down from my berth half a dozen times to stop the flow of blood.

We were now advancing into southern Russia. Despite the physical hardship of the trip, the dreadful sights, and the annoyances and irritations we were subjected to, a salubrious quality of the air gave us a sense of physical exuberance. In the morning we arrived in Sevastopol.

While waiting in front of our hotel for our automobile, I watched a gang of workers attempting to raise a heavy swinging scaffold of crude, wooden construction to the top of the building. They pulled on the ropes, forcing the scaffold up against the front of the building, scraping its way and smashing windows as it went. At the second story level there was a large hotel sign. Unless special care was taken to pull the scaffold out and around this sign, it would be struck and damaged. Oblivious to possibilities, the workmen forced the scaffold up along the face of the building and dislodged the sign. It crashed to the sidewalk, nearly killing two men. This incident was of special significance. A year later, the government paper, Izvestia , in a long article dealing with my work, then


the rationalization of the Soviet construction industry, began with a description of this incident.

Among the institutions which we visited in Sevastopol was a splendidly equipped hydro-therapy clinic, which had been built before the Revolution. Large numbers of workers, both men and women, were receiving the special treatment afforded by this hospital. There was a higher standard of cleanliness and order in this clinic than in any other medical institution we had seen up to that time in the U.S.S.R.

One of the most interesting sights in Sevastopol is a great cyclorama built and painted on top of a hill, overlooking the city, near the point where the Russian troops met the onslaught of the Turks, French and English allies in the Crimean War. It realistically depicts a terrible scene of carnage. The hill itself, flower-covered, formerly a great formal garden, though now neglected, is one of the loveliest spots in the Soviet Union.

Among various buildings shown to us was a large workers' apartment house under construction. As in most of the new Soviet structures, the sad results of poor material and indifferent workmanship were glaringly evident.

Next on our route was Yalta, the famous summer resort to the west, on the shore of the Black Sea. In mid-afternoon, comfortably seated in a large, powerful car, we set out. At first we passed through foothills dotted with neat, brightly painted peasant houses. Then the car began climbing steadily into the mountains. Everywhere the hillsides were richly green. Vineyards, gardens and pastures alternated in swift succession. The countryside presented a fruitful, smiling appearance. Rounding a critical curve, we came out upon the edge of a great cliff overlooking the sea. I caught my breath at the sudden beauty of the scene. Far away, at the base of the mountains, was the white line of the shore. Stretching beyond the horizon, gleaming in the setting sun, lay the Black Sea.

The road continued to wind around the flank of the mountain now plunging into, now emerging from the dense forests which grew on its sides. Lovely momentary vistas through the great trees gave glimpses of shining water. The irritations of our journey faded. I fell into a happy reverie, tinged with sad realization of the distance which separated me from all I knew. Once the road curved around the hillside and we saw a beautiful church, set like a jewel on a great flat spur of the mountain


jutting out into the sea. Winding upward we approached the church, which loomed larger and larger until the road passed through its courtyard. Then we fully realized its impressive size. What effort and what wealth had been spent in erecting it on its almost inaccessible site!

The car sped swiftly onward. The sun set magnificently on the gleaming waters. Gradually twilight enveloped us. Then through the night we saw the lights of Yalta.

A small resort town, Yalta is built on a terraced hillside rising steeply from the narrow rock-strewn beach. We drove in on the main boulevard crowded with thousands of workers on vacation. We were taken at once to the Leningrad Hotel. It was immediately apparent that it was cleaner and better managed than any we had met in Russia.

The local guide of Intourist assigned to us was a man named Rabinovich, intelligent, friendly and thoroughly acquainted with foreign habits and customs. His constant helpfulness and quick-witted anticipation of our wants made our stay in Yalta the most delightful period of our journey.

The remainder of the evening we spent walking on the highway by the water, watching the twinkling lights far up the flower-covered hillside, and the people dressed in white, strolling quietly about. At length pleasantly weary, we retired, to sleep in clean rooms with actual bedding which now seemed to us to be truly royal luxury.

The sun, flooding my room in the morning, awakened me. The windows looked out on the sea. The sparkling blue water was ruffled by a faint breeze. Under the spell of the lovely scene I wrote a long letter home. We breakfasted and went down to the pier to take the boat to Aloubka, another beautiful resort some distance to the east. Our boat was a Diesel cutter loaded with vacationers. As we sailed along the coast, we observed attentively its noble proportions and rich beauty. The shore was marked by vestiges of splendid mansions, equipped with stone wharves, which had been built by nobles and wealthy people before the Revolution. Some of these had not been destroyed. We passed by a celebrated summer home built by a royal prince for his mistress, perched on a great overhanging cliff, seemingly ready to take flight. As we drew in to the pier at Aloubka, we saw several people bathing on the beach, despite the low temperature of the water. Among them was a tall, beautiful Russian girl with copper-colored hair. In an attenuated bathing-suit, she was a statuesque figure. She watched us as we hung on the rail. When her glance met ours she smiled in friendly fashion.


We disembarked and were conducted into the extensive gardens and grounds surrounding the former palace now converted into a workers' rest-home and club. The guides led us through the spacious rooms. Happening to glance out of a window into the great court, I saw the copper-haired girl whom we had noticed on the beach. Again she smiled as though she knew us.

The palace contained a magnificent library. One room had a collection of elaborate atlases with beautifully printed maps. This room was specially built, with rolling ladders to reach the high shelves. The original furniture had been carefully preserved. Most of the rooms were closed to use, being maintained as a museum. The furnishings were of fine quality and great beauty.

As we passed out of the building into the courtyard, we saw the girl of the beach who stood talking with several friends. Our guide led us over and introduced us. I was pleased to find that she spoke French. The beautiful gardens and groves surrounding the palace were so inviting that we decided to take a walk. We strolled under the interlaced trees until it was time to return to the steamer for Yalta. The girl said that she would come to visit us there. We said good-bye and went on board. The shore was lined with friendly vacationers waving farewell as the little ship pulled out from the wharf.

Next morning we went to see the Czar's palace at Livadia, now, also, a workers' club. Of exquisite workmanship and splendid material, it had resisted remarkably the neglect and rough treatment it was receiving. The parquet floors were washed with water, ruining the Surface. The wood was beginning to rot. I explained to the director the proper method of treating such floors. He excused himself on the ground that he had been there only three days and did not know the practices of the place. Nails had been driven into the beautiful, smooth plastered walls to hold announcements. Some had been pulled out, badly marring the surface.

One curious and remarkably beautiful feature of the building remains in memory. Descending a staircase looking towards the sea, one saw a magnificent painting hanging on the wall. It was a landscape of the shore and the water towards the distant horizon. Looking more closely at this painting, so luminous and realistic, we saw that it was not a painting. What seemed to be the frame was a window frame in the wall, holding a flawless piece of plate glass, through which we were viewing the coast and the sea itself, at such a distance that there was hardly any perceptible motion!


We were invited to lunch in the workers' dining-room, which had formerly been a ballroom of the palace. Long, rough tables were laid, with rows of folding camp chairs. The tableware was coarse, and the food astonishingly meager, poorly prepared and unattractively served. The workers trooped in gaily, in light sport costumes, and eagerly devoured what was set before them. After lunch we made a circuit of the grounds and then drove back to Yalta.

Each day we stayed in this lovely little city I climbed the hillside to gaze over the sunlit sea. It was so beautiful and free from the crowded, noisy and dirty surroundings which we had met everywhere else that I was reluctant to leave. But arrangements for my work required my presence in Moscow by May 22, and that necessitated proceeding to Odessa at once.

The next day we went down to the great stone pier to board the steamer "Gruzia." It was a fine modern ship, built in Germany, one of a small fleet which plied the Black Sea in Soviet service. Unloading of cargo was in progress. A consignment of office furniture was being taken off. Desks and chairs were dropped from hoist slings of wire-rope on to the stone wharf. No protection was given the furniture from the steel rope. Where the cable gripped, pieces were marred and crushed. The hard pier surface split the legs as they were dropped heavily. No one on the ship or the wharf was in the least concerned about the damage.

A great many of the vacationing colony had come down to the pier to see the ship off. After waiting a long while, our bags were collected and we were ready to go up the gangway. Some of the Russians attempting to board the steamer were engaged in violent altercation with the officers. Their histrionic gestures lent great color to the occasion. Recognized as foreigners, at last, we were able to pass the gesticulating, bickering crowds. We stowed our luggage in our staterooms and came back on deck. Slowly, the passengers filtered aboard. To the accompaniment of excited orders and cries, the gangway was pulled up. With a fine flourish, the ship swung out of the roadstead to sea. Leaning on the rail, we watched the beautiful little town where we had rested, until it faded in the twilight. Then its lights gleamed out in the night while the ship plowed ahead through the dark shining waters.

Next morning we were to disembark at Odessa. We rose early and came on deck, scanning the horizon for land. It was not long before a thin, dark line, denoting the shore, was sighted. Rapidly the steamer ap-


proached the famous port. As we entered the harbor I recognized the celebrated stone stairs, leading down to the water, on which the Cossacks had shot down the revolutionary workers and bystanders in 1905, and which Eisenstein had immortalized in his film Potemkin . An hour later we had docked and landed. With the customary efficiency of Intourist, no one was there to meet us. For two hours we waited on the wharf, sitting on our bags, before an Intourist automobile arrived to take us to our hotel.

The hotel to which we were assigned was being repaired and was in disorder. We were sent instead to the New London Hotel, an ornate, well-equipped building, known as one of the three best hotels in Russia. As soon as we had arranged our luggage we began a tour of the city. Odessa is built on a spacious and beautiful plan. This was largely the work of French émigrés who settled there after the French Revolution. The great central square, the opera house and the municipal buildings are in Empire style, reminiscent of Paris. Much of the city, however, was in a state of deterioration, unpainted, crumbling.

Among the institutions we visited was a great hospital specializing in mud-bath treatments for Donets Basin miners. Mud was drawn from the edge of the sea by primitive methods using horses and then conveyed under the building into great vats. Never much of a believer in the benefits of immersion in dirty water, I suggested facetiously that the principle of the cure was the realization by the patients that their sufferings were not as bad as the treatment, and so they were glad to return to their work. This nettled our guide.

We drove into the suburbs to see the celebrated country houses owned by the former nobility. They had fallen into decay through neglect and abuse. Descriptions of their previous beauty did not correspond with their dilapidated condition. We went through the Tolstoy Museum, which has a fine collection of modern paintings. Odessa had an airplane plant, which we wished to see. Our requests for this were evaded. We pressed the matter and were finally told that this would not be permitted.

From Odessa we took the train for Kiev. The long ride north gave us time to review our experiences and anticipate future possibilities. We had grown accustomed to such inconvenience and uncertainty in our travel arrangements that we would have been greatly surprised had anything turned out systematically. We had come to realize, too, that throughout the extensive range of work and institutions which we had witnessed in


the Soviet Union, despite the engulfing waves of propaganda about overtaking and surpassing the advanced industrial countries, most work was still badly performed by antiquated methods. It was evident that this was not wholly due to the lack of equipment, but rather to the traditional habits of the people and the impenetrable pride and self-deception of the officialdom.

At Kiev a remarkable illustration of this backwardness was manifested. A gigantic new railway station, of reinforced concrete, was being completed. In preparation for plastering the exterior of the building, enormous wood scaffolds had been erected covering the entire face of the building. Groups of laborers were at work with hammer and chisel, cutting grooves in the concrete to provide adhesion for the plaster. This process, extremely expensive and difficult, could have been easily avoided, and better results achieved, by putting old chicken wire or even discarded strands of cord next to the outside wood form when the walls were poured, and later tearing these away when stripping the forms. Some weeks later, when I told this to Nemetz, the head of the All-Union Construction Trust, in Moscow, his eyes opened wide with astonishment. No one but himself, however, with whom I discussed the matter, realized the enormity of this typical waste of material, labor and time when the nation was straining every effort to conserve its resources and obtain the greatest possible results.

Kiev was the loveliest of all of the large Russian cities which we saw. Situated on the river, ringed with green hills, it has a varied, colorful architecture, distinguishing it from the drab, monotonous appearance of many other Russian cities.

The Agricultural School, on the outskirts of the town, was one of the important new institutions. Inviting lawns surrounded the building. Groups of students lay stretched out upon the warm grassy ground, talking or studying. Small experimental farms were cultivated in the vicinity of the school, under direction of its faculty.

In Kiev there is a famous old fortified monastery and church.[25] It contains some catacombs. We attended services in the church. The building, which was several hundred years old, had resisted the attrition of time in a wonderful fashion. It was constructed of the best materials. The workmanship was superb, far beyond anything in any of the new Soviet construction. It had a curious floor consisting of molded iron plates. Only a handful of worshippers were present. The dim, vaulted interior seemed deserted. The gloom and lack of human surroundings


became oppressive and we left. Walking slowly through the city, we were struck by the beauty of some of the streets. The tramcars were confined to the center portion, the tracks being bordered on each side by grassy promenade strips, like the Spanish paseos.

I noted one fine building and remarked to our guide that it must be of pre-revolutionary construction. "No," she declared, "it was built in 1929." I was momentarily confounded. This upset my conclusions about Soviet construction. I asked her to inquire about it. She did. The building, of course, had been built before the Revolution, but it had not been opened until 1929.

Kessel, my companion, intended to return to the United States and was to leave us at Kiev. Mutual experiences and hardships had drawn us close to one another. Our common passion for investigation bound us together. Exploring the seething Soviet scene together left deeply etched memories. We felt keenly the approaching hour of separation. He was going back to his home, I to remain far from mine. In the afternoon we stood on the station platform awaiting trains in opposite directions; for him, the Polish border, for me, to Moscow. The Moscow train arrived first. My luggage was placed on board. I waited until the last moment to get on. As the train rolled slowly out of the station to the north, I saw the last of my friend for some years.

The inept management of Intourist did not improve on this occasion. My guide and myself had been given a second-class compartment. We had been comfortably settled for perhaps two hours, discussing our experiences, when the conductor entered and informed us that our car would be cut off at the next station. It was necessary to change to another at once, he said. There was no alternative. We were put into a third-class car. No bedding could be obtained. Intourist was maintaining its record!

Some Red Army men, including an officer, were in our car. They began a conversation with us and were astonished to hear of our treatment. The officer tried to secure better accommodations for us, but the train was crowded and his efforts were unsuccessful. We settled down with the soldiers, ordered tea, and opened all our remaining food packages. As we talked with these friendly men my annoyance disappeared.

The officer expressed himself with great tact, exhibiting rare courtesy and charm. He knew most of the important construction we had seen. I had by then formed a definite conclusion as to the source of the disorganization I had seen. The officer deplored the conditions. His people, he said, were as yet uneducated and uncultured. With time, he felt, these


defects would be remedied. His status prevented him from admitting, especially to a foreigner, that the heart of the trouble was not lack of training on the part of the population, but the cancerous bureaucracy which constricted and wasted the efforts of the masses. I was to learn later in my work the full effect of this deadly factor. It was well past midnight when we said good-night and, loosening our belts and shoes, settled on our hard, dirty boards for the night's rest.



In the brilliant sunshine, Moscow bustled with activity. There was an extraordinary ferment of life. Through the dense crowds at the station we picked our way to an Intourist automobile, which whisked us to our hotel. I had anticipated the luxury of a bath, but neither hot nor cold water flowed in my bathroom. Having but little time, I abandoned hope and went at once to the headquarters of the Soyuzstroi to see Nemetz, the director. Exactly as I had planned, I had returned on the twenty-second day of May. He was in his office and received me at once. He was keenly interested in my journey and asked many detailed questions on the construction I had seen.

Then he took up the matter of work. He asked me to act as consultant on design and construction to the First Industrial Building Trust, Zavodostroi, one of the subsidiaries of the Soyuzstroi. The work would be general advisory consultation and supervision of construction of industrial plants, military industries, housing and communal structures. I considered the situation for a moment.

The poor quality of the housing which I had observed on my trip made me decide not to associate myself with the Standardized Housing Trust. The possibilities of the work in Zavodostroi appealed to me strongly. I was ready to agree but only upon one basic condition. Aware of the experience of American engineers who had preceded me to Soviet Russia, I realized that dependence upon regular administrative channels would be a serious mistake. I therefore asked Nemetz to agree that if I went to Zavodostroi, I would have his ear at all times to secure quick action on any crucial projects. Nemetz understood this need thoroughly and consented to this condition. We quickly reached an agreement on salary and living conditions. He then telephoned to Zavodostroi and informed them that he was sending me to them.

A waiting automobile of the trust took me to Zavodostroi. Director Passagnik and the production engineer, Baransky, were expecting me.


They examined with deep interest some technical literature which I had brought from the United States, illustrating the more important construction carried out under my direction. They expressed pleasure at the prospect of having me work with them. Accordingly an agreement was soon reached. It specified a salary in rubles considerably in excess of that of any official in the trust. An apartment in the Foreign Specialists' House was to be furnished me. The trust would provide an interpreter and a technical assistant. Director Passagnik asked if I wished a private office or whether I wanted to share one with Engineer Baransky. The latter arrangement would be better at first, I thought, since in this way I could acquaint myself more quickly with procedure.

My work was to begin on May 27, 1932. This gave me a few days to arrange my personal affairs. At the first opportunity I called at the office of Intourist. To one of the secretaries in the office, I dictated a scathing, detailed account of our trip. Then I asked for the director. It was impossible to see him, I was told. But I had not been in the U.S.S.R. for a month for nothing. In a menacing tone I said, "Go back and tell him that the American who sent the telegrams to him while on tour, about the unsatisfactory accommodations, wants to see him."

The clerk disappeared for a moment. Then the door opened and the director stood before me. Coldly he asked me what I wanted.

"Return of my money representing the difference between the accommodations I had paid for and those I had been furnished," I said.

Intourist never refunded any money, he replied curtly; there was no precedent for it. Nothing could be done. He was about to bow and go.

I was sorry, I said, to learn that the policy of Intourist was so dishonest. His refusal would necessitate action on my part to induce Intourist to fulfill its obligations.

What did I mean? he demanded. I would explain, I said.

As European technical correspondent for Engineering News-Record , the ranking engineering periodical of the world, also for the Constructor , the organ of the construction industry in the United States of America, and for the Scripps-Canfield Press in California, I would send dispatches at once, describing the treatment accorded me. I pointed out that Intourist advertises in the United States, selling tours for American currency. This advertising goes through the mails. Failure of Intourist to live up to its contracts might bring it within the range of the Federal laws


of the United States. A suit might be brought in the United States, and an injunction obtained restraining Intourist from advertising in the United States. This might involve serious losses. He had three days to consider this, I said. After that I would proceed.

While I spoke, his face paled. In an altered tone, he asked me to wait a half hour while he took up the question. I had no time to waste, I said. The funds involved were of no great consequence. As a matter of principle, however, I would pursue it to the end. Five minutes, no longer, was all I would wait.

He disappeared into his office.

There was tense excitement throughout the Intourist offices. The altercation with the manager had drawn a small crowd. My telegrams had scandalized the entire staff. Dozens of the guides, interpreters and travellers had heard me dictate the ugly record of our journey. The air was electric. Watch in hand, I waited.

Before the five minutes were up, the director returned. In an embarrassed manner he said that although there was no precedent for any such action, they had decided to make me a refund. They would compute it at once. He added that it would be in Russian currency. I laughed outright. This was utterly unacceptable, I said. The refund would have to be made in the currency in which I had paid. The director shrugged his shoulders.

"Very well," I said. "I shall handle the matter in my own way." I left the office before he could say another word.

Before the end of the day, a guide with whom I was acquainted came to my hotel. She asked me to return with her to the office of Intourist. They had decided to settle with me and I would find the money there, she said. I went with her. The office secretary handed me a detailed computation of the rates for various classes of accommodations on my journey and a package containing the proper amount of currency. Receipts were solemnly exchanged, closing the account. This was the first and last time in the history of Intourist that it ever refunded any money. The legal rate of exchange, rubles for dollars, is so unfair as to be characterized only as fraudulent, the American dollar at that time being officially exchanged for about two rubles, whereas its purchasing power measured by the illegal rate of exchange, which was its real value (in food, clothes, etc.), was then about thirty rubles. (It rapidly thereafter sank to fifty to the dollar.) The entire travel organization had been stirred by this incident. Many of the Russians secretly sided with


me, considering it high time that Intourist was pulled up short. I had earned the name of being a bitter fighter against bureaucratic officials.

On May 27 I reported for work to Zavodostroi. I went to my office, shared with Engineer Baransky. No program of work had been prepared. I inquired at the director's office. He was not there. There were no specific duties for me. No one knew what I was to do. I asked for the plans of any construction about to start. My American experience in economic redesign of structures had been extensive. With the chaotic conditions prevailing in the Soviet Union, there were great opportunities for such activity applied on a scale as large as the volume of operations of this great trust.

The first set of plans submitted to me was for a gigantic airplane-lumber storage depot in Lubertsi, a suburb of Moscow. One hundred identical buildings were to be erected, each sixty-three meters in length, totalling about three and one-half miles! Inspection of these plans indicated that the roof trusses and the foundations were complicated and wasteful. I made a tentative re-design which showed that considerable economy would result from altering them. The date for starting construction on this plant was the first of June. Only four days remained to prepare new plans and have them reviewed and approved. I began immediately working night and day.

May 29, my drawings and calculations and estimates were ready. I rushed to the trust with them. From office to office I went seeking someone who would consider this project. For three days I tracked every high official in the trust. It was impossible to find anyone who would assume this responsibility. On the fourth day of my frantic search, a note was handed to me announcing a technical council to be held on June 4 at ten o'clock in the morning.

For this meeting I brought all my calculations and drawings. My interpreter and I waited two hours at the appointed place. During this time no one else appeared. A messenger finally came to tell us that the council had been indefinitely postponed!

All my efforts to get action in the next few days failed. The administrative officers of the trust evaded every attempt to reach them. On June so, I received a report of a technical council which had been held during this period without my knowledge. The report concluded that "the designs of the American consultant are considered a success."

With a copy of this report I made the rounds of the officials again. I


was deeply concerned because the work had been scheduled to start on June 1, and a serious delay was piling up, in my estimation. No use. No information or decision could be obtained from anyone. The entire project relapsed into silence. Finally I realized that there was nothing to do but to turn to other work.

On July 5, I was invited to attend a technical council. Five designs were presented, including the inefficient original, mine, and three others now submitted by the trust. These were new. One was evidently copied from mine. After one hour of debate the council decided that one of these three was the most economical. It had been copied carelessly, however, and possessed grave structural weaknesses. When I spoke I pointed these out. The chief of the design department arose for rebuttal and stated that the design had been checked by Professor Pasternak, a well-known Swiss consultant. I questioned this openly. It was found to be untrue.

No one in this technical council, all supposedly engineers, including those who had made the cost estimates, was able even to tell the amounts of lumber, nails and the estimated labor in the various designs. In order to make this unsatisfactory re-design of the trust appear better from an economic point of view, the cost data had been seriously manipulated. The report stated that the number of pieces in the truss designed by the trust was twenty-four and in my design twenty-four members also. In fact, mine actually had only twenty-four pieces while the design of the trust called for one hundred and sixty-two! I sharply criticized the design of the trust and charged the section which had prepared the distorted report with deliberate dishonesty. There was no reply to this charge. The council adjourned without comment.

During the ensuing week, I sent three written requests to the chief engineer for further information. All went unanswered. The sequel of this incident is worth a glance into the future at this point.

In August, I secured a new interpreter and secretary. Energetic and devoted to the work, she plunged immediately into a review of all my reports. When she dug into the records of this case, she discovered that in a secret meeting to which I had not been invited, the trust had voted itself a premium for the design which had been copied from mine! To exhibit the stolen project in the best light, not only had the amount of nails used in each been falsified, but in addition costs had been assessed against mine, for nails, three times as much per kilogram as for the same nails used in the trust's design. The revised foundation design which I


had submitted had been secretly adopted, but without any acknowledgment or notification to me.

This was my real introduction to the Soviet bureaucracy at work. The Moscow Daily News of September 15, 1932, discussed this fully in an article written at the request of Borodin. It was captioned: "Only after long and persistent efforts were this engineer's proposals accepted. American consulting engineer encounters bureaucratic organizations, which discourage initiative, waste time, kill ideas."

Its conclusion read:

This incident has special significance because the consultant's suggestions were, in the end, virtually used, but the procedure from the beginning was disorganized, incompetent, questionable, discouraging to initiative and creative ideas, killing time and interest.

Shortage of material, labor and equipment (the standard excuse) does not serve here. Greater accuracy and truth are essential. Such treatment outrages the sense of fairness, strikes at socialist morale, and wastes the capacities of American engineers here to help the U.S.S.R.

Below this the editor had appended a note stating that the matter had been referred to the "R.K.I." and early action by the authorities was expected. This was the celebrated Workers' and Peasants' Inspection Commissariat, especially organized by Lenin to combat bureaucracy in Soviet institutions.[26]

My existence was crowded with incidents typical of Soviet conditions. The second day I was at work, the Customs House sent me a notice that my trunk had arrived from Berlin. In an automobile of the trust I went to claim it. The trunk was finally located among hundreds of others on the loading dock. But I could only sit and look at it. It could not be released, I was told, without the chief inspector, who alone possessed the required authority. I had to wait an hour for this absent official. The inspector turned out to be a woman, very self-conscious, equally discourteous, and "busier than she was." She required that I make out a long form of several pages of useless information. Then we went back to the dock with one of her assistants, who was designated to inspect the trunk. He broke the seal, opened it and began to overhaul the contents. They consisted of clothes, engineering equipment and technical books.

As soon as he saw the books he stopped and said that he could not go further, that a special book inspector was required. I pointed out that


they were American engineering texts, brought for my work in the U.S.S.R. If another inspector was necessary, send for him, I said, and have the books checked immediately. The book inspector, however, was not at the Customs House. Nothing could be done, the other said. I would have to return zaftra (tomorrow). Two hours had been wasted in this fashion. I objected violently to this senseless delay. If the books had to be inspected, it could be done at once, I insisted. I had serious work to do for the U.S.S.R. and I did not intend to lose another day in this way. The inspector went back to his feminine chief. In a very formal manner, she refused even to consider an immediate book inspection.

"Very well," I said. "Close the trunk. Seal it. I will ship it back to America with the equipment and books I have brought here for your benefit. And tomorrow," I added, "I shall inform the proper authorities of this stupid bureaucratic procedure."

Immediately, the attitude of the inspector changed. The absent book inspector was quickly found. After some aimless desultory turning of pages of books on bridge design and reinforced concrete, all of the contents were passed and the trunk released. I had begun to understand the unfortunate but necessary manner of dealing with petty Soviet officials.

Delay on the Lubertsi project afforded me time to study several other plans for construction to be undertaken by Zavodostroi. Through my urging and by cooperating with the office engineers, it quickly grew to be an established practice to submit all projects to me for consultation on construction methods and economic re-design before work was started. In rapid succession I reviewed the plans for the seven-span reinforced concrete spandrel arch bridge at Yaroslavl, the Tuchinow [Tushino?] assembly plant, the Mai aviation school, the power plant and distillery at Efremov and a standardized diatomaceous earth brick plant which was to be duplicated on dozens of sites throughout the Soviet Union. In each of these projects, I made significant changes in design and developed construction methods which resulted in considerable economies.

The conduct of work in the trust was so disorganized that it would have been ludicrous were it not for my dawning understanding that this disorganization was accountable for low production and the resulting depressed living standards of the Soviet masses. An instance of the annoying lack of systematic office control occurred one day.

An official entered my office, from which Engineer Baransky was temporarily absent, and introduced himself to me as the chief engineer of the trust! I had worked for a month in conjunction with Baransky who, I


had been given to understand, occupied that position! This other man, Vitkovsky by name, very affable and friendly, now smilingly declared himself to be that functionary and asked me who I was and what position I held. This was too much for me. I laughed uproariously. For one month, I said, I had been consultant to the trust and had worked on six large projects and participated in several technical councils. It made me happy to find that there was a chief engineer, I said ironically, although no one seemed to be quite sure who he was. I assured him that he could count on me for the fullest assistance. He declared that the next day he would confer with me about the entire program of work.

Several days later, towards the end of June, Chief Engineer Vitkovsky summoned me to his office. Smiling in obvious approval, he said that he had reviewed my suggestions and reports. In consequence, a new department would be created at once, to be called "Economic Revision of Structures Department." He would be a member and I would be chief consulting engineer. All plans for construction would go to me before starting work for economic changes in design. If my work continued as productive as it had shown itself to be, he said, a premium would be awarded to me.

"I want no money prizes," I said. "I did not come to the Soviet Union for money."

"Well then, what?" he asked, laughing. "The Order of Lenin?"

"No," I answered, "only one thing."

"What is that?"

"I want a signed photograph of each project on which I work, with my name as consulting engineer.

He smiled.

"Nothing more?" he asked.

"Nothing more," I replied.

"You shall certainly have it," he declared. "I will see to it personally."

The comprehensive view of the Soviet scene which I had obtained from my extensive journey weighed heavily on my mind. Nevertheless, I saw deeper than the outward physical misery and privation. On May 30, 1932, I wrote to my mother in America as follows:

It is a rest day. I am at work for the U.S.S.R. in Zavodostroi, the First Industrial Building Trust. Of the long battle to find my place I shall say nothing. There was much heartache, waste, delay, confusion. Food is limited and poor; housing indescribably crowded; sanitary facilities so


unsatisfactory that one wonders how certain human functions are performed. The clothing is incredible. Confusion, waste, red tape, indifference, abuse and neglect surround one everywhere. Yet a great movement is apparent; a great hidden strength felt; a tremendous enthusiasm and assurance, almost offensive; a cheerfulness; a will to live and act that stirs one deeply.

Suffering is accepted with good will. All suffer together. All work for a common end. All feel they are comrades and equal. All feel safe and secure.[*] No one works too hard; few hard at all. A people has taken its destiny into its own hands and given conscious direction to its march into the future. The unity of hearts and minds beats in the very atmosphere, like some giant unseen pulse.

To another friend, I wrote:

The vision of a new future sustains these people, and this spirit is communicated to me. They know where they are going; they go leisurely, but they are on their way. The peasant and the worker have stamped out our culture, which we prize but which to them was the badge of a class which oppressed them too long.

A friend in California had given me a letter of introduction to Eugene Lyons, then manager of the United Press in Moscow. I came to meet him at this time. His office was a sort of unofficial American embassy in Moscow to which crowds of Americans and Russians flocked. Continual interruptions made connected conversation difficult. The first day we were free we went to the country to visit the family of James Abbe, the American photographer.[27] We walked long in the woods near Moscow, exchanging life experience. We were together fourteen hours that day.

Lyons told me of his growing disillusionment and of his desire to return to the United States, the restrictions of the censorship, and his exceptional view of some of the more brutal phases of official policy.

I told Lyons the story of the unknown cinema actress, my Dark Goddess. He sensed its full meaning. With his friendly interest and unexampled generosity, he assured me that we would find her. That evening we visited some of his Russian acquaintances active in the Soviet theatre. We made discreet inquiries and discovered that Emma Cessarskaya was in the Crimea. She was described as possessing great strength and nervous force. It would be weeks before she would return to Moscow.

* This was before the sharp retracting of the "equalization" path by the Party leaders and my closer knowledge of the O.G.P.U. and its effect on the people.


Lyons was keenly interested in my observations of Soviet factories, farms, construction projects and various institutions and urged me to write a series of articles describing them. These he planned to syndicate for publication throughout the United States. What I had seen had been so disheartening, however, that after days of debating with myself, I decided against any writing until further experience would give me deeper insight into the complex scene of Soviet life. Despite the fact that I was technical correspondent for three publications, I wrote nothing for this reason. Lyons understood my point of view. He revealed to me his own internal struggles, viewing constantly the same difficulties I had noted. He, too, had reached Russia heavily laden with optimistic preconceptions.



About this time I came to know the famous German architect and city planner Ernst May,[28] whose pioneering work in social housing in his own city, Frankfurt am Main, and elsewhere in Europe are known to all socially minded builders. I was to learn the details of his ordeal, so like my own, in attempting to give the Soviets the benefit of his great talents.

Professor May had been brought in by the Soviet Government a year and a half before to plan the housing of the new cities around the steel centers of Magnitogorsk and Kuznetsk [Witkin is referring to Novokuznetsk].[29] I discussed my work with him and had the shock of being congratulated by him on accomplishing so much in so short a time. This at a time when I was discouraged at having done so little! A few months later I realized the full meaning of his congratulations.

I laid before him a plan I had formulated aiming at the more intelligent utilization of foreign consultants in the Soviet Union. A technical society was to be formed to include all of them, similar to the American Society of Civil Engineers. Groups would be appointed by the society to investigate unsatisfactory cases of Soviet construction and industry. The society was to cooperate with the governmental authorities and with the Moscow Daily News . The paper, according to the plan, was to print in parallel columns, first, a report of the investigation by the society; second, a report by the representative of the newspaper; and third, a report by the officials of the project itself, setting forth their own views; the fourth column would be the record of action taken by the governmental authorities to whom the matter would be referred. Ordinarily, this would be the Commissariat of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection, the celebrated "R. K. I." This column would be kept running in every issue of the paper, showing the progress made to remedy the situation or the neglect or the failure to do so. This would be a powerful, compelling pressure.

Enthusiastic about its possibilities, Professor May cautioned me, how-


ever, that in his opinion it would never be adopted, because the Russians would not relinquish the control which this foreign assistance might imply. In August, addressing the All-Union Congress of Architects, Professor May presented this plan, "by the American engineer Witkin," to the assembled delegates and explained its value, strongly endorsing it.

Meanwhile, the fight went on from day to day in my trust. My impatience grew at the inertia and chaos which blocked effective progress. This was the more critical because of the volume of work. On June 25, I undertook the design of standardized housing for an entire workers' city to be erected close to the industrial kombinat of Efremov. On June 30, I was notified that I would be assigned to work on the project for a giant hangar for dirigibles. General Umberto Nobile[30] of Italy, who was working in the Soviet Union then, was to collaborate with me on this undertaking.

In a letter to a friend, on June 30, I wrote:

My work is bedevilled by the indifference of my Russian colleagues and the difficulty of reaching responsible authorities. It is as easy to kill a good plan here by calling it "bourgeois" or "counter-revolutionary" as it is in our country by calling it "Communistic." Managerial methods are very poor. Stalin recognized many of these weaknesses in a great speech called "The Six Points." Unfortunately, very few Russians have read the speech (as I have).... I will blast my way to Stalin, if necessary, to get my projects accomplished.

Long afterwards, I read this letter and was astounded. When I wrote the last statement it was mere rhetoric. I meant that I would exhaust every effort to carry my work to conclusion. I had no notion of actually reaching Stalin.

Three days after coming to Zavodostroi, I became seriously ill. I did not allow this to interfere with the work. Lack of the necessary medicine in Moscow, however, was disquieting. Since I had been warned of the danger by the helpless doctors, I planned to go to Germany for treatment. To the management of the trust I proposed that this trip be combined with an inspection of German industrial plants for our work. The idea was favorably received. Securing a leave of absence and the required exit and return visas through the bureaucratic official apparatus was another matter. It became so monumental and difficult a procedure


that I abandoned the idea. Thus, I lost proper medical care, and the trust lost the benefit of the information I could have obtained in Germany.

Up to June 8, I was maintained in a Moscow hotel by the trust. This was very expensive for them. To economize, while awaiting completion of my apartment in the Foreign Specialists' Home at Annunevsky Street, the trust arranged for me to live in a private flat occupied by the family of a Russian accountant. This accountant had been sent to Izhevsk in the Urals on the construction of a large industrial plant. The flat contained three small rooms and a kitchen. The smallest room was mine. The accountant's wife, who had remained in Moscow with her small son and a peasant servant girl, was a beautiful, vivacious woman of Polish extraction. She spoke French and some English, which made communication easier for me at the time, with my small command of Russian.

This woman managed to retain an air of distinction and obtain a food supply which differed greatly from that of the people about her. I noted also her fearlessness in dealing with the officials of my trust regarding arrangements of my being domiciled in her flat. She was especially friendly to me. Afterwards experienced Russian friends who met her were convinced that she was an agent of the 0. G. E. U., which accounted for the special conditions she enjoyed. In the light of my own later knowledge, reviewing carefully the incidents of my stay in this house, I concluded that she was not an agent of that organization though she was probably summoned to report secretly about me, as is the case with all Russians in close contact with foreigners.

My illness during this time, towards the end of June, reached a crisis. Necessary medicine was not obtainable. Absolute rest was specified by the doctors. I was ordered to a hospital. This hospital was on the edge of the great Sokolniki forest, on the outskirts of Moscow. I crossed the city in a tram and reported to the office of this institution. They had no idea who I was nor why I had come. No information about me had been transmitted to the staff! They had no available room. There was neither food nor hospital clothing. Treatment was impossible there. I returned angrily to the city.

Nemetz, the head of the All-Union Construction Trust, had heard of my illness from a colleague. He sent for me at once. After a few questions he arranged for me to enter the Kremlin Hospital, the best in the Soviet Union, reserved for higher members of the government and Party. There I was given several thorough examinations. Dr. Piatnitsky of the staff issued an order directing me to go to a rest-home in the


Crimea for two months. The prospect of the lovely southern country was beautiful. It was important in combatting the effects of illness, too. But I felt that it would mean a major break in the prosecution of my work. Consequently, I refused to go and continued in Moscow, fighting the illness as best I could.

Meanwhile, my apartment had been prepared in the Foreign Specialists' Home, on the other side of the city. One day I was taken to inspect it. It consisted of one very large room on the ground floor of a five-story building, with windows opening on a narrow front court looking towards the street. The bathroom and kitchen were shared with a family living in the same apartment, occupying the adjacent two rooms. There was no telephone in the entire building. The agreement with my trust called for two rooms, a separate kitchen, bathroom and telephone. Lack of a telephone meant virtual isolation for me. Ill as I was and seeing no choice, I accepted the arrangement.

The household department of my trust had selected for me a servant of German extraction who had lived in the U.S.S.R. for a number of years. She was a fair cook, but proved to be dishonest in a petty way. It was another action of hers, however, which caused me to discharge her. The custom of Russian servant girls is to sleep in the kitchens or the corridors. Separate rooms for them are unknown. When I arrived home late one night, I found her asleep in my room. I assumed that she had accidently dozed off, since she was dressed. I woke her gently and she departed. Several nights later, this was repeated. This time, however, she was in nightdress and had installed herself quite definitely on the divan. Troubled and ill, harassed by the daily opposition in my work, this invasion of my few private hours overcame my comradely spirit. I ordered her out at once, and also from my employ. My anger at this time overcame my language deficiency. She had no difficulty in understanding me.

The main cables for telephones had not been provided in this building. It would probably be years before an instrument could be installed. I thought, therefore, of returning to the room I had previously occupied which, though lacking a bath and a telephone, had enabled me to maintain my few friendly associations.

My landlady, unwilling to permit any Russian to occupy her rooms, fearing damage or theft, had kept in touch with me during my stay at the Foreign Specialists' Home and had urged me constantly to return. She


represented a human environment very different from the unfriendly, dubious association at the Foreign Specialists' Home. Two other factors at the Specialists' Home had aroused my ire. In the courtyard through which my apartment was entered, piles of dirt, debris and building materials were strewn. About fifty tons of reinforcing steel lay scattered, exposed to the weather, rusting. On several occasions, I brought this criminal waste to the attention of the Soviet authorities, including the management of the Soyuzstroi, whose subsidiary trust had built the building; the Commissariat of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection; and the Moscow Daily News . Nothing happened; the authorities took no action and the steel continued to rust on the ground.

The office of the apartment house was not opened until after I left for my work in the morning. It was closed before I returned. For this reason, I could not obtain a main door-key nor leave my passport for registration with the militia. Because of all these unsatisfactory conditions, I decided finally to request my trust to move me back to my previous quarters. They raised all sorts of objections to this. It was illegal. It was unnecessary. It was impossible, etc. Ill and tired of the evasive tactics of the officials, I attempted to reach Nemetz in the Soyuzstroi. In my notes, it is recorded that I telephoned fifty-three times and made five personal visits to his office before I had a few moments' interview with him. Before this process of approach was over, I had taken the bull by the horns, notified my trust that I was leaving the Specialists' Home, secured a droshky to transport my trunk, and in two hours was installed in my previous home.

Having recovered by this time from the worst effects of my illness, and finding my energy rising, I went to see Borodin to present my plan of welding foreign engineers into a strong organization, putting their combined, unified services at the disposal of the Soviet authorities to investigate and overcome breakdowns in construction and industry. Coupled with this proposal was my project for a weekly technical issue of the Moscow Daily News . I suggested that technical articles should not be printed daily in the paper, but reserved for the weekly issue. Such articles should be carefully reviewed, I said, to insure against mistakes and absurdities which crept into the writing under the existing conditions.

Borodin's eyes flashed angrily. I had anticipated such a reaction and pulled a dozen recent issues of the paper from my pocket, whose leading articles I had marked; they included some ridiculous technical inaccura-


cies. Borodin glanced at them and looked keenly at me and listened further. I suggested that an editorial board of three be formed to include Mezhlauk, executive vice-president of the State Planning Commission, who spoke English and had been in America; Professor May of Germany; and Director Nemetz of the Soyuzstroi. I offered my own services without compensation as technical editor, to do the actual work, the board to be responsible only for general policy. Borodin approved of the plan. He was not convinced of the desirability of excluding all technical articles from the daily columns of the paper. But on the question of an editorial board he was emphatic.

"No cumbersome board!" he declared. "You can do the work better alone. Individual responsibility!"

He insisted that I be paid for the work. The necessary arrangements would be made, he said. I would be named consulting engineer to the paper. On July 15, 1932, I wrote of this to America.

One day, there was much excitement in my office about a catastrophe which had occurred in a plant built by our trust. At Klin, several hours' ride from Moscow, a rayon factory had been erected the previous year. A reinforced concrete tank, into which the waste fluids of the mill emptied, had failed. The trust had prepared an elaborate report on the situation. This was handed to me. It was an analysis of the effects of freezing upon the concrete, which was supposed to have been poured in winter. I was asked to review the report and then to go to the factory and inspect the structure. Telegraphic arrangements were made for my visit to the plant by Maevsky, the production engineer. The director of the factory was to meet me at the railway station. All facilities, according to my instructions, were to be provided for inspection of the broken tank.

Early one morning, with my interpreter, I left Moscow by rail. Three hours later we arrived at the station where the rayon plant was located. No one was there to meet us. No one at the station knew of such a plant! A nearby hill drew my attention. I climbed it and scanned the surrounding country. Some miles away, there was a plant which looked as though it might be that which I was seeking. We decided to walk in that direction. In an hour we reached the factory. It was the rayon plant. We entered the office building. The director was surprised by our visit. He claimed that no telegrams had been received from Moscow about our coming.

"We will proceed with the investigation, nevertheless," I said.


The director and chief engineer accompanied us into the field to inspect the tank. I had instructed that the bottom be exposed. This had not been done. Water stood five feet deep in the tank, making it impossible to study the conditions! The director and engineer smiled politely and protested that they knew nothing of our inspection.

I dismissed them and wandered about the site talking with various workmen. Soon I found three men who had seen the tank regularly since the time of its construction. I examined each man separately. By cancelling out the discrepancies and contradictions in their statements, I was able to extract the truth of the situation. Study of the structural plans confirmed my conclusions, which differed completely from the official report. My report named structural failure resulting from the heavy liquid load on the tank bottom, which had been built without proper compacting of foundation material, together with the omission to bring the reinforcing steel in the walls of the structure down into the floor slab and anchoring it there to the reinforcement of the bottom. A circular section between the bottom and the walls had been overloaded and had failed in shear. With my report I submitted a structural design by which to properly reconstruct the tank.

On several occasions I had objected strongly to the practice of carrying up brick walls several stories high without lateral support. This condition arose owing to the frequent shortage of cement or of wood for the floor structures and the desire to utilize the masons while brick was on the site. My warning went unheeded. Shortly after the failure of the water-tank, another disaster with casualties occurred. At Tuchinow [Tushino?] a five-story unsupported brick wall had collapsed. I asked to be sent to investigate. Significantly, I was not invited.

The intense inconvenience and discomfort of the Moscow tramway system which I experienced daily drew my attention to the possibilities of improving the service. Moscow is an old, walled town with irregular radial and concentric streets. The most important tram lines run into the heart of the city on the radial streets, others making continuous loops on the concentric ones. Instead of passing around a sizable, central area, many lines are brought in to a single main central street, causing terrific traffic jams.

My plan involved the re-routing of certain lines, passing through the center, eliminating winding, saving trackage and time, and providing more service with the same rolling stock. Another feature of the plan


consisted in staggering the working hours of organizations in the central part of the city so as to avoid the crushing peak loads in the morning and evening. Finally, I proposed to change the existing cars by cutting two additional doors in each, making these serve as entrance and exit, enabling passengers to get on and off at least four times faster than in the present cars and move only one eighth the distance through the car in order to leave it, instead of forcing their way through the entire length of the car.

These proposals could be carried out with little expense. This was a vital matter, since funds were gravely limited. The efficiency, speed and convenience of the Moscow tram service could be greatly improved by these changes. I prepared a report embodying these suggestions. It was submitted to the authorities. For a year it remained in their hands. Some spacing of hours of work in the downtown trusts was initiated. Neither the routes nor the cars were changed. The discomfort and overloading of the Moscow trams remained the worst in the world.

Another general condition which was observed by even the casual tourist in the U.S.S.R. was the frightful economic waste of long queues of people waiting for various supplies in the stores. To eliminate this waste I devised a marking system which would enable people to go about their work while retaining their relative position in the queues. I estimated that for the entire nation approximately four billion working days could be saved which were lost each year standing in line. This system was adopted to a limited extent in Moscow.

The slipshod methods of management distressed me to the point where, in a letter home, I wrote, "Nearly everything here seems planned by escaped lunatics and carried out by very weary Willies, with much forgotten and unfinished."

On one occasion in the development of structural designs for multiple housing I proposed methods which utilized advanced cantilever principles and suspended construction. I brought these to one of the leaders of Soyuzstroi. After inspecting them, he said, "These are too revolutionary." Astonished, I answered: "But I came here because this is a revolutionary country." "I know," he replied, "but in many ways we are still the most reactionary country of Europe!"

I had brought a letter of introduction to an interpreter in Moscow from some American mining engineers with whom she had worked before I


came to the U.S.S.R. Soon after my arrival I located her apartment. Neighbors told me that she was in the suburbs for the summer. I left my address and a request for her to communicate with me. Towards the end of July she called at my home. We had a short conversation and she went away. I heard nothing further from her for several weeks.

One day she called again and said she was ready to work with me. Months later she told me that she had inquired carefully about me and had tested the attitude of the authorities before deciding to work with me. She was under forty years of age, tall and stout. Though afflicted with serious organic illness, she possessed an enormous amount of nervous energy and fairly revelled in work. Association with her became a continuous creative process. She had a mastery over French and German, as well as English and Russian, and did immense quantities of translation of technical articles in these languages for various government trusts. In each of these languages she typed direct from dictation. Her great assistance enabled me to undertake several projects which had been out of the question with my previous ordinary aid. It was she who called my attention to the pressing need in the Soviet Union of a first-class English-Russian technical dictionary. We started to compile one at once. Loyal and devoted, she was of irreplaceable help in meeting the thousand and one inconvenient and painful details of life in the U.S.S.R.

Despite the terrible suffering and privation she had endured in the revolutionary period and in the years that followed, she retained a strangely romantic nature. She was also a talented musician. Soon we were fast friends. She strongly urged me to remain in the U.S.S.R. To that end, she even announced her intention of finding a wife for me.

On one occasion, in the summer, I visited her little country house, where she lived with her husband, a servant maid and her young son. There she introduced me to two Russian women, who were her friends. One of them, she apparently hoped, would be my choice. They were older than myself and quite unattractive, however, and my status quo remained undisturbed.



Since my talk with Borodin about my plan for a weekly technical issue of his English-language paper, I had heard nothing from him. Meanwhile, Alfred Zaidner, formerly manager of the Amtorg Trading Corporation in Los Angeles, had arrived in Moscow. This man was a sincere Communist, very capable and experienced, unsparing of energy. We had become friendly in California and he had facilitated my coming to Moscow. Moscow had called him back to become an executive of Intourist, which organization, owing to his efforts, soon began to function much more effectively. He manifested great interest in my Soviet experiences, especially the projects I had laid before Borodin. He took it upon himself to communicate with Borodin in order to push these plans.

As a result of Zaidner's action, Borodin sent for me September lo. It was a wet, rainy evening. I arrived at his office at eight o'clock, the hour of our appointment, and was ushered in at once. Borodin was pacing up and down, hands behind his back in Napoleonic style. As soon as his assistant had left the room, Borodin turned sharply to me and said, "You are often in this building!"

This remark had peculiar significance. Gene Lyons, the American correspondent, lived in the same building, on the lower floor. Relations between Borodin and Lyons were not too cordial. The Moscow Daily News , and Borodin, were trying to oust Lyons from his apartment and office, which they wanted for expansion. Moreover, Gene's increasingly critical attitude towards the brutalities of the Soviet regime was crystallizing and Soviet leaders were therefore growing cool towards him. Borodin's remark was the first indication to me of the surveillance which every foreigner in a position of any importance in the U.S.S.R. begins, sooner or later, to feel.

Acidly, watching Borodin intently, I replied, "Yes, I am here often. My closest friend lives on the first floor!"

Sensing his mistake, Borodin immediately turned the conversation.


He had sent for me, he said, because Party leaders trusted me. The entire construction industry of the U.S.S.R. was in question.

"If you were given power," he asked, "what could you do for our construction industry?"

"Transform it into modern, efficient practice," I replied. "The economies would be enormous. This would not be very difficult," I added. "The waste and inefficiency are so great!"

Borodin started slightly at this, but immediately controlled himself.

Twenty of my own colleagues, the pick of the engineering profession in the U.S.A., were ready to come to assist me, I said.

"The U.S.S.R.," said Borodin, "has whole rooms full of elaborate reports written by competent engineers from all over the world. They are stacked in heaps. We have not even read them."

"That may account for the serious mistakes that continue to be made here," I said.

"Not entirely," he rejoined. "The men who made those reports know their specific technique, but they do not know the conditions of the U.S.S.R. Even some who are here do not comprehend them. For example, McDowell, who has been awarded the Order of Lenin for his work on the Experimental Farm at Verblud, is poorly trained and not intelligent. His suggestions are of little value. He keeps sending silly letters to the paper. He understands nothing."

Borodin strode up and down the room. Whirling upon me suddenly, extending his gigantic arm, he said, "But you, we expect more from you. We know that you possess engineering technique, but we believe you know more than that. We believe you understand our social conditions as well."

"Yes," I said, "I think I do. And I know that the form of managerial control under which you are attempting to function is fundamentally unsound. Vast construction projects can be directed properly only when responsibility and authority are vested in the same person, to equal extent."

Borodin indicated by a nod that he understood this.

"We want to try you," he said, "and test your influence on our work. We want you to write your concrete suggestions. Then we will proceed further."

I demurred.

"Action is needed, not words," I said. "Enough has already been written, too much!"


Borodin agreed, smiling grimly.

"The articles," he said, "would be only the first step. They would indicate the line to follow."

I considered for some moments. Certainly Borodin was expressing indirectly the Party policy. Therefore I allowed myself to be persuaded and promised to prepare several articles on weaknesses in the construction industry. (The first of these articles has already been mentioned. It dealt with the Lubertsi airplane-lumber storage project. Borodin published it on September 15, 1932. It strongly affected him.) After publication of the first article I awaited the reaction of the authorities. Some weeks passed.

Suddenly Chief Engineer Vitkovsky of my trust was replaced by a man named Agievich. This new chief engineer sent for me. He was neatly dressed, with precise pince-nez. His manner was unctuous and put me on my guard. He wanted to know about my work and expressed a desire to make fuller use of my services. He inquired about my American experience and asked for my technical literature, which he said he would have translated.

Several days later, he sent for my interpreter. I accompanied her to his office. He was visibly annoyed when he saw me. Relying on my supposed ignorance of Russian, he offered her a position as his secretary. I sat looking off to one side, apparently understanding nothing. She declined, saying that she did not wish to do secretarial work. Her position with me occupied all of her time, she added. At her refusal, Agievich changed face abruptly. Angrily, he declared that if she would not leave me and work for him, there was no place for her in the trust. She would have to go at once, he said. She rose without answer. I went with her. I telephoned to Nemetz at once and told him of the incident. He asked me to come to his office.

Nemetz asked some questions and then telephoned to Agievich. He informed him sharply that such action would not be tolerated. My interpreter, he said, was to continue to work with me without interference.

We went back to Zavodostroi. Cooperation with Agievich was thenceforth impossible. My recommendations, verbal or written, were ignored. Urgent requests to him for important information and decisions went unanswered. I discussed the situation with Borodin. At his suggestion I prepared two more articles for the Moscow Daily News in which I brought these conditions to public notice.


On November 15, 1932, the Moscow Daily News printed an article headed:


Lack of Coordination, Faulty Organization,
Loose Supervision Among Difficulties

In this article, the work of Zavodostroi was thoroughly reviewed. Specific weaknesses in organization were detailed. The article read in part as follows:

The cost and quality of a finished building depends on the thoroughness with which the construction program is planned. Obviously, this requires the greatest care and fullest cooperation among and between field and office forces and consultants. Economic studies must be made of different methods of doing the work to indicate the most efficient. Standardized procedure is absolutely necessary.

In Zavodostroi, each project is left to the discretion of the group designated to prepare it. Interchange of information with the field engineers is not provided for. The completion date for the work program is vague. Available equipment and material are not known. Building plans are not obtained in time from the designing trusts. In some cases, they are not obtained at all.

Studies are begun without plans and, in some cases, completed without accurate information. Conditions at the site are generally unknown. Elaborate plans for work are made in ignorance of them. Subsequently, these turn out to be useless.

Technical councils held to pass upon these programs do not deserve their name. As many as twenty men may be present, few familiar with the project or its detailed problems. Economic studies are rarely presented, investigated, or checked. Strength calculations, occasionally needed, are rarely made.

Several disastrous instances of this bad procedure will be given. At Lubertsi, the platforms of the plant were to be built for certain lengths of timber to be stored. Information on these lengths was never obtained. The storage platforms were designed in ignorance, wasting considerable funds and badly needed material.

Construction of the great grain distillery and the electric power station at Efremov involved many thousands of cubic meters of excavation. An elaborate mechanical excavating plan was made. Later, it was discovered that horses and scrapers were available at the site, rendering the plan useless. Complete drawings of the centering and scaffolding for the Efremov works were made by this consultant. Then it was found that scaffolding was available at the site, left over from previous work!


Installation of the boilers in the Efremov power station was the critical factor in the time schedule. The trust proceeded on the program of installing the boilers during construction of the building. This required elaborate precautions. Later it developed that the boilers would be installed after completion of the building. The expensive work program had to be discarded. The consultant prepared designs for suspended forms for the reinforced concrete distillery bins. They indicated a decided economy. The plans were approved by a majority of the technical council. The chief engineer, having been absent most of the session, and in complete ignorance of the consultant's proposal, suddenly returned and voiced a hasty, adverse opinion.

Eventually it was found that neither steel nor cement were available for the bins, necessitating their construction in wood. All of the work was wasted.

A note was appended to this article, which read:

These matters are now in the hands of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. It is expected that quick action will follow, to remedy the serious defects of which our correspondent justly complains.—The Editors

On November 16, another article was published in the same paper describing several specific reports and recommendations which I had made to the chief engineer. In not a single instance had I received any decision or even acknowledgment. These recommendations included the work on the Lubertsi airplane-lumber storage plant, the Mai Aviation Institute, the standardized diatomaceous earth brick plant, the standardization of flat-slab concrete building forms, the standard procedure for planning organization of work, and the standard practice of controlling the office work. This article concluded:

Not one of these conditions has been visibly changed. They still exist. Many other cases of unanswered communications could be given. This indicates an extraordinary ability to keep quiet and do nothing. But the general construction program suffers from this serious neglect. Large amounts of precious resources and efforts are wasted. When will the proper authorities act to alter these conditions?

About this time I had a conversation with Zaidner, after which I wrote home as follows:

Mr. Zaidner, now of Intourist, tells me that I will be called upon soon to consult on several new hotels which the U.S.S.R. is planning for tourists. The cold-storage program for the U.S.S.R., which I developed in Los Angeles with Ruck, has come to life and may proceed soon. Also, I am to


meet several university scientists in the fields of mathematics and physics. This alters the conditions of my program. With these new activities and the possibility of working effectively, I shall remain.

The methods of conducting work often seemed the very negation of efficiency. For example, a technical council of twenty-five engineers reviewed the organization of the work plan for the Efremov project. Most of them knew little of this project. With few exceptions, they had not studied the proposed methods beforehand. The meeting began just after noon on a hot, sultry day. At six in the evening it was still under way, and I had not yet been called upon to present the plans! The hours had been filled with oratory rather than engineering. At length the time came for me to speak.

"I am no orator," I began. "My discussion will be limited to the engineering matters in hand. One man in the council," I said, "seems to me to have made the best use of his time up to now.

Everyone looked up expectantly.

"Maevsky!" I shouted.

Curled up in his seat near the window, in the warm sunlight, a peaceful smile on his face, Maevsky was fast asleep!

A large construction office may be compared to the bridge of a battleship in the heat of a naval engagement. Emergencies arise on all sides, breakdown of essential equipment, rush supply orders, failures of men and mechanics to appear or properly carry out orders, disasters of flood and fire, accidents of explosion or collapse. Into the central office pour the vital messages about these situations. They must be immediately overcome. Every detail of expeditious handling must be arranged. In transmitting information, minutes mean thousands of dollars and human lives. Communication is the vital nervous system. A well-arranged central telephone exchange, therefore, is the heart of a construction organization.

The Russian trusts totally lacked this. Telephone lines were not grouped into central exchanges. They were run separately to the desk of each important official. If one left his desk for a few moments, or went on a trip for a few days, or a vacation for a month, or was sent to prison for several years, the only information that could be gotten was that the desired person was not at the end of the line. A job, hundreds of miles away, calling urgently for vital information, could obtain nothing if the


necessary official was absent. An assistant to answer the telephone and inform the caller of the state of affairs was unheard of. Work simply stopped.

Equally strange to trained Western executives was the conduct of Soviet conferences [consultation hours]. There is no such procedure as waiting in turn and passing systematically through an assistant's hands. Irrespective of previously made appointments, there is a continuous unorganized scramble for the desired official. Those wishing to talk with him walk unceremoniously into his private office. Shouldering their way through the cluster of people surrounding his desk, they begin talking to him at once. Another, coming later, does the same, breaking in upon the conversation of the first. A third interrupts the second, and so on. Little distinction is made between business and social conversation. Each proceeds on an equal basis while work languishes.

The notion that the tempo of work in the U.S.S.R., in the language of ignorant, unobservant tourists and euphemistic correspondents, is "feverish" is nonsense. Bolshevik tempo, in general, is still one of the slowest in the world, comparable with that in Mexico, China and India. It is almost impossible to obtain appointments with responsible officials before ten in the morning or after four o'clock in the afternoon. This slow tempo is another of the fundamental reasons for the low productivity and depressed living standards in the U.S.S.R. It could hardly be otherwise, considering the indolence and inefficiency of the bureaucratic management.

In the month of September, the first premonitory rumblings of the dreadful agricultural crisis (which was to lead soon to mass starvation) began to be felt in Moscow.[31] Though the shortage of food supplies had been severe, and the variety poor, a sharp change for the worse took place. It was most keenly felt by the Russians; but even the privileged foreign experts suffered stringencies at once. Our food rations were cut. At the same time, prices were raised. Milk and eggs disappeared from our store. Little fruit or vegetables could be obtained. Meat became very scarce. Food was the main topic of conversation everywhere.

The impetus in my work afforded by the enthusiastic aid of my interpreter enabled me to undertake development of a special building product which I had planned for some time. To relieve the drain of precious materials which were not being produced in sufficient quantities, such as cement, steel, brick and mortar, I proposed a building unit for walls made of earth.


A mixture of loam, clay and sand, in the proper proportions, with heavy oil waste residues and some fibre added, was to be compacted in forms under hydraulic pressure into slabs of artificial rock. The fibre would give strength in cross-bending and shear resistance.

Dipped in asphaltic paint after removal from the press, the result would be a smooth-finished, leak-proof wall unit, equivalent to about 150 bricks, plastered both inside and out. Ernst May, with whom I discussed the specifications, was enthusiastic. Some of the Russian engineers, in a council to consider it, argued against it in a highly theoretical fashion.

I began experimentation at once. Molds were built to my design after incredible exhortation. I located a hydraulic press and ordered materials for the production of several test specimens. Just at this time, a break in my relationship with the management of the trust occurred, which halted this work. Later, it was transferred to Leningrad in the Institute for Construction Materials.



Towards the end of September, relations with the new Chief Engineer Agievich became severely strained, owing to my insistent recommendations for improving the work. Again I went to see Nemetz, the head of the All-Union Trust, and discussed the conditions with him. He understood that my position in Zavodostroi was not a pleasant one.

Nemetz proposed that I join the staff of Soyuzstroi. The post of chief construction engineer at Izhevsk was open. This project was an enormous industrial kombinat being built in the Urals. Its estimated cost was three hundred million rubles, and it would take four years to complete. I reflected for some moments. Then I declined. I felt that I would be isolated there. My Moscow experience might be duplicated or I might be rendered even more ineffectual. I told Nemetz that after firmer ground was laid in the work in Moscow, I might consider the position.

Nemetz then proposed something entirely different and extremely interesting. The First Five Year Plan, he explained, had been predicated partly on the development of a general rationalization program for the construction industry. New industrial plants were constantly springing up. Their production was not coordinated with that of the older ones. Immense confusion resulted. As an instance, half a dozen different types of wall blocks might be sent to the same building. The strength and insulating value of the finished walls were consequently highly variable. Door and window frames did not fit. Hundreds of such cases of uncoordinated development were to be seen on all sides. Disastrous failures in fulfillment of the construction program in the First Five Year Plan emphasized in the minds of the Party leaders the vital necessity for formulating such a rationalization program for the Second Five Year Plan.

Nemetz invited me to consult on such a program. It meant the opportunity to work in the All-Union Trust instead of its subsidiary, in close contact with this able and friendly executive, and to apply all my experience and training to the development of better construction for the entire


range of building operations throughout the U.S.S.R. This was a magnificent challenge. I accepted it.

Many months previously, in New York, before I left for Europe, Dr. Walter Polakov, the well-known power engineer and editor of the Soviet-American Technical Magazine , printed in Russian, had requested me to write an article on construction management. I had dictated it hastily on my last day in America. After I sailed for Europe, Dr. Polakov translated it into Russian and published it. In September the Amtorg Trading Corporation in Moscow notified me that a copy of the magazine had arrived containing my article. They requested me to come to their office to receive it. Several of my colleagues in Zavodostroi had read this article and in great excitement had brought it to me.

With the magazines under my arm I was returning along the Petrovka, one of the main streets of Moscow, when, suddenly, out of a dense crowd, appeared the majestic figure of the woman whom I had sought so long. Her radiant countenance was vibrant with the electric force which I had sensed in her image years ago. For an instant her shining eyes rested on me. Then she stepped vigorously off the crowded sidewalk and walked past. I stood rooted to the ground. The fleeting moment in which I had seen her face revealed beauty and strength even greater than that I remembered so well. It was the first time I had encountered a familiar face on the streets of Moscow. I turned to watch her.

With the stately poise which characterized her, she walked perhaps fifty paces, then stopped to speak to a woman whom I recognized as a Russian actress I had met at the Lyonses' home. I recalled that she spoke French. My knowledge of Russian was still negligible. With desperate decision I walked towards the two women. I greeted the one I knew in French. Then I asked her if the other lady was not Mme. Cessarskaya. My acquaintance looked at me keenly, then answered affirmatively. Cessarskaya herself made no sign. Limited by lack of language and feeling intensely the critical nature of the encounter, I bowed and went on. A half-block further on, I resumed my course to my office. I walked slowly, deeply moved by the unexpected encounter.

Suddenly, I felt an arm slipped in mine. It was the French-speaking actress.

"You are interested in Mme. Cessarskaya?" she asked.

"Yes," I answered fervently.


"I will arrange for you to meet her," she said.

It was planned to be at Lyons' home. I thanked her warmly and hurried to my office. The moment I entered I grasped the telephone and called Lyons. As soon as I heard his voice, I said, "Gene, we are staying in Russia. I have just met Cessarskaya!"

His voice showed his excitement. But we spoke no more, leaving details until we saw each other. Already I was sensitive to the surveillance encompassing everyone in the U.S.S.R.

The gathering in Lyons' home was arranged for three days later. On the appointed evening I came early, charged with secret impatience, and stirred deeply by the possibilities of the occasion. Other guests were there, among them the novelist Pilnyak.[32] Mrs. Lyons, a charming woman of girlish appearance and great vivacity, entertained with the hospitality for which she is noted. Despite the difficult conditions of Soviet Russia, she had transformed her apartment. Decorated tables were set out, laden with delicacies. Guests conversed in corners. An air of expectancy permeated the room. All were awaiting the coming of Cessarskaya.[33]

At half-past nine the door opened, and the two women entered. As if some powerful irradiation had flooded the room, Cessarskaya's appearance arrested the attention of all present. I stood transfixed. Here, in vital reality, was the noble beauty, the majesty and grace, the intelligence and force, which I had seen in shadowy images.

The women were presented. There was no need to introduce Cessarskaya to the Russians. At last we were face to face. With crushing pain, I realized that we had no common language. She knew no English, French, or German; I, scarcely any Russian.

During the evening I noted the simplicity and grace of her gestures. She drank neither vodka nor wine and barely touched the food. Afterwards I found myself seated on a divan with her and Mrs. Lyons, who spoke Russian fluently. I have never ascertained whether it was through the social genius of Mrs. Lyons, the desire of Cessarskaya or by a fortuitous accident that it was then arranged that I teach Cessarskaya English. The first lesson was set for the next day at five o'clock in Lyons' office. I invited Cessarskaya to dine with me, after the lesson, at my aunts apartment on the other side of the city.

I observed her intently, but unobtrusively. What was the secret of her harmonious loveliness, of the vitality she breathed? I sought it in the


radiant countenance. A broad forehead with powerful natural eyebrows, slightly unsymmetrical. Large, brilliant eyes, dark hazel in color. A straight, short nose, typical of the Ukraine, exquisitely molded, the nostrils quivering with nervous energy like those of a race horse. Delicately chiseled lips, a strong chin. Round, full, glowing cheeks which dimpled when she smiled. Glistening, perfect teeth. Free from all cosmetics, her face shone with vivid health. Parted in the middle, her great wealth of dark brown hair was combed smoothly to the nape of her neck and coiled in a simple knot. Erect and firm, her head recalled classic sculpture. This effect was heightened by the control over her features which made their expression majestic. When she stood, the power and strength of her form was fully revealed. Broad-shouldered, deep-breasted, she stirred recollections of the great Venus, which Rodin, in his ecstasy, named the Venus Genatrix. She wore no jewels or ornaments.

At the appointed hour the next day, I was at Lyons' office. She arrived a moment later. Gene assisted with a few words of initial interpreting, then left us alone. With infinite care, I began the instruction. It was first necessary to establish a basic modicum of communication. The lesson lasted an hour.

We then crossed the city in a tramcar. It was crowded and dirty. My intense happiness was apparent.

She asked in English, "Why you smile?"

I answered in Russian, "Because you are here."

Twice her question was repeated. Twice I answered in the same way. No other word was spoken. We descended from the tram and walked two squares to our destination. An unearthly joy, born of her nearness, pervaded me. I scarcely saw the street.

We entered the apartment house where two aunts of mine lived. Responding to my peculiar knock, my younger aunt appeared. Graciously, she ushered us into the single room which she occupied together with her husband and her elder sister.

During dinner, my aunt conversed in Russian with Cessarskaya. I was content to listen. The beauty and the modesty of Cessarskaya charmed my aunt as it had entranced me. In the cultured voice of my aunt and the beloved low, soft tones of Cessarskaya, the Russian language acquired a new beauty for me. Lost in ecstasy, I heard the two women, one with a maternal affection for me (the son of her sister so far away) and the other, whose harmonious loveliness, like a golden aura, enveloped my whole being.


For the next lesson on the following day, we were to meet, on my suggestion, at the Metropol Hotel. Cessarskaya decided to come to my home to study. I agreed reluctantly because of the unsatisfactory apartment which had been provided for me. It had, however, the advantage that no one was there except the peasant maid. It was the most private place in Moscow. The hotel was more than a mile from my apartment. I had begun to look for a cab or a droshky when Cessarskaya appeared. She wanted no cab. She liked to walk, she said. Would I walk with her? she asked.

Together we went through the city. I was entranced in a spell of surging happiness. Music, forever associated with her memory, sounded in my ears with the fullest semblance of reality. Emma! Emma!

The second lesson provided the necessary minimum of a common vocabulary. I obtained an English-Russian dictionary, and a Russian-English one for her. She called it her "prayer-book."

For the third lesson we were to meet again at my home. I had conceived a method of instruction far more effective and interesting than grammatical or conversational drill. It possessed a powerful additional feature. This method consisted of a series of letters written by me in English, one for each lesson. New words were added in each letter. The first task of our lessons was to translate these into Russian. She did this with great animation.

The letters began with the story of a child in a faraway country. The second letter told of the hopes of the parents centered on this child. The third dealt with his boyish school experiences. Halfway through this letter she glanced up from her studious translation and said with a smile, "In the sixteenth letter this boy will meet a girl on the Petrovka!"

She had perceived the purpose and the meaning of the letters. They were to convey to her the story of my life and in that way to close the gap of time between us.

From that moment our lessons became hours of joyous mutual unfoldment. I would rush home from my work just in time to meet her. Occasionally it was necessary to wait a few minutes before she appeared. My world trembled in the balance. Then her stately form and radiant countenance ...

Her first question was always, "Where my special letter?"

So great was her interest in these letters, so keen her disappointment when one was shorter than the rest that she asked for two each day. Occupied at that time with the rationalization program of construction


for the Second Five Year Plan, I, nevertheless, found this added task lovable and light. She was delighted. Carefully planned, the letters traced the line of my life up to my first view of her image. In that letter I called her the Dark Goddess.

She was visibly affected. On her face was the radiance of a smile that had once been a shadow in a distant land. I was silent while she translated the letters. From time to time she would glance up at me, with profound comprehension.

Our lessons increased in length. From one hour they became three, then four and five. They expanded into golden periods of the richest communion. Beyond the significance of the constructive work in which I was engaged, I knew that this love, which had been a vision of unattainable joy and was now a living reality, had become the vital element of my life. From it I drew the strength and joy to sustain me in the difficult life I had chosen. Upon its outcome rested the foundation of the future.

On October 8, I began my new work in the Soyuzstroi. Unfortunately my capable interpreter was not appointed with me to the new post, ostensibly for lack of funds. She struggled for three weeks, loyally trying to obtain a place with me in the Soyuzstroi. Nemetz was away on vacation. Without him I could not get her a place. In the end she accepted another position. Her fighting enthusiasm and cooperative ability were lost by this bureaucratic stupidity. My effectiveness was seriously hampered.

The sudden and sweeping changes in my existence inspired me with new energy. On October 15, I wrote to America:

The whole world rocks in uncertainty. Men and nations shrink from the dread, inscrutable future. This paralyzes some. Others, under its electrical effect, cast away fear and attempt superhuman tasks. When life itself may be so easily lost, all other losses and sufferings are relatively light.

Great as are some of the achievements of Soviet Russia, they are but one view of this tremendous scene. Living conditions are steadily sinking. Housing is frightful, owing largely to the influx of new streams of urban population. The food supply is failing. Suffering this winter will be extreme.... My quarters seemed cramped and unpleasant until the advent of the noble beauty who has become my constant friend. This glorious influence and my present work on the Second Five Year Plan alter my spiritual vista, transforming life itself. Physical suffering remains, but it is not felt so keenly.

The general program of rationalization has forty-seven divisions. A


supplementary one, by our department, has thirty-nine. My own, with sections more sweeping than the others, contains twenty. It is vitally necessary work, difficult to prepare, but with enormous possibilities. To date, I have completed "Light Foundations," "Mechanized Power Hand Tools," and now am engaged on "Standardized Wood Auxiliary Structures."

A strange experience, my Russian one. I have met the greatest social disappointment, the loveliest beauty, the warmest friend, the heaviest and most responsible task, the deepest sensory suffering, and the greatest joy possible. What the next two months will bring, I do not know. I feel very strong, overflowing with happiness.

After several weeks of the new work, I summarized it in a letter to America:

Our task is to standardize and coordinate the production of materials, design of buildings and construction methods, for the Second Five Year Plan building program. Russia is faced with a serious shortage of building materials, including cement, steel, stone and brick. Experimentation is going on all over the country, to fill the gaps. Unified procedure is essential. Of the entire rationalization program, approximately one half is mine. I am now engaged in the detailed reports. Practical elements must not be forgotten. There is danger in fighting alone. I am carefully feeling my way to the higher officials who, I hope, are devoted to the work. My battle is their battle; theirs mine. I seek their counsel and aid because the work is of national significance. Nothing must stand in the way of bringing it to successful conclusion. Technique, however good, is not the prime essential. It is the courage and unfaltering determination to struggle on against forces and dead weights which destroy nerves, kill patience and poison enthusiasm. With the physical suffering entailed in bad housing, food, air, transportation and sanitation, I shall not deal further. This is Russia. It will take many years to alter. Those of us engaged in the work of reconstructing the physical mechanism of this society on socialistic lines live and labor like soldiers at war. Fortunately, there are no bullets. The poison gas of defeatism we have; also chauvinistic poppycock which destroys the possibilities of the best foreign engineers, and bureaucracy which devours patience and corrodes nerves. Courtesy and human dignity are seldom to be found. Competence is rare, and honesty rarer. The enemies of the new society are not making bombs, nor plotting Stalin's downfall. They are quietly, trickily, obstinately doing nothing and preventing others from doing anything. There is abysmal stupidity in control. Appealing an unsatisfactory situation to higher powers rarely leads to an authoritative, sensible settlement.

Another important condition surrounds my work. The place of an individual, like myself, not part of a group, is not assured. I have not signed any contract because of certain restrictions which are embodied in these


documents. By fighting persistently for results and refusing to slump into the slow general tempo, I have incurred the opposition of the bureaucracy. They will overlook no opportunity to cut me off. For those who continue to fight, there is little aid; for those who cannot endure the strain, no pity. I would oppose my family or colleagues coming here. But I shall remain until the work is brought to a good end, or it becomes impossible to proceed.

Relations with my previous trust had not been concluded. On his return to Moscow, Nemetz conferred with me and urged me to take the matters which had been described in the Moscow Daily News articles directly to the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection Commissariat.

Before I did this it occurred to me to test another organization. Accordingly, I visited the headquarters of the dreaded O.G.P.U. on Lubianka Square. I asked for the commandant. I was conducted to his office. For two hours, he inquired exhaustively into the activities of my former trust. At the end, he said politely that these were economic, not political, matters; his organization, which dealt only with the latter, could, consequently, do nothing. To this I suggested that bad treatment of foreign engineers might be reflected later in their public remarks or writings, with important political reactions, especially in the United States, where the U.S.S.R. was attempting to build up favorable sentiment for diplomatic recognition and trade development. Immediately, he changed countenance.

"Yes," he said. "In this light it is a political matter."

His jaw snapped.

"I will deal with your trust at once. But please go now to the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection Commissariat and speak to them. The economic side of the matter will be taken up there."

When I told an American friend who had long been a resident of Moscow of this incident, he was astounded. No American had even been in the forbidding building of the dreaded O.G.P.U.

At the headquarters of the R.K.I. I met a Comrade Clark of the Foreign Section [Clark was a Communist of U.S. citizenship]. I outlined the situation to him. He asked me to secure all the relevant data and promised an immediate investigation. Three days later, I brought various plans, reports and calculations to his office. He went over them casually with me and put them away in the lower drawer of his desk. For several weeks I did not hear from him. Early in December, he communicated with me and informed me that the first hearing was scheduled.

This meeting was held in the office of the Foreign Section of the


R.K.I. Three investigators appeared. No representative of the trust had been summoned. No plans, reports or data had been obtained from the trust. I possessed a complete file of all documents relating to the matter, some of which I carried with me. The investigators asked for them, for their official records. I refused. The chief investigator snapped angrily, "Do you not trust the R.K.I.?"

"It is not your integrity which I doubt," I replied. "It is your filing system! All the records of this matter have been lost or destroyed by the trust, except my own. These I have preserved. You may inspect them at any time at my home, but under no conditions will I turn them over to any Soviet organization!"

No amount of persuasion could shake me from my stand. Finally, they stopped trying. The meeting was adjourned and we all went to my house to look at the records.

This conference was followed by several others which, I saw, were accomplishing very little. The authority of these investigators was openly flouted by the officials of the trust, several of whom did not appear when summoned. The investigators themselves were not competent engineers and were at sea regarding several technical questions. This procedure finally exhausted my patience. At one meeting I warned them that unless the trust's chief engineer was present at the next meeting, and the investigators prepared themselves on all data in question, I would drop the matter with their committee. If they did not feel as much concerned as I, a foreigner, about improvement of construction in the U.S.S.R., I would go no further with them, I said. But, I added, I would carry the issue to higher authorities, even to Lenin's sister, Mariia Il'inichna Ulianova, the nominal head of the R.K.I. (I had, in fact, already arranged an appointment with her.) One investigator sneered, "Take the matter to Lenin's mother if you want!"

"Comrade," I replied coldly, "Lenin's mother is dead, but she is worth more than you who are alive. You are so steeped in bureaucracy that you might just as well be dead. We shall meet again. When we do, my prediction is that you will investigate more strenuously!"

The chairman of the conference tried to gloss over the remark of the investigator. That was the end of these meetings.

The Spartan chamber in which I lived, on the fifth floor, had only one window. It looked into a court and across Moscow to the south. A mile away gleamed the green dome of the administration building of the


Kremlin, over which floated the red flag. A study table, three chairs and my bed were the only furnishings. In this room our lessons were held. There, the sweetness and character of my companion were revealed to me. Her beauty and affection transformed it into a haven of joy.

In the sixteenth letter I wrote the incident of the sudden glory of first seeing her in Moscow. The chasm of history between us was closed! The barriers of space and time were surmounted! We were together!

In three weeks, by dint of concentration, she had acquired enough English to speak freely with me, without self-consciousness. I had awaited this stage with great anticipation. I had decided to unfold my plans to her that evening, risking the dangers of misinterpretation of language. We went down a quiet side street towards the famous Tverskaya.

The Tverskaya had been renamed Gorky Street in honor of the famous writer. In Russian, gorkii means bitter. We laughingly called it "Bitter" Street, because it was there I had to leave her when accompanying her home.

As we walked arm in arm, I told her, slowly, in carefully chosen words, how I had come over continents and oceans, through years, over the barrier of speech to find the Dark Goddess of my vision. I had found her. She was as I had dreamed. In my land there were great tasks for her in her art; I had my part to do in the rebuilding of the economic structure of my country. She was to me beauty beyond compare, the strong, warm Beloved Companion, whom I had ceaselessly sought. My life and its powers rested in my love for her. All that I was or could be moved in intimate response to her being. In the field of her radiance, all struggle, all sorrow, were transmuted into joy.

She listened intently to each word. Finally I asked, "Will you come with me to my country?"

Looking me full in the face, her eyes shining with divine tenderness and strength, she answered, "I know all! I will be with you!"

We walked onward in vibrant silence with clasped hands, filled with inexpressible happiness.

I had anticipated union with the Beloved Companion and had carefully considered the situation in which she would find herself in the United States. To a friend who was a producer in an American motion picture studio I wrote to arrange for her to play in American films. He knew of her work previously through me. Stimulation of friendly relations be-


tween the U.S.S.R. and the United States of America might well result from national presentation in our country of such a magnificent exemplar of the new Soviet womanhood. The studio head replied that command of English was essential. To this end, we concentrated our efforts on the lessons.

Week after week passed in a simple, inexpressibly joyous routine. At this time I was heavily engaged on the general rationalization program for the construction industry for the Second Five Year Plan. My office hours, broken by meetings and conferences, were inadequate for the task. It was my habit, therefore, to work at home several hours each night.

Winter approached. Our lessons continued. She would come to my home in the evening, alone, having walked across the city wrapped in furs. Her proud, independent spirit showed in every act. She never permitted me to assist her in taking off her rubber overshoes, saying decisively, "I, myself!"

When I began to teach Emma, our lessons had been immediately after I came home from my office. I did not dine at my apartment, but with my aunts, across the city. As the lessons lengthened, I deferred my dinner hour later and later into the evening. This often resulted in my omitting altogether to eat. She noted this and questioned me about it. I attempted to evade her inquiries. With inimitable mock-seriousness, she once said, "If you do not eat you will die. Then I shall have to walk in the street and weep for my dear teacher!"



Early in the formulation of the rationalization program, I was confronted by the difficulty of determining the volume of construction operations to which the ultimate proposals would be applicable. Searching the extensive literature on the Five Year Plan I did not find any material which would throw light on this problem. Gradually, it became clear to me that there was no accurate information in the world on this crucial subject. Consequently I undertook a study to establish the magnitude of the First Five Year Plan in construction.

To calculate the size of the First Five Year Plan, some standard of measurement had first to be selected. For this I chose the American construction industry during the decade 1922–32, which included the boom and the ensuing depression. In each class of construction, such as buildings, roads, power plants, pipe lines, railroads, etc., I analyzed the operations and totalled the volume, measured in dollars, and also in actual units, i.e., cubic feet of building construction, miles of highway, etc. Using the American census figures and the special census of the construction industry of the United States, made in 1929, I derived fundamental factors of the man-power in the construction industry, productivity of labor, percentage of employment, number of workdays per annum, annual wages, amounts of construction materials produced, the total productive capacity, and the power used in the construction industry.

Then I investigated the First Five Year Plan capital expenditure program. It was complicated and, in some cases, misleading. Appropriations were set up in two kinds of currency: "rubles of respective years," and also rubles of fixed prices of 1926–27. The latter was considerably lower than the par value of the gold ruble in international exchange. Their value varied for each field of construction, depending upon the relative amounts of deficit materials, such as cement and steel, machinery, equipment, skilled labor and common labor involved. The "ruble of respective years" was a fictitious conception. It had been created by the Commissariat of Finance, which anticipated a 20 per cent rise in the value of the ruble by the end of the First Five Year Plan. Appropriations for identical


work, therefore, had two ruble valuations, differing numerically from one another, those in the fixed prices of 1926–27 being larger than the others. Neither was directly comparable to the other, nor to the gold ruble.

The situation was further complicated by the purchasing power index for industrial production and construction in the Soviet Union. This index indicated that Soviet construction bore no simple ratio to construction abroad, expressed in foreign currency. The volumes of construction planned in the program, such as kilometers of highway, square meters of housing area and kilowatts of electrical power capacity, had each to be compared with similar American amounts, separately. Then, by contrasting the ruble cost of these units to the dollar cost of similar units of American construction, ratios of the ruble value in terms of the dollar could be obtained for each class of construction.

Applying these ratios to the Five Year Plan budget appropriations, and weighting the amounts thus obtained by the relative proportions they represented in the total investment program, the dollar value was obtained of the entire volume of capital construction in the First Five Year Plan. This could be compared directly to the volume of American construction. In this way, the magnitude of the First Five Year Plan, never before known, could be established.

Enormous amounts of detail work were involved in this study, extending over every phase of Soviet construction. There was no time during the working day for it. Several hours each evening at home I devoted to this analysis. Week after week went by in sustained effort. The studies were commenced in October, 1932. Late in December, I had the preliminary results fairly clear. To complete my information on the American construction industry, I sent for statistical material from the United States. In January, I began writing the reports from the accumulation of hundreds of pages of notes and calculations. It was well along in March before the studies were complete and typewritten.

Utilizing the preliminary results, I made an approximate conclusion about the magnitude of the First Five Year Plan. I compared it to one average year of American construction in the decade 1922–32. Floods of literature on the First Five Year Plan had inundated the world. These had been produced almost exclusively by journalists and professional writers. As a rule, they were untrained technically. Consequently they could not accurately gauge the startling activity which they saw. It was their books and articles which had created the popular misunderstanding that


the First Five Year Plan was an "enormous, gigantic, unprecedented" program, which at "terrific tempo." "crammed forty years of industrialization into four." The general impression was that other nations were doing practically no work, while tremendous volumes of construction were being carried out in the U.S.S.R., amounts never before dreamed of during the Czarist regime and in previous periods of Soviet history. My conclusions did not bear out these general impressions.

In December I had a conversation with Lyons and asked him how many average years of American construction in the decade of 1922–32 were equivalent to the entire First Five Year Plan. He guessed fifteen. When I told him my approximate conclusion, his face paled.

"Of course," he said, "I do not doubt your figures, but I earnestly suggest that you check them carefully. If they are correct, every correspondent and journalist for four years has been conveying to the world an entirely erroneous impression and in doing so has been an unconscious liar."

I assured him that before any mention would be made of my final results to anyone they would be carefully reviewed and proven.

The detailed studies were pushed forward rapidly. I showed them to Ernst May. He was stunned by the conclusion.

"I felt that this must be so," he said, "from my broad experiences with Soviet enterprise. Never before, however, has an accurate study been made."

He reviewed the proofs of the computations, including the comparison of man-power affected by labor productivity and the application of power to construction, the comparative volumes of building material produced, the wage funds of the two countries' industries, etc. These confirmed the detailed analysis of the various fields of construction, compared on the basis of absolute volume. The well-known American correspondent Walter Duranty[34] of the New York Times , hearing about the study and realizing its significance, offered a considerable sum of money to me for my conclusions. But the information remained in my private files, and his money stayed in his possession.

Publication of these results at that time might have had a very serious and possibly adverse effect upon international attitudes towards the U.S.S.R. Later on, in March, 1933, I explained these studies to my friend and constant companion, Cessarskaya. We were then planning to marry and come to the United States. She understood at once the signifi-


cance of the articles and asked me not to publish them. If they were printed, she said, it was certain that she would not be permitted to leave Russia with me.

By the middle of December, a number of reports on the general rationalization program for the Soyuzstroi had been completed. The channels through which they had to pass were the administration of the Soyuzstroi, then the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, and finally, the State Planning Commission. After ratification there by official directive, they were to be incorporated into the construction practice of the entire country.

The head of our department was Nikitin, who had been in charge of technical employment in the Amtorg offices in New York. He was a typical Soviet bureaucrat. No discussion with him ever led to any result. If the matter in question was a general issue, he would loudly insist on concrete details. As soon as detail studies were submitted he urgently emphasized that there was no time to discuss petty details: only broad, general policy could be established, he declared. This kind of direction of the work rapidly demoralized the rationalization group. By the end of the year, we were floundering in masses of undigested data and incomplete reports, none of which had been forwarded for action to the Commissariat of Heavy Industry.

Among these was a report on the standardization of wall blocks, which I had prepared. In 113 Soviet factories scores of different sizes, shapes and weights of wall blocks were being manufactured. They had varying mixes, densities, void spaces and insulating values. The report investigated all of these and recommended seven standard sizes to replace them. Appended to the report was a special project, which I had developed, of an interlocking block. Its use would greatly reduce the labor of placing and the amount of mortar used in setting. A much stronger, interlinked wall would result without requiring metal ties, which were unobtainable because of the low steel production.

At the request of the administration, this report was referred to the B.R.I.Z. (the Bureau for Rationalization and Invention). It was highly condensed since I intended illustrating it in a conference with further drawings, which I was preparing. A meeting was tentatively set to consider it and the translation of the report begun. Each day I inquired at the bureau about the progress of the translation. It should have taken three or four hours to make. A week passed and I was still being told that it


was not quite finished. On the tenth day, when I asked, they informed me that the report and translation had been sent to Leningrad to an institute affiliated with the Soyuzstroi, which would investigate it.

I was puzzled and angry.

"It should have been studied in Moscow," I said, "with my cooperation, not in Leningrad, without me."

The head of the B.R.I.Z. merely shrugged his shoulders.

Zaidner, of Intourist, sent for me at the end of October. I was wanted, he said, as consultant on the construction of several large hotels which Intourist was planning to erect in various cities in Russia. I was delighted. Another interesting project was brought to me about that time by another Russian. It was the conversion of a celebrated historic monastery into housing. Enmeshed in typical Soviet bureaucratic red tape, these projects never came to fruition. Several months later, the R.K.I. did ask me to make a confidential report to them on faulty and dangerous construction details on the sixteen-story Moscow Soviet Hotel, then being built on Okhotnyi riad in Moscow.

Dangerous antagonism and jealousy between government trusts were illustrated in various phases of the rationalization studies. Standard plans for temporary housing and communal buildings had to be obtained from Zavodostroi (First Industrial Building Trust) and from Standartzhilstroi (Standardized Housing Trust). I made many fruitless efforts to get them. Finally Standartzhilstroi set a very high price on copies of its drawings, which the Soyuzstroi refused to pay. As a result the study was stopped.

The food crisis began to manifest itself in extreme form in Moscow by the end of October. Meat was no longer obtainable at the foreign specialists store. It could be had only at Torgsin, the restricted store, selling for gold equivalent or foreign currency. This store, of course, was beyond the reach of most Russians. My letter of October 28 concluded: "There will be terrible suffering this winter. It is hoped that none will starve."

Opposition which I encountered in the work was the common experience of every competent foreign engineer with whom I had spoken. Jack Calder, who superintended the construction of the Stalingrad tractor plant, part of Magnitogorsk, a zinc plant at Khimkent, and finally the abortive copper project at Balkhash, had an illuminating story to tell. The complete breakdown at Balkhash had resulted partly from the failure to provide transportation facilities for building materials. Thousands


of workmen had been gathered there. Seventy million rubles were spent. No visible results were accomplished. The enormous expenditure and lack of progress finally caused a government investigation. It was taken before the commissariat of the R.K. I. While the investigation was on, Calder was in Moscow. He talked with me on several occasions. One of the causes for the debacle, he told me in confidence, was the secret diversion of food supplies from the job to the starving population surrounding that area. This was carried out by the director of the project, who thereby risked his life to save his people. Attempts were made by the administration of the project to fasten the blame on Calder. These false charges so antagonized Calder that he eventually broke with the authorities, refused a new contract, and, angry and disgusted, went back to America.

By the beginning of November, work on the rationalization program of the Second Five Year Plan was well advanced. Prospective results were such that the Soyuzstroi asked me to remain at least five months more in order to complete the studies. My original intention had been to return to America in December. I told the administration that if my work would be expedited, I would remain. On November 4, I wrote to America of this.

This is the greatest task I have yet attempted. It can be done: It is a vital need for the U.S.S.R. Disappointing conditions here do not deter me. Some Russian habits and practices are unmitigatedly bad. They must be categorically condemned. Nevertheless, socialism is the necessary society of the future. No other, I believe, can hope to stand the fire test of history.

Results of the work to date are:

1. General program of approximately eighty fundamental proposals, formulated and clarified.

2. My own program of approximately twenty proposals, broader than those in the general program, formulated and presented.

3. Detailed analytical reports and economic studies, including necessary plans and specifications on sections of the plan, as follows:

Light Foundations (up to four-story buildings): Eliminating as far as possible cement, steel, stone, brick—these being deficit materials here.

Mechanization of Construction Hand Tools Using Pneumatic Power: Comprehensive reorganization of all job craft work by application of power tools, establishing higher productivity factors.


Vertical and Horizontal Transportation: Methods of moving large quantities of construction materials for the new building program. As an instance, one item is three billion bricks, which represent about 5 per cent of the entire volume of material. These figures are for one year only.

Development of Pre-Cast Concrete: Considerable savings in cement, and higher quality and greater strength of concrete will result. Concrete volume in the Second Five Year Plan is estimated at three million cubic yards per annum for the Soyuzstroi alone, which is approximately 20 per cent of the work of the entire country.

Standardization of Wood Structures: Including housing, communal and institutional structures, and industrial buildings.

Rational Design of Floors and Walls: Replacing customary construction.

Central Mixing Plants for Concrete: Strategically placed mixing plants, combined with storage bunkers for cement and aggregates, and block-making and pre-casting plants to balance load factor of variable construction job demand.

When these reports are completed they go to the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, thence to the State Planning Commission for final adoption for the entire construction industry of the country.

So great has been the interest aroused by the possibilities of these construction methods, planned for nation-wide use, that requests for copies of the studies have come from all over this country and even from America. Material is being prepared for publication, both in the U.S.S.R. and America.

On the seventh of November, the fifteenth anniversary of the Bolshevik Revolution was celebrated. I had press credentials, which gave me the privilege of standing on the tribune in Red Square. In a letter recording the scene, I wrote:

Stalin, surrounded by the other government leaders, stands on Lenin's mausoleum. Voroshilov is speaking. It is gray and cold, but the atmosphere is charged with the electricity of the assembled power of the Workers' Republic. Voroshilov's voice ringingly declares the peaceful intentions of the U.S.S.R., but its militant readiness to defend the Revolution to the ultimate sacrifice. When he finishes, the great rolling cheer of the massed battalions begins, one adding to another, until it swells to a mighty roar. Great fleets of war planes sweep across the sky, the thunder of their motors shaking the earth. All have turned for a few days from scenes of struggle and suffering. They are carried away with dreams of future glory and the promised new world.


If we only had in the armies of construction some of the order and discipline of the magnificent Red Army! Though it is a holiday, I am busy with work on the plan, and shall soon return to it. The city is blocked off. The parade stops everything. No tramcars run.

Lyons had invited me to a gathering of his colleagues and friends that day. I arrived late in the afternoon. As I listened to the conversation I felt that my life in the U.S.S.R., steeped in the constructive work and struggles of the country, sharing its hardships and knowing the love of my incomparable companion was infinitely richer and closer to Soviet life than that of these people who made an American island in Moscow.

This was to some extent unjust to my American friends. I did not yet know the full effect of the surveillance and the social isolation with which the Foreign Office and the O.G.P.U. surrounded the foreign correspondents, forcing them back upon themselves for social intercourse.

My completed reports on sections of the rationalization program were submitted for review to Nikitin, the head of the Rationalization Department of the Soyuzstroi. They piled up in his office, unread. No sign of activity on his part was indicated. In the middle of December, therefore, I conferred with Nemetz about this situation. I pointed out to him that our department was working without any plan and that it lacked centralized responsibility. Under such conditions, realization of the work was not possible. He promised to take immediate action.

A few days later, Lugashin, the director of the Soyuzstroi, whose place Nemetz had filled for a year during an illness, returned to Moscow. Nemetz was then sent to Mariupol, near the Black Sea, to build a great steel plant. It was generally understood that the transfer of Nemetz was the result of his criticism of certain wasteful policies and his friendly treatment of foreign engineers. Hope of decisive action by the Soyuzstroi administration was lost by his transfer. Lugashin, a good Communist, but devoid of technical training, was competent neither to appraise the value of the work, nor to prosecute it diligently.

Our studies were therefore in danger of becoming merely academic documents, filed and forgotten. This then was to be the outcome of so much effort! To prevent this, I redoubled my energy and explored all possible channels through which the work might be pushed.

The Soviet trade unions are specifically charged with the duty of assisting foreign engineers. The head of the trade unions, Shvernik,[35] in several widely heralded speeches at that time, emphasized this activity of


his organizations. Therefore, I sought out the trade union officer in our trust and laid the information about our obstructed work before him. He listened, shrugged his shoulders, and promised to investigate. Nothing ever came of this.

Campaigning had begun for the internal loan for the Second Five Year Plan.[36] Subscriptions were solicited from everyone. "Voluntary" subscriptions were, in fact, demanded. No Soviet worker dared refuse to make one. Although I was in sympathy with the purpose of the loan, when I was approached, I refused point-blank to subscribe. The official who had asked me was greatly taken aback. He inquired my reason for refusing. I asked him if the subscriptions were voluntary. Grudgingly, he admitted they were.

"I do not wish to subscribe, that is all!" I said.

He went away, baffled and angry.

I had done this advisedly. By my refusal, I planned to draw the attention of the administration and use the incident to further the work. The ruse was successful. An hour later I received a request to come to the office of the head of the department. I went at once. The Party secretary of the trust was there with him.

He looked at me solemnly. Was it true, he asked, that I had refused to subscribe to the loan?

"Yes," I answered.

Why had I refused?

"Comrades," I asked, "is your Soviet society based on cooperation?"

"Yes, yes!" the Party secretary answered quickly.

"You wish me to cooperate with you in this loan?"

"Yes," he answered wonderingly.

"Well," I said, "cooperation works both ways. You ask mine, but you do not give me yours."

"What do you mean?" asked the secretary.

"For months," I replied, "my reports have been on file in this office. They should have been reviewed and forwarded to the Commissariat of Heavy Industry long ago. For half a year no meeting has been held to consider the work accomplished and to plan for the future. I have brought this to the attention of the trade unions. I have taken it up with the administration. Nothing has ever been done. The only possible conclusion is that you do not wish to cooperate with me. Therefore, I refuse to cooperate any longer with you."


The Party secretary glanced at Nikitin, who seemed dazed by what I had said. He waited for Nikitin to speak. Nikitin recovered himself slowly. Quick consideration would be given to all outstanding matters, he said. He begged me, in view of the fact that this was the last day for subscription to the loan, not to make a black mark on the record of his department by refusing. The Party secretary said that he would give his word of honor that he would see, personally, that the work would be expedited. On the strength of these two pledges I declared myself satisfied and wrote out a subscription to the loan for an amount which was the highest percentage of earnings of anyone in the trust. Everyone was elated. The meeting ended with expressions of good will by all.

Joyously content to be alone with Emma, I felt, in the ensuing months, a natural desire that she meet my friends. With intense delight, I looked forward to viewing with her several of her own films. The winter months in Moscow are filled with the magnificent Russian theatre season and symphony concerts. I also wanted to attend these with her.

A combination of circumstances and some dissatisfaction with her work led her, at this time, to leave the city for a vacation. She went to the celebrated rest-home at Uskia [Uzkaia? Uzkoe?], a suburb of Moscow, reserved for members of the Central Committee of the Communist Party and their friends. Formerly it had been a splendid estate owned by a royal prince. From Uskia, every day at an appointed hour, she telephoned to me in Moscow. The sound of her beloved voice was music, all-compensating for the disagreeable incidents which now began to multiply in my work, incidents which were to reveal the deadly bureaucracy sucking the lifeblood of Soviet industry and prolonging for years the deprivation and suffering of the Russian people.

After Emma returned to Moscow, she came, one night, for her lesson. From her purse she drew out a letter. With strange excitement, I noted that it was on my autographed stationery. It was the one I had sent to her two and one-half years before—and it was unopened!

"Why did you not read it before?" I asked in amazement.

"I felt that some day I would read it with the writer!" she replied.

Together, we read my message of years before. It contained my review of Her Way . She listened joyously, highly interested by the strange occurrence. I recalled the story of Wagner's youth in my letter and said, "Though I have none of Wagner's genius, I am ten times faster. It took


Wagner twenty-five years to get back his letter. I regained mine in two and a half years!"

She told me that on the occasion of my first accidental sight of her, she had just returned to Moscow after several months in the Crimea. In her first hour in the city, she had left her house to walk up the Petrovkal, where I had caught that miraculous glimpse. The strange intensity in my glance had drawn her attention and had aroused an indefinable interest in her. Though she had controlled any indication of this, she had wondered who that stranger was.

On February 12, 1933, we went to a theatre. The leading role in the play was taken by her friend, the French-speaking actress. As we passed through the foyer, hundreds of the audience recognized Emma. Excited, admiring whispers ran through the throng. A group of girls passed. One exclaimed, "Kakaia khoroshenkaia! (What a beautiful one!)." Emma good-humoredly nudged me. But she shrank from this public attention. I recalled our American movie stars who would not enter a hall without a silly fanfare.

Between the acts, we walked in the foyer. I had the illusion of being on a vessel at sea with her, en route homeward to America. I told her of this. Perfect comprehension of the fantasy shone in her eyes. Complete harmony encompassed us. It became unnecessary to speak. She divined much of my thought before utterance.



In February, two of my colleagues and I received instructions to hold ourselves in readiness to go to Leningrad to inspect an industrial plant.

In that city I had a friend who had repeatedly invited me to visit her in Leningrad and to stay at her home. Consequently, I did not give as much attention to equipment and food for this trip as if I were going, a total stranger, to a place without facilities.

Three days later, my colleagues and I were notified to entrain that night. The railroad station to which we were instructed to go was not on the line to Leningrad! In fact, the line we were to take ran in the opposite direction! Nevertheless, we obeyed our orders and boarded the train.

Soon after we left Moscow, our mysterious mission was disclosed to us. We were to get off at a little station several hundred kilometers to the south of Moscow to inspect a plant whose production was so low that sabotage was suspected. Our visit was to be a surprise.

We were travelling "hard" (third class). It was bitterly cold. Prepared for the comparatively comfortable Leningrad train, I had no bedding. Sleep was out of the question. I dozed fitfully on the hard boards, which were sticky with accumulated dirt. The train lurched southward through the freezing night. At five o'clock in the morning, it came to a stop at our station. We shouldered our packs and stepped off the car platform into the deep snow.

Hardly discernible in the darkness was a little station-house built of hewn logs. We knocked on the door. There was no answer. We pounded harder. Still no reply. Feeling our way along the side of the station-house, we fought through a snowdrift up to our hips to the rear of the building and rapped on a window. Finally we heard a gruff response. A few moments later the station-master, dishevelled and sleepy, carrying a lantern in his hand, opened a door. We entered quickly and shook off the snow and frost that had already gathered upon our faces.

The station-master forgot his anger at being awakened when we told him who we were. We made no mention of our destination, nor the


point from which we had come. He tried to make us comfortable in his primitive quarters. The floor was rough, uncovered planking. The walls had neither plaster nor decoration. He brought us into the small kitchen. A dying fire glowed in the great Russian masonry oven. We huddled around it.

Carefully we steered the conversation around and learned that the plant we were seeking was several miles from the station-house. We tried to remember the scraps of information regarding its direction and extent. The station-master apologized because he could not offer us tea. His supply was exhausted, he said. We unwrapped our dry, cold food, spread it on the uncovered table, and breakfasted hastily.

By the gray light of the breaking dawn, we left, striking out across the snow in the approximate direction of the plant. To avoid sinking into the deep drifts we carefully picked our way. The station-house was quickly hidden from view. No human sign appeared. Not a tree nor bush broke the white waste surrounding us. In the strange half-light a profound melancholy hung over the land.

It was a scene of utter desolation. My companions were silent like myself, each immersed in his own thoughts. The vast emptiness and ghostly quiet were sad and oppressive. Unaccountably, poignant strains of Tchaikovsky's music came to my mind. Suddenly, I realized that this great composer had mingled in his imperishable masterpieces the essence of the sombre, sorrowful Russian land. His music is interwoven with such desolation as we beheld. The brooding spirit of nostalgic darkness exhales from the very soil. Tchaikovsky has mysteriously transmuted it into musical sound. No other composer has so completely and profoundly encompassed the secret characteristics of his native land.

We went on through the snow, the light growing stronger, setting our course by backward glances at our tracks. Surmounting a rise we saw before us the plant which we were seeking. We pushed forward quickly and in a few minutes entered the wooden building which served as an office.

A stocky, broad-faced girl, heavily wrapped in incredibly ragged clothing, was sitting near the stove in the center of the room. She greeted us, dully. We inquired for the director. Without a word of response, she arose and left the room. We placed ourselves, standing, backs to the stove. Soon we were surrounded by clouds of vapor from our clothes, which were wet from the melting snow.

In a few moments two men entered the room. One, who could not


have been more than twenty-five years of age, of medium height, with a clean-cut, alert face, introduced himself as the director. The other, much older, regarded us with immobile countenance, indicating nothing of his thoughts. An intangible suspicion emanated from him. We gave him our names, but of our instructions we said nothing. We told the director that we should like to look over the plant and study its requirements with him. Perhaps he needed equipment for development? If it was necessary we would recommend it on our return to Moscow, we said.

The plant was engaged in mining operations. With the director and his colleague, we went into the field, over the narrow-gauge tracks, to the tunnel headings. For several hours we watched the blasting, mucking, loading and transporting. Then we followed the material, tracing its course through various sections of the plant. Much of the machinery was in a state of disrepair. Several bulky pieces of crushing and sorting apparatus lay about, neglected, exposed to the elements. The flow route of material through the plant was tortuous. It had not been laid out systematically.

As we watched the various operations, however, it became apparent to us that there was no deliberate attempt to hamper production. It was largely the lack of facilities for mechanical maintenance and human convenience which dragged down productivity. This was simply another instance of the negligence, lack of efficiency and indifference to the care of the workers which characterized so many Soviet plants. His [the director's] limited authority and fear of opposition and condemnation, which might lead to serious punishment, prevented him, however, from acting upon his own judgment.

One condition which contributed heavily to the low production in the plant was the crude fashion in which the workers were housed. Their quarters were barracks of rough, unplastered wood, without floors, the large rooms heated by a single stove in the center. Children and adults were herded indiscriminately together. Some of the people were ill. Medical care was fragmentary.

These surroundings were inevitably reflected in meagre output. The poor food, the uncleanliness of the dining-room, and the foulness of the kitchen astounded us. Not only were the supplies insufficient, but they were of such low quality that it was manifestly impossible to hope that laborers could work effectively on such sustenance.

Towards the end of the afternoon the director, sensing our sympathy with his difficulties, took us to his office. The atmosphere was fetid with


tobacco smoke. Together we outlined recommendations for cooperation by our headquarters and the plant for increasing production. The director was grateful for our interest. He seemed relieved at the absence of distrust or blind criticism on our part.

The facilities for human convenience in this plant were primitive. Toilets were foul, rough-hewn sheds a hundred meters from the houses through the snow. There was no water for washing or drinking. For lunch we ate the last of our dry, half-frozen food. We decided that we had sufficient information about the plant. Taking a friendly departure from the director, we began our trek back to the railroad station through the snow in the twilight. We staved off thirst by eating snow. Two hours later, cold and dirty, we arrived at the railroad station-house.

There were several hours yet before the train for Moscow was due. In the waiting-room we gradually thawed out. My colleagues began to speak of the changes which had occurred in Soviet life in the last few years. Their primary concern was with food, clothing and living quarters. They described how in 1928 and as late as 1929, oranges, chocolate and pastry were still obtainable in Moscow at reasonable prices. Since then the prices had soared to incredible levels, and these items had virtually disappeared from the market. One of my colleagues described how he had saved approximately three thousand rubles, which he had put in a savings account three years previously. The ruble then had had a value approximately its gold par value purchasing power in international exchange. Prices had risen and the currency had depreciated until his money was worth less than a tenth of its former value. The difficulty of securing a room was aired volubly. For two years he had been trying to get one. His hopes were still high, but he remained in his crowded corner.

At length the train arrived. We climbed aboard into a third-class "hard" car. Cold, dirty and sleepless, we began the long ride back to Moscow. Early the next morning, worn and unkempt, we entered the city.

This investigation gave me an enlightening glimpse of the background of the notorious sabotage trials. Everywhere, even as in this dark corner we had visited, disheartening conditions of life and work were undermining production. It was easier for the bureaucratic mind to attempt to solve the problem by arresting and punishing the directors and engineers than to face and cure the basic evils. Consciously or unconsciously, arrests reflected the search for scapegoats. The line between deliberate


mismanagement and the inefficiency that flowed from objective conditions is not easily fixed. Sometimes a director, depressed and harassed and frightened, is scarcely aware himself whether the low quality of his work is his own fault or not.

No doubt there were technical men who hated the Soviet system and were not averse to throwing a monkey-wrench into the machinery of the Five Year Plan. But every time I had occasion to investigate suspicions or charges of sabotage I was quickly convinced that it was a matter of apathy and inefficiency and laziness, rather than conscious spoilage.



Labor discipline in industry had fallen so low that the government, on November 15, issued a drastic decree to enforce punctuality. This decree provided that any worker missing a single day from work without satisfactory reasons would be summarily dismissed, despite his past record of promptness or good work. High quality and good performance in work counted for little. What work was done, and how it was done, was not considered or even investigated. He was to be at his post like a robot, whether or not he did anything good or useful.

Dismissal meant the loss of bread card and food rations and forfeiture of living quarters. At close range, the view of the disastrous psychological effects of this decree aroused my anger and pity. Great excitement and fear ran like wildfire through the mass of the people. Then, quietly, in subtle fashion, the Russians met this situation as they had confronted apparently insurmountable obstacles in their terrible historical past. Word went around to obey the decree carefully for a few weeks. Afterwards, in the old Russian fashion, all would be as before.

This was exactly what came to pass. Less than two months after the initiation of the decree, the reins had slackened. The former lackadaisical attitude was again in evidence.

The grim irony of this situation impressed me. Here was the irresistible force of the dictatorship opposed to the immovable habits of the Russian masses. Who would win in the end? Only the history of the future could decide. As the French say, plus ça change, plus c'est la même chose .

Among my American friends we constantly discussed these significant conditions.

In a lighter vein, it occurred to me that there was a way in which to meet the disturbing problems of both the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. By this scheme all the Russians would be sent to America, and all the Americans brought to Russia. The Russians would fill our country with their glorious art, music and drama and rapidly lower the efficiency of


our stores, hospitals and railroads. They would consume our surplus food and spoil our industrial plants. The Americans would inherit the rich native Russian folklore, dance, music and literature and would speedily develop the country industrially. After ten years the Americans were to be returned home and the Russians to the U.S.S.R. The Americans would have to rebuild their industrial system, which would provide employment for all. The Russians would have a fully developed country to enjoy, which would take them at least a decade to destroy. This process could be kept up indefinitely. There would be many incidental benefits. Transatlantic steamship lines would be rescued from bankruptcy. Russians would not have to interrupt their discussion meetings to do any work. American "torch" songs and crooners would disappear. This was my perpetual "Ten Year Plan" for both countries.

In the technical discussions held during the development of the general rationalization program reports, I repeatedly encountered one of the gravest technical weaknesses of the Russian engineers—their ignorance of unit costs. So vague and unrelated to practice were their ideas that they occasionally made mistakes of several hundred per cent in estimating new work . To support these erroneous estimates they argued endlessly and unrealistically. Voluminous references were made to printed data, for which they had an unholy veneration. These publications were usually written by other engineers of approximately equal experience! Unfortunately, I found intellectual honesty to be rare, which limited rational understanding. To support estimates of my own, I had to dig out buried statistics which usually verified my predictions, since these were based upon experience. The grudging acknowledgment robbed the task of the sense of satisfaction which results from working in cooperation with mature men of stable judgment. Often the Russian engineers acted like capricious children. There were, of course, outstanding exceptions to this rule.

Living conditions by this time began to slide downward so rapidly that many foreigners at work in the U.S.S.R. found it intolerable to remain. Many German engineers returned home to face certain unemployment. There was a rumor from authentic sources that the government store for foreigners' food would be closed. This would have been a final and incredibly stupid move. Few foreign wives would have endured the purchase of food in the open Russian markets, because of the crowds, filth, lack of sanitation and poor quality of the products. The foreign


store, though inconvenient, was at least comparatively clean. Prices on the open market were three to six times as high as in the store. Fortunately this store remained open.

Snow fell heavily for several days early in December. It then suddenly turned warm. With astonishing speed, the streets were cleared of ice and snow. Russians seem more adapted to winter than to summer. Sleighs were replaced by wagons, and troikas by the familiar droshkys. In the work of snow removal, I noticed one of the curious contradictions of Russian organization. During the summer, hundreds of large trucks rumbling through the streets of Moscow carried three to five workers with them, joy-riding on the load or returning in the empty truck. They looked picturesque in their tableau-like poses, swaying as the trucks plowed along. Their only work was at the loading and unloading points. They were idle about 80 per cent of the working day!

When winter came, however, and the trucks were used for snow removal, usually two men were assigned to each large truck. These huge vehicles stood still on the street for hours, while being slowly loaded by the two men with hand shovels. Larger crews for each truck could have multiplied their productive use several times.

The report "Standardization of Pre-Cast Wall Blocks," which I had prepared, illustrated many of the prevailing conditions. Typical Russian building walls are of solid brick or blocks, which were either hollow or solid. For insulation against the wide temperature ranges of the continental climate they were made as much as twenty-four inches thick. One hundred and twelve plants in the R.S.F.S.R. [Russian Soviet Federated Socialist Republic], under the control of the Soyuzstroi, were then making building blocks of various materials, sizes and shapes. There were almost as many different blocks as there were plants! Cement, slag, lime, sand, diatomite and other aggregates were employed. The mixes averaged one part cementaceous material to eleven parts aggregate! This was "very lean" and was designed to save cement, of which there was a serious shortage. It resulted in a weak, porous block.

In standardizing these units, I greatly reduced their number. My recommendations specified a mix of one part cement to seven and a half parts aggregate, which would produce a block about twice as strong as those then made. More cement would be used in this proposed block, per unit volume of the block , but because of its greatly increased strength, the void space could be made greater, and the walls and webs thinner.


A square meter of wall of the same thickness, therefore, would show a saving in cement, as well as in slag or other aggregates. Besides it would be a stronger, denser, less permeable wall. The inside of this wall was to be covered by large insulating plates of compressed reeds, straw, shavings, fibre, etc., bound with lime or magnesite, and faced with about one-quarter of an inch thickness of gypsum plaster, also pressed on. This combination would make a finished wall, eliminating all lathing and plastering, affording lighter weight and considerable economy, lowering the cost of production and the labor of placing as well as saving mortar in the joints. I specified a block 50 percent larger in wall-face area than the one being made then. Since the void space in my proposed block would be greater in percentage than in the existing blocks, the weight would not be 50 per cent more, but would be proportionately less. It would be approximately twenty-six kilograms.

This proposal was the signal for an outburst from the Russian engineers and administrators in our department. Patriotic speeches were made on how capitalism broke down the workers by imposing terrible burdens upon them, whereas Soviet workers were safeguarded against such strains as the proposed blocks might cause.

I had to defend my proposal against these attacks. First, I described some of the "safeguards" on Soviet projects, which were well known. Foul, insanitary conditions, polluted water, lack of barricades around pits and shafts, failure to provide guards for saws and other dangerous high-speed machinery; these were conditions of long standing which remained.

There was a noticeable, ashamed silence in the gathering.

"How much energy is required to do a day's work of setting the proposed blocks?" I asked.

There was no response. No one seemed willing or able to answer. I proceeded to calculate it, proving that it was equivalent to one man's exertion walking up six average stories once in eight hours. To further demonstrate the reasonable weight and size of the proposed blocks, I offered to do a mason's day's work of eight hours in one hour, and for every hour thereafter during the day. Then a thought struck me. Was there not some government organization which has standards for such labor factors? I asked. There was, one engineer replied—the Department of Labor Norms. We immediately telephoned to this organization. The department had fixed the maximum weight for masonry blocks at twenty-eight kilograms, two kilograms more than the weight of my block![37]


Lengthy and frequently irrelevant discussions into which I was plunged by these reports turned my attention to the speeches of Soviet leaders on development of effective administration. Shortly after the council on the large wall blocks, Premier Molotov[38] addressed the All-Union Congress of Engineers on better industrial methods. His speech rang with stirring phrases. But it glided over the heart of the matter, which was the lack of a channel through which quick and authoritative hearings could take action on important construction and industrial problems. Lumbering bureaucratic practices remained, choking proposals to death by slow strangulation.

In December, a group of people in California wrote to me inquiring about the possibility of obtaining a concession to operate a laundry and cleaning plant in the Soviet Union. They were prepared to bring over their own machinery and equipment, together with trained workers. The U.S.S.R. had ceased to grant foreigners concessions, I replied. The question, moreover, was not to get clothes cleaned; it was to get clothes!

Summarizing the situation, I wrote:

Russia is in a dire emergency; there are no appropriations except for vitally needed imports of heavy machinery and indispensable raw material. The country is back to the wall. If these Californians are prepared to suffer physical and spiritual hardship, to meet chicane, intrigue, bureaucratic neglect and waste, and to have their finest plans misrepresented, then come. Their efforts would possibly place them under suspicion.

As a business proposition, however, I warned them that it was utterly unsound. When I discussed the project with an experienced Russian, he laughed.

"A laundry?" he asked. "Where will they get soap?"

For two months soap had been virtually unobtainable in Moscow.

As I watched the slow, unsatisfactory movement of the reports in the rationalization program, I inevitably acquired a sharply critical attitude towards the Russian administrators and engineers. Their elaborate, vague programs were repeatedly prepared, going over the same ground, in unrealistic, superficial fashion. One had to resist their tendency to flit about like butterflies over delectable technical problems. By January 3, 1933, after pounding away for some weeks, I was able to get the administration to formulate a written schedule stating definite objectives, together with


completion dates for the various reports. That was a considerable step forward.

Time passed, and I entered more deeply into Soviet life. I was sorrowfully impressed by the general misery and the pervasive fear of the people. New governmental measures for controlling labor seemed harsh and brutal. I saw that low production lay at the heart of these difficulties. Greater efficiency through better administrative methods could have increased production, making such severity unnecessary. In conference with Soviet officials I continually emphasized this.

Customary distraction and entertainment lost all interest for me. The constant view of the stupendous scene of social flux and grave suffering was drama enough. From the work itself and the many streams of varied life impinging upon my own, I drew unceasing spiritual sustenance. Every custom had special significance meriting careful study. There were lighter sides, also, in the humorous confusion about the simplest arrangements, which often were devoid of logic and sequence.

Hotels, for example, instead of numbering rooms to indicate the floor, marked them in progressive order throughout, so that rooms on the second floor of a hotel might be numbered 300, 302, 305, etc., with inexplicable gaps up to 500, 507, etc. Rarely did the numbers run consecutively. This made for a charming sense of discovery when trying to locate a desired room. Literati, with minds as well organized as this system, found it quaint and interesting. Engineers did not appreciate it.

It was a mistake to curse at missing a street-car. Because of the crowds, the chances were that it would have been impossible to get on. The important thing was that cars were running!

Accidents frequently stopped traffic. Hours were wasted patiently waiting for trams which never came. I used such time for mental review of my reports. Thus, they became proof against the oratory of the Russian bureaucrats.

These officials continually amazed me. In council they chattered like gossipy women. The very concept of human dignity seemed lost. I began to think that magpies were a comparatively quiet, reserved species.

The kaleidoscopic pattern of Soviet life unrolled itself daily. Its contradictory aspects were bewildering. Profound knowledge of the history and characteristics of the Russian people was necessary to comprehend what one saw. Insistent inquiries came from America for intimate details of


the common life in the U.S.S.R. Immersed in the work on the rationalization program, and deeply interested in the international consequences of Soviet events, I paid little attention to the petty affairs of daily existence. However, pressed continuously for information, I wrote on January 6, 1933:

You request a description of customs. Customs are crystallized traditions. Tradition has broken down here. The lack of freedom makes natural development of customs impossible. One does what circumstances enforce, never what one desires. People live often three to six in a room. Six is the highest number I know of. Some are extremely fortunate and have a room alone. These are very few. Sometimes a divorced wife or husband remains, who cannot go or be sent away because there is no other available shelter. Electric light is unreliable. For four consecutive evenings I have known it to flicker out, here, in Moscow. In this contingency we work by candlelight. Few quarters are equipped with baths. This means depending on friends who have such facilities, or going to the public baths. Unless one can go at odd hours, the dense crowds make bathing disagreeable. Where tubs exist the plumbing often does not function properly. Obtaining food is an extremely serious problem. The entire day is consumed standing in line, travelling and purchasing rations for three or four people. It requires a person's undivided energy and attention.

Tramcars are so jammed that you may be six inches from the exit and be unable to get off at your stop. Telephone service is remarkably poor. The girl comrades at the central switchboards apparently demonstrate their social equality by indifference to the numbers called. Phones get out of order frequently. An agonizing struggle for days follows, to get them repaired and in commission again. Attempts to obtain any but the simplest articles frequently result in days of fruitless searching. Then one discovers that one can live without them. Wise Russians do not try. Send your clothes to the government store for cleaning and repair. Call in two months when they are promised ready. They will possibly be "lost"; i.e., somebody needed them worse than you and was satisfied to take them dirty. You may file a complaint which will be considered by another organization six months later.

It is assumed that men and women desire each other sexually. It is further considered that this is not a matter for newspaper articles or community discussion. The problem of privacy is hard enough, as is sanitation, and contraception. Neurosis has dwindled. Normal intercourse is the reason. See Freud. There is great predilection for talk on any excuse. There is also a marked inability to sustain effort. Little pride is taken in fine work. Standards of high quality have been broken down and are not yet re-established.

The magnificent drama and concerts are the finest phases of Soviet life. Endless streams of literature on the wonders of the Soviet Union pour


forth. I can send you as much as you wish. Indicate how much. The price is less by the ton. The mails are inefficient and unreliable. Counting up the record of the past six months I find that I have not received a cable-gram sent from Los Angeles, two letters from San Francisco, a package from Wisconsin, a package from England, three letters from Los Angeles. Besides this, there were many failures to hear from letters mailed to France and Germany. In these instances, however, I have no positive knowledge of letters actually having been written in return.

Summarizing my view of Soviet life at that time, in another letter to a friend in California, I wrote:

An able artist whom I met here is enamored of Mexico, after his bitter experience here. He reacted strongly against the bleak Soviet scene with the emphasis heavily on machines and lightly on the human spirit. He favorably contrasts mañana land with zaftra land.

The stultifying result of the censorship on the arts is significant. Eisenstein, who returned here the same week that I came to Moscow (April, 1932), has produced nothing here since.

Grave and terrible contradictions exist; cruelty and tenderness; ugliness and beauty; shabby shiftlessness and ruthless driving power; poverty of facilities and prodigal waste. Such extreme variations cause one's life to swing irresistibly from joy to misery with rapid alternations. An individual can rarely do a clean-cut piece of work. There is too much bureaucratic opposition. The country moves ponderously forward, much slower than is commonly believed, with incredible waste and human suffering. Physical comfort is unknown, except for the new favored classes. Sex naturalness establishes nervous stability and a general sense of well-being, unequalled anywhere I have yet seen.

I cannot regard the results of my own work with much satisfaction. It is yet largely unrealized. It may be hidden away a long while before it comes to fruition.

Severely disappointing is the discovery that supposed socialistic comradeship in work hardly exists. I have withheld publication of my own work, being alike averse to American ballyhoo and the Russian passion for print. It is an integral part of the system here. Members of the Party, various technical journals, and the Commissariat of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection have repeatedly urged me to write articles which they say will further the work. Vulgarization of technique, however, inevitably lowers its quality. Millions of printed pages with which I am surrounded seem to me largely a waste of wood-pulp.

From day to day the necessities of life become more expensive. The food crisis is reflected in an increase of prices of from 300 to 1000 per cent. American correspondents and engineers recently gathered to discuss this matter. To relieve our oppressed thoughts we adopted the irrepressible


Russian habit of confronting their worst crises with jokes. One evening I composed a jingle, contrasting the U.S.S.R. and the U.S.A. It ran:

U.S.S.R. has some hope, but no soap,
U.S.A. has no hope, but some soap.
U.S.A. is losing its soap,
U.S.S.R. is losing its hope.

In serious vein, we debated the outcome of the Fascist reaction in Germany. The Hitler bait had been swallowed by a tortured people, struggling desperately to throw off the crushing burden of war guilt and reparations. The Germans were aware of the depressed living standards in the Soviet Union and the stifling of initiative and individual life, and had grown sceptical of the benefits of Communism. Without leadership from the Communists who spent their energies attacking the Social Democrats instead of the growing menace of Nazism, the German people fell an easy prey to the spearhead of the ruthless disciplined Nazi organization.

Germany, exhausted and despairing, had fallen into the power of fanatical barbarians. Torture and death were the portions of any not subscribing to the Nazi insanity. Their suppressive apparatus, however, has been copied from the Bolsheviks. The human spirit was enchained.

An earthquake in Los Angeles, which took many lives and shattered hundreds of buildings, caused me acute alarm. I cabled home at once for tidings of my sister and many friends in the affected area. For three terrible days no reply came. Emma's steady loving assurance as to the safety of my loved ones was a tower of strength. She knew from my conversation various characteristics of each of my family and friends and regaled me with amazingly true mimicry of these people whom she had never seen.

How would she go about in the United States without friends or language? she would ask. And laughingly she answered her own query: she would cling to my coat-tails. There could be no happier tie, I replied. Her fund of good spirits seemed inexhaustible. It was impossible to feel downcast in her presence. After the days of uncertainty a cablegram arrived telling me of the safety of my people in Los Angeles.

The walls of bureaucracy shutting me off from work grew thicker and more impenetrable with every day. Procrastination, outright lying, indifference and tremulous fear of responsibility blocked industrial progress. The occasional courageous and mentally organized engineer was helpless against these barriers. In my struggle I drew strength and inspiration from Emma's tenderness and independence of spirit.



The multiplying obstacles in the path of my work caused me to consult Comrade Zaidner. Zaidner communicated with Borodin. They decided that I should appeal again to the R.K.I. Accordingly, I went to see Clark. He suggested that I prepare some material for the Russian press describing the rationalization proposals. Accordingly, I wrote several articles for Tekhnika , the technical newspaper issued under the general direction of Bukharin. Borodin arranged an appointment for me with Bukharin[39] and also communicated with the editor of Tekhnika , Bogashevsky.

One afternoon, after work, I brought the articles to the office of the newspaper. Two of Bogashevsky's assistants received me; one a young man, the other a woman in her thirties. The latter was exceptionally courteous and helpful. She avidly accepted the articles. In a few days, she said, as soon as they would complete the translations (some were already in Russian), she would send for me to proof-read them and they would be printed. I went away well satisfied.

Two weeks passed without any call from Tekhnika . I telephoned to the paper. They told me that the lady who had taken the articles was ill at home. I called again in a few days and received the same information. I made a practice of calling every day. In this way a month went by. No one knew what had happened to my articles.

Meanwhile I had prepared ten more. Finally, exasperated, I returned to the R.K.I. I told Clark about these articles and their "disappearance." He immediately telephoned to Tekhnika . A new editor, Tall, had been installed in place of Bogashevsky, who had been ousted. Clark made an appointment with Tall for me.

Tall received me graciously. Our conversation was carried on in French and Russian. He was extremely sorry, he said, that such confusion and delay had occurred in connection with my writings. He took the second group of articles I had written and declared that he would see personally that publication would begin immediately after the May Day holiday.

The holiday came and went. By May the tenth nothing had yet


appeared. I telephoned again to inquire. Editor Tall was very apologetic. The articles, he said, would be published at once. I waited several more days. Again I telephoned, and again. Each time he made a different excuse for the delay. Almost another month went by.

One day Tall told me that the articles would not be printed in his paper, but in a construction magazine with whose staff his colleagues would collaborate. I waited another week.

I then telephoned to Tall. Nothing had yet been done. I asked him to return all of my articles. He tried to mollify me and dissuade me from my request. However, I felt there was no hope in his quarter and insisted on getting back my articles. At length, he reluctantly agreed to send them. But they were not sent to me!

Five days later, I went to the office of Tekhnika . I did not wait for the secretary to announce me, but walked into the editorial room. Tall's assistants were caught off guard. I had come at a peculiar moment. Some of the articles were being read for the first time! One assistant told me that Professor Nekrasov, a well-known consultant in construction, had strongly recommended some of my methods described in an article as being applicable throughout Soviet construction.

"Give me all the articles!" I demanded.

The staff scurried around. Tall came in and fluttered about trying to smooth over the situation. He made all sorts of new promises. My secretary quietly urged me to let the articles stay for a few more days. I paid no attention whatsoever to these overtures and did not answer Tall. I waited for the articles, refusing to enter any discussion. Finally, they were assembled and brought to me. I took them and with my secretary left the newspaper office. No one knew that I had arranged for their publication by the Government Technical Book Trust.

In March (1933) Emma accidentally broke one of her beautiful teeth. She neglected care of this for several days, despite my insistent urging. It finally caused a swelling of her cheek, which stopped her work. I then took matters into my own hands and arranged for her treatment by a woman dentist I knew. This dentist was the sister of a Russian doctor with whom I had become friendly. I had confided to him my plan to marry Emma and my dire need of an apartment. He offered to aid me to obtain one.

Emma was in great pain and unnerved. For the first time I saw her


deprived of her usual magnificent poise. Then I fully realized the supreme place which this companion had in my life. To make all necessary arrangements, so difficult in the U.S.S.R., to conduct her to the dentist like a little child, suffering, nervous, vacillating, was for me a light task.

The immediate relief the dentist afforded could be only temporary. I persuaded Emma to come home with me. Carefully turning her attention, and applying hard-won knowledge of the human nervous system, I helped her to regain control. She declared that I was her best doctor and went home in much better spirits. I anticipated that her throbbing pain would recur. I had some medicine which I had brought from abroad. It was not obtainable in Moscow. In the evening I took it to her home. It was then that I first met her mother. A slender woman of no distinction or marked beauty, there was little to suggest the origin of the splendor and strength of the daughter. Only in the exquisite mouth could any resemblance be traced.

Emma felt relieved. The conversation was merry. Her mother observed me with friendly interest. Her whole life was concentrated on this daughter. Son and husband were as nothing in comparison. Emma had often told me humorously of her way of extricating herself from the passionate caresses of her mother. She dearly loved her mother, but with the fine control that distinguished her.

Late in March Emma returned to active work. She was engaged in the production of a film in which she played the role of an engineer's wife in the coal mines of the Donets Basin. Once she had to remain in cold water for five hours during the taking of an important flood scene.

Sometimes she came to my room from the studio, very tired. Throwing herself on the couch she would exclaim, "I want to sleep like a volk! " (Russian for wolf). In a moment she would be deep in slumber with the sweet, regular breathing of a child. I worked on, awaiting her awakening. Suddenly her eyes would open, flashing and brilliant, her radiant countenance glowing with restored vigor. Her perfect naturalness was a joyous phenomenon. Her splendid hair, truly a crowning glory, when loosed, fell below her knees in luxuriant, glistening tresses. She would enfold me entirely in it, an enchanting, living garment.

To my sombre nature, she matched hers of vigorous joy. Occasionally, finding me in a pensive mood she would ask, "Why you look so?" I admitted the serious problems which confronted me in my work and in


our future life together in the United States. She would sweep this away with an energetic gesture, exclaiming "No tragedy! No tragedy! All will be well!"

She had nicknamed me "Heavy Industry." Often when she left my room late at night, refusing to allow me to accompany her home, she would direct, as I settled again to my work, "Write much, and clever!"

Our conversations turned sometimes on the political situation in her country. A strong Russian patriot, she explained to me that her people were, in the main, still uncultured and uneducated, lazy and lacking in will. This necessitated iron control on the part of the government leaders. Otherwise chaos would result. She greatly admired Stalin for his unshakable purpose and his great strength. Such a man was required to direct the nation, she said.

In April the Moscow theatres exhibited several of her films. We went to see Women of Riazan , released in America as Village of Sin , and Her Way . Before our eyes unrolled those dramatic scenes which I had witnessed years before in my own far-away land. The firm hand of the Beloved Companion clasped mine. No greater happiness, it seemed to me, could come to mortal. The cycle was complete. Artist and woman were one, near me. The mighty force which had impelled me across continents and seas, the endurance of intolerable conditions of work and life, the dream of loveliness which had haunted the secret chambers of my being, all had come to supreme culmination. She was with me! She would be with me! Our lives, which had flowed so remotely apart from each other, were blended into a single, indivisible stream.

By this time my faculties were so subtly attuned to Emma's that the slightest gesture, the simplest word which passed between us, was replete with overtones and nuances, giving them rare color and texture and conveying profound unspoken meaning.

Emma had told her father of her decision to marry "the American." A Communist, with a very responsible post in the Soviet foreign trade service in Europe, he had just returned to Moscow from Germany. Relations between the father and the daughter had a serious, almost formal tone.

He asked, "Have you thought about this?"

"Yes," she answered.

No more was said then of the matter. She had tried to obtain her father's apartment for us when he would next leave Moscow. My trust


still seemed unable to provide me with one suitable for us to occupy together.

For some months the passport system had been in force.[40] The official encyclopedia [the Great Soviet Encyclopedia ] defines the passport system as "a practice of the Czarist government to forcibly segregate population, unknown in the Soviet Union." Nevertheless, it was not only revived but applied with brutality and complete indifference to human suffering. While it was being introduced, no Russian could change his place of residence. This condition lasted until the first of April, 1933. It blocked our plans to find a common roof. Emma remained in her room, I in mine.

One day in April I came to Gene's office. His secretary was excited. The Associated Press had sent a dispatch to New York that Zinoviev,[41] the former head of the Communist International, had died. It was rumored that his death had resulted from torture at the hands of the O.G.P.U. Zinoviev's name, some years before, on forged letters, had overthrown the Labor government in Great Britain. Since then, because of his opposition to Stalin, he had been stripped of his office and expelled from the Party. This meant political death.

Hour after hour insistent cables from New York poured into the United Press office demanding confirmation of the death story. Under this pressure Lyons remained imperturbable, planning to penetrate to the hidden facts. Employing an ingenious psychological trick, he telephoned to the wife of another distinguished Communist leader, formerly a close associate of Zinoviev; on the information which she had inadvertently furnished, he made certain deductions and telephoned to the Kremlin Hospital. A few moments later he sent a dispatch to New York beginning: "Your correspondent has just spoken with Zinoviev, reported dead ..."

When he questioned Zinoviev over the telephone, Lyons received the quavering reply: "I must consult the comrades first!"

This from the man whose thundering voice had called upon the world proletariat to unite under the banner of Communism and throw off their capitalistic shackles!

Zinoviev was seriously ill, suffering from heart disease. A tragic loss of self-assurance showed in his hesitant words. They revealed in terrible form the annihilating doom which fell upon those who dared to think


differently from the narrow line of the dictatorship. The deviators were exterminated or rendered completely impotent by isolation. From the outer darkness of political extinction, there was no return.[*]

One night soon after this incident, Gene and I were in the Metropol Hotel restaurant when several Japanese diplomats entered. With them was a young Russian girl. Gene observed this group, then leaned over and asked me if I knew the girl. I turned unobtrusively to see. She met my glance. I recognized her as a talented pianist and artist whom I had met some months before in the home of a Russian actress. She was about nineteen years old. I told Gene who she was. He shook his head sadly.

"She is lost," he said.

"What do you mean?" I asked.

"Without doubt," he said, "the girl has been drawn in as a secret agent of the O.G.P.U. From that connection there is no escape. Nor is there any limit to the requirements of her job."

I experienced a sickening sensation. But I had learned to trust Gene's judgment and insight.

During the evening, on several occasions, I caught the girl's glance, being careful not to embarrass her by obvious recognition. I felt certain that she would communicate with me at some later time.

A few nights later my telephone rang. It was the voice of the girl we had seen in the Metropol. She asked if she could meet me at once on a matter of great importance.

"Certainly!" I said.

I inquired her address and told her that I would come to her house immediately. She objected to this plan, however, and said she preferred to come to mine. The district in which she lived was on the other side of the city, yet she said that she would be at my house within ten minutes! This was possible only by automobile, and automobiles were not at the service of more than a handful of people in the U.S.S.R.

I put on my overcoat and went down into the street to meet her. Within a quarter of an hour, from my vantage point in the dark corner of my side-street, I saw an automobile draw up. The girl got out. I then turned the corner and walked a short distance down the main street towards her. She greeted me warmly but in extreme agitation. In silence

* Zinoviev was shot by the O.G.P.U. August 25, 1936, after a fantastic confession, obviously extorted.


we went to my house and climbed the five flights of stairs. At the door, she suddenly asked me if we were alone. No one was there, I answered. She was greatly relieved. We entered. It was empty and quiet. In my room, she took off her hat and cloak and sat down. Then she began to speak rapidly in French.

In the autumn of 1932, while living in the home of a Russian actress, where I had met her, a Japanese had been an occasional guest. He had expressed a desire to learn Russian and had asked "Anna" (which was not her name) to instruct him. At that time she was struggling to maintain herself in Moscow and complete her studies. Innocently, she agreed to teach him. Lessons had gone on for some weeks when two other Japanese asked her to teach them Russian. She did not know then that these men were members of the Japanese embassy staff.

Towards winter, Anna moved from the actress' home to live with a relative. One bitterly cold morning, at seven o'clock, the doorbell rang. Her relative went to open the door. A woman wrapped in furs asked for Anna. "But Anna is still asleep."

"Tell her a friend would like to see her," said the woman.

Wondering, Anna's relative went back and woke her. Anna could not understand who her visitor might be. She rose, dressed hastily, and went to the door.

The lady was an entire stranger to her!

"Put on your cloak!" the unknown ordered, "and come with me. I want to speak with you alone, away from the house!"

Anna got her coat. In silence they walked down the street and around the corner, with Anna in increasing agitation. They approached an automobile which stood at the curb. As they reached it, the woman stopped, opened the door of the car, and ordered Anna to enter. Gripped by a sudden, deadly fear, Anna obeyed. The lady closed the door, remaining outside. In the car, Anna faced an O.G.P.U. officer.

"Be quiet!" he ordered.

They crossed the city swiftly, Anna scarcely daring to breathe. The car halted at Lubianka Square in front of the headquarters of the O.G.P.U.

Anna was conducted into the building. An elevator conveyed her to an upper floor and she was led into a small room. There she was left alone for some time.

Then an official entered. He began to question her: her name, occupation, etc. Then he came to the point:


"Have you been teaching the Russian language to Japanese?"


"Do you intend to go on with this work?"

"No. It is difficult, tedious, and I earn little at it." Her own studies, she added, would soon take all her attention.

The officer interrupted. "The lessons must be continued," he said mildly.

"I have no desire to go on with them," Anna replied.

"All the same, you will continue!" he snapped. "If you stopped suddenly, they would suspect you. Keep on teaching the Japanese. You will report here from time to time. Meanwhile, be extremely careful to conduct yourself so as not to arouse the slightest suspicion on the part of the Japanese. Do anything they ask of you! Any variation from this will involve the gravest consequences to yourself and your family. That is all—now!"

Terrified, Anna was led out. In a daze, she returned home.

This situation had existed for some months. Now the Japanese wanted her to go to Leningrad with them as guide and interpreter. She knew her position was dangerous and ugly, but she did not know how to extricate herself. What should she do? Tears were in her eyes as she warned me of the menace to her and her family if any word of the matter became known.

A mixture of sentiments and thoughts flowed through me, primarily pity for this earnest, likable girl. Using her and her body as an instrument of espionage revolted me. Though a foreign engineer might judge the methods of the Soviet secret police in his own mind, he could do absolutely nothing to oppose them. Nevertheless, the threat that had been made against her family precipitated my decision. I suggested a peculiar secret plan of action to her. It would have the inevitable effect of displeasing the Japanese by her apparent unreliability and incompetence. It would also impress the O.G.P.U. with the worthlessness of her services. An element of subtle buffoonery in my plan appealed to Anna's sense of humor. With tears still flowing, she began to laugh. She decided to try this plan at once. In a few days, she said, she would communicate with me. Reassured, and again in control of herself, she went away.

Months passed. No word came from her. There was no way for me to trace her. An impenetrable silence had swallowed her up completely.



In April, an incident occurred of the gravest importance to the Soviet Union. In the dead of night, a country house in the suburbs of Moscow, occupied by the engineers of the Metropolitan-Vickers Company, the great English electrical machinery concern, was raided by the O.G.P.U. All of the staff were arrested and taken to the O.G.P.U. prison together with their Russian employees. The house was searched from top to bottom; partitions torn out, mattresses ripped open, records and documents confiscated.

A tremendous furor was stirred up in the international press. The British Government sharply demanded immediate release of the imprisoned men, threatening a break in trade relations if the demand was not complied with. The Soviet Foreign Office replied equally sharply that the men would have to stand trial on serious charges which would soon be made.[42] Both nations were deeply stirred. The English press clamored for strong action by the government. Batteries of correspondents moved towards Moscow from surrounding countries. The cables were loaded with detailed descriptions of the smallest circumstances surrounding the case.

Though no charges had yet been filed against the men, the Soviet press had conveyed the idea to the mass of the population that the Englishmen were guilty of espionage and sabotage involving the destruction of electrical machinery which they had installed in various large Soviet industrial enterprises. In some of the Soviet trusts petitions purporting to have been originated by workers' groups were circulated demanding immediate execution of the English prisoners.

One such petition was presented to me for indorsement. Of course, I refused to sign. Instead, I said, in order to save the Soviet Union from such brutal folly as the petition demanded, I would draw up another petition calling for the incarceration in an insane asylum of those who had originated the first. The Communist Party thunders against the inequality of Justice under capitalism, I said. Misguided Communist


zealots now demanded the killing of men without trial, even before charges had been filed! The U.S.S.R. would be made to stink in the nostrils of the whole world! After this outburst, the bloodthirsty petition disappeared from our trust.

The curtain of the great drama rose. To the accompaniment of terrific blasts in the Soviet press and millions of words poured out to the world by dozens of correspondents, charges were filed accusing the English engineers of sabotage and military espionage. The trial opened. Foreign counsel for the English was not permitted under the Soviet law. This was the chief point of attack by the British press, which insisted that fairness or justice could not result from representation by Soviet counsel who would be under secret pressure and intimidation of the Soviet Government.

Day after day the trial continued. The case of the Soviet prosecution rested almost entirely on confessions obtained from some of the English immediately after the arrest, and on parrot-like statements by a number of miserable Russian subordinates, which rang hollow. The confessions of the English were in some cases repudiated in court, with accusations that they had been obtained under mental torture. In some cases, they were reaffirmed. Familiarity with the methods used by the O.G.P.U. made such inferential statements understandable.

My friend Lyons attended the trial daily. We discussed it at length. Sitting in the courtroom, knowing Russian, and having had the experience of observing previous highly publicized Soviet sabotage trials, Lyons was able to note all the nuances and subtleties of the entire procedure. Several of the foreign correspondents had come to me to ask about the plausibility of the charges and to clear up some of the technical details which were in dispute.

I could understand no motive of the Metro-Vickers engineers in deliberately destroying their own installations, and with it their professional reputations and the opportunities for further business for their company. Supposed bribes, which various Russians testified to have received from the Metro-Vickers people for information and inflicting of damage on machinery, seemed ridiculous. They consisted of gifts of an overcoat, a handful of phonograph records, a few thousand inflated rubles. Almost every foreigner, owing to the desperate misery of the Russians about him, had made similar gifts. Foreign engineers, interested in general economic developments, who may have studied or observed conditions in the Soviet Union, if interpretation were stretched in such a sinister fashion, also could be accused of military espionage.


As the trial neared its end, I asked Lyons what, in his opinion, the real situation was.

"The O.G.P.U. has no real evidence," he said, "and is consequently depending upon extorted confessions. These seem preposterous. I do not believe that the English are guilty as charged, but they may well be guilty of some other serious offense which I cannot determine. I feel that the G.P.U. has something on them and this something has not been brought out at the trial. Only some such pressure can explain confessions by Englishmen to stories that are preposterous—stories which self-interest should lead them to deny even if they were true. The real case is somewhere behind the scenes, and the whole trial is shadow play. This may sound very unsatisfactory to you, yet it is the only understanding I have of the situation."

Several days later, the trial closed with a great fanfare of publicity. Some of the English were deported, others sent to prison for relatively short terms. No Russian was shot! This was an important clue in understanding the questionable nature of the charges, since, with a genuine case of sabotage, whatever might be the fate of the English nationals, every Russian accomplice would assuredly have been put to death.

I recalled Lyons' mysterious comment. It had been generally considered in the foreign press that the purpose of the trial was to dissemble some of the serious failures in industrial accomplishment of the First Five Year Plan.

As a consequence of the trial, the British Government abrogated the trade agreement with the U.S.S.R. Impending recognition of the Soviet Union by the American Government, which had been a warm issue, grew cold under the unfavorable impression caused by the trial. Some alarm was felt for the safety of American engineers employed in the Soviet Union. This was hardly justified, however. No wholly honest foreign technical man had any reason for concern.

Gradually the excitement died down, and attention was turned to other phases of the tumultuous social scene.

The Metro-Vickers case, reported so fully by so many correspondents, officially published by the Soviet Government, and described in the book written by Monkhouse,[43] the Metro-Vickers manager in Russia, remained an unsolved mystery.

A year later, I accidentally came across a possible clue to the enigma. What I found was not conclusive. It was not direct evidence. It must be understood only in the light of inference and conjecture.


In 1934 1 was in New York, en route homeward. On my arrival there, I received an invitation from a distinguished American engineer to visit him. He had been in Russia before me. When I had first come to New York this man had been very helpful to me and had given me much vital information about conditions in Soviet Russia, more accurate than I had obtained from any other source. He was now eager to discuss my experiences. I went to see him.

In the course of a long conversation, he asked me for my opinion on the Metro-Vickers case. I told him some of the conditions which had existed in Moscow. This added little to his thorough knowledge of the case gleaned from the press. I concluded by telling of Lyons' suggestion of an undisclosed mystery in the case. The engineer looked up sharply.

"Your friend Lyons must be a very shrewd observer," said he.

'He is! But why do you say that?" I asked.

"Perhaps," replied the engineer, "I can throw some light upon the case by telling you of an experience which I had in Moscow before I left Russia.

"The night preceding my departure, my friends entertained me at the Grand Hotel. At the next table were a group of the Metro-Vickers engineers. I knew them well. They also were celebrating. Several had been drinking heavily. One reeled back from the dance floor and sat down at our table instead of his own. Addressing him in Russian, I asked why he and his friends were so hilarious.

"'We just put over a big deal!' said he.

"'What kind of deal?' I asked.

"The Englishman smiled shrewdly. But his tongue had been loosened by too much vodka.

"'We sold the Russians some armament!'

"Armament! This was the first intimation that the English were furnishing the Soviet Government war equipment.

"Fine Englishmen you are!' I said sarcastically. 'Some day the Bolsheviks will be shooting at you with this armament over the Khyber Pass to India.'

"'Let them!' sneered the Englishman. 'We'll be firing back with guns twice as good. We got rid of some old lemons in the deal!'"

The interpretation of this incident, if the information can be relied upon, furnishes the best understanding of the case which has yet been advanced. The secret arrangements by which the Metro-Vickers Company acted as a screen for Armstrong-Vickers, the munitions concern,


may have been in effect for several years. During this time, inferior or out-of-date military equipment may have been supplied to the Red Army. The O.G.P.U. undoubtedly would have been aware of this for some time. It is conceivable that the Englishman, who spoke to my friend, revealed elsewhere, at other times, details of the negotiations. In the meantime, the main business of the Metro-Vickers contracts went forward, supplying numbers of power plants and industries with machinery and equipment. The large unpaid balance owed by the Soviets was mounting up to a total of millions of pounds sterling.

Then the O.G.P.U. sprung the trap! The frantic attempts of the British Government to secure the release of the prisoners without trial immediately upon arrest becomes explicable in the light of this possible situation.[44] The flimsy case concocted out of insignificant evidence and based largely upon dubious confessions, on charges that seemed untenable, also becomes comprehensible. The extraction of the confessions themselves can be understood in the light of the weight of the possible hidden knowledge in the files of the O.G.P.U. The desire of both governments to keep such a possible transaction secret may explain the building up of a trial to cover the situation.

The snow was fast disappearing. Winter was losing its hold. Already the first stirrings of spring were in the air. The trees showed green buds of fruitful promise. The sun at long last broke through the grey skies.

"As soon as it is warm," Emma said, "we shall go to my mother in the country."

Notwithstanding the difficulties of my work, the mood of the season was in my heart. Life seemed tinged with a great tenderness. At eight in the morning on May First, one of the two important national holidays, I met Emma at the center of the city. The railroad station, whence we were to go to the country, was four kilometers away. The city was jammed with people and all vehicular traffic was stopped. With a quiet smile Emma said: "We will walk." We did and I could not help marveling at this woman's easy acceptance of discomfort and strenuous effort, so unlike the petulant spoiled women familiar in any man's experience.

On the train we talked of the Soviet and the American concepts of marriage and divorce, and we talked of our own plans for joining our lives. Inspired by the fresh beauty of the countryside rushing past the windows of the swift electric train, my thoughts ran in a happy vein. In our own case, I said, we would make an exception to the Soviet method


of marriage. No mere registration but many ceremonies must mark the event! We would be married under the simple Soviet law, then by the Greek Orthodox ceremony, then the Jewish ceremony, and any others I could find. She raised her hands in mock horror at this prospect.

In the country, our happy mood was sustained. Emma's mother, grandmother and brother came out to meet us. They welcomed the foreigner with the informality and the instant hospitality of the Ukrainians. The home was extraordinarily clean, in keeping with the south Russian tradition.

The life of the mother and grandmother evidently revolved around their famous daughter and grandchild. Around the walls were many pictures of Emma. One portrait, in particular, affected me; it was of Emma at the age of fourteen—the great dark eyes, the broad brow, the full radiant face of the future artist were already foreshadowed in the child.

Hand in hand that day we walked through the forest. The sunlight filtered down through the dark green foliage, collecting in luminous pools. The stilled loveliness of the scene pervaded my spirit. I felt brimful of unutterable joy. She walked beside me, seemingly integral with the shining scene, the incarnation of the natural beauty around.

The Russian landscape is strangely melancholy. Even in the brightest sunlight, a mysterious element suffuses it with a certain sadness. Perhaps it is due to the subtle northern coloring, or to an indefinable interrelation between the natural scene and the nation's tragic history.

Emerging from the forest we came upon the shore of a lovely lake. It lay before us, motionless and unruffled, like a great mirror. The tall, dark pines which guarded its farther bank were reflected in its shining depths. We walked silently. I felt the gentle, firm pressure of her arm on mine. There seemed no more triumphant song in the world than that which rang in my heart ...

On the return trip to Moscow we dozed lazily, drowsy from the long walk and the rich, winy country air. At the Moscow station we boarded a street-car and in half an hour we were at the square of the Great Theatre again. Filled with quiet joy, I watched Emma go towards her home. Then I turned and rapidly walked homeward.

That day was to remain in my mind as a precious memory. Yet in retrospect it seems subtly diffused with a vague melancholy, like the Russian scenery ... a premonition perhaps of the tragedy which loomed over our love and over our plans for a life together in far-off America.



The investigation, which I had initiated, by the R. K. I. into the work of my previous trust, dragged on through the spring. I became well acquainted with Comrade Clark, in whose hands it rested. We frequently discussed the development of industry and agriculture in the Soviet Union. On all sides the disastrous effects of bureaucratic control were in evidence. Occasionally I teased him, saying that his organization was useless and even more bureaucratic than those it was attempting to correct. There was more than a grain of truth in this statement. The apparatus of the Inspection Commissariat was incredibly clogged. Proper operating procedure was not followed. Investigations which should have required a few days in fact took months. The energy of the investigators and the complainants flagged in the long drawn-out process. Eventually, most of the investigations ended without action, dying of sheer inertia and fatigue. This threatened to be the case with the one which I had started.

During one lengthy, indecisive session in April, Clark asked me to stay after the others had gone. When the session broke up, I remained alone with him in his office.

"Do not think that we are indifferent or that we fail to realize the importance of these matters you have brought before us," he began. "On the contrary, we intend to go to the bottom of them, although you obviously do not believe that," he added smilingly. Then more significantly, "We hope to get to the bottom of others also."

I asked him what he meant. He explained that the R.K.I. undertook investigations which called for technical competence and confidential relationships. In many cases involving foreign engineers, the commissariat found itself greatly handicapped, having to use investigators who were not qualified in these respects.

My interest in the general economic situation had been noted, he said. I had been the subject of considerable discussion among his chiefs. Finally it had been decided to invite me to work with their organization, aiding them in the solution of just such problems as the case I had


brought to their attention. Other tasks, too, would be taken up, he intimated. The work would necessarily be confidential. This would require a written agreement between the commissariat and myself.

I considered a moment. Then I said that I was ready to render any assistance in the technical and economic spheres for which I was equipped. That was the reason for my coming to the Soviet Union. I understood the need for the confidential status which he mentioned. We thereupon drew up an agreement.

This agreement was in the form of a contract, whereby my engineering services were made available to the Commissariat of Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. Work which I was to be asked to perform, however, was not to conflict with my duties as consulting engineer to the All-Union Construction Trust. The commissariat, on its side, pledged its assistance in the matter of providing all facilities and cooperation necessary to carry our mutual work to effective conclusion. The agreement was left with Clark. After ratification by the higher authorities in the commissariat specific work would be scheduled, he said. He asked me to return in a few days.

Three days later I was in Clark's office again. No one else was permitted to be present.

Two problems were assigned to me. One had to do with conditions in a large government designing trust, employing a number of German engineers and architects, where very little work was being accomplished. Antagonism between the Russian directing heads of the trust and the German consultants was the obvious cause for this situation. The precise nature of the obstructive action of the Russian directors was not known, however, nor the reactions in the minds of the Germans who, under these tactics, remained patient and silent. Someone was needed who could understand the work of the trust and who knew Western traditions of high-speed, efficient engineering control to formulate for the commissariat the specific troubles in the organization. It happened that I was acquainted with one of these Germans, a man of high professional attainment, animated by a profound social philosophy. This would make the task simpler. I undertook this investigation.

The commissariat was concerned also about the structure of the large hotel which was being built in Moscow by the city soviet. Planned for a height of sixteen stories, with a reinforced concrete frame, it would be one of the tallest buildings in the Soviet Union. Considerable uneasiness existed in the minds of the authorities as to the safety of the building


because of the dubious quality of the construction methods employed. They wanted me to investigate it and draw up a report.

In May, I noticed a disturbing change in Emma. A strange unreliability, never shown before, crept into her actions. She was fitfully tired. Her work displeased her and she contemplated withdrawal from it. In accepting a new role at that time, she served written notice on her studio that she would not take any more assignments. Conditions in her family relationships were unpleasant and irritating to her. Again and again she said to me, "You do not know how hard it is for me."

Knowing her strength and character, I could not feel that these conditions were sufficient to disturb the equilibrium of such a harmonious nature. I sought for a deeper cause. Instinctively, I divined it.

One evening we were reading together. There was a moment of complete communion. I disclosed my conjectures to her. Blushing, and with a noticeable lessening of tension, she asked, "How you know this?"

Recalling the famous expression of Leonardo, I answered, transposing it, "Perfect love is perfect knowledge. I know all because I love wholly." She pressed my hand with tender warmth.

We were confronted by another situation of which we rarely spoke, though it remained back of our thoughts. We felt that she would be prevented from leaving the Soviet Union. The leading actress of the U.S.S.R., an important economic asset to the government, and, in the opinion of the greatest directors, irreplaceable, it was certain that she would not be relinquished without strong opposition. How to meet and overcome this opposition was my constant preoccupation.

Intourist, the government travel agency, had published a notice some months before offering to sell exit visas from the Soviet Union for the sum of five hundred gold rubles for a worker, or one thousand gold rubles for a non-worker, the equivalent of a ransom. I burned at the thought of ransoming human beings from a government. But worse—I knew that in this case money would not suffice.

I had no intention of depending solely on this dubious and ugly arrangement. There was another procedure which I had planned. As soon as an apartment was available, we would be married. We would stay together in the Soviet Union for a few months and then apply for an exit visa for her, as my wife. The story of our impending marriage, for which a date had been fixed, had already been transmitted to New York, to be released by cable when the time came. With Soviet-American


diplomatic relations an imminent possibility, I hoped that, as an act of international friendship, the Soviet authorities might consider it desirable not to interfere with us.

While we were making these plans, Emma's mood grew steadily more disturbed. She suffered in a manner which robbed her of her usual overflowing joyous spirits.

At the same time her work became increasingly arduous. She was engaged in the concurrent production of two films.

On the rest-day of the sixth of June, 1933, she felt well. We grasped the opportunity to go to the country to visit Professor Ernst May, the famous city planner of Frankfurt am Main, Germany. We drove to the suburb with the Lyonses. It was a delightful journey. Emma seemed completely recovered. She vied in sparkling wit with Lyons. There was much good-natured fun at my expense.

Professor May and his wife received us graciously. With his two young boys we played deck tennis and hurled a javelin. Then we had tea and plunged into a discussion of the future of Communist, Fascist and democratic governments. Impromptu dancing followed. Emma's healthy nature communicated itself to us and we lost all restraint. Professor May, a giant of a man, roared with laughter. At nightfall, we began the ride back to Moscow.

Lyons was soon to leave the Soviet Union for a vacation. He wanted me to go with him. I had not taken a vacation the previous year. But Emma would be in the Crimea for the summer, and we had planned to be together there. She understood my great friendship for Lyons, and the opportunity of going "out."

"Take him," she entreated.

Laughingly I rejected the invitation. No material comfort, no scenes of interest could compare for me to her presence. At the Lyons home we danced again. Suddenly Emma enfolded me completely in her arms. In her embrace I continued to dance. I seemed to lose all sense of normal motion and was carried away in a sensation of magic flight.

But throughout that day, for all its ebullience, the question hammered under the surface of my mind. What were the pressures which were weighing upon Emma and which she strove so hard to conceal from me?

My projects pending before the Commissariat of Heavy Industry made little visible progress. This left me in a dissatisfied state of mind. Often, in conversations with Lyons, I described the circuitous route which my


work was travelling, the long delays and the slight accomplishments. He knew of my strenuous attempts to spur various institutions charged with the duty of aiding technical advance in the Soviet Union. These had included the administration of my trust, its Party secretary, the trade union representatives, its military section, the Moscow Daily News , the R.K.I., and an investigation section of the Central Control Commission.[45] The half-hearted efforts of these various bodies had produced little result.

Lyons pointed out that this illustrated the destructive effects of the dictatorship, which concentrated power excessively at the top, and inspired terror and irresponsibility down through all the subordinate ranks. One entity only, he said, could function effectively in the Soviet Union—the dictatorship itself, through some person directly connected with it. He knew such a person. He wanted me to meet him and to discuss my work with him. This was Garry, one of the leading Soviet journalists, employed on the government paper, Izvestia .

Lyons thought it was futile for me to attempt further, single-handed, to batter down the thick walls of the intrenched bureaucracy. Only with such assistance as an honest and energetic Communist could afford, he said, could a breach be made.

By this time, the extraordinary measures which I had taken in my struggle had become known to some of the Americans and foreigners. My efforts had become almost a test case in the problem of the bureaucratic methods of Soviet officialdom. Russians and Americans watched each step with mingled interest, hope and disillusioned amusement. After discussing the matter with Garry, Lyons arranged for us to meet at his home.

Emma took ill and an operation was decided upon by the doctors. She entered the hospital on June 11. All day and all night I waited for word. The rules of the hospital forbade visitors on those days. On the morning of the twelfth, her maid brought me a note from her, telling me that all was well.

I tried to see her at once and talked with her on the telephone several times. But I could not gain admittance to her. She left the hospital after three days and returned to her home.

The evening of June 11, 1933, Lyons entertained a number of Russians and foreigners. Garry was invited as a guest. The large living-room of


the Lyonses' two-room apartment was crowded. Garry had not yet arrived when I came. I was seated at a table where a Russian who spoke English and an American newspaper correspondent were conversing. Dneprostroi was under discussion, the great hydro-electric power plant on the Dnieper River, which had been opened officially eight months before, though it was still under construction. I listened to the discussion in silence.

Some minutes later Garry arrived—a short, stocky man, in his middle thirties, with a well-formed head and thinning black hair. His most interesting features were small, constantly squinting eyes, gleaming with shrewdness and humor. He wore an old, shiny serge suit, with a frayed necktie at the collar of a threadbare shirt.

He sat down with us and smilingly poured himself a liberal glass of vodka. Chewing a piece of black bread, he settled back, listening to the conversation about Dneprostroi. The use of the power generated in this giant plant was being discussed. The American correspondent asserted that the industrial plants in the vicinity of Dneprostroi which were to consume this power had not been started in time. As a result, he said, the potential power was being wasted. The Russian at our table, a cultured man but without technical knowledge, turned to me for explanation.

I had seen Dneprostroi under construction and had followed with great interest the successive phases of its development. On the first of January, 1933, the government had issued an official statement about Dneprostroi which revealed that only 7 per cent of the ultimate total power capacity of the station was being used. This was after several months of operation! It meant that 93 per cent of the capital investment in this giant enterprise was frozen and unproductive. It would take several years before the surrounding plants could be completed and absorb the full available amount of power. This was a striking example of the sad lack of coordination in Soviet technical enterprise. It represented the deprivation of hundreds of thousands of people of life necessities, while precious capital which had been sent abroad for expensive electrical machinery was yielding no return. When I visited Dneprostroi I found valuable tools and equipment of an estimated cost of two hundred thousand dollars neglected, lying in the debris around the job. On my return to Moscow I had reported the condition to Borodin. Borodin had said, indifferently, "What is a waste of two hundred thousand dollars? We can go before the world and say we built Dneprostroi!"

That any waste was reprehensible had not seemed to trouble him. In


the Soviet Union, where it meant direct lowering of the living standards of the people, I strongly felt that all waste was socially criminal. As I recalled that talk with Borodin, I expressed myself strongly on the subject. When I thought, too, of similar delays, waste and obstructions in my own work, my indignation rose.

Garry's eyes grew hard and glittering as I spoke. Suddenly he flashed out, "If you feel like that about our country, why don't you go back to America?"

At this moment, Lyons joined us, sensing something amiss. Fixing my eyes on Garry, I said, "I am a worker. The Soviet Union appeals to the workers of the world. It has set up the institution of self-criticism. In the United States when I criticized social conditions, stockbrokers and other parasites called me 'Bolshevik' and asked me why I didn't go to Russia. I want to express my contempt at finding in the Soviet Union the same attitude held by the worst elements of capitalist society.

I felt Lyons' restraining hand upon me under the table. I rose and left the table.

An hour later, Garry crossed the room to where I was standing. Abruptly, he asked where I lived. Coldly, I told him my address, thinking the while that good manners, being bourgeois, must be out of place in Bolshevik society.

"You are a neighbor of mine," said Garry. "Will you walk home with me? I want to talk with you."

I looked keenly at him. His attitude had completely altered. His appearance was friendly and straightforward.

"I will go with you," I said.

Nothing more passed between us in the room. When I prepared to leave, Garry also excused himself and went with me.

It was one of those clear summer nights for which Moscow is justly famous. The city was quiet, its lights dimmed. The harsh outlines of the buildings were softened. All was peaceful and calm.

We had gone a few steps in silence when Garry turned to me and said, "All that you said tonight is correct.

I made no comment.

"But we know these things ourselves," he continued, "and we fight incessantly against them. I believe that you are helping us in this fight. I talked with Lyons about you, and he told me of your unfortunate experiences with some of our administrators. I understand that you have worked very hard for us. But perhaps it has been in the wrong channels.


In our country there is only one power. We must work through that power!"

"What is that power?" I asked.

"The Party—and therefore its leader, Stalin! You must meet him and tell him about your work. I will arrange it."

Instantly I replied: "Under no circumstances will I go to Stalin."

Garry looked astonished.

"First," I said, "I am not a sensation seeker and I want to avoid any implication of this kind. Secondly, although the work I am doing is of great consequence to the Soviet Union, I do not think it is of such overwhelming importance as to require the personal attention of the head of the State. Thirdly, and most important, my struggle has been the attempt to get the various organizations along the line to function in a responsible fashion. Now if I run around the line and go to Stalin himself, I nullify the principle of effective administration for which I am fighting."

Garry was silent a moment.

"I see your point of view," he said, "but you do not fully understand my country yet. There is one effective way to get things done here. Perhaps there is no other way."

"For the reasons I stated," I said, "I cannot take that way."

"Allow me, then, to suggest something else. Will you write a description of your work to Stalin?"

I felt that this was only evasion and said so. Garry smiled in his Mongolian fashion.

"I have still another suggestion," said he. "Will you abide by the judgment of your friend, Lyons, as to the best procedure to further your work? He knows our people thoroughly."

It was my turn to hesitate. However, I had absolute confidence in Lyons. I agreed to Garry's suggestion.

"Tomorrow is a free day," said Garry. "Are you occupied?"

"No, I have planned nothing."

"Can you come to my house and talk with me about your work?"


"Then it is agreed!"

Further discussion of these matters was postponed until the next morning. The rest of the way home our conversation was in quite different spheres. Garry revealed himself as a sensitive lover of nature and showed himself to be a man of subtle human reactions. He radiated a warmth and


friendliness quite in contrast to the challenging attitude which he had shown earlier that evening. At his door, we parted cordially.

The next day I rose early, anticipating important eventualities from this new association. I collected my notes and reports. That week the Experimental Institute at Leningrad had sent me a letter about my proposed interlocking wall blocks. Its frivolous treatment of the problem had angered me. It assumed that I claimed originality for the design (it was, in fact, original, and later a patent was prepared for me through the agency of the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense). The report, however, dismissed the entire matter in a few flippant lines, referring me to two Soviet publications, to prove prior origin of the idea. The first reference was to a Russian technical magazine, of issue three months after the date of submission of my project! The other reference bore no date at all and could not be identified! I put this letter in with my papers and went to call on Garry.

He lived on the ground floor of a building whose hall was so dark that one had to grope through it even in broad daylight. His apartment consisted of two miserable rooms. There was no telephone. With him lived his wife, a tall, slender girl, formerly a ballet dancer; her mother; and a little nephew, the son of his wife's sister.

I was entreated to share the substantial breakfast spread on the table. Sausage, herring, black bread, radishes, cheese, tea and vodka composed this meal, which did not conform to the American notion of a morning repast. Though I had just breakfasted, it was difficult to resist the repeated and friendly solicitations of Garry and his wife. Finally I accepted a glass of tea, and we began our discussion.

Garry asked many questions. He was an experienced cross-examiner, but a friendly tone permeated his searching inquiries. For seven hours, practically without interruption, he drew from me the complete story of my Soviet experiences, beginning with my first interest in the U.S.S.R. while living in California, then tracing this history, step by step, down to the moment.

From time to time, his intent face relaxed and he smiled in his strange, Mongolian fashion. When he read the letter on "Interlocking Blocks" from the Leningrad Institute, his laughter was ironical. The articles which I had written for Tekhnika interested him deeply. At his request, I left these with him.

At length he announced that he had enough data.

"Now," he said, "we will do several things. I have suggested to Gene


Lyons that you write a statement on your work, and the difficulties you have met, addressing it to Comrade Stalin. This will not be mailed. You will give it to me, and I will use it so that it will be most effective. Lyons has decided that this is the best course. I will write an article which will appear in Izvestia one week from today. The power of the press in our country is tremendous. Its statements are understood to be virtually the decisions of the Party and the government. Nevertheless, this article will be second in importance to the letter which you will write and the action which will result. Meet me in Lyons' office the day after tomorrow. The letter should be completed by then. We will look over it together, so that it will be ready for presentation the night before the article appears in Izvestia ."

"What presentation?" I asked.

Garry smiled.

"The article will be a screen. Its effect will be strong, but the real power will act behind the scenes. On the eighteenth of June the article will be printed, but on the seventeenth of June I will read your letter to Stalin! Then we will see action! Immediate! Irresistible! Good-bye until the day after tomorrow!"



On the fourteenth of June, late in the afternoon, Garry met me, as agreed, in Lyons' office. I had drafted the letter to Stalin. We read it together. He did not suggest any changes. The letter was typed the next day, and was dated June the fifteenth. It follows.

Comrade Stalin:

I address this message to you because of the incidents described which have obstructed my work and partly nullified its possibilities for the improvement of construction in the U.S.S.R.

These incidents ... are typical of the general conditions under which foreign engineers must work in this country. They are responsible for the poor quality and the terrible waste of human energy, materials and time which characterize Soviet construction.

I make no personal complaint, nor do I request any action on my behalf, although my efforts have been rendered abortive and my life almost intolerable by the irresponsible, indifferent, bureaucratic managements of the trusts in which I have worked. I am accustomed to accomplishing my work without appeals for assistance.

It is to the general condition that I call your attention, to the broad problem of the fullest utilization of foreign engineers, whose abilities are now largely lost to the Soviet Union, under the crushing yoke of neglect, disorganization and evasion of responsibility by management, thus prolonging the deprivation of the Soviet masses.

The usual experience of the foreign engineer in his work in the Soviet Union is to be confronted from the first by chaos, incompetence and a low level of technique. His projects for improvement are distorted, delayed, neglected and lost. Unreasoning opposition and long-deferred decisions block action. The foreign engineer must seek authoritative aid to effect realization of his plans, or abandon the struggle and drift with the slow tide of inertia.

The Soviet press exhorts us to fight for our ideas and assures us of the sympathy of the Party leaders. It has repeatedly indicated the channels through which we may find support. These are the trade unions, the Party secretaries in the trusts, the administrators of the trusts, the B.R.I.Z., the R.K.I., and various organs of the press itself.


Extensive contacts with these institutions have brought foreign engineers to the bitter conclusion that, for this purpose, they are hopelessly indifferent and inactive, exhibiting the same weaknesses which they are supposed to exterminate.

My own experience is adduced only to illustrate this.... (Then followed a detailed description of many of the incidents already related. I mentioned my investigations with the R.K.I., and the appointments which were made with Ulianova, Lenin's sister, head of the R.K.I., and which never materialized. The investigations were never vigorously prosecuted and were finally abandoned without result in sheer neglect.) Had there been an organization to investigate the R.K.I., I would have resorted to it....

(I then outlined the great possibilities of the general rationalization program in construction, if applied to the work of the entire country, listing the reports I had made and filed with the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, and continued.)

Translation of my reports was long delayed. When completed they were not reviewed by the director of our department. Consequently, realization was blocked. I brought this to the attention of Comrade Nemetz (director of Soyuzstroi), pointing out that we were working without plan, without centralized responsibility, and therefore without results. (See Stalin's "Six-Point Speech.") Director Nemetz promised that action would be taken to expedite the work. Shortly thereafter, however, he was sent to Mariupol, on other work, and so I lost contact with this capable executive.

Having read the high-sounding speeches of Comrade Shvernik (Commissar of the Trade Unions) on the functions of the trade unions in assisting foreign engineers, I went to the trade union official in Soyuzstroi and discussed the delay of the work. Nothing came of this. For six months no meeting had been held by the administration of the trust to review the work accomplished or to plan for the future. The Party secretary personally pledged to me that effective action would be taken to remedy this. Still nothing happened.

On several occasions, I took up the situation with comrades Borodin and Zaidner (of Intourist); the latter being acquainted with my work in America. They deeply deplored the matter and urged me to write about it to the Press....

(I then told of the experience with the editors of Tekhnika .)

This describes my attempts to secure realization of my work. No agency known to me or pointed out by Soviet officials has been overlooked. Nevertheless, I have had to work silently and alone, without cooperation. Not a single step has been taken by any of these institutions to further the realization of the work. Such an experience destroys creative energy, initiative, and above all, socialist faith. The totality of these conditions, for the mass of foreign engineers in the U.S.S.R., results in grave losses to the Soviet Union.

Again I emphasize that this communication has no personal end. It


requests no action on my behalf. If it serves to spur the various organizations mentioned to properly perform their socialist duties and make better use of foreign engineering aid for the benefit of the Soviet Union, it will accomplish its object.

My view, after exhausting all these possibilities, is that my services, under these conditions, cannot be of significant value. Real accomplishment is not possible in this way. In justice to myself, I must shortly return to the United States.

In comradeship,
Zara Witkin

Garry took the letter and departed. The fifteenth, sixteenth and seventeenth of June passed in routine fashion, at my office. Then the "rest-day" came, the eighteenth. My first thought that morning was to get a copy of Izvestia . As soon as I obtained one, I eagerly searched it. What I sought was not hard to find. Half of the second page was occupied by an article, signed by Garry, headed "The Agony of Creation."

The article first told of my arrival in the U.S.S.R. and an incident I had witnessed in Sevastopol. A crew of workers there, raising a heavy timber swinging scaffold up the face of a hotel building which they were "repairing," had smashed windows, broken plaster and finally torn off the heavy sign of the hotel, sending it crashing to the sidewalk, nearly killing two people. My reaction to this painfully unintelligent work was described in the paper as follows:

Seated in the train en route to Moscow, the American engineer felt, with all his soul, what a tremendous task lay before him in the wonderful land of the Soviets. This American engineer was a specialist in the rationalization of construction. Rapturously, he mused on the colossal effect on Russian construction of applying American technique in conjunction with the enthusiasm of the Soviet workers. What happened to the blessed intentions of the American?

Before us lies a thick pile of papers and clippings. They represent a mass of material, consisting of descriptions of hundreds of inventions and rationalization proposals. For days and months consideration of these projects has been put off and the inventors have met with nothing but delays, even the most persistent ones who wore down the thresholds carrying their rolls of drawings and their models under their arms, in futile attempts to get a hearing to show the possibilities of their work. Finally, in this endless process, they came to resemble perpetual motion machines!

Their presentations grew old in this way. Soviet inventors no longer come with their drawings, because they do not possess enough hands and


arms to carry them. Now they are loaded down with great bundles of documents; not technical matter, but resolutions, decisions, acts, directives, circulars and newspaper clippings! A very powerful bureaucracy! One shudders at the total amount of effort; the hours of painful toil of busy people, multiplied by tens and hundreds, consumed in meetings, conferences and commissions to consider each proposal or invention, separately. This tremendous energy is finally lost in the agony of creation by which the inventor and the invention are sidetracked to still other committees. A thousand words of genius are written by the commission, but nothing is done! Today's slogan is "Recognize the work and complete it!" The nonexistent perpetual motion machine is at last found; it is made up of a continuous ring of commissions through which the unfortunate inventors revolve. It was created through inertia, technical backwardness, stubbornness, ignorance and fear by the destructive bureaucracy....

The American engineer, as we said, was an expert in rationalization of construction. Rationalization is close to invention. The American engineer came to Moscow. He threw himself into the work with all his energy and intelligence. He saw wonderful sights, great buildings, hundreds of thousands of shock-workers, and many special writings devoted to problems of construction, placards with slogans, endless plans for speeding up work. A great arena for technical creation. Here, creative energy was being used for the greatest possible task: for the transformation of society!

The American developed great technical plans to transform our construction industry along modern lines. In his plans no intricate new devices were given. They contained only the most effective methods which are well established in the advanced industrial countries, and the beginnings of which already exist in our country. But the American has been puzzled and discouraged by the way in which the bureaucracy has handled his projects. He flounders in an ocean of papers, resolutions, acts, circulars, reports. In this long fight to keep his head above these papers, his energy has been gradually exhausted. His projects for the general rationalization program and the construction industry of the Soviet Union have been "shelved" for eight months. In the endless chain of bureaucrats which he has encountered, he has found an impenetrable wall of stupid inertia, suspicion, neglect and ignorance.

The American engineer is assigned to the task of rationalizing the construction industry in our country. One of his projects was the standardization of hollow wall blocks. But, among those whom the Party and the administration arranged to consult with him to facilitate his plans, he met the fear of assuming responsibility for investigation and action. They took the American, together with his drawings, and sent him to the Bureau of Rationalization and Invention. Now, the American engineer had not asked for a patent. He had simply put before them existing American construction technique, already in use for thirty years. He was only performing his duty in the task assigned by the administration. But the bureaucracy of the B.R.I.Z. took his project and sent it to the Leningrad Experimental


Institute. In this way, the three bureaucratic organizations "shelved" his project. The American proposed to achieve an economy of approximately fifty million rubles in a few months by his proposals. Until now the exhausted foreign consultant has waited to get the report of the Leningrad Institute.

What did the report say? It said that walls of hollow blocks are not new! The American never for a moment suggested this, nor even that his method was new. He was simply sharing with his Soviet colleagues his accumulated experience of eighteen years of construction practice in America, which he had brought to the U.S.S.R.

To prove that his proposal was not new, these bureaucrats referred the American consultant to certain periodicals in some Moscow institution. The American searched through the library. He wanted to assure himself of the facts and to be certain that his proposals to his Soviet colleagues were truths long known to him. But, here an unexpected interference arose. The number of the periodical mentioned by the Leningrad Institute in its letter was not given! This curious document, with its remarkable conclusions, so greatly sought after by the B.R.I.Z. of Soyuzstroi, was signed by one Ivanov.

Dear Comrade Ivanov! In the many remarks which you sent to the foreign consultant, this American whom we invited to our land to help us surpass the best Western capitalistic technique, we detect the ears of an ass! We are not sure whether or not these are your ears, but an ass's ears are there! You should read papers which you sign; otherwise, our construction and the heroism of hundreds of thousands of workers, who trust your authority, will be brought to shame before the whole world.

The American envisaged for our land such grandiose plans as he had never conceived of, while en route to us from the United States. He is a man of means, this American, and he came to us because the gigantic prospects of our construction dazzled him.

Not very long ago I met this American again. He had been urged to write, through the Central Committee of our Party, to Comrade Stalin, but he did not wish to take that step. He said, "For me it is not proper to act in this way. I know very little of your Party, and very little of Stalin, but I do know that your Party and Stalin have always urged us to work and to fight. What will they think of me, if, instead of fighting the bureaucrats, I complain like a little boy to his teacher?"

Engineer Witkin is right. I hardly think Comrade Stalin should be troubled with the work of rationalizing the construction industry. Just now, Stalin himself has fully explained his view of bureaucracy, and this is what it is.... "Bureaucracy in our organizations does not exist only as laziness among office loafers. Bureaucracy is the inheritance from the bourgeoisie.

Do not be disturbed, Engineer Witkin. Our country is vast, a sixth part of the world, endlessly rich in natural resources, not less rich in the enthusiasm and the will of millions, who, despite all enemy attacks, are


building a socialist society. Again, Engineer Witkin, do not worry! The working class of the Soviet Union will develop good working methods. For you, and for thousands of our good friends, who are prevented by the bureaucrats from doing their work, the activity of the mass is the best protection against bureaucratic decay, together with the Party which works to make a classless society and which will root out the last vestiges of bureaucracy.

There was no precedent in the Soviet press for an article of such extent on the work of a foreign engineer.



Next morning I went to my office at my accustomed hour—half past nine. Usually all was quiet; work hardly ever began before ten. This morning, however, when I arrived, everyone in the office was present. The air was tense with suppressed excitement. There was an unnatural activity. I asked my secretary the meaning of this. She replied in a whisper, "A great scandal. The government paper printed a terrific article yesterday about your work. Everybody is busy in connection with it now. Something serious may happen."

I kept silent, affecting to observe nothing unusual. I took my latest report from my desk and concentrated on some calculations. Hardly had I begun, when one of my Russian colleagues, close to the director of our department (the bureaucrat, Nikitin), approached me.

"Comrade Witkin," he asked smilingly, "are you ready for a conference?"

"What conference?" I inquired.

"There is to be a conference about your interlocking blocks."

I involuntarily bristled.

"When is this conference to take place?" I asked coldly.

"In half an hour."

"Who called it?"

"The administration."

"Tell the administration to go to hell!" I said, turning back to my work.

The Russian engineer stepped backward, as though he had been struck.

"What shall I tell the director?" he asked my secretary in Russian.

I answered, over my shoulder, "The administration has not looked at my report for seven months, since I submitted it. My drawings and computations are in Leningrad. The Leningrad Institute sent me a silly report and considered the matter closed. Now a council is called at half an hour's notice. The council can meet without me. Tell them that the only


conditions under which I will attend a conference are these: My drawings and report must be returned to me so that I can bring them up to date. Written notice, two days in advance of any conference, must be given me. The names of all members of such a council must be submitted to me beforehand to prove that it is a competent group, not another futile political debating society!"

The Russian engineer walked uncertainly out of the room. My secretary remained quietly alert and observant. Soon after she informed me that my Russian colleague, who had spoken to me about the conference, had gone to the administration office. I saw him again, half an hour later. His movements were hesitant; he avoided my glance. His face was red and he seemed very nervous.

On the few occasions for contact between the office personnel and my secretary or myself, during the day, we were approached with unnatural politeness. Our working day ended at half past four in the afternoon. Usually, by four o'clock, a great bustling began. Papers and reports were put away ostentatiously. This day, when that hour approached, nothing happened. Heads bent over desks, the work went on.

A moment past four o'clock, a leather-coated messenger entered. A flutter of suppressed excitement ran through the room. Several of my colleagues rose to meet the stranger. He carried a roll of plans under his arm. Someone pointed out my secretary to him. He came over to us and exchanged a few hurried words in a low tone with her and gave her the roll of plans. He bowed and departed.

My secretary turned to me with a quiet smile. She ripped open the rough paper cover of the package. It contained my drawings and report on the interlocking blocks! They had been rushed from Leningrad by airplane! Knowing that every move or gesture I made was being watched, I betrayed no emotion whatever and immediately resumed my work.

Five minutes later, one of the administration assistants entered our office. He came to my desk with a courteous smile and handed me a document. It was a notification requesting me to appear before a technical council on the twenty-first of June to consider my project of interlocking blocks! The meeting was to be held in the building of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. The list of members to be present at the council was appended. The meeting would be presided over by Comrade Feinhouse, chief engineer of the Rationalization Department of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. The Rationalization Department of the Soyuzstroi


would be represented together with several other technical organizations. My secretary glanced significantly at me. I signed the copy of my notification and handed it back to the administration assistant. He left at once. The tension in the office slackened. Some minutes after half past four, the staff began quiet preparations to go home. As I left the building with my secretary, we were aware of much covert comment about us, and an exaggerated deference which I found unpleasant.

That night I again met Garry. Smiling quizzically, he inquired if anything unusual had occurred at my office during the day. I recounted the events. His subtle smile changed to a wide, Mongolian grin.

"Things are happening!" he chuckled.

"What?" I asked.

"Did they read the article?" he asked.

"They certainly did!" I replied.

"Listen!" he said. His face changed instantly to a concentrated, intense expression. "It is good that the article had such a strong effect. It is still better that it is supposed to be the force which will obtain a hearing for your work. I will tell you something, however. The night before the article appeared, I myself read your letter to Stalin. Stalin listened attentively, without interruption, to the end. Then he asked only one question: 'Is this man honest?'"

Nothing more!

Garry paused and looked intently at me. He smiled warmly.

"This will be followed to the end!" he said. "Here is my private telephone number. Each day you will call me from some point outside your office and report to me all that occurs. Omit no details in your dealings with the administration, no matter how insignificant they may seem to you."

I looked at him inquiringly. Understanding the question in my eyes, he said, "This first meeting in Heavy Industry will be followed by others. At this time, I may tell you in confidence, it has been arranged that you keep me informed of conditions each day and I, in turn, inform Stalin's economic executive secretary, Dvinsky. Stalin, in this way, will know daily the progress of your work. I may tell you also that I will be separately informed through the Commissariat of Heavy Industry of their actions. Stalin was especially sharp in his order to that commissariat to see that this matter is carried to the end. At his instruction also one line in your letter was copied and sent to Rudzutak,[46] the head of the R.K.I., for explanation. It is that one in which you wrote that 'if there


had been an organization to investigate the R.K.I., you would have resorted to it.'"

Garry laughed. Then his face grew earnest once more.

"Other consequences will follow," he said. "You may expect to be called before some very high authorities shortly. Be completely open with them. Give them the fullest information on any phase of your work about which they may ask.

"The Party will shortly begin a 'cleaning' in which probably a third of its membership will be expelled.[47] When the 'cleaning' commission meets to consider the membership of the administrators of the Soyuzstroi, I will be there. I do not think they will survive that hearing."

In the smile which played in Garry's Mongolian eyes, there was a steely glitter.

"Now let us discuss something entirely different," he said. "You may know that I am interested in many fields. Among them is aviation. For several years, I have been working with the organization of an aviation group whose objective is to develop new types of planes. We are now seeking to construct such planes on a large scale. Orders have been taken in advance from the administrations of many government trusts. In return they have committed themselves to the appropriation of sufficient funds to erect a plant and equip it with machinery for the production of these planes. The proposition has received the tentative approval of the Political Bureau.

"We are meeting strong opposition from the head of civil aviation in the Soviet Union. He is more concerned about his prerogatives and position than the potentialities of our plans for the Soviet Union.

"Understand," continued Garry, "that I am a former member of the O.G.P.U. This involves other matters than appear on the surface.

"A few years ago hundreds of thousands of homeless boys and girls, the abandoned orphans of the Imperialist War and the Interventionist Wars, roamed the highways of Russia and infested the cities. They were diseased, some were drug addicts, many were thieves and gangsters. The O.G.P.U. gathered them up and established separate communes for them in an attempt to reclaim them to useful lives. For a while there was revolt. They violently refused to submit to regulations. They ran away, were caught, brought back and escaped again. Once more they were forcibly returned. Then one of our high officials introduced self-government. Soon all began to run smoothly. Some of our best young leaders have come from these supposed criminals and riff-raff. All they needed were


decent living conditions and useful occupations. One of these communes is in Kharkov. It had a large, well-equipped factory for the manufacture of various kinds of industrial apparatus."

"I have visited it," I said quietly.

"Good!" said Garry. "It is now producing, among other articles, a very creditable imitation of the celebrated Leica camera of Germany.

"Now, the plant which we intend to establish for the manufacture of our planes will be located in Kharkov. It will be directly under the control of the Ukrainian O.G.P.U. We have chosen you to organize and direct its construction. Every facility will be provided for you in Kharkov. It will not be necessary for you to live there. You may continue to reside here. The crack overnight Kharkov Express or a government plane will bring you to Kharkov whenever we need you, at short notice. Your work in the Soyuzstroi can be carried on. Incidentally, you will make certain inspections and consult on the development of the plant in the commune. We will call upon you to make these inspections. You will receive secret notice in advance. All details of your transportation and living arrangements will be arranged. You will be paid one thousand rubles per day for such consultation; not, we believe, your full value," Garry added smiling, "but sufficient together with the special privileges which will be yours to enable you to forget everything but the work. These consultations will be the ostensible purpose of your trips to Kharkov. The real work will be the construction of the airplane plant. Will you do it? Have you any objection to this?"

Totally surprised by this sudden proposal, I nevertheless sensed its amazing possibilities.

"I am ready!" I said.

"Good!" said Garry. "You will meet me tomorrow at this time. No!" he corrected himself, with a faint smile, "tomorrow I will know more than you, from certain sources, about developments. We will meet the day after tomorrow, after your conference at the Commissariat of Heavy Industry."

He shook my hand firmly, threw on his old, discolored raincoat, and went off.

The next day, June 20, when I arrived at my office I met the same exaggerated courtesy and deference from my associates. Obviously some strong unseen pressure was being exerted. During the morning, I received a sealed message. It directed me to come at once to a certain address near the Arbat. The paper was signed by a Comrade Aronovich,


from an organization whose initials were the Russian letters S.T.O. I looked inquiringly at my secretary. In a low voice she said, "The Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense,[48] the highest administrative body in the country, responsible only to the Council of People's Commissars!"

We prepared to leave at once.

We crossed the city in a tramcar, discussing the sudden exciting turn of events. Completely as I trusted my secretary, I confided nothing of the communication with Stalin, nor of the nature of the tentative arrangements with Garry in Kharkov. I inquired if she would go to Kharkov with me on some new work. She answered that a permanent position there would be a hardship for her because of her sick husband and little son who would have to remain in Moscow. On short consultation trips, however, she would accompany me.

The rapidly approaching appointment had important prospects. The Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense had been created to insure that nothing of value in the military defense of the U.S.S.R. or its industrial development be lost. Its military head was Commissar of War Voroshilov. Our summons was from the chief of the economic section. We tried to guess the purpose.

Our destination turned out to be a building which had formerly been a magnificent private mansion. We entered the stately hall. A beautiful marble staircase curved gracefully upward. On the second floor, in the wide corridor, several benches were placed against the wall. Offices opened on either side. I waited while my secretary went to find the official whose message we had received.

Soon she returned and guided me to the office of Comrade Aronovich. We were ushered in by an attendant. Comrade Aronovich sat behind an enormous desk covered with papers which were in remarkably good order. Tall, burly, he was proportioned to carry the weight of his responsibility. Through horn-rimmed glasses his dark eyes flashed, direct and searching. His speech was as crisp as his thick, black hair, though his manner was courteous and friendly.

After his greeting, he inquired about my coming to the U.S.S.R. He asked many questions about my work in the Soviet Union. From time to time, he made copious notes. With some of the information he seemed familiar. He indicated that he was aware that a conference about my work was to be held the next day in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. A representative of S.T.O. would be there, he said.

Then he introduced a surprisingly human note into the conversation.


After the lengthy, disagreeable struggle which I had had in my work, he said, it might be best for me to go to the South for a vacation. The Revolutionary Council would be glad to arrange for me to stay in the finest rest-home in the Crimea. He dilated on the beauty of the Crimea and the Caucasus in the summer.

His suggestion was alluring. I had not taken any vacation the previous year. But the iron was at last hot. This was the time to strike. The events of the last several days had prepared the ground. All thought of vacation must be brushed aside, I concluded. Consequently I declined his friendly offer for the time, reserving it for the future. He shrugged his shoulders in kindly fashion and resumed his investigation.

He requested that I supply the Revolutionary Council with a complete file of my projects and reports. With these, he said, they could take immediate steps to insure their realization. As quickly as I submitted them, they were to be reviewed by Chief Engineer Karyagin of the Revolutionary Council. In the meantime, special attention would be given to the report on the interlocking blocks. A marked copy of Izvestia of June 18, containing the article by Garry, lay on his desk. From time to time he glanced at it, apparently to read certain portions which were underlined in red. Finally, he rose and, with a courteous gesture, indicated that the interview was over. He escorted us to the corridor and said that we would be informed when to come again.

There was little time left of the day. I therefore released my secretary and went home to prepare for the conference which was to take place on the next day.

In the evening I met Garry and told him of the summons to the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense, and the meeting with Aronovich. There was something grim in his smile.

"All is going as planned," he said. "Stalin knows. Telephone to me at once after tomorrow's meeting!"



The evening and part of the night I consumed in making shadowgraph drawings, in colors, showing the principle of the interlocking blocks, and how they were placed in a wall, to assure myself that everything was in readiness. I carefully reviewed all the computations.

In the morning, I went to my office with these drawings and reports. The staff was very quiet. I prepared my secretary for the meeting, going over all the data with her. A few minutes before the appointed hour, we left for the nearby building of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, where the conference was to be held.

The commissariat building stands on Nogin Square. Formerly it was a hotel. Though only six stories high, it covers an immense area. It has a great central court and several wings. The floor levels vary in these wings and adjustment staircases were necessary. Coupled with the winding corridors, these made the building a veritable labyrinth of confusion. Thousands of people worked under its roof.

We made our way through the densely crowded corridors and eventually located the office designated in our notification for the conference. We knocked on the door and entered.

The room was large and oblong-shaped. Ten desks were ranged against the wall, at each of which sat a member of the collegium of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry. In the corner, near the bank of windows opening on the court, was a very large desk, placed at an angle to the wall. We inquired for Comrade Feinhouse, the chief engineer of the Rationalization Department. The man who sat at the large desk was pointed out to us. We approached and introduced ourselves. With profuse expressions of courtesy, he welcomed us.

Comrade Feinhouse asked me why I had not been to see him previously. Many of the difficulties that I had experienced could have been eliminated, he said, if only I had called on him before. I smiled in noncommittal fashion. Other members of the conference arrived: the heads of the Moscow Institute for Testing Materials; the head of the


Rationalization Department of Soyuzstroi; the Soyuzstroi administrator, Nikitin.

As the members gathered, I noticed a man in uniform enter and seat himself with an abrupt motion, apart from the rest. He smoked a pipe from which came the odor of excellent tobacco. This was significant. Good tobacco is almost unobtainable in the Soviet Union. The native makhorka has a smell which makes one imagine that its origin is animal rather than vegetable. First-class tobacco in the U.S.S.R. usually means imported tobacco, and is available to very few of the population. I carefully scrutinized the set face of this man, wondering who he might be.

With a rustle of papers, Comrade Feinhouse rose and called the meeting to order. The conference had been arranged, he stated, to investigate the project of interlocking blocks developed by Foreign Consultant Witkin. The technical features of the project would not be considered at this time. It was apparent, he said, that the proposals were of considerable value. Other councils would determine their full economic possibilities. This council would deal only with the political aspect of the question; specifically the charges made by Garry in the government paper that the administration of Soyuzstroi and the Rationalization Department of that organization, together with B.R.I.Z. and the Leningrad Institute, had seriously mishandled the report, and instead of aiding in its realization had delayed it by bureaucratic red tape. Then reading from the article, he placed the charges formally before the meeting. The administration of Soyuzstroi was first called upon to offer an explanation of their actions.

Comrade Nikitin arose to speak. Stressing the great esteem in which Foreign Consultant Witkin was held by the administration of the Soyuzstroi, he adroitly evaded the question. There were many other reports prepared by Engineer Witkin, he said, which were now before them for consideration. "Interlocking Blocks" had been only one of these. The administration had desired to give it the fullest possible investigation, he said. At length they had decided this could be done best by the Leningrad Institute. After that, he said, they had impatiently awaited the report from Leningrad, which had only recently arrived. This was how the delay occurred, he said.

As he rippled on in his suave fashion, my glance happened to rest for a moment upon the countenance of the unidentified, uniformed member of the conference. His intent gaze was riveted upon Nikitin's face. He gripped his pipe-stem between his teeth with a deadly expression. I


thought I might hear it snap at any moment. Here was a man, I felt, accustomed to power of life and death over others.

At a gesture of impatience from the chairman, Nikitin came to a graceful conclusion and sat down. The chairman then called upon me, asking me to describe my project from the beginning, but limiting the discussion to the political aspects of the situation.

Step by step, I outlined the path of the work from its origin in October and November, 1932, to its submission to the administration and Rationalization Department of Soyuzstroi and B.R.I.Z. in December, the long silence without response until the frivolous note from the Leningrad Institute in May, 1933. Five months in which no serious consideration had been given to the matter! I made no mention of the way in which Garry had secured the information about the project.

It was the turn of the Soyuzstroi administrators for rebuttal. Nikitin stood up again. With a forced smile, feeling himself under fire, he began again in his smooth manner, skirting the subject of delay and neglect of the project, trying to lead attention off in other directions. As I turned to my secretary for a moment's consultation about one of his questionable statements, the uniformed man drew his chair up between us. He whispered something to my secretary, pointing to my drawings, which I held beneath the table. Her murmured answer was too low for me to hear. I looked at her inquiringly. At this moment, Comrade Nikitin resumed his seat, and the chairman called again upon me.

I opened by saying that even though the intricate technical problems of the project were to be considered elsewhere, some understanding of it was necessary. Otherwise, the discussion lacked reality. On this account, I said, I had prepared drawings which—. At this instant, I felt the powerful grip of the uniformed man on my arm under the table, just as I was about to raise it with the colored drawings. I glanced around and caught a fleeting, friendly gleam in his eye and an almost imperceptible shake of his head. My arm relaxed. I kept the drawings out of sight. I completed my sentence in a different manner, turning the subject. Then I quickly concluded and sat down.

The council remained a few moments in silence. The chairman made a short speech, mildly declaring that it would be desirable to summon other members of the Soyuzstroi administration, who were not present, to fix specific responsibility for the delay which had occurred in connection with the report on the interlocking blocks.

As he concluded, Nikitin, obviously gratified, and with a distinct air of


relief, began a remark. But he never completed it. Suddenly, the uniformed man leaned forward over the conference table. Not deigning to request permission for the floor he transfixed the council with a terrible glance. Cutting through the smooth, oily words of Nikitin, his staccato voice snapped out like a spurt of machine-gun bullets: "A maximum of fifteen days to make a real investigation of this project and a responsible report!"

Turning to the Soyuzstroi administrators who paled and shrank at his every word, and shaking a menacing finger at them, he thundered: "You call yourselves Soviet citizens and members of the Communist Party! Here is a comrade who has come from the other side of the world to give us the benefit of his experience in building up our country. He develops projects to save millions of rubles for the industry of our country—and you send them to Leningrad! Are there not enough experts in Moscow to consider these projects? Did it take six months to investigate them? And if you did send them to Leningrad, where you have such a grand institute, why did you not send this foreign engineer also on the first train, with the best accommodations, to explain his projects to your eminent colleagues there? Our foreign comrade does not understand our Russian ways. He thinks he must work quickly to help us build up our construction. He cannot see why we should waste six months doing nothing on a matter of such importance. But we know our Russian ways," he continued, with terrible emphasis, "and we know how to deal with them!"

The faces at the conference table had turned ghastly pale. The frightful sarcasm of the speaker evoked no smile. Everyone understood that a representative of only one organization in the Soviet Union could speak with such authoritative fury, conveying such deadly menace.

"A maximum of fifteen days!" he concluded. With a sweeping gesture, he indicated that the conference was over, drew back his chair, turned, and walked to the door.

The meeting dissolved. The members slunk out of the room, avoiding each other's eyes. My secretary and I passed into the corridor. The uniformed man stood quietly against the wall. With a slight smile he beckoned us to come. We crossed over to him.

"I am Comrade Borminsky," he said, "of the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense—where you have friends."

He did not mention the dreaded organization which he also, doubtless, represented. No Russian needs any explanation.


"It is best that you do not exhibit to the Commissariat of Heavy Industry the drawings which you have made. They will steal your ideas from you!"

"But," I said, "I am glad to give these ideas to them. That is my work, my purpose in being here."

"Nevertheless," he continued, "we do not want these ideas stolen from you without recognition, which is what undoubtedly would occur. We have arranged, therefore, first to obtain a patent for you. Our Engineer Karyagin will handle this. After the patents are issued you can show your drawings, safeguarded against these bureaucratic scoundrels. You will hear from me again soon," he added with a courteous smile, which temporarily obliterated the recollection of his sinister countenance in the conference. He bowed, turned, and walked decisively down the corridor.

I looked at my secretary in astonishment.

"What is this?" I asked. "The highest administrative organization in the country, warning me that the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, for which I work, will steal my ideas when I gladly offer them?"

"Yes," she said, with a sad smile. "We are still in the process of revolution. Anti-social, unreliable elements obstruct us yet. Do what the comrade said. He must come from the heads of the government. No one else would dare to speak in such a manner!"

On our return to our office, we found a message from the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense, signed by Engineer Karyagin, asking us to bring all technical data in connection with the interlocking block project to his office at once.

While we gathered our material, I glanced critically around our office. It was a large room with a dozen desks, usually crowded, dirty and noisy. Most of my work had been done in the evening, at my home, since concentration was virtually impossible in the office. In winter it had often been unheated; we had attempted to work in our furs, blowing constantly on our freezing fingers to enable them to hold a pencil.

As I thought of these paralyzing handicaps, a man entered and approached our desk. He introduced himself as Comrade Vorobieff, chief engineer of the Soyuzstroi. His voice was high-pitched and raucous. It broke hysterically under stress. Bearded, with hair growing low upon his brow, entirely lacking dignity or poise, he hardly seemed like a chief engineer of the greatest construction company in history. His eyes were a clear china-blue.

He had come, he said, to place me in a better office! I was to share his


office with him, since we would have much mutual work in the future, he said, beaming with friendliness.

A few moments later I was assembling all my reports, books and equipment for transfer to the office of the chief engineer of the Soyuzstroi. Within an hour we were installed in our new quarters.

Comrade Vorobieff there outlined plans for the future. New work was to be assigned to me to utilize my capacities fully, he said. Four great housing projects were under way: Leningradsky Chaussee, Annunevsky, Donskaya, Meshchanskaya. I was to inspect these and to suggest improvement of working methods. Before this was begun, however, there were immediate problems on three great secret industry plants: the aviation school at Mai, the aviation factory at Fili, and the airplane plant at Tsiam. With Mai I was already acquainted, having organized the construction schedule there the year before, when I was consultant for Zavodostroi, the trust which was building the project. Vorobieff said we would go together to Mai the next day. As soon as we determined the extent of the work there, a schedule would be arranged for the other projects. On future work I was to report directly to him, in writing, all my findings.

"Will that be satisfactory?" he asked.

"Perfectly!" I replied.

If I desired anything, or wanted to discuss any matter, I might come to him at any time, he assured me.

This sounded excellent. At last, the doors seemed to be opening. While making our preparations to go to the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense, I noticed the chief engineer cross the corridor and enter Nikitin's office. However reassuring his words were, I made a mental note to watch him carefully.

An hour later we were again in the beautiful building of the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense, speaking to Engineer Karyagin. Tall, broad-shouldered, with a large, bland, pock-marked face and merry blue eyes, he was a decided relief from the tension of the strained personalities which we had been encountering in the kaleidoscopic events of the previous several days. I showed him the colored drawings illustrating the principle of the interlocking blocks. He understood at once their significance and utility.

"We must make working models of these," he said. "I will arrange a technical conference as soon as certain documents are recorded in your name."


He gave us the name and address of a consulting engineer-attorney, Pavlovsky, who would draw up the patent application.

"Please make working drawings suitable for the production of models, so that I may get them started at once," he said.

He let us know that he had talked with Aronovich and Borminsky. When my secretary told him of the conference at the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, he smiled grimly. A marked copy of Garry's article lay on his desk.

"Before we finish with this," said he, his eyes twinkling, "others will sweat besides us, and not only from work!"

The drawings would take me at least two days. We were to return when they were ready.

That evening I described the happenings of the day to Garry at our customary meeting. He was jubilant. When I told of Comrade Borminsky, his face grew suddenly thoughtful. Then he said, crisply, "This conference will write a report on its investigation (a 'protocol'). I want a copy of this 'protocol.' We must not relax our vigilance. Nothing is done with only one blow in my country. Constant hammering is required, again and again and again! Another article may have to be written soon to keep these scoundrels on the run!"

Garry then asked me who my friend in Leningrad was, whose letter about me, to the R.K.I., had raised a storm in the commissariat. It had been addressed personally to Mariia Il'inichna (Lenin's sister), he said.

I was mystified. The only person whom I knew in Leningrad was a young Intourist guide. She had come to Moscow on two occasions. We had then talked of various phases of my work. It turned out that it was she who had written the letter. Animated by great patriotism and understanding of my aims, she had addressed Lenin's sister directly about bureaucratic opposition to my work, and the necessity for rescuing it from such a fate!



Friendly urging on Garry's part had made his home our daily rendezvous. Our conversations were usually in English. He had a mastery of French and German as well. Occasionally, I spoke to his hospitable wife, either in French or Russian. Though she knew the general nature of my work and had read Garry's article about it, we never discussed these details nor the confidential matters which developed from them.

A friendship grew between Garry and myself. I appreciated his energy, persistence and sincerity. He spared no effort in pursuing the end for which we were struggling. Under the surface of his official hardness, I found him to be a warm, varied personality. His mind was always sharp and clear. Fruitful ideas flowed continuously from it. His strange life was crowded with amazing, almost incredible experiences. Master of several languages, a brilliant journalist, with profound psychological insight and considerable technical knowledge, he insisted, laughingly, that at fourteen he had run away from school and had never thereafter entered the gates of any educational institution. He had joined the revolutionary movement in Russia at an early age and distinguished himself in the Civil War fighting.

During the turbulent years of consolidation of power by the Communist government, Garry had been an officer of the Cheka, the predecessor of the O.G.P.U. As the government became more firmly established, he was drawn away from the military and espionage phases of revolutionary activity and entered journalism, specializing in technical and industrial fields. His influence grew rapidly.

His far-flung activities had led to a sinister episode veiled in mystery. A fighting journalist, constantly investigating the serious difficulties in the seething transformation of the nation, involved in cases of real or suspected sabotage, he was frequently embroiled in bitter conflicts with bureaucratic officials, whom he attacked mercilessly. Once his enemies succeeded in having him exiled. According to rumor in Moscow he was released through the personal intercession of Stalin.


As our association developed he revealed to me intimate details of his crowded, exciting life and I disclosed parts of my existence and activities to him. He seemed the only Russian I knew in whom I could place confidence without reservations. I sorely needed someone. My position on the technical staff of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection Commissariat sometimes placed me in situations which made it extremely important to have the counsel of an experienced mind thoroughly conversant with Russian psychology and habits. At this time, also, my intimate friendship with the great Russian actress, who had planned to return with me to America, was in tragic dissolution.

Accordingly, I told Garry of my confidential appointment to the R.K.I. It would be helpful to me, and for the work, I said, if I could consult him occasionally. Among my assignments had been the unusual request for a memorandum on the possibilities of recognition of the U.S.S.R. by the U.S.A. I had made a report dated June 28, 1933. It read as follows:

The possibility of diplomatic recognition of the government of the Soviet Union by the United States of America, so momentous in present world relations, hangs in the balance between two sets of opposing forces. Some of these forces are deeply rooted in the characteristics of the American people. Others spring from the influence of important institutions. Still others arise from disturbances in the present international situation, which is forcing a new alignment of the Great Powers.

Advocates of Soviet recognition in the United States may be listed as follows:

(1) Intellectual and liberal groups in the universities and cities, and liberal journalists who are dissatisfied with the prolonged economic crisis and who are attracted by the social program of the U.S.S.R., the small amount of unemployment, and the idea of a planned national economy. Though in some cases they have high specialized standing, they are few in number, and their influence in the government and over the masses is slight.

(2) Professional radicals; members of the Communist Party, Socialist Party, and others. Recent elections exhibit their numerical weakness and lack of hold on the American people.

(3) Manufacturers who have profited by Soviet business orders, or who have hopes of such profit by the development of trade between the two countries.

(4) Politicians who guess that recognition is coming, and wish to be associated in the popular mind and the Press with its advocacy.

(5) A section of the liberal press, notably the Scripps-Howard Press, its owner, Roy Howard; the United Press, its manager, Karl Bickel; and


several American foreign correspondents, especially Eugene Lyons, William Henry Chamberlin, Walter Duranty, and Louis Fischer, who have been instrumental in sympathetically informing the American public of developments in the U.S.S.R.

(6) Anti-Japanese elements of the population of the Pacific Coast states, California, Oregon, etc., and manufacturers whose Chinese trade is jeopardized by Japanese aggression in Manchuria.

Opposing these groups in their advocacy of recognition are powerful forces and institutions which may be classified as follows:

(1) Strong anti-Communist feeling in all classes of American society, growing out of the individualistic philosophy which has hitherto dominated the American economic scene. Added to this is the knowledge of the great wealth which has resulted from high industrial productivity in capitalistic society, though distribution of wealth has been inequitable.

(2) The Catholic Church, controlling the thoughts of millions of the population; standing like a rock against Bolshevism and its program of liquidation of established religion.

(3) Protestant Church denominations; much less unified and definite in their actions than the Catholic Church, but opposing any social order which might reduce or limit their power.

(4) The American Federation of Labor, which opposes Communism on the grounds of low living standards of Soviet workers, the effects of Soviet competition in international markets, and the curtailed autonomy and power of the Soviet trade unions.

(5) The conservative press, which constantly emphasizes the abolition of free speech, free press and free assemblage in the U.S.S.R., together with the bureaucracy, the low standard of living, the food shortage and resulting famine, and the unsatisfactory experiences of American engineers in the U.S.S.R.

(6) The traditional attitude of the State Department in linking the question of recognition of the Soviet Union per se, as a stable, established government, with approval of Communist social and economic policies, especially the repudiation of Czarist debts and Communist propaganda, and refusing the former because of its rejection of the latter.

(7) Patriotic societies, such as the American Legion, the Better America Federation, the Daughters of the American Revolution, and others, who bitterly oppose a Communist social order.

Careful study of the American scene reveals that in the minds of the American people, including most of the groups above, recognition of the Soviet Government is intimately related to approval of its social and economic order, and to a fear that recognition might be an impetus to the spread of Bolshevism in the United States. It is extremely difficult to disassociate recognition from approval in the American mind.

Pro-recognition agitation based on the hope of expanding trade between the two countries has lost force, because it is becoming clear that the total possible amount of foreign trade with the U.S.S.R. is small, com-


pared to the enormous home market which has fallen off and which urgently requires re-establishment, and secondly, because Soviet trade would have to be financed by extensive, long-term credits. At present, foreign credits are in great disfavor in the U.S.A. Banking circles are not supporting such ventures. The government definitely opposes any.

There remains the uncertain trend of the Roosevelt foreign policy, which has extended the opportunity at London for a possible rapprochement between the two countries. Japanese aggression in Asia, unless checked, will wipe out American trade in China. The United States has refrained from sharp action till now, partly because Japan has represented itself (as in Matsuoka's recent visit to Washington) as the bulwark against Bolshevism in Asia.

The reversal of many traditional policies of the American Government by Roosevelt under the stress of present conditions may include recognition of Soviet Russia as an actual fact, with some strong qualifications regarding propaganda.

In the opinion of competent observers, close to authority, there is a strong possibility of recognition, growing out of the negotiations in progress at the World Conference in London. It is felt that pro-recognition sentiment reached a peak several months ago, and was hurt severely by the trial of the British Metro-Vickers engineers on wrecking charges and by the visit of Matsuoka to Washington. It was delayed by the overwhelming domestic problems of national economic reconstruction, including unemployment, banking reform and control of the currency confronting the American administration.[49]

Garry wondered at the action of the R.K.I. in asking me for a report on such a subject, remote from the technical phases of the construction industry in the U.S.S.R.

"It is strange," he mused, "but apparently you can help us in many ways. Continue with the work. My counsel is at your command whenever you desire it!"

The next days were crowded by the addition to my regular work of preparation of plans for working models of the interlocking blocks, and the drawing up of the patent application. The grave shortage of technical facilities in the U.S.S.R. was shown by the fact that despite the backing of the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense in this project, blueprinting equipment and materials were not available. I had to make five copies of each drawing by hand for the Patent Office! Incidentally, these drawings were made with American pencils, on German tracing paper, both of which I had brought from abroad. Judicious distribution of a few


American drafting pencils had made me several friends for life among my technical colleagues.

Soviet pencils are amazingly bad. With the best graphite in Europe, and unlimited supplies of fine lumber, the Soviet factories manage to produce the worst pencils in the world. This is due to failure to grind the graphite fine and uniformly and to season the wood. Instead of letting the wood dry out after manufacture, though the nation suffers from a shortage of oil paint, pencils are enamelled and moisture sealed in. The result is a pencil which cannot be sharpened with the ordinary penknife. It requires a razor-blade. The lead is brittle, breaking constantly, causing a large proportion of waste.

About this time I undertook another task—the supervision of construction of an apartment for Lyons. It was to be on the third floor of a large cooperative apartment house being built for a group of Soviet writers. Months before, I had planned the rooms in the space which Lyons had purchased. These plans had been revised several times, until at last they were what he desired, or rather what Mrs. Lyons desired. Her instinctive feeling for loveliness in a home was infallible.

Many special problems were worked out in the plans. Independent access to the United Press office, which was incorporated in the home, had to be provided. The arrangement of the kitchen and provision of sleeping quarters for the servant were other difficulties. The latter I met by designing the first counterweighted folding-bed in Soviet Russia, in a closet in the large kitchen. Utilizing the considerable ceiling height, I designed trunk racks for storage, which gave the effect of vestibule entrances. All piping and electric wiring were to be concealed, something unknown in Soviet Russia. Pipe-chases and furring are not yet employed there to cover utility services, and electric wiring is run exposed on walls and ceiling.

The administration of the job was tangled and torn with conflicts among the literary leaders. It was subject to the customary inefficient, irresponsible management. The superintendent was changed frequently. Each new one disavowed the acts of his predecessors and was blandly indifferent about the future. Nevertheless, by filing careful, detailed plans with the management, I was able to pin them down to the drawings as conclusive evidence of my instructions.

To permit the use of the living-room and dining-room as one combined chamber on occasion, I designed a large framed opening between


them, hung with two pairs of folding-doors which locked, forming a wall between the two rooms, or folded practically out of sight when it was desired to join the rooms. At first, this was a disturbing mystery to the superintendent. Later, after he had grasped the idea, it was copied by several of the directors of the enterprise for their own apartments, as were other features of my plans.

Lyons had paid for his apartment in full in advance. Withholding of progress payments could not be employed, therefore, to secure effective action. Moreover, he had paid in American money, whereas the other writers were to pay relatively insignificant amounts in Soviet paper currency, spread over a long period of years. The management of the apartment house took advantage of every opportunity to bleed Lyons for more foreign valuta, which they wanted for the purchase of material not obtainable for Soviet currency. All sorts of excuses were invented for extra charges.

My position quickly became that of a watch-dog, ready at all times to defend my friend from these specious claims. The construction schedule was continually disrupted by lack of material, labor and money and by changes in the supervisory force. Work would be started in one room, then abandoned after a few hours or days and the labor diverted to other tasks.

My specifications called for a smooth-finish, plastered wall to provide a good base for the application of oil paint. Lyons agreed to purchase the oil paint himself instead of using the kalsomine finish which was to be provided for the apartments. I made every effort to have the work pushed during the fine season so that there would be ample time for the plaster to dry and the paint to be put on while the weather was still warm and the air free from dampness. Despite this, delay after delay was incurred. Weeks passed fruitlessly with little work accomplished.

I had designed cabinets for various rooms which could have been built while the other construction was held up. The completion date for the job had been fixed for November, 1932, then for the first of January, 1933. It was already six months overdue, and was not in fact finished until 1934—when Lyons was departing and no longer needed it!

Every obstacle was thrown in the way of securing a proper wall finish. Finally it was agreed by the management that a test section would be put on. If approved by me, it was to serve as a standard for the rest of the apartment. I usually visited the job every two or three days, which was sufficient to watch every step, because progress was so slow. The job


management had agreed to notify me when the sample wall section would be ready for inspection. Five days passed in which no word came. I then decided to visit the building.

When I arrived I found that all the plastering throughout the apartment had been completed! A large gang had been put on and the job rushed through! It was abominable work, showing the haste in which it was done. The surface was rough and uneven, exactly what I had been at such pains to avoid. It was utterly unacceptable. I condemned the work on the spot and ordered the walls scratched with a rake to furnish adhesion for a new finish. Then I telephoned Lyons to come to the building at once.

My action in condemning the work was unheard of. There was no precedent for rejection of poor workmanship, so accustomed had everyone become to bad quality and low standards. Some of the officials of the cooperative were well-known literary figures of the Soviet Union. Despite their consciousness of attempted fraud, they could not believe my sharp order.

Lyons soon arrived. He was shocked to see the work and was especially hurt at the deception by his Soviet literary colleagues, whom he had regarded as friends and upon whom he had showered hospitality and aid.

Mild and long-suffering, however, Lyons attempted to smooth the situation over. He was willing to compromise the matter in some way. I warned him that this would not be possible, since the inferior workmanship, the rough finish, and the use of cement in the plaster surface would cause the destruction of the paint later on by combined chemical and physical action. He finally realized the seriousness of my caution and took a firmer stand. After a sharp altercation with the management, he demanded that the walls be refinished as I had ordered.

The management finally capitulated. Again it was agreed that a small section would be completed, according to my specifications. When satisfactory and approved, it was to be used as a standard for the rest of the apartment.

Several more days passed. One afternoon, Lyons was called to the building by the management. They asked him to come alone. Before he left his office, however, he telephoned me to join him on the job. He was met at the building by the managers, who attempted to dissuade him from my recommendations. They insinuated that I was unfamiliar with Russian conditions. I required impossible things, they said. Lyons re-


mained adamant in his demand for fulfillment of my specifications. The management then admitted that what I required could be done, but they claimed it would be expensive. They would be forced to charge Lyons a considerable amount of extra money, they said.

Just at this point, I entered the office. The managers were greatly embarrassed. Lyons told me in a few words what had occurred. I surveyed the group, angrily.

"All of you knew my instructions," I said. "You agreed to them. This trouble arose because you wilfully violated them. I warn you that no cheating will be tolerated. I know all the tricks. I see them a hundred times a day. The bad work you did will have to be corrected. There is no alternative and there will be no extra payments!"

The management saw that the extortion game was up. A room was selected for a sample wall treatment. Again I outlined the process of finishing the wall to smooth the surface. They agreed to begin work the next morning.


Zara Witkin, from the University of California yearbook, the  Blue and Gold ,
1921. This is the only photograph I was able to obtain of Witkin. Courtesy of
The Bancroft Library, University of California, Berkeley.


Emma Tsesarskaia in  The Quiet Don , 1931. Courtesy of Emma Tsesarskaia.


Emma Tsesarskaia, 1930s. Courtesy of Emma Tsesarskaia.


Eugene Lyons, late 1920s. At right, Ella Wolfe; at left, Bessie Weissman. Courtesy
of the Hoover Institution Archives, Bertram Wolfe Collection.


Romain Rolland (left) and Maxim Gorky, 1934. Courtesy of the Bibliothèque
Nationale, Paris.


Soviet antibureaucratic cartoon. The caption reads, "At the Northern [Shipbuilding]
Wharf." The chef is labeled, "The Factory [Trade Union] Committee."
The dishes, from left to right, say, "We promise to improve the food";
"We promise to strengthen sanitation"; "We promise to repair the cafeterias."
From Leningradskaia pravda , 23 August 1933.


The Wilshire Temple in Los Angeles, whose construction Witkin directed shortly
before his trip to the Soviet Union. Courtesy of Jeffrey Pott.



On June 24, the Soviet Foreign Office entertained the foreign correspondents at the celebrated rest-home at Uskia [Uzkaia? Uzkoe?], a suburb of Moscow, about seventeen kilometers from the city. It had formerly been a magnificent private estate owned by Prince Trubetskoi. Now it is reserved for higher officials of the Soviet Government and the Communist Party.

More than a hundred guests came to this affair by automobile from Moscow. The censor, Comrade Podolsky, was official host. We walked through the beautiful grounds, along flowered paths. Impromptu athletic contests, baseball games and tennis were organized. In the American colony, William Henry Chamberlin,[50] the precise, whimsical correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor , was the acknowledged tennis champion. He played as he wrote, carefully, with nice calculation. Several of the Americans called for a match between us. It was arranged. We began to play before an enthusiastic audience of Russians and foreigners.

I deeply enjoyed Chamberlin's excellent court generalship. His strength and speed, however, were not all that might have been desired. It was not difficult to break through his defense. The match was soon over.

Another playful occurrence that day remains in my memory. Ralph [nickname of Joseph] Barnes, the New York Herald-Tribune correspondent, was a tall, powerfully built man, who had played football at college in America. He engaged me in an informal wrestling bout on the great porch of the palace, to the hilarious amusement of the Russians and foreigners alike. A quick hold caught him off balance. Together we rolled down the steps to the ground, while the Russians and the correspondents roared. I happened to land on top. From that moment on, I had the reputation in the American colony of being a dangerous wrestler. So remarkable is the psychological effect of reputation that Barnes himself came to believe this. He claimed, afterwards, that he had been confined to his bed with a sprained back for several days. Thereafter, he humorously avoided all trials of strength with me.


The antagonism and restraint which customarily existed between the correspondents and the Foreign Office in their daily struggle to get out the news gave way on this occasion to one of friendly release and enjoyment. During the dinner which followed, the Russian love of anecdotes was given full vent. Gales of laughter swept the table as choice stories were swapped.

Walter Duranty, the correspondent of the New York Times , had telephoned to me the previous day, asking me to meet him at Uskia. We were playing indoor baseball when he drove up. Wistfully he watched the game for a few moments. (One of his legs was amputated as a result of a railway accident in France some years ago.)

Later, he sought me out on the great terrace of the palace. For some time, he said, he had been dissatisfied with the apartment he occupied. He wanted another. This was difficult to obtain. After considering the problem, he had conceived the idea of getting some land near Petrovsky Park, a very beautiful section on the outskirts of Moscow, and of importing a house in knock-down form, from Finland, which could be erected on the selected site. He drew out a description of this type of house and handed it to me. I examined it carefully. With certain modifications, because of the extremes of temperature in Moscow, I thought it would be practical. The price, as Duranty stated it, seemed fair.

The real problem, however, was the foundation. Cement, stone and other materials had to be allocated for it from the State supplies. Only very high authorities could reserve such materials. It would be necessary to file a request for them at once, as the procedure might easily take several months. Also, the foundation had to be designed, and the ground tested for bearing capacity, drainage and frost conditions. Sewerage connections, water supply and gas lines, as well as telephone and electrical conduits had to be provided. A labor force for the construction of the foundation had to be assembled and organized.

These matters greatly worried Duranty. I assured him that they could be done. If necessary, I said, I would personally supervise the work. When he was ready to build and had obtained the land from the government for the purpose, I would consider the project again with him. Duranty was greatly relieved. He went away at once. Late in the afternoon it began to rain and all the guests returned to Moscow.

Lyons left the U.S.S.R. on June 28 for an extended vacation in Germany and Italy. Work on his apartment remained in my charge. I felt his


departure at that time keenly, since he had been my close companion for an entire year. My relations with three other close friends, Professor Ernst May of Germany, Ralph Barnes and Garry, accordingly intensified. From day to day, I kept Garry informed of all events which transpired in my work. Meanwhile, I waited for developments from the patent application for the interlocking blocks.

The report of the council which had considered the political aspects of the blocks was finally issued. It stated that the charges made in Garry's article had been found to be correct in all particulars and that a serious political mistake had been made in handling my work by the administration of Soyuzstroi, the Rationalization Department and the Leningrad Institute. Special reprimands were issued to some of the men involved. These were inscribed in their registered documents and barred their future promotion to responsible positions. Those chosen for censure, however, were subordinates who had been merely the instruments of their bureaucratic superiors. Nikitin escaped specific blame.

When I received a copy of this official report, I immediately wrote a strong letter of objection, pointing out where the real responsibility lay and absolving the helpless subordinates who had received the blow. I brought a copy of the report to Garry as he had requested.

While planning the next steps for the application of my rationalization studies, Garry undertook to arrange the publication of the articles which I had written for Tekhnika . They were to be issued in book form by the Technical Book Trust of the Soviet Union under the title American Construction Practice for the U.S.S.R.

In the midst of these arrangements, a serious condition arose in the Donets Coal Basin. Production had fallen off alarmingly in the mechanized sections of the mines, which had been equipped with the best modern machinery. The government leaders were mystified. Garry was called upon suddenly to investigate.

He had to leave at once and told me that he expected to be back within a week. Our plans were to be held in abeyance pending his return. His departure meant that communication with Stalin, through the Garry-Dvinsky route, would be stopped. Garry had anticipated this and had said that his first act after returning would be to re-establish this critical connection.

Conditions at the Donets Basin proved to be more serious than Garry had foreseen. The anticipated week of investigation stretched into a month. During this time, I heard nothing from him. Even his wife


received no word. It was quickly apparent that the government pressure behind my work had relaxed. The attention of important authorities was evidently diverted to other matters. The fever pitch of excitement caused by the investigation in the Soyuzstroi began to die down.

My new work, supervising construction, began at this time. With Chief Engineer Vorobieff I went to inspect the enormous aviation school being completed at Mai. Because it was a military plant, it was difficult to pass the gates. Special permits were required. These were finally obtained and we entered.

The year before I had planned the construction methods for this project. It was here that I had developed the first crude plaster board in the Soviet Union, to save materials and labor. It had to be produced without paper, which was lacking. Thirty-seven buildings had been erected, including a power-house, testing laboratories, classroom buildings, dormitories, garages and hangars. The ultimate accommodation of the school was for five thousand student fliers and mechanics, by far the largest in the world! Half the capacity was already utilized. Several laboratories had to be completed and a great tunnel built for all the utility lines—including water, sewerage, gas and compressed air pipes, and power and light conduits.

The director and chief engineer, with whom I was acquainted, greeted us warmly. They explained their problems to us. The great utility tunnel was to be of large cross section and several hundred meters in length. It involved thousands of cubic meters of excavation. At this time a grave shortage of labor existed. Men were being drawn away to the farms to help harvest the new crop. The management of the job was trying to find some way of excavation by mechanical means, to cut down the need for manual labor. Equipment was limited. There were no excavators.

In the tool-house, I found an unused electric hoist. With this, I decided to improvise a drag-line excavator, if I could find, or make, a large steel scoop-bucket. Insistent inquiry revealed that our trust possessed such a bucket in Nizhny Novgorod (now re-named Gorky), three hundred kilometers away, which was not in use. It could be brought to Moscow for our purpose.

Accordingly, I devised a method of excavation, mounting the hoist on skids with wire rope ties to dead-men. Instead of burying the dead-men, I designed them so as to lie inclined in shallow pits, bearing against the side-cut. In this way, the dead-men could easily be lifted and carried forward to provide new anchorage for the hoist. The procedure was to set


two or three dead-men ahead in the shallow pits, rig the cables, scoop up the dirt in the bucket dragged by the hoist, and with mechanical loaders (which we found on the job), dump into industrial railway cars. The hoist could pull itself forward and keep excavating continuously.

I made working drawings and specifications to illustrate this process for the job management. A saving of 70 per cent of the cost of the job was indicated, compared with hand excavation. Still more important, it released the job from the requirement of a large number of men, who were then unobtainable.

Mai had another problem. In a section of the motor-testing building, built of reinforced concrete, serious deflection of some heavy beams and girders had occurred. This deflection in some cases amounted to several centimeters. Its cause was disputed, and its effect in decreased load-carrying ability was greatly feared. The engineering staff was trying to decide if it could be made safe or if it was necessary to demolish that portion of the building and rebuild it. Vorobieff and the engineer of the job went over this building with me. They pointed out the condition to me and asked me to find its cause and remedy. Then they walked off to the other side of the building. My secretary kept near them, apparently aimlessly. In this way she overheard a conversation which she related to me as soon as we were alone.

Vorobieff had said that I was to be asked to report on the cause of the sagging construction and the method of remedy. The original methods and conditions of construction were to be concealed from me. Without necessary information my report might have wrong conclusions. It could then be made the basis for discrediting me .

We were soon rejoined by the engineer and Comrade Vorobieff. They were deferential and polite. They asked me if I had any questions. I casually asked for the names of the superintendent and foreman who had been on the actual construction and said that I thought I had the information I needed. My secretary and I then left them and returned to Moscow.

The trip back was a memorable one. A great funeral demonstration was in progress in honor of Clara Zetkin,[51] the famous woman revolutionary leader of Germany, who had died the day before. She had been a friend and colleague of Lenin. Hundreds of thousands of workers were pouring into the city in every conceivable type of conveyance. Still greater numbers were marching in columns on every road. With banners flying, in ragged clothes, carrying rifles, they formed an impressive spectacle. We experienced great difficulty in getting through the vast


crowds. Our tramcar was held up dozens of times to let the hordes of demonstrators pass. It took us hours to reach Moscow.

The conversation my secretary had overheard at Mai made me decide to return there the next day without informing Comrade Vorobieff. I did not go to the job office but hunted up the superintendent of construction, who had built the job. Before anyone had the opportunity to interrupt us, I led him to a remote place on the site. Fifteen minutes of careful questioning enabled me to extract from him the history of the construction. As he described the work, the cause of the deformation became clear. The heavy load of the fluid concrete in the large beam and girder floor had been too great for the poorly built temporary supporting wood centering. The shores had not been supplied with bearing plates to distribute the pressure over a sufficient area of ground. Consequently, the forms had settled in the first few minutes of pouring the concrete, before the initial set had taken place. This was proved by the fact that no structural cracks were visible.

The superintendent suddenly realized the implication of his answers and hastened to introduce the favorite scapegoat for unsatisfactory work in Soviet construction—concreting in freezing weather. Because of the frost, he said, the concrete had turned out weak and had deformed after the removal of the supports.

The facts showed this explanation to be impossible. First, no structural cracks existed. Had deflection occurred after the initial set, cracks would have opened in the bottom of the deep girders, almost a centimeter in width, considering the depth and length of the girders. Secondly, if it had been frozen, the concrete would be soft on the top where it had been exposed to the air, away from the protective covering of the forms. This concrete was hard and sound. I thanked the superintendent and returned to Moscow.

My report was now clearly formulated in my mind. The real cause of the deflection would be given. Recommendations would be made to straighten up the bottom of the girders by adding on a few inches of concrete, roughening the existing under-surface with a pick to assure adhesion of the new concrete to the old. Three small, additional reinforcing bars would be placed to insure full load-carrying capacity of the deflected girders. This was a comparatively simple procedure. Nothing else would be required.

While I was preparing my report that day, my secretary, in her subtle


fashion, found out that the construction had been condemned already. Blame for the condition had been thrown by the job directors on freezing, as I had expected. My report, therefore, would conflict with the official one.

I decided to discuss this with Vorobieff. I intimated to him that it was unsound to blame the condition on freezing of the concrete. He inferred that my report would state this and that I would give, as the reason for deflection, settling of the forms during pouring of the concrete. Vorobieff did not argue strenuously with me to get me to change my conclusions. I did not mention the trip I had made alone to the job. I urged him to make another inspection with me. But his interest seemed to have cooled. He decided to defer such a trip for several days.

The day before our scheduled trip to the job, Comrade Vorobieff came to me and asked me to postpone the visit again. He said he had some pressing work which he had to complete at once. I had not yet filed my report. As Vorobieff spoke, a suspicion flashed across my mind. I agreed to postpone our inspection, but as soon as Vorobieff left, I started at once for Mai.

In two hours I was on the job. The entire section of the building in question had been demolished! Working day and night, all evidence of the deflected portion had been obliterated! Blame could now be thrown upon Nature instead of carelessness in construction. Demolition of the work made it impossible to confirm my findings and challenge the official verdict. I returned to Moscow.

I went to Vorobieff at once. I told him I had just come from Mai, and that my report on the causes of failure and method of remedy was ready. Through his usual blandness gleamed a subtle malicious smile. He said nothing about my having gone without him. Had I changed my opinion, he asked?

"No," I answered. "My conclusions remain as before."

"Has any work been done yet on the building?" he asked, looking at me with a clear, ingenuous gaze.

"They have started some work there, but the damaged section is still as it was," I replied.

A shadow flitted over his face. I smiled. Watching him intently, I said, "Comrade Vorobieff, the damaged section has been completely demolished! My conclusions cannot be verified!"

It was his turn to smile. An involuntary sigh of relief escaped him.

"Comrade Vorobieff," I asked, "is there any connection between the


haste with which the work was secretly demolished and your postponement of our trip to the job?"

Vorobieff's face momentarily paled. Then it regained its customary blandness. He made no answer.

"I have samples," I said, "of the concrete which was torn down. They are hard, almost flinty, showing it was of good quality. I will keep them for future reference. I must tell you also," I added, "that I went to the job alone the day after we first went together and got the facts from the superintendent who built it."

Vorobieff's face went black. Before he could utter a word, I turned and walked away.

From that time on, Vorobieff knew that I completely distrusted him. The gage had been flung down. The administration henceforth spared no effort to discredit or displace me, while I tried to blast them out of their bureaucratic seats.



Day after day came the pounding insistence of the work. I visited various suburbs of Moscow, where I inspected industrial plants under construction.

I telephoned to Emma daily. The rich, textured tone of her voice had disappeared. It now had a strange, thin quality. Some hidden power restrained her expression. On several occasions, when I attempted to tell her of certain events or plans, she asked me not to discuss them over the wire. I understood that our lines were tapped and that all conversations were overheard. It was clear, also, that she was under restraint in regard to meeting me. Tortured by the inability to see her, it was with the greatest difficulty that I concentrated on my task.

Our companionship had been constant for many months. During this time her other friends had sought her unavailingly. For me, nothing could be measured against the hours we had been together. My life had become a living, creative stream into which the joyous currents of her spirit flowed and blended indissolubly. Another existence in which our lives might divide and continue separately had become unimaginable.

The sudden loneliness was unbearable. In dread flashes the vision of the future, without the Beloved Companion, appeared. Ordinary details of my existence became onerous. In my innermost being, I sensed that some terrible pressure was being exerted upon her, bending and distressing her.

It was this secret pressure that I redoubled my efforts to find and oppose. Months before, Comrade Clark of the R.K.I. had asked me why I did not marry a Russian girl and settle in Russia. I intended to do so, I answered, as soon as I obtained suitable living quarters.

He was immediately all curiosity and asked who the girl was. I did not enlighten him, but I told him that she was a great artist, one of the three Russian women best known abroad (the others being Krupskaya,[52] the widow of Lenin, and Aleksandra Kollontai,[53] the great feminist and diplomat). He was apparently puzzled. Each time he saw me during the


investigation, he asked me the identity of the girl. I did not reveal it. I was frequently in contact with Clark because of my membership on the engineering staff of the R.K.I. The grief and loneliness that gnawed my heart in those weeks through the mysterious isolation of Emma at length overcame me. One day I told Clark of my plan to marry Emma and take her with me to the United States. I asked his aid in securing an exit visa for her.

A few days later he told me that he had inquired about a visa for Emma and found that no application had been made, but that the matter was not impossible.

The sickening succession of lonely days lengthened into weeks. Life seemed to stop at its very source. Grieving and desperate, I continued to telephone to Emma every day. Finally I was able to arrange a meeting. Evidently, she now feared to come to my house. Our rendezvous was the very corner from which we had begun our walk to the railway station on May Day. It was to be at seven o'clock in the evening.

It was already dusk when I descended from the tram. She awaited me in the shadow of a building. Radiant and lovely, she seemed fully restored to health. I had not seen her for six weeks.

Arm in arm we entered the adjacent park. Under the trees in the warm summer evening we walked while I sought to discover what the force and fear were which had worked such an alteration in our relationship. She was evidently under some grave compulsion. Over and over she repeated, "You must forgive me, my hard work, my operation, the heat, made me 'like crazy.'"

Hour after hour we continued to walk. I was happy to be near her again. But a secret pressure seemed to constrict her. The old directness which I had known and loved so well was replaced in her speech by an unnatural evasiveness. Suddenly she looked me full in the face. She had been told by her father, she said, that she might leave Soviet Russia with me, if that was her final choice, but that she would never be permitted to return. Family, friends and career, all would be lost. She would become an exile. A strange intonation entered her voice when she pronounced the word "father." The meaning conveyed to me was that it was not her father who had said this.

One organization alone controls the visas for all persons entering or leaving Soviet Russia—the O.G.P.U. I now understood who "father" was. The cause of the difficulty of reaching her in the preceding weeks


now became clear. If I were not to lose the Beloved Companion, I knew with whom I had to deal.

"Will you be with me as we have planned?" I asked.

"I will be with you," she answered. "We will go to the Crimea."

Despite her reassuring words, it seemed to me that we were speaking of a beauteous dream, already crushed by some unseen, sinister power.

I wanted to accompany her to her home. It was impossible, she said, exhibiting a fear which struck me to the heart. She entreated me to leave her at a certain point. Sadly, I watched her disappear into the night. My soul seemed sliding towards a terrible abyss. I now knew that opposed to me was a secret, ruthless, unlimited power.

Two enormous military industry construction jobs were my next assignments. At Fili a great airplane factory was being erected. Chief Engineer Vorobieff one day asked me to go to Fili. The construction management, he said, was baffled by the problem of raising the roof trusses. The gigantic assembly building had no interior columns, the entire roof being carried by great single-span trusses. Erection of these trusses, which were over fifty meters long and of heavy wood construction, was a serious problem.

Vorobieff told me that they had no mechanical means to do this. To raise them by manual effort would be extremely difficult. I could not believe that the job lacked hoisting machinery for such a purpose, but he insisted that this was so.

The tramcar which I took to Fili, after leaving the city, meandered slowly through open fields. Wild flowers and vegetable gardens presented a green and smiling appearance. After an hour's ride, we entered a grove of beautiful silver birch trees and ran under their cool, shadowy shelter for some minutes. Then we came to a stop on a short loop. This was the end of the line. We got out.

Hundreds of workmen were passing. It was the lunch hour. This airplane factory was so enormous that we walked almost half a mile before arriving at the office of the construction job, all past existing buildings of the plant! The surroundings were of special interest because of their historical associations. It was at Fili that the advance of Napoleon's Grand Army had been halted and his freezing legions turned back. It was symbolic that the giant air force, a major element of the fighting power of the Soviet Union, should be partly constructed here.


In the office, we were introduced to the director, the chief engineer, several superintendents and construction engineers, and the representative of the O.G.P.U.[54] They were very courteous but completely mystified by our visit. I inquired about the work. No message had come from the Soyuzstroi about us! They were in ignorance about our purpose.

Regarding the raising of the trusses, they said, they had power-hoists and sufficient block-and-tackle. Two methods for erection had been worked out. To me the men seemed thoroughly capable, aware of their difficulties and able to overcome them. I concluded that there was no need for my services. I told the men this and that I would return to Moscow at once to discover why I had been sent.

The engineers and the O.G.P.U. man, however, urged me to remain and inspect the job with them. They were evidently proud of their work, and they felt the instinctive kinship with me which exists universally among construction men. I yielded to their friendly solicitations and remained.

They showed me their plans for hoisting the trusses. These involved erection of masts on the ground, towering forty meters in the air. A possibility came to my mind of using the erected portions of the reinforced concrete side-walls and columns as supports for the hoisting tackle. This would cut down the required length of these masts to ten or fifteen meters, and they could be tied and braced against the existing structure.

The engineers were delighted by this modification of their method. I reiterated that I could not understand why I had been asked by Vorobieff to come to the job, when it was obvious that they knew their work thoroughly. The chief engineer smiled.

"Vorobieff was here," he said. "He went over the job. However, with some people one does not discuss serious problems. They would not understand them!"

In the eyes of the O.G.P.U. man there was a faint gleam of amusement. We observed each other for a few moments and then, simultaneously, burst into laughter. Then we all walked out to the site of the construction.

Fili was even more interesting than I had anticipated. Production of heavy bombing planes was proceeding at such a rapid rate that hangars could not be built fast enough to house them. Scores of these great war planes were parked in a great field, near the plant, open to the weather.

The size of the new construction was impressive. Two hours were


spent in going over it, studying the methods of form construction and centering for the great central assembly building whose interior had to be free from interfering columns. Veritable forests of temporary timber supports covered the area of the building. The men in charge were the ablest I had encountered on construction in the Soviet Union. A fine air of technical fraternity pervaded our discussion. The O.G.P.U. man possessed considerable engineering knowledge and entered into these talks, showing none of the typical Russian suspicion in relations with foreign engineers. Late in the afternoon we had concluded our inspection and I prepared to return to Moscow. The staff urged me to come again to see the progress of the work.

In Moscow I reported to Vorobieff that the job had all necessary equipment and that satisfactory hoisting methods had been devised. I had made only a slight modification in their plans, I added. Then I asked bluntly why I had been sent to the job with such instructions. Vorobieff answered weakly that he had been told that these were the conditions when he visited Fili. Recalling the statement of the job engineer, I made no comment.

Soon after this, Vorobieff told me that I would consult on the construction of another great airplane plant and aviation school in Tsiam, a suburb of Moscow. Telephone messages were exchanged between the Soyuzstroi and the job about my coming. Nevertheless, when we arrived at Tsiam we were halted at the gates by armed guards with fixed bayonets while a search was made for the engineer whom we were to see. The search lasted more than three-quarters of an hour. Finally he was located and brought to the gates. He completed our identification. Then only we were permitted to enter.

We went at once to the job office. The engineer explained the construction program. Two buildings were about to be started. One was to be a large dormitory for students and mechanics, the other a storage building for gasoline and oil for the airplanes. The dormitory was to be a rectangular block five stories high. Speed of erection was of paramount importance, as it was urgently needed. For this reason I proposed at once to alter the construction from reinforced concrete to pre-cast construction. Large size wall blocks and floor support members could be cast on the ground by gangs working day and night. They could then be hoisted into position and mortared into place. No form work or centering would be required. Delay incidental to hardening of the concrete would be eliminated.


There would be additional economies also in cement because of the higher quality obtainable in pre-cast concrete over poured-in-place. The heart of the plan consisted in building suitable travelling tower-hoists, which would move along the sides of the building and erect the pre-cast members. Struck with the advantages of this plan, the job engineer enthusiastically approved. I was to design the erecting towers while they gathered information on their available equipment for pre-casting.

The other building for fuel storage was to house a series of circular tanks. It was rectangular in plan. Access to the tanks was required only for inlet and outlet pipes. Consequently, I conceived the idea of redesigning this building completely, making it circular in form, with a central space for access instead of the entire side of a rectangular building. Thirty per cent of the area of the building could be cut out in this way, with corresponding savings in cost and material.

The job engineer was elated at these possibilities. We arranged that I visit the job again in two days. An automobile was to be sent to bring me there, to save the time and confusion of identification at the gates.

The day came for this inspection. The automobile did not arrive. Some difficulty with the telephone cut us off from communication with the job. It was impossible to get to the work, or to get any information about it. The next day I tried to call many times but could not get the job. Then I reported the situation to the administration of Soyuzstroi.

What actually occurred was never made clear. My secretary told me some weeks afterwards that she had learned that a bitter conflict had arisen between the job management and the Soyuzstroi administration, and that the O.G.P.U. supervision on this military enterprise was suspicious of the actions of both. Cooperation between the two organizations was broken off. The projects I had outlined were shelved. These unsatisfactory experiences at Mai, Fili and Tsiam I reported to the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection Commissariat.

Garry returned to Moscow at the end of July and sent for me at once. The tactics of the Soyuzstroi revealed by Vorobieff's actions and the silence of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry on the investigation growing out of the interlocking block project had convinced me that our moves, as all the others of mine which had preceded them, had been abortive. Even Stalin apparently could not break through the bureaucratic tangle!

Garry, however, viewed the situation unperturbed. He was overflow-


ing with good spirits as a result of his Donets Basin trip, where he had uncovered conditions which were choking progress in industry.

"In my country, nothing is done with one blow!" he said. "We must strike again and again! Another article in Izvestia must be written immediately!"

"But let me tell you what had happened in the meantime," I said, feeling that his confidence was founded on ignorance of how the bureaucratic management of Soyuzstroi had regained their equilibrium.

Garry smiled.

"Do you want to tell me about the Soyuzstroi, or the R.K.I., the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense, or the Commissariat of Heavy Industry? In the Donbas I received information daily about all of them!"

He drew from his pocket a copy of an official reprimand which had been issued to Director Khlamov of the Leningrad Institute, signed by Lugashin, the head of Soyuzstroi, for bureaucratic neglect of my project of interlocking blocks. I knew nothing of this. The smile froze on Garry's face.

"Vermin!" he muttered. "We will clean them out of their seats and out of the Party! I myself will appear at the Soyuzstroi when the official Party 'cleaning' is held!"

Garry then told me of his Donbas experience. The mystery of the low production of the mechanized portions of the coal mines had been solved. Only someone like himself, deeply versed in Russian habits and psychology, could have gotten to its roots.

Some of the Donets Basin coal mines had been highly mechanized under the direction of American mining engineers. Piece-work wage rates were in force. But payment to the men was made on the basis of the product of their cooperative labor on the machines. The accounting, however, was so confused and inaccurate that the men were bitterly antagonized by the resulting injustices in payment. Accustomed to individual work at the face, and to simple accounts of their production, the men had quietly revolted against the accounting and the machines and had altered the records of production, distributing some of the machine production among themselves and assigning it to manual labor. In this way, they obtained what they felt to be a fairer distribution of wages.

While in the Donets Basin, Garry had received a secret order to investigate a metallurgical plant there. Though one of the best in the Soviet Union, equipped with the finest modern machinery, and overfulfilling its


plan of production, in some way it mysteriously failed to meet the expected total of production in the State Planning Commission records at Moscow. Garry proceeded quietly to look into this plant. Its annual plan called for a production of fifty thousand units. It was in fact turning out seventy thousand units per annum. The plan for production had been formulated by the management of the plant and ratified by the Moscow authorities. By checking the machinery, Garry discovered that the plant was really equipped for a production of one hundred thousand units per annum! The directors had carefully concealed this and had rated the capacity at one half, in order to be able later to report overfulfillment of their program, when in reality it was falling one-third short!

This revealed one of the typical effects of the bureaucratic control of Soviet industry. The combination of ignorance on the one hand and fear on the other made for many cases of this kind of misrepresentation. It constantly confused the central authorities in Moscow and made accurate control over industry throughout the country virtually impossible.

Despite his cheerfulness, Garry was deeply troubled. His sister-in-law, a young woman, was dying of tuberculosis. Some months before, she had come to visit her sister, Garry's wife. Garry, heavily loaded with work, had asked casually about her health one day and had been told that she was suffering from a cold. A week later, he had inquired again and had received the same answer. Without time to think of personal matters in the rush of work, he had paid little attention to this. Once more a few days later, he had asked and had been told the same. This third answer associated itself in his mind with the first.

"It cannot be a cold, over so long a time," he thought. "She should be examined carefully."

Through his influence she was taken to the Kremlin Hospital, reserved for higher members of the Party and the government. (I had been a patient there the year before.)

Two specialists there diagnosed the woman as in the advanced stages of tuberculosis! They ordered that she be removed at once to the famous sanatorium at Sukhum, in Georgia, on the Black Sea coast. This sudden disaster fell like a thunder-clap on Garry's family.

Garry immediately procured a government plane and flew to the Caucasus with his sister-in-law. There he placed her in the sanatorium and entrusted her care to the special attention of his friend the head of the Caucasian O.G.P.U. [S. F. Redens? S. A. Goglidze?].


For three months, favorable reports of her progress came to Moscow. Suddenly, they received an urgent telegram to come at once; she was dying! Garry took an airplane from Moscow. A few hours later, he entered the sanatorium. His sister-in-law lay, thin and wasted, too feeble to recognize him except by a poignant smile.

Garry demanded the attending physician. He asked questions. The treatment for her care had been lung deflation. It had been administered by a doctor who was a recent arrival at the sanatorium and who was himself a suffering patient. He had been pressed into service for the others. The deflation treatment was new to him. He had never administered it before! This was his first case! No one had instructed or assisted him. In treating the young woman, he had punctured her lung and caused a dreadful internal wound. From this she was not expected to recover. The sanatorium authorities suggested that she be taken home to Moscow for her few remaining days. Grief-stricken but grim, Garry brought her back. She was taken directly to the Kremlin Hospital.

Other specialists examined her. They decided that the previous diagnosis had not been correct! The Sukhum climate was of no particular value and might even have been harmful, these doctors said. The treatment which she had received there had not been proper nor useful. But, the girl lay dying!

I saw her myself, shortly after this, reduced to little more than a skeleton. On her care, in a few months, Garry had spent sums utterly impossible for 99 per cent of the Russian people. The finest hospital in the Soviet Union had treated her. Government planes had been placed at her disposal. In spite of all these extraordinary measures, the girl was dying.

How many happy lives we have destroyed by such criminal carelessness, I thought.



The sweep of events immediately carried Garry back into fighting activity. He quickly familiarized himself with all details of the situation of my work. On August 12, 1933, Izvestia published another article by him, with the same heading as the first. It read:

The editor has received the decision of the conference called by the Rationalization Section in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, regarding the rationalization proposals of Foreign Specialist Witkin. Present at this meeting were representatives of the Soyuzstroi, the Second Trust, the Bureau of Inventions and the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense. This conference verified the correctness of the facts stated by Comrade Garry in the article of June 18, published in Izvestia . It was decided that the action of Soyuzstroi in sending the projects to Leningrad was sheer formalism, and that an expert investigation in Moscow could have greatly speeded realization of the project. Reprimands were issued to Director Khlamov of the Leningrad Institute and to Engineer Ivanov of the Bureau of Inventions, and Engineer Vinakur.

The Party cell of Soyuzstroi also confirms the information given in the article by Garry and states that it had been decisive in focussing attention on invention and rationalization. Since the previous article almost two months have elapsed. Since the passing of resolutions of the conference, one month. Yet the case of Engineer Witkin has not moved from dead center!

The grave political mistake which has been made by Soyuzstroi in the case of Engineer Witkin is their continued failure, despite all their facilities, to use this important foreign specialist as effectively as possible. The final decision of an expert investigation of his work, set within a period of fifteen days by the conference, has not been fulfilled.

There is no doubt that these deplorable facts will be interesting to the Party Cleaning Commission of Soyuzstroi and the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry. They will be critical also for those comrade colleagues who were bound by decisions participated in by themselves which had to be fulfilled within a fixed time. These comrades are Feinhouse, chief of the Rationalization Section of Heavy Industry; Nikitin, chief of the Section for Rationalization and Reconstruction of Soyuzstroi; and Borminsky, representative of the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense.


This article was published on a rest-day. No warning preceded it. The quiet which had descended upon Soyuzstroi after Garry's departure for the Donbas had stifled efforts for realization of the work. Officials who had been seriously perturbed by the events following the first article had hidden from the storm at first and then were lulled to rest. Gradually they came to consider the matter closed. Everything would go on as before. In the attitudes of some I detected an air of malicious triumph, which they did not express openly.

This second article burst like a bombshell upon the officials. There was much panicky scurrying. Meetings were called. Comrade Feinhouse of Heavy Industry rushed his assistant to my office, requesting me to confer with him at once.

This mumbo-jumbo no longer deceived me. I began to understand the full effect of the bureaucracy which blighted the character of official men. No reliance could be placed upon their statements. Out of this new flurry of excitement two conferences were called to consider the application of the interlocking blocks to construction, and the problems involved in their manufacture and use.

The second article was also a terrific shock to the Soyuzstroi administration. Again there were profuse demonstrations of official interest in my work. I made use of the aid offered, even though I felt it was merely a reaction to pressure, the product of fear, and would be only temporary.

Soyuzstroi, through a subsidiary trust, was then building four great housing developments in Moscow: Donskaya in the southern portion, Annunevsky and Meshchanskaya in the eastern, and Leningradsky Chaussee in the northern district. My work in America and in the U.S.S.R. had been, in part, standardization of housing construction. The management of Soyuzstroi was apparently secretly instructed from above to utilize me on these projects. Chief Engineer Vorobieff made arrangements for me to inspect them and report on the best methods of completing them and correcting defects in their construction.

Donskaya, I found, was virtually finished. My inspection was practically for final acceptance. Details of the mechanical system, especially plumbing and heating, and the finish, including the hardwood floors, were unsatisfactory. Wood floors in the U.S.S.R. were usually made of short pieces of parquet. The material sent to Donskaya was inaccurately


sawn, making it too difficult and expensive to lay. One electric hand-saw could have reworked this parquet property for use. There was no such equipment, however, and many loads of flooring were abandoned on the job.

The Meshchanskaya project was a group of regular five-story apartment houses with brick walls and wooden floors, of the kind being erected all over Russia. There were no special difficulties, except those of delay in delivery of materials, and poor organization. Work had been stopped because of lack of plumbing pipes, bath-tubs and other mechanical equipment.

The Annunevsky project differed radically from the other two. Its structure was only two-thirds complete: five stories were erected of an eight-story building. It was of reinforced concrete, built by the use of sliding forms, which were rarely employed except in special industrial construction like grain elevators and silos. The workmanship was exceedingly poor. The walls were rough and irregular, with much honey-combing of the concrete. The job had been stopped and the jacks holding the yokes on the forms around the building were exposed to the rainy weather and were rusting.

Sliding forms require continuous operation twenty-four hours a day, with short lifts of the forms at each turn of the jacks, usually not exceeding one-eighth or one-quarter of an inch. On this building, only one eight-hour shift had been employed. The jacks had been turned infrequently, jerking the forms a couple of inches each time. This dragged the surface of the wall, disturbed the setting of the concrete, and formed rock pockets. Hand-finishing of the wall, just below the forms, while the concrete was still green, which is the way to produce a fine surface on a sliding-form job, was not done at all in this case. The forms, instead of being built of one-and-a-half-inch or two-inch-thick plank, so as to be rigid and unbending, were made of flimsy panels of three-quarter-inch, unselected boards, which warped and bent out of shape. I recommended the necessary changes in the operating methods and the cleaning and covering of the jacks to protect them from corrosion.

The appointment to inspect the Leningradsky Chaussee development was never made. Though I saw this project, it was in an unofficial capacity, and I made no report on it.

These projects were practically at a standstill, as were most others in the Moscow region, for lack of labor. All available man-power had been


drawn away from construction and sent to the fields to bring in the harvest. This was a vital necessity then confronting the nation.

Insistent rumors of famine in the North Caucasus and the Ukraine had been current in Moscow for some time. In the capital we foreigners had felt the food shortage keenly in our sharply reduced rations. The mass of the native population suffered far more drastic curtailment of food supplies. Extraordinary measures were taken by the Communist Party leaders to bring in a harvest adequate to overcome this critical condition. Great drives were organized in which students and white-collar workers went to work in the fields on their rest-days. Fuel, especially kerosene, used for cooking on the Russian primuses, became very scarce in the cities, as all supplies were diverted hysterically to the farms for the tractors. Long lines of women stood all night to get a cupful of kerosene and often went home exhausted and empty-handed.

By the middle of August, the harvesting was in full swing. The Party had taken another extraordinary measure. On each collective farm an O.G.P.U. unit was formed, with summary powers to direct and supervise all operations and "bring in the grain" at all costs. These were the so-called politotdels .[55] Terrible stories were circulated about the acts of these groups. Picked especially for their dangerous and difficult task, these men were the most intrepid and severe members of the O.G.P.U. organization. They went armed at all times. Where they found dishonesty in the accounts, or laziness in work, they reputedly never hesitated to shoot on the spot. Even minor infractions of the working discipline became, under the stress of circumstances, "sabotage," and were dealt with accordingly.

In Moscow, the foreign correspondents, watching this unprecedented, grim process, asked each other repeatedly if it were possible for a nation to raise food with bayonets. With the stories of starvation pouring into the capital, and engineers and travellers from south Russia telling of dead bodies lying in the roads, the correspondents prepared to visit these areas and see the conditions at first hand.

Lyons returned from Italy on August 21. He immediately requested permission to visit the Ukraine and North Caucasus. The other correspondents did likewise. All were denied the privilege by the Soviet Government. This was the first time that correspondents had been barred from a civilian area in peace-time. The government had adopted a policy of concealment!


Lyons then asked the Soviet Foreign Office to select an area for him to visit—one which they were satisfied to have him see as an example. This recalled the notorious historical incident of General Potemkin, the favorite of the Empress Catherine, who hurriedly built the false "happy villages" in the countryside along the route she was to take, to conceal from her the misery of the masses. This request was also denied. William Henry Chamberlin, the soft-spoken, hard-thinking correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor , who had for years taken walking trips in the Caucasus during his vacation, was now also barred from that area.

While the correspondents were bottled up in Moscow, the government proceeded with its desperate effort to bring in the harvest and avoid the recurrence of the starvation early in the year. The wildest rumors of death by famine and terrible suffering of millions had reached the outside world. In a vague way the world was aware of the horrible famine which was destroying millions of lives. But the Kremlin had succeeded in confusing the issue through alibis, lying denials and frantic secrecy.

The fuming American correspondents, prevented from getting or sending any of this grave news, met to consider the situation. The conference was held in the home of Ralph Barnes. Walter Duranty, Eugene, Maurice Hindus, who happened to be in Moscow, and William Stoneman of the Chicago Daily News were present while I was there. Chamberlin, Louis Fischer of the New York Nation , Stanley Richardson of the Associated Press, and Linton Wells of International News Service had been there earlier.

Barnes put the question. What should be done? Their duty was to "get the news," to which access was denied by the Soviet Government. Barnes turned first to Lyons.

"What are you going to do?" he asked. (I knew that Lyons felt keenly about the suffering of which he was amply informed.)

"I want to send this story," Lyons replied, "but I am blocked. I have evaded the censorship several times by telephoning 'out.' My agency has asked me not to antagonize the government by doing this any more. With the Soviet Government barring investigation, the censorship stopping all dispatches and my own agency not backing me, I am helpless!"

Barnes then turned to Duranty.

"What are you going to write?" he asked.

"Nothing," answered Duranty. "What are a few million dead Russians in a situation like this? Quite unimportant. This is just an incident in the sweeping historical changes here. I think the entire matter is


exaggerated. Anyhow, we cannot write authoritatively because we are not permitted to go and see. I'm not going to write anything about it."

At this brutal cynicism, Lyons and Stoneman flared up. Duranty merely shrugged his shoulders and smiled, then turned to Mrs. Barnes to resume his brilliant conversation that had been so unpleasantly interrupted.

"What are you going to write, Hindus?" Barnes asked.

"I am not in the same position as you men are," Hindus replied. "I do not write for a daily journal. I do not have to send any dispatches. I am a novelist. Besides, as you know, I was permitted to enter Russia this time on my definite pledge not to visit the villages. My visa was granted solely on that basis. Also, since I have not seen these conditions myself, I cannot write authoritatively about them."

"I propose," said Barnes, "that we demand, as a group, the permission to see these conditions."

Stoneman and Lyons immediately expressed approval. Duranty and Hindus made it clear, however, that there could be no unanimous action. It was also recalled that Fischer, of the Nation , would not support any such suggestion. A queer light played in Barnes' eyes and his football chin stuck out. He left the room abruptly. The other correspondents continued to converse. Under the friendly spell of Mrs. Barnes' hospitality the ugly question was temporarily relegated to the background.

Suddenly Barnes re-entered the room. His face was flushed with excitement.

"I shot the story!" he announced.

Consternation reigned in the room. Barnes had telephoned a sizzling dispatch about the famine despite the restrictions of the censorship.

"What did you send?" the men chorused.

"I estimated the deaths by starvation to be at least a million."

The meeting broke up at once. Barnes' message could not fail to have the gravest consequences abroad in world opinion for the Soviet Union, and upon the correspondents themselves.

The reaction, as expected, was immediate. The New York Herald-Tribune carried front-page headlines. Every paper in America queried its correspondent at once for confirmation of the frightful story. The august New York Times sent a strong message to Duranty, which in effect demanded profanely where he was when these terrible conditions were developing and why he had remained silent.

The situation forced the hand of every correspondent. They had to


confirm Barnes' daring dispatch. The Soviet Foreign Office immediately summoned Barnes and threatened him with expulsion from the Soviet Union. But the confirming dispatches of the other correspondents were now pouring across the Atlantic.

Duranty the next morning in his cablegram estimated three million dead "of causes due to malnutrition," the now notorious euphemism which he coined for the famine. The Soviet Government had to expel all the American correspondents en masse, or let Barnes stay.

In this dilemma it had only one practical course. The antagonism of the entire American press was too great a risk to run. Barnes remained in the U.S.S.R. on sufferance.[56]



One evening, in Lyons' home, he and I were discussing my work and Garry's efforts in connection with it. While we were talking, Garry came in with a man named Belsky. The latter was the editor of the Soviet humorous weekly, Crocodile . He was also a talented cartoonist. We had met him before at several social gatherings. He was as full of pranks as a schoolboy. For a time he listened to our serious conversation, into which Garry entered at once, then, interrupting, he told us a story of an attempt by some of his associates to attack the bureaucracy in Soviet industry by making it look ridiculous.

A scheme had been hatched to form a mythical organization offering to supply some preposterous article. Government organizations were then to be approached to buy this material. At this point, the humorous conspirators, though members of the O.G.P.U., felt it safer to take some powerful Soviet official into their confidence. They went to Kaganovich,[57] a member of the Political Bureau, slated as the successor to Stalin. Kaganovich, one of the few Soviet leaders with a sense of humor, approved the scheme.

The first task was to secure a rubber stamp. Without one, nothing could be done. The correspondence of every Soviet Government organization must bear its stamp. But all rubber stamps are strictly under the control of the State Rubber Stamp Trust, making it practically impossible to obtain one.

The conspirators first placed an advertisement in the Evening Moscow . This advertisement read that a rubber stamp had been lost bearing the inscription "The All-Union Trust for the Exploitation of Meteoric Metals." This advertisement was run for three days. With clippings of the ad in hand, one of the group went to the State Rubber Stamp Trust. Tears in his eyes, he pleaded for a stamp to replace the "lost" one, without which they could not carry on their work. Those crocodile tears so impressed the State Stamp Trust official that a new stamp was made.

Immediately "work" began. Stationery was printed with the impos-


ing name of the fictitious organization. A fake board of directors was listed, whose names were chosen from among comic characters in classical Russian literature. Letters were then sent out on this stationery to a number of Soviet trusts, offering them metal, including special iron and aluminum (sic!) to be obtained from meteors which were to fall in points in Central Asia on certain dates in the future known to the trust! The circular letter emphasized that these metals would be of superior quality.

Replies poured in from all parts of the Soviet Union. In exchange for some of this precious meteoric metal, the Furniture Trust offered complete equipment for the offices of the vast organization of the "Society for the Exploitation of Meteoric Metals." The Automobile Trust offered to exchange cars for metal. The State Phonograph Trust felt that the hardships of the expeditionary parties to be sent by the society to recover the meteors from Central Asia would be so great that they offered phonographs and records, so that they might have music to relieve their misery.

Armed with these offers the conspirators went to the State Bank in Moscow. They presented the letters they had received and from a high official secured an allocation of a large fund for the "expansion of their organization."

Then they decided on a daring step. They called on the Assistant Commissar of Heavy Industry. With the backing of the State Bank and the great demand for their "special metals," they proposed to erect a plant. For this purpose they said they wanted the assistance of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry.

The assistant commissar was very polite, but smelled a rat. He excused himself a moment, went out of the room, locked the conspirators in the office, and called the O.G.P.U. A detachment rushed over. With straight faces, they arrested their own agents.

So many high officials had been ridiculously taken in by this hoax that Kaganovich clamped down on any publication. High Party and government leaders were laughing covertly at their bilked colleagues. Belsky said, sadly, that the story could not be used.

Two technical conferences were held soon after in Moscow on my project of interlocking blocks. It was finally decided to make some experimental pieces, under my direction. Meanwhile, I awaited news from the Central Office of the Patent Bureau in Leningrad. The summer was rapidly waning. Construction work was stopped because of the shortage of labor,


which had been diverted to the harvests. It seemed a logical time to take my long-deferred vacation.

During this period I had frequently tried to communicate with Emma. It was impossible. The curtain of silence had again fallen. Days of dreadful uncertainty grew into weeks. The summer was waning fast. The prospect of our vacation together in the Crimea was fading.

Towards the end of August, in desperation, I sent a trusted messenger to her with a note in code, intelligible only to her. This reached her. In it I told her of the arrangement my trust had made for my vacation, which had to be complied with. She sent back word that she would try to meet me that very day. At an appointed time, I spoke with her by telephone, but our meeting never occurred. She said it was impossible for her to come. I was to leave for the Caucasus on the fifth of September. I made several other desperate but fruitless attempts to meet her.

I made elaborate preparations for my vacation, since I was to go alone to entirely new surroundings. I selected Novy Afon (New Athens) on the shore of the Black Sea, in the Caucasus, near Georgia. The beauty of this place had been highly praised by my friend Professor May.

This rest-home was one of the finest in the Soviet Union. I planned to stay for a month. The charge was a little more than four hundred rubles for room and food. Railroad fare was additional, approximately two hundred rubles. All arrangements had to be made through the Vacation Bureau of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, and the money paid in advance. I insisted upon confirming reservations by telegraph. Three telegrams were sent to Novy Afon, requesting acknowledgment and verification of my accommodations. None were answered. I also had a document made out by the Commissariat of Heavy Industry including my identification and specifying that I was to have a single room. This was sent ahead by mail to Novy Afon. I retained a copy.

Then began the struggle to obtain railroad tickets. My secretary and I went from one office to another. Railroad tickets could not be obtained in advance for the trip. We tried the airlines, but there was no connecting link between the air terminal and my destination, so that had to be abandoned. A definite period for my vacation was finally set.

The uncertainty about transportation accommodations continued as the date for my departure approached. My secretary repeatedly assured me that all arrangements would be made. She worked tirelessly on this matter for two solid weeks. Finally, through friendship with an official in the Railway Commissariat, she obtained a promise of a ticket for me.


The question of whether or not this promise would be fulfilled kept me in considerable excitement.

Up to the very day set for departure (September 5) nothing definite about transportation could be arranged. In the middle of that afternoon, my secretary telephoned me hastily to say that she was coming right over with the actual ticket and a platskartnyi .

A few hours before my train was to leave I reached Emma by telephone. She immediately cautioned me. Every word was being listened to. She could not meet me, she said, on that day, but when I returned from the Caucasus we would plan further.

That evening I took the train for the Caucasus. I had a first-class compartment. Two young Russian technicians from Leningrad also occupied it. One of them spoke French. I watched the changing landscape with listless eyes, overwhelmed with sadness. What a terrible contradiction my journey was! For years, across continents and oceans, I had sought the irreplaceable Companion. Now I was being carried thousands of miles away from her, for rest and enjoyment! In my mind was the realization that our every movement and word was spied upon, and that an unlimited secret power opposed the plans to unite our lives.

The train reached Kharkov early the next morning and the fourth passenger in our compartment came aboard. Tall, handsome, in a well-fitting uniform, with great dignity and poise, he instantly conveyed an impression of genuine superiority. He spoke French, and also some English. His warm manner, characteristic of the Ukraine, invited companionship. None of the suspicion and fear with which most Russians, under constant O.G.P.U. surveillance, regard foreigners was in his manner. A conscious strength of being firmly rooted in his official place emanated from him. We were quickly friendly and engaged in conversation.

He was Superintendent of Railway Transportation in the Kharkov district. My own railroad experience of years past in the United States came vividly to my mind, and we swapped tales of common technical interest. Kharkov, he said, was far more interesting and less encumbered with the bureaucracy than Moscow. It was a much better place to work and live in, he thought.

In my remarks about Moscow, I mentioned Garry's name. He beamed upon me. Garry was a comrade of his years long ago, in revolutionary days. He knew Garry's entire group of friends. Nothing would do now but that I come to Kharkov at once and stay in his home. He guaranteed


to find a good position for me. We would study together, he said. He would perfect his English; I, my Russian.

Suddenly an idea flashed across his mind. Could I be the American engineer Garry had written about in Izvestia ? he asked. He had read the article with great interest ... When I answered that it was I, his friendship knew no bounds.

This quick companionship, and the characteristic hospitality of the Ukrainians, I was to meet again and again on other occasions. For two days we exchanged experiences as we rode and observed the varied natural scene unrolling through the flying car-windows. We were nearing the Black Sea.

I shall never forget my emotions when, suddenly, rounding the curve of a last obstructing hillside, I first saw the shining water. For almost two years I had not seen the sea, which had been a constant part of my life. Especially then, overwhelmed with grief at the mysterious and seemingly irrevocable end of companionship with Emma, I felt keenly the calming effect of the water.

The rails followed the seashore. At noon we arrived at the famous resort of Sochi, which was the end of the line. The woods were filled with rest-home cottages. In choosing my vacation place, I had not considered Sochi because of the immense crowds that went there, and the gay life in this Soviet vacation town, especially around the great hotel. I wanted solitude, the opportunity to be in the open and to study and read quietly. I hoped to avoid, rather than to form, new human associations. At Sochi, my travelling companion, the railway superintendent, got off, urging me to come to Kharkov soon and stay with him.

I walked around the town, coming to the beach. Hundreds of people were bathing. Some wore suits, the rest were nude. I undressed, swam, and rested several hours on the beach. Then I returned to the railway station.

The day was broiling hot. I had left my bags at the station. I went to redeem them. The manager of the checking stand charged ten rubles each for keeping them a few hours! For a foreigner it was not important, but it meant an average of two days' wages to the Russians for each of their parcels, an extortionate charge. An angry crowd had gathered. They complained vigorously and delivered vehement orations to each other, berating the manager of the stand.

There was no official, either of the railway department or the police, to whom any complaint could be made. The manager stood his ground.


The "comrades" had to fork over their hard-earned rubles. How such a rascal continued his practices openly was a mystery.

From Sochi an autobus took us on our way to Novy Afon. The road was rutted and full of chuck-holes, but it led along magnificent cliffs overlooking the shining sea. The vast expanse of blue water and the lovely wooded hillsides which we passed were often obscured by clouds of dust and exhaust gases. Packed in like sardines, we were shaken until our skeletons felt entirely disconnected.

Along the road we saw many buildings under construction, mostly rest-homes and hospitals. They were flimsy structures with an occasional exception where native stone was being utilized.

Evening fell, and we were still plunging over the rocky, uneven mountain road. With the poor searchlights which the bus carried, and the deeply rutted road-bed, there was considerable danger in the remainder of our ride. Nevertheless, we careened along without accident. About ten o'clock at night, we pulled up at Novy Afon.

The passengers climbed out of the bus and stood around waiting for the bags. They had been piled together in the back compartment of the bus. The procedure of getting them out, which in any well-organized depot would take a few minutes, consumed an entire hour. Then, loaded down with luggage, since no porters could be obtained at that hour, we started for the office of the rest-home. This proved to be more than a quarter of a mile away! The senseless arrangement of emptying the bus so far away and then having to carry all the luggage this distance excited no comment among the Russians. Discomfort was accepted as a matter of course.

At eleven o'clock we were in the office, expecting our rooms, which had been reserved, a chance to bathe or wash after the grimy, hot trip, and a bit of food. But this is not the Russian way. The manager declared that every room was occupied! He claimed that he knew nothing of any reservations which had been made for us. We would have to sleep in the corridors, he said indifferently. A bath was out of the question. Food at that hour could not be obtained, but we might have a cup of tea.

To the astonishment of everyone, most of all myself, I suddenly burst forth in profane Russian at the manager. The long-suffering Russians gathered around to watch the altercation and indicate their approval of my attack on the biurokraticheskaya kontora . I pulled out my document from the Commissariat of Heavy Industry calling for a single room for me, and the copies of the telegrams which had been sent to Novy Afon


reserving accommodations. Waving them under the nose of the manager, I shouted that if we slept in the corridors that night, he would sleep in an O.G.P.U. jail the next.

My Russian acquaintances stood aghast, but quickly and enthusiastically acclaimed my making a "scandal." The manager rushed out of the office. In ten minutes he returned. A vacant room had been discovered, he said, ingratiatingly. A hot bath was being prepared; also some dinner. Evidently my Russian was improving.

Three of us occupied the room that night. The manager apologized abjectly and pledged that the next day I would be installed in a single room.

Next morning we went to the office, where we were instructed to report at once to the doctor for medical inspection. The doctor's office was in the monastery on the hill, while our rest-house was on the beach. We climbed the flower-covered staircases and terraces. I was now able to see the entire surrounding region. A great sweep of seacoast, rimmed with continuous pebbled beaches; the water, sometimes cobalt, sometimes sapphire, sometimes emerald, blazed with the reflected radiance of the early sun.

Rising from the beach, covered with sub-tropical shrubbery and trees, were foothills which reached an elevation of approximately fifteen hundred feet, where a shoreline had existed in long-past geological time. Here, on a grassy plateau, seventy years before, an order of monks had built a monastery. Of hewn rock and masterly workmanship, it rose gleaming against the dark green background of the wooded mountains. Its domes were visible far out at sea. The great bell which tolled the hours reverberated over the surrounding countryside. Behind the monastery rose low mountains crowned with crumbling structures erected by the monks, to which strangely modern cableways had been strung. From these mountain tops was visible the great Caucasian mountain range, the spine of the continent, of strange and terrible shapes, impassable, covered with eternal snow and mist.

The monastery had been converted into a rest-home and sanatorium for the workers. The monks' cells were now rooms which each held two vacationing workers. Three to four hundred men and women, altogether, came from all over the Soviet Union to drink in the peace, beauty and health of this place.

Despite the early hour, a long line preceded us at the doctor's office. When our turn came, we were weighed and asked a few questions, then


told to return the next day for the prescription of treatment which would be selected for us.

Rigid routine prevailed in the rest-home; breakfast at nine, luncheon at one, tea at five, and dinner at seven. At two o'clock the houses were locked, and everyone had to sleep for one hour. This was the celebrated myortvy chas , the "dead hour," for rest and relaxation. For most of the vacationers this period of rest was prescribed.

Hydro-therapy was a customary prescription. One treatment was the "douche Charcot," named after the famous French medical authority, investigator of hysteria and the teacher of Freud. Supposedly it had great merit as a nerve tonic. The patient stood naked on a small wooden platform in a room whose floors, walls and ceilings were all tiled. A dozen feet away, a female attendant directed a stream of water from a nozzle regulated for pressure and temperature. With this stream she massaged spine, arms, shoulders, calves and kidneys as the patient turned slowly at her instruction.

The food was insufficient and poorly prepared. There was no milk nor eggs, very little meat, and that hard and sinewy, a small pat of butter once a day, two teaspoonsful of sugar once a day, few vegetables, no fruit. This in the richest agricultural district of Russia! Our food consisted almost entirely of the starches, bread, porridge, etc. The result was soon felt in extreme lassitude and weakness. We also had minor intestinal disorders. This insufficient diet was supplemented by daily purchases at the peasant market, three-quarters of a mile from the rest-home. The market consisted of a collection of rough boards, laid on short posts, upon which the peasants spread their baskets or parcels. Cheese, butter, figs, grapes, nuts, roast quail, tomatoes and various fruits were on display—all dirty and without wrapping. Everything was quickly bought up. Several rubles' worth of extra food each day, bought in this market, enabled us to maintain a certain amount of bodily activity, although we still felt continually hungry.

The first day at the rest-home, resting on the lawn near the communal dining-room, I noticed the smiling glance of a lady. Through my companion, who spoke French, she opened a conversation with me. I learned that she was a surgeon from Sverdlovsk, about thirty years of age. She wanted to study English and offered to teach me Russian in exchange.

We had our first lesson that afternoon. While we studied we talked about conditions in her part of the country. She related her struggles to earn enough for food. This was typical. During the previous winter, in


her district near the Urals, she had been in the fight against a typhus epidemic. No news of this had been permitted to reach Moscow. She estimated that more than fifteen hundred persons in her vicinity had died of the plague.

It was the general habit to swim just before noon. I returned from the beach, one day, just in time to change my clothes for lunch. I found the house-manager, a lady, putting another bed in my room. I asked her why she was doing this. She said a second person was to stay in my room.

"Oh, no!" I said. "Not in here."

"Oh, yes!" she replied. "I have orders to do so."

"This room was reserved for me," I said quietly. "No one else shall come in. Please remove this bed!"

She began to push the bed into the room. Without a word, I picked it up and carried it into the hall while she screamed at me. The luncheon bell rang. At such a time the intrusion especially annoyed me. The lady, gesticulating wildly, shrilled at me. I would have to do this and that, she cried. I entered my room, pushed her gently but firmly into the hall, and locked the door.

A few minutes later I came out again, dressed, and hurried off to eat. On all sides I was aware of excited whispering about the incident. The lady manager had lost no time in spreading amazing tales of the occurrence. I kept my room key, instead of leaving it at the office as usual. To my amusement, there was neither duplicate nor pass-key! (For some days I successfully defended my temporary "castle," at the price of having to make the bed myself.)

When I passed by the office after lunch, I heard the manager dramatically debating the incident with several Russians. Two days later it had become the major issue of the rest-home. Everywhere, everyone seemed to be arguing the matter.

One afternoon my study companion, the woman surgeon, did not come for our usual lesson. I went to inquire about her and found her in tears. At first she refused to tell me the cause. Under promise of secrecy she revealed that the incident of my room had antagonized the management. They had noted her acquaintanceship with me. The doctor, acting director of the rest-home, had threatened her that unless she prevailed upon me to let another person into my room, ugly charges would be made against her and she would lose her position in her home city.

I was stunned for a moment. Then, cold with anger, leaving my friend


in terror, I routed out another acquaintance, a young Russian radio engineer who spoke English, French and German (for what I wanted to say I needed an interpreter), and asked him to go with me at once to the doctor-director's office. He questioned me by a glance, but I told him he would learn soon all about the situation. Together we stalked off to the general office.

The lady house-manager was there. She glared angrily at me. My answering glare was at least as strong as hers. I did not wait to be announced, but walked up to the doctor's office door and pounded on it with my fist. Everyone in the office jumped up and began to chatter excitedly. The lady house-manager ran over and tried to move me away from the door. With one arm I held her off, while my other fist hammered the door.

Suddenly the door was thrown open and the doctor appeared, his eyes blazing with anger. He started back instantly when he saw me, and his countenance changed. I entered the room without a word, my friend after me, and closed the door.

The doctor started to object. I interrupted him, sharply.

"Doctor," I said, "only one question. Did you threaten Dr. ——— with the loss of her job because of her friendship with me?"

He hemmed and hawed and said I was disturbing the administration by insisting on remaining alone in my room.

I interrupted again.

"You will immediately apologize to the lady and retract all that you said, or I will telegraph to the Moscow O.G.P.U. in five minutes! They will know how to take care of you."

His face paled. I drew my watch from my pocket. He began to speak again.

"Three minutes are left, doctor!" I said.

With a confused air, he walked unsteadily to the door, opened it, and disappeared.

He returned quickly, and said, "I have sent for the lady. She will be here at once. I am sure you misunderstood the conversation I had with her," he said.

"Any conversation you had was a serious misunderstanding. You had better confine yourself to medical matters."

A few minutes later, hesitant and terrified, the lady surgeon was brought into the room.

"Now, doctor," I said, "explain what you said to the lady. You might


clear up what you called a 'misunderstanding.' Tell her that you are not interested in her work in the Urals, and not at all in her relationship to me. Tell her that your only concern is her health, since you are the doctor here, and she is a patient on vacation."

The lady looked dumbfounded.

The doctor mumbled something about the matter having been confused, and now having been satisfactorily arranged with me, and that she could be assured that it had nothing to do with her. I rose and signed to my two friends to go. At the door I turned. The doctor started.

"If you forget your pledge for a moment," I said, "you will have years in which to remember it."

I slammed the door.

Close to the rest-home, on the beach where we lived, a concrete sea-wall was under construction. Beach pebbles were the aggregate. They reached a size of several inches in diameter. Day in and day out two teams of water-buffalo hauled loads of these pebbles in carts whose wheels were of solid wood.

This equipment of thousands of years ago contrasted strikingly with the modern American concrete mixer. A gang of twenty men was constantly engaged throughout the entire month on this task.

Normally, in the United States, this work would be done by six men in a week. The unplanned, lackadaisical atmosphere on the job indicated the reason for this great discrepancy. Even the Russians, accustomed to slow and wasteful work, made this sea-wall the butt of many jokes.



Fascinating descriptions of a stalactite cave in the vicinity of our rest-home intrigued us, and we organized an expedition to explore it. The group consisted of seven men and one girl. One noontime, we left the rest-home equipped with staves, matches and one kerosene hand searchlight of very low illuminating power.

After a lengthy search, we located the entrance to the cave, at the base of a mountain spur. It was so small that it was impossible to stand erect in it. We crawled on hands and knees, in single file. The entrance gallery sloped sharply downward. We slid over rocks worn smooth by age-long dripping of water. Mud and slime covered us from head to foot. We were in total darkness. The feeble light of our kerosene torch was available only to the first two members of the party. I brought up the rear.

For half an hour we continued our descent, reaching a subterranean chamber just high enough for us to stand erect. Our feet were in a pool of icy water which had collected in the natural basin of the hollowed-out rock. The gallery of the cave apparently came to an end. We walked around the walls of this chamber, but found no further aperture. No stalactites hung from the low ceiling.

While we sat debating our return, my friend the radio engineer, inspecting the chamber, discovered a narrow cleft just wide enough for a man to enter. This led to a gallery beyond. We assembled at this opening and decided to venture onward. This new gallery took us down another declivitous, tortuous descent for ten or fifteen minutes. Suddenly my friend, who was leading, called out. The stalactite cave! We climbed through as quickly as possible and entered it in darkness. An improvised torch was lighted. We looked about us.

The underground chamber stood revealed! At least fifty feet in diameter, with a vaulted ceiling, it seemed like some mysterious cathedral. From its domed roof hung long stalactites. We broke off several sections closest to the walls and sat down to rest and talk. The eerie sensation of this secret chamber was heightened soon after by the


flickering out of our torch. We remained there half an hour conversing in pitch darkness.

The return was then begun. We re-entered the narrow, tortuous passage. I was now second in the procession, following the leader, my friend the radio engineer. The kerosene light had gone out and we had only an occasional match to light our way. Measuring our progress by sense of elapsed time rather than knowledge of distance or footholds, we came to a place where the gallery forked. From there two galleries led off in different directions! We did not recall this from our descent.

Our leader thought that the passageway to the left was the one we should take. The one to the right seemed correct to me. We decided to explore both for some distance and compare observations. On the way down I had left my staff at the entrance to the narrow cleft in the small chamber with the pool of water on the floor. Soon after I left our leader, I found it. This settled the question, I returned at once to our junction. The rest of the party was gathered there waiting for us. We called to our leader, who quickly rejoined us. Then we began the climb out. Half an hour later, we emerged from the cave.

Although I have built several tunnels, I always experience a sense of great oppression underground. I was glad to reach the air and the light again. We looked at each other in astonishment and burst out laughing. From head to foot we were covered with mud and slime! Unrecognizable, we walked through the countryside joined by stray villagers' children, laughing and shouting. Our weird procession headed rapidly and directly for the sea. In a few minutes we were at the shore. Without removing any of our clothing, we waded into the surf. Splashing about, we washed away the mud. Then, dripping wet, we came out and ran all the way to the rest-home.

That evening I was talking of our exploration with an acquaintance, a German engineer. When I described the forked underground passage, he looked grave.

"I will tell you something about that cave," he said. "Several years ago, it was carefully explored by a Soviet geological party. It extends twenty-four miles under the Caucasus mountains. If you had not located the right passage, you might have wandered underground and easily gotten lost! Without light or food, you would quickly have perished!"

For several days, rain fell heavily and we were confined to the house. I occupied myself in study, reading and writing. There was plenty of time


to reflect on the various phases of Soviet life I had witnessed. Out of the confusion and the waste all about, I discerned basic causes. Underlying all, I felt the tremors of terror which ran through the populace at the power of the Communist dictatorship. I wrote then to a friend:

My conclusions are formulated about this order of society. The effect is to renew my search for a good one. To the heavy weight of physical misery here are added spiritual burdens which would be borne only by a cowed people. One of the redeeming features, sexual freedom, is the secret of the content written on these faces. This is of signal importance, illustrating the relative significance of what we call culture, freedom of expression, civilization, standard of living.

The world is developing rapidly into two armed camps—one Fascist, one Communist—both intolerable to the free human spirit. Whether that spirit can survive or whether humanity will fall under the yoke of absolutism and inquisitorial power, as in the thousand years of medieval darkness, is the terrible question of our age.

Day after day I passed in hill-climbing, swimming, reading and writing. Try as I might to fill my mind with work and the great scenes of the splendid country, I saw against every hillside, in every cloud-form, the radiant, smiling visage of Emma. Always that face before me, and the sounding of immortal music. My Russian acquaintances noticed my preoccupation and respected a strange sorrow they could not fathom.

In the afternoon, after tea, we usually played tennis on the court of the monastery terrace. Hundreds of the Russians gathered to watch these matches. My American racquet was the subject of constant admiration and wonder; it was of far better quality than any of the Russian models. With three English tennis balls, we played through the entire month. They also were the wistful envy of the Russians. When one of them was hit over the hedge and rolled down the hillside, hundreds of onlookers rushed to retrieve it.

A tournament was started and after several eliminations I found myself matched against my friend the radio engineer for the championship of Novy Afon. He was a skillful player. The game required all my energy. Halfway through the contest, I made a violent run and then suddenly felt weak and nerveless. All went black before my eyes, and I sank to the ground. My comrades rushed over to assist me. They helped me to my feet and I staggered off the court. It was simply a lack of sufficient food energy. Several weeks of malnutrition had had a cumulative effect.


The radio engineer told me that he, too, often felt faint, but that Russians were accustomed to move slowly, without sudden violent efforts, such as I made in work or play. In this way they avoided demands for surplus energy, of which they had none, owing to their long years of semi-starvation.

One day we decided to visit a curious plant of which we had heard, several miles from Novy Afon. We walked down to the pier where the fishing-fleet which supplied it anchored. These boats caught dolphins, sea cows and various sea animals. The plant rendered the carcasses into soap grease, and the base for perfume. Machinery for this plant had come from Norway and had been installed and was operating under the supervision of a young Russian engineer who had been trained in Alaska. We spent an instructive half-day observing the various processes of the plant.

We looked forward eagerly to visiting Sukhum, the beautiful resort where Stalin usually went for his vacations. It is on the coast of Georgia, sixty or seventy miles to the southeast of Novy Afon. This journey can be made either by autobus or by Diesel motorship. We chose the latter.

One afternoon, at five o'clock, four of us boarded the cutter at the Novy Afon wharf, the woman surgeon, the radio engineer, his wife and myself. Out into the sunset we sailed, looking back at the magnificent mountains and the beautiful monastery, gleaming in the dying light. There was a strong groundswell and the boat heaved and tossed. In a thrilling burst of glory, the sun disappeared below the horizon. The fiery afterglow soon faded and the stars shone out in the luminous evening sky. We could see the lights along the coast, and the dark line indicating the shore. A wave of nostalgia overwhelmed me. How many strange shores I would see, I thought, before I see my own again!

Soon we rounded a great curve on the coast on which palm trees grew right down to the edge of the water. Then we saw the lights of Sukhum. The boat rapidly drew into the harbor. The passengers embarked on the pier and walked into the town. Our first concern was to find lodgings for the night. We had an address at which we had been told, in Novy Afon, we could get rooms.

The old lady who had charge of the house told us that none were available. It was already quite late. We knew no other possibilities. In my pocket I had some chocolate which I had purchased at the gold currency store, Torgsin. The old lady obviously had not seen chocolate


for quite a while. With this persuasion, she quickly cleared one room for us.

In the morning we visited the town market and bought eggs and fruit. Wandering about, we found a restaurant with a German woman as proprietor who agreed to cook them for us. On display in several restaurants hung the characteristic Georgian dish, shash-lik, of alternate round slices of mutton and bacon broiled on a steel skewer. We visited the famous botanical gardens, the zoo and the museum. In a little Georgian restaurant, we ate lunch, washing shash-lik down with golden Caucasian wine.

In the afternoon, we went down to the sea and swam. There was just time enough when we dressed to walk rapidly through the town to catch the bus for Novy Afon.

This brought us back to the rest-home in time for supper. We were told that there was a summons for us to come to the doctor's office at once. After our meal we went there. His office was in a hubbub. A typhus epidemic was raging in Sukhum, about which we had not known. We should never have been permitted to go, he said. We had exposed ourselves. He questioned us carefully about our movements in Sukhum. Should we now be quarantined? For two days this was considered. Finally it was dropped. Fortunately, none of us became ill.

Almost a month had passed by since I came to Novy Afon. The radio engineer and his wife returned to Moscow, and I felt their departure keenly. Three days later I was to follow them.

The day came. At five o'clock in the morning, before dawn, I dragged my bags over to the bus depot. Passengers, waiting there in the semi-darkness, were given seat numbers. It took half an hour to pack us into the bus, and the long ride to Sochi commenced.

Still in darkness we drove over the rocky road on the edge of the cliffs. Strange greens and lavenders began to appear in the sky. Suddenly the flaming beams of the morning sun broke over the horizon and bathed the entire countryside in golden light. The weather on the Black Sea coast is very capricious in the summer and fall. It was not long before it began to rain and we had to stop to put up the canvas top of the bus.

The bus arrived at Sochi several hours before the train was to leave for Moscow. I whiled away the time watching the happy, sunburnt young men and women who crowded the streets.

I had a third-class ticket, which meant no berth and no bedding for


three days (I could get nothing else at Novy Afon). Long before departure time the train was surrounded by hundreds of clamoring people clutching their bundles and hoping for a chance to get on board.

At the last moment before leaving, the car for which my ticket had been made out was cut off the train. The train began to move. Several of us jumped on. While it gathered speed, we disputed vigorously with the conductor. We were finally placed in a third-class car, on the hard boards.

Two nights of these boards resulted in a curious condition after I reached Moscow. My soft bed seemed uncomfortable. So much for custom, even with stiff, unyielding plank!

A decided increase in food supplies in the countryside was noticeable as we rode north. Peasants came to the stations to sell eggs, cheese, corn, fruit, vegetables and even roast chickens. This was a marked contrast to the condition of a few months before, when in the same territory so many had died of starvation. Begging was rife. Scores of ragged urchins surrounded us at each stop, asking for bread and the leavings of our meals.

When we came into Moscow on the third evening from Sochi, this strange, turbulent city affected me with a sense of poignant joy. Despite all its conflict and disappointment, it had come to represent home.

The station was crowded with happy, sunburnt faces. All were returning to friends, family and work. What would I find now in Moscow? The same struggle in the work against the dark forces of this tortured land. But she; she who has been strength and joy to me, would I find her? I was a prey to the wildest emotions. Without the Dark Goddess, life seemed a frightening desert.

A struggle for a taxi, a swift bumpy ride, and up the stairs to be welcomed by my landlady like a long-lost son. Then a hot bath in a great pan, eighteenth-century style. With three days' grime removed, I was ready to resume social intercourse. I telephoned to Lyons, who invited me to a gay dinner at the home of a foreign friend. Mrs. Lyons and Garry were also there. When I mentioned that I was returning to work the next morning, they tried to dissuade me. Time enough, they said, in a few days. I sensed a peculiar slackening of interest on Garry's part.

In the morning I reported to my office, going directly to Nikitin, head of the department. He welcomed me smilingly and asked me how I had liked the beautiful Caucasus. We spent some time in discussing this Soviet paradise. Then I inquired about my future work. Nikitin an-


swered that he would consider the program and let me know in a few days. This was the eighth of October. No plan had been formulated yet for the last quarter of the year.

Desperately I began my search for Emma. For a day it seemed as though I might be able to see her. My messages were received. But suddenly all avenues of communication seemed closed. The guillotine of silence rang down forever. I felt that I should never see her again.

While I was away, my secretary had become ill. Constant tension in our work had caused a nervous derangement. She had to undergo treatment and was forced temporarily to retire from the work. This was a great loss to me. In such work I never met another woman of her energy and ability.

I submitted the names of three excellent persons to Nikitin to select a successor to my secretary. Appointments were made for him to interview them. From day to day he deferred these. The program of work was not prepared either. October slipped by in useless motion.

One day Nikitin called me in and asked me if I was familiar with the new construction exhibited in the Chicago Exposition. I replied that I was, having seen it being built in 1932, just before the exposition opened.

The Soviet Government was planning a construction exhibition for the next spring, he said. It was desired that I prepare a report on the new methods of construction shown in Chicago, applicable to Soviet conditions. Nikitin added that it would not be necessary for me to come regularly to the office. My time could be arranged as I chose. I said that I would undertake to make the report and would keep in touch with the office every day. Then I asked if the plan for the last quarter of the year would soon be ready. He smiled and said that he would inform me of it.

Several times in our talks he had hinted that a fundamental administrative reorganization was in progress which would change the entire form of control of heavy industry throughout the U.S.S.R. The Soyuzstroi might be liquidated, he said. It would be broken into several smaller organizations for more flexible action. He emphasized that the U.S.S.R. was short of able technical men.

"It is regrettable," I said, "that those we have are standing idle so much. October is nearly gone, yet our group has not received a plan of work for the last three months of the year."

He shrugged his shoulders and smiled, but made no reply.

The study of the Chicago Exposition was completed in a week. My


report contained some seventy or eighty pages. During this time I had not required the services of a secretary urgently, though it would have greatly expedited the work. As soon as the report was finished, however, I needed one for translation and copying.

Nikitin had failed to keep several appointments with my prospective secretaries and they had gone elsewhere for work. I now tried to see Nikitin, to turn in the Chicago report, get a secretary and obtain the fourth-quarter plan. But he was no longer to be found regularly at the office.

Periodically campaigns were started by the government to increase efficiency in work. These took various forms, such as a "Save Material Campaign," and an "Increase Output" drive.

At this time great excitement was stirred up about a "Use the Seven-Hour Day" movement. The idea was expressed that the Soviet system humanely limited working hours to seven per day and that the workers in return should endeavor to employ every minute of the seven hours productively.

The campaigners called on me one day. "We want you to write an article to help the campaign," they said.

"No more articles," said I.

"But you have always cooperated before," they objected.

"Yes, and I will continue to cooperate genuinely," I said, "but you need action, not words. Enough words have been written already."

"We need your assistance, comrade," said one of the group more earnestly.

I eyed him keenly a moment.

"My friends," I replied, "I would do anything in my power to help. As you say, I have always 'cooperated' before. But I want you to understand my refusal. In fact, I want you to realize where the trouble lies and why we cannot remedy it in this way. Let me give you an analogy.

"Suppose you were a sculptor and you took your mallet and chisel in hand and struck a blow at a block of marble. Imagine now that it took eight months for that particular chip to fly. How much statuary could you carve, comrades? Now an engineer, if he is worth a damn, is an artist. He conceives a project, first in imagination, then develops a plan. This must be presented to the authorities for approval and the order to proceed. Eight months pass and no action is taken, no decision made. The entire creative line is broken. Energy is dissipated; the project comes to naught. It is fruitless to attempt to conserve the workman's time


when the directing intelligence is wasted by the bureaucracy. This is your proper point of attack, comrades."

There was a murmured assent. Significant glances passed between them. They smiled comprehendingly at me and went away.

I was now cut off completely from contact with the administration. My time was my own. My salary was paid. No work was assigned to me. Some of my acquaintances thought this to be a very pleasant situation. I considered this to be the worst possible situation.

Once more I went to the R. K. I. There I spoke to Comrade Elisaev, of the Foreign Section—a person evidently possessing considerable authority. I told him of the nineteen days' attempt, since my vacation, to get the work started again. He immediately telephoned to the Soyuzstroi and summoned Nikitin to the R. K. I. Then he continued to talk with me. Within a half hour Nikitin was announced.

When he entered Elisaev's office, it was apparent that my action had disconcerted him, being totally unexpected. He felt that the idleness which he had arranged for me would have pleased me and eliminated further administrative friction between us. It never entered his mind that I might want to work!

Elisaev spoke sharply. He wanted to know why the fourth-quarter plan had not been prepared. Nikitin promised that it would be drawn up immediately and that I would be assigned to a portion of it. That satisfied Elisaev, and the meeting was over.

My time, however, continued to be my own. There never was a plan for that final quarter year. The Soyuzstroi management had obviously decided to keep me inactive and thus avoid my criticism.



One night in October, together with several friends, I went to the Vahktanghov Theatre to see Gorky's[58] latest play, Yegor Bulichev . In this powerful drama, the central character, Bulichev, is a rich Russian merchant. The action takes place just before the outbreak of the Great War.

Bulichev is a man of great vitality and robust, reckless health. The first scene shows him with his amazing family which includes a shrewish, scheming legitimate daughter married to a lawyer; a lovable natural daughter; Bulichev's timorous wife; an abbess who, one may infer from Bulichev's attitude, was the mother of his natural daughter before she became "pure" and dressed herself in black. Finally, there is a burly peasant maidservant, broad-shouldered and deep-breasted, who has obviously supplanted the abbess.

At the end of the first scene, Bulichev is told by a physician that he is suffering from incurable cancer and that he will soon die. Wild confusion seizes the household. The frightened wife, under the influence of her daughter, and the abbess surround Bulichev by a horde of superstitious faith-healing fakirs who make incantations, blow devil-exorcising horns and lay magic powders. The real purpose of these religious "curings" is to drive Bulichev to such fits of anger as to furnish grounds for charges of his insanity later on. This may be necessary to break his will, which they suspect will not be to their liking. Bulichev sees through this scheme of his hateful legitimate daughter and her husband. The maidservant watches the family antics with folded arms and silent contempt.

Bulichev outwits the priests and healers and in a tremendous display of vigor boots them out of the house. His sweet natural daughter, overcome with grief at her father's doom, alternately weeps and consoles him.

At the end of the scene he suddenly feels the first pang of pain which he has known in his life. He staggers and sinks back on his couch, helped by his buxom maidservant. As Bulichev lies panting, he fondles the buttocks of the maidservant. This gesture, summing up all the pathos of


the renunciation from virile living and from life itself which Bulichev must make, was unforgettably poignant.

The play has nothing to do with Communist propaganda. So brilliant and true to type was the acting that all feeling of a play vanished. One had the sensation of witnessing the realities of existence.

The Russian people possess a special dramatic genius for oratory and music. Very different from German lyricism and romantic sadness, its quality is always poignant and reaches tragic heights. Their wealth of nuance and the range of dramatic gesture are unparalleled. The greatest spellbinders of our oratorical history appear like elocutionary school boys when the naked power of these elementals is unsheathed. Their passionate utterance transcends all boundaries of form and convention.

Several times in October I saw Professor May. In the early part of the year he had told me of his secret intention to leave the Soviet Union to settle in Africa. The reasons for his decision were significant. A former Social Democrat, he would be a hunted man in his native land, now in the savage grip of the Nazis. May's three-years' stay in the Soviet Union had gradually destroyed his hopes for the technical and social possibilities of Russian Communism. The incredibly stupid blunders on some of the largest enterprises with which he was associated no longer touched him as in the early days of his enthusiastic approval.

"The bloody fools!" he would say. "Don't take them seriously! Kinder! "

His struggles against the Soviet bureaucracy had begun when he had first come to the Soviet Union. This man was no ordinary fighter. Well over six feet tall, weighing 260 pounds, with a record of four years' service during the Great War on the western front and the organization and construction of the great pioneer social housing at Frankfurt am Main, Germany, he was not a man to shrink from hardship or opposition.

The Soviet Government had brought him to Moscow to plan the housing in the great new steel centers of Magnitogorsk and Kuznetsk [Novokuznetsk]. With him, from Germany, he brought a staff of about forty picked assistants. His wife and two sons were with him. He occupied a comfortable apartment—one of the best provided for foreign specialists in the Soviet Union. He had an automobile and all other facilities which could aid him in his work.

In three years he had made and submitted five general plans for the


housing of approximately 160,000 workers and their dependents in Magnitogorsk. None of these plans had been carried out. In the meantime, utility pipes had been laid all over the town, without any plan whatsoever! Later, with further development, searching parties were set digging to find the location of the pipes which had been laid!

A dam had been constructed for the water supply and power. Afterwards, it was found to be about half a mile from its proper location. A new dam had to be built and the old one abandoned and submerged. (Blame for this was shifted to a group of American engineers after they had left the Soviet Union and could not defend themselves against these charges.)

Magnitogorsk, however, was the most important project in the entire Soviet industrialization program. For three years the commissariats of Communal Economy and of Heavy Industry had fought each other jealously over the location of the housing; one insisting that it be on one side of the river, and the other on the opposite. One day, the Commissar of Heavy Industry, Ordzhonikidze,[59] summoned Professor May for a conference on the matter. For this, May prepared a chart. It was made like a clock, but with a single hand. Instead of numerals marking the hours, the months of the year were lettered.

May was ushered into the commissar's office. Ordzhonikidze looked up from his cluttered desk.

"Good morning, Professor May," he said. "On which side of the river is the housing of Magnitogorsk to be?"

"What month is this?" asked Professor May.

"What?" asked the commissar, startled.

"What month is this?" Professor May repeated.

Nettled, the commissar answered testily, "March!"

"Ah!" said May, drawing the chart from his portfolio and turning its face to the commissar. Silently, he swung the arm around the dial until it pointed to March. "This month the housing will be on the left bank of the river, commissar!" he said.

But the housing was built neither on the one bank nor the other! Instead of well-designed accommodations for 160,000 people, proper housing had actually been built for about 12,000. The mass of the workers were still in temporary barracks erected for construction purposes which, through necessity and bad organization, had become "permanent." A terrible fact revealed in the official investigation was that most


of these barracks were in areas covered by the blast-furnace fumes. The workers lived in a poisonous atmosphere. This, in the Soviet Union, with the services of the greatest city planner in the world at hand!

In an endeavor to correct these disastrous mistakes, May had addressed a letter, containing urgent recommendations, to Commissar Ordzhonikidze. This letter was never answered, nor even acknowledged. After several weeks of waiting for a reply, May wrote an article and sent it to the Party paper, Pravda . The paper did not acknowledge its receipt. Several months later, May was astounded to read an article in Pravda , under the name of a Russian engineer, in which some of his suggestions were printed word for word.

He did not abandon the struggle at this point, however. In a fashion strikingly similar to my own, he sent virtually the same letter and recommendations which he had previously sent to Ordzhonikidze to the R.K.I., addressed to its chief, Rudzutak, a member of the Political Bureau. Again, he did not receive even the courtesy of an acknowledgment.

Extreme poverty, which he witnessed all over the Soviet Union, made an ineradicable impression upon him, as did the brutality of the government to the peasants and the terrorization of the workers. He had seen masses of kulaks[60] and their children, who had been driven from their farms in the south of Russia, working in forced-labor camps in the frozen North in the steel, coal and lumber industries, under conditions unfit for animals.

May felt that humanity had entered upon a period of decline similar to the medieval ages. Europe in the grip of bloody fanatics, he thought, would be flung back into unimaginable barbarism.

Finally he had decided to go to Africa, the "Dark Continent," where he and his family might avoid the "benefits" of modern civilization and social reconstruction. He confided this to me in January, 1933. I kept it secret and in many ways assisted him in carrying it out. He is in Africa at this writing.

Professor May's office was not far from my own. Sometimes I went to see him there, and always experienced a curious sensation. His office opened from the great drafting room of Standartgorproekt, the City Planning Trust. The typical Russian slovenliness was relieved in spots by the desk of an occasional German architect. Even the door into Professor May's office was scuffed and dirty on the outside. As one opened it, however, and passed over the threshold, Russia was left behind and one entered a little island of German order and efficiency. Spotlessly clean


and precisely arranged, this tiny citadel of Western technique held out against wasteful Soviet bureaucracy on the other side of the door.

I have anticipated somewhat the chain of events at this period of my life in Moscow. Parallel with the outward circumstances which have been described up to November, 1933, an important secret phase of my life began.

I returned to my work, after my vacation at Novy Afon, on October 8. The next afternoon I was called on the telephone by Comrade Clark of the R.K.I. He asked to see me, but not at his office. This struck me as unusual, since our meetings had always been at the R.K.I. I invited him to come to my office. He demurred to this also. He preferred to meet me elsewhere, he said. I then suggested the library of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, three blocks from my office. That met with his approval.

I went down to Nogin Square and stood in front of the entrance to the building looking expectantly in the direction from which he would probably come. Someone stepped noiselessly to my side from behind, taking my arm. I turned and found Clark smiling at me.

"Walk down the street with me as though nothing had happened," he whispered.

We had gone half a block in silence when he asked, "Do you know where we are going?"

The intonation of his voice was so queer that a strange thought flashed across my mind.

"To the Lubianka?" (the headquarters of the O.G.P.U.), I ventured.

He looked keenly at me.

"Not there, but to a district office. How did you guess?" he asked.

"Intuition," I answered. "Perhaps it was your insistence on not meeting me in your office nor in mine, and your manner of approach."

"We have been awaiting your return from the Caucasus," he said.


He caught himself hastily.

"Well, you see," he said in some confusion, "you and I have worked together in a friendly way for some time, and so I am now acting as interpreter."

"By the way, Comrade Clark," I asked, "are you a member of the Party?"

"Yes," he answered, glancing around. Then changing the subject: "We will have to cross the city," he said.


We made our way to a tramcar stop. A car going north across Moscow came along and we got on.

Intensely curious about this mysterious journey, I asked no questions, letting Clark tell me what he wished. He said little.

We transferred to another tramcar. This trip, too, was made almost without conversation. When we descended, we were in the northern district of the city, where some of the better apartment houses had been built, near Professor May's home. Clark led me to a building where we climbed to the third floor. He rang the doorbell three times. The door was opened by a handsome young officer in the uniform of the O.G.P.U.!

The officer courteously invited us to enter and be seated. Then he excused himself and left the room.

I had determined to manifest no surprise, whatever might occur. Soon the officer returned. He led us into an interior room. It was large and well furnished. We were seated around a table. I had an opportunity to study his smiling face. He had ruddy, dimpled cheeks, brown hair, and a small, trim mustache. His perfect teeth gleamed like pearls when he smiled.

"Mr. Witkin," he began (I noticed at once it was not "Comrade," indicating unusual respect for a foreigner), "we have been observing your work for a long while."

"I am very glad," I said. "I had begun to think that no attention was paid to it at all."

He laughed.

"Oh, no, we are thoroughly familiar with all your efforts."

"So far they have been of little use," I interjected. "Comrade Clark can tell you how long I have been struggling to get something done."

"Yes, yes, he has told us," the officer said, "and we have decided to help you. You will find us real business people, like those to whom you are accustomed in America."

"If so," I answered, "it will be the first Soviet organization of that kind with which I shall have the pleasure of dealing. Our friend's commissariat," I said, smiling at Clark, "is quite useless. It never does anything but build up big files."

The officer and Clark laughed.

"I have been delegated to ask if you will work with us," the officer said.

"I cannot understand what I can do for your organization," I replied.


"My work is the improvement of the construction industry. Any technical task that falls within that scope, I am ready to do. I need the backing of the authorities. It is difficult to accomplish things here. I have had to work alone, without cooperation."

"Yes, yes, we know," the officer said. "But there is one organization in our country which has unlimited power and can get things done. Do you know who we are?"

"I have a faint idea," I said, smiling. "You will notice that I do not ask your name, since I understand something of your methods."

The officer and Clark exchanged significant glances.

"I will gladly tell you my name," the officer said, hastily. He took out his pen and wrote a name which he gave me, together with an address and telephone number at which he said he might be reached whenever necessary.

"All of the important construction in the U.S.S.R., especially military industries, is under our supervision," he said. "Our country is surrounded by enemies. There are also enemies within. We do not know whom to trust. This is one of our greatest problems."

"The way in which you meet this problem seriously hampers your development," I said.

"How is that?" inquired the officer.

"Good work cannot be done in an atmosphere of suspicion," I explained. "If you trust someone, you must place authority in his hands to enable him to act effectually. If you do not trust him, remove him from his post and send him away. Compromise with this procedure causes the inefficiency and confusion which exists here on all sides. I, myself, am now considering leaving the Soviet Union because of lack of authoritative support for my work."

"Don't leave now. Important factors are being changed to assist you," interposed the officer. "We asked you to come here so that we could arrange the support of our organization for you. From now on matters will go differently. Your work is of great value to us. We believe you know conditions in your own country, also, which you can help us to understand."

This remark put me instantly on the alert.

"Comrades, I am an engineer," I said. "Any technical and economic task in connection with construction in the Soviet Union is my work. Beyond this, I have no function."

"Of course," acquiesced the officer. "But in our country, all questions


are intimately bound up with the political aspect. This aspect is our especial interest. However, we will not discuss this now. At present we wish to know if you are willing, in principle, to work with us. There are many important technical tasks with which you can aid us. These can be outlined at future meetings. You understand all our relations must be in strictest confidence."

"The R.K.I.," I said, "has a similar arrangement with me, of which you must know. Some of your problems I understand. I am thoroughly acquainted with American conditions. Letters come to me from people in all walks of American life.

"For instance, I have a letter here," I said (drawing it out of my portfolio), "with which you are doubtless already familiar" (meaning that the letter had been read by the censorship).

The officer smiled a faint formal denial.

"It is a summary of the possibilities of recognition of the Soviet Union by the United States," I continued, "written to me by an eminent American attorney, one of my friends. It has an important bearing on technical and industrial relations between the two countries."

"Yes, yes, it is very important," said the officer. "You know many of the Americans in Moscow?"

"I know all of the important correspondents, engineers and trade representatives."

"We should like to know if you are ready to work with us. We are ready to help you. Perhaps you would like a few days to consider this."

"No," I answered, "my decision is already made."

The officer's face fell, anticipating refusal.

"I accept the aid of your organization in my work," I continued, "and I will assist you in engineering and economic tasks for the development of Soviet industry."

The officer beamed.

"Fine," he said. "Let us make a written agreement covering this. All must be in absolute confidence."

"Draw it now," I suggested.

He seemed astonished at my readiness. I took a sheet of my letterhead stationery from my portfolio. Together we worded an agreement. Its sense was that the State Political Department (O.G.P.U.) would assist me and place all necessary facilities at my disposal. I agreed to undertake various technical and economic projects which might be assigned to me.


Compensation was to be fixed later, when the program of work was formulated.

At our next meeting, the officer said, certain projects would be assigned to me.

"Also," he added, "a high chief of the O.G.P.U. organization will be at this conference to meet you. Comrade Clark will inform you of the time."

He rose. We shook hands. Clark left with me.

On October 12 Clark telephoned to me at my home to tell me there was to be a conference the next day. The rendezvous was again to be at the Library of Heavy Industry. He met me in the same fashion, and we took the tram to the same destination as before. There, the same handsome officer greeted us and took us into another room of the apartment. This room was very large and furnished with a desk, radio, tables and several comfortable chairs. A tapestry hung on the wall. The officer excused his absent chief, who, he said, was unable to come that day but would be present at the next meeting. He then questioned me about my present work.

"Are you satisfied in the Soyuzstroi?" he asked.

"Decidedly not!" I answered.

"For what reasons?"

"Because of the bureaucratic delay and opposition to my work, which prevents it from being realized. Comrade Clark can tell you about this."

"I have been requested," the officer said, "to invite you to consider what position in the entire field of Soviet construction or industry you would prefer to occupy. My organization," he continued, "will arrange that you be placed there, wherever it may be."

I thought for a moment. Then I said that I was not as familiar with Soviet organizations as the O.G.P.U. was. They should select a place for me, I suggested, after thoroughly considering my professional record and technical experience, which I would gladly furnish to them.

"Very well, we shall combine our thoughts," the officer said. Then he turned to some notes which he had.

"There are two problems which greatly disturb us, and with which you can help us. The Moscow subway is one. It is not going well. Two shafts are using the shield method of tunnel construction, with which you may be familiar."

I assented by a nod.


"In these sections," he continued, "there are two American engineers. We do not feel that they are competent. We do not trust them. Our suspicions about them are very strong. We would like you to investigate."

"Comrades," I said, "I have done tunnel work before. I will inspect these shafts and tell you at once if the work is done well or badly, and in good faith. However, I am not a detective, and I cannot pass upon the motives and character of the men involved. Upon my technical report you may base action as you see fit. That is outside my scope. I am ready to visit the shafts."

"There is no hurry about the matter," said the officer. "We will consider this and arrange that in the interim you meet these American engineers."

I became aware of a faint clicking noise in the room. For a moment it grew quite audible. Involuntarily I looked in its direction. My eyes rested on the tapestry hanging on the wall. The officer noted my glance and immediately attempted to reassure me.

"It is nothing, nothing," he said hastily. I smiled.

"In my own office in America," I said, "I use a dictagraph also. It saves the trouble of taking notes."

The officer began an explanation, but saw that I understood. Nothing more was said about the incident.

"We have another problem with which you can assist us," he said. "A prominent foreign specialist has announced that he would soon leave the Soviet Union. We want him to stay. Probably he is dissatisfied with some conditions, but he makes no complaint, nor does he give his reasons for going away. It is very important that we know these reasons so as to make conditions better for other foreign specialists who are valuable to us and who are doing good work."

The name of Professor May flashed across my mind.

"What can I do in the matter?" I asked.

"This man is a friend of yours, we believe," the officer replied.

I knew then that it could be only Professor May. "Who is it?" I asked.

"Professor Ernst May, the German city planner," he answered.

"I will see what I can do," I said.

The officer leaned back with a satisfied smile.

"Now," said he, "since you have indicated your assistance to us, we want to do everything possible for you. What do you want?"

"Nothing," I said slowly. "Nothing, except to push my recommendations filed in Soyuzstroi. My trust has failed to live up to its agreement


to furnish me with a proper apartment, and this makes living difficult. But, the main thing is that my work is not being realized. However, there are two things you can do. My American passport expires on December 12. By that time I must be in some foreign country to appear before an American consul who can renew it. This requires that I leave the U.S.S.R., which is a great effort and means a break in my work. Besides, the customary difficulty of securing visas makes it a great nuisance. Your organization controls all visas. If you will expedite this for me, it will save me much time, trouble and energy."

"You will have no trouble whatsoever," said the officer. "All these details will be arranged."

"One more thing," I said, and then hesitated.

"What is that?"

"No, I believe it is premature to ask now," I said, reconsidering.

"No, tell us!" the officer insisted.

"Very well," I said. "Have you read the Bible?"

The officer looked mystified. "Yes," he answered slowly.

"Do you know the story of Jacob?"

Still puzzled, he nodded affirmatively.

"Do you know my life in the Soviet Union thoroughly?"

He smiled faintly in assent.

Then I said, "I will work only seven years for Rachel!"

The officer looked keenly at me for a moment. I had no doubt that he understood my meaning. He nodded, thoughtfully. He said no more then about this.

"At the next meeting, of which you will be notified by Comrade Clark," he said, "we ask that you be ready to tell us what position in Soviet industry you think will be best fitted for you and where you will have the greatest opportunity. Your professional record will be translated and carefully studied. We will then consider terms of an agreement."

The interview was at an end. I rose to go and Clark followed me.

With my time at my disposal in this period, I watched Lyons' apartment job closely, visiting it every day. I made every effort to get the plastering done before the cold weather set in, so as to enable us to get a good job of painting. I could see, however, that there was little chance that this would be effected. Delay after delay occurred. Some of them seemed to be deliberate. Evidence of this was soon apparent. Demand was made


upon Lyons for a large bill of supposed extra costs. This was for work which was all shown on the plans which had been agreed upon and filed with the management early in the year.

When I heard of this, I warned the management that I would take the matter to the O.G.P.U. Of course, they did not know of my contact with this organization. They discounted my threat, which they supposed to be made merely for effect. I said nothing to Lyons of my intention.

Clark telephoned me that the third meeting with the O.G.P.U. would be on the night of October 17. It was to take place in a different location, the address of which he gave me. That evening, with Lyons and his wife, I went to a theatre in the southern portion of the city. After the performance, they drove me in their Ford to Nogin Square, near the apartment house where the meeting was to be held. I got out and walked a few blocks. Clark was waiting for me at the entrance of the designated building.

The same handsome officer met us again. He apologized for the absence of his chief but said he would certainly be at the next meeting. Charming and gracious as usual, he mentioned nothing further about the subway job, nor did he ask about Professor May. This struck me as peculiar. It was difficult to elicit the purpose of this meeting.

The officer told me that my technical record had been translated and that a new position for me was under consideration. He inquired if I had thought of a new place. I said I had not yet decided but at our next meeting I would be ready for his chief with two or three alternative suggestions.

The talk drifted to general matters, in the course of which he asked me if I was acquainted with the American correspondents in Moscow. He named Stanley Richardson of the Associated Press, whom I knew very slightly. He also mentioned my close friends, Barnes and Lyons.

"The latter two men are my closest friends," I said, "especially Lyons. However, discussion of them is outside the scope of our official association."

The officer hastened to assure me that this was understood and disclaimed any desire of questioning me about them.

I happened to think then of the matter of Lyons' apartment.

"One thing in regard to my friend Lyons, however, should be brought to your attention," I said. "I am supervising the construction of his new apartment. The work has been neglected. Attempts have been made to gouge him dishonestly for extra money. He has already paid a heavy price in gold for his apartment, and it is now almost a year overdue. The


workmanship is poor. The management has acted like a pack of bandits. Lyons has been continually harassed and embittered.

"This condition has a serious political aspect which should concern you. I suggest that you look into it at once and save the possibility of a disturbance later on, which would be occasioned if Lyons appeals to the Foreign Office in the matter, which he is contemplating. I have warned the management myself that I would take it up with the O.G.P.U."

The officer and Clark nearly jumped out of their chairs.

"Don't be alarmed, comrades," I said. "I simply informed them, without telling Lyons, that I would go directly to Lubianka and take this matter up with the commandant."

They leaned back, breathing easier.

"We will investigate at once, the officer said. "You may be assured that proper action will be taken."

"One more thing," I said, "about your organization and this question of confidential relationship. Some of your organization should be more careful."

"What do you mean?"

"There are four secret agents of the O.G.P.U. whom I know, two men and two women whom I meet constantly here in Moscow."

"How do you know them?" the officer and Clark queried in unison.

"I need hardly to explain that to you," I laughed. "I merely suggest that your operatives exercise greater care."

The officer looked strangely at Clark. I rose to leave.

And always in these meetings and sparring and struggling against bureaucracy and intrigue, my private tragedy was with me. Though I kept on trying, I felt in my heart that all hope must be abandoned. My sorrow was no secret to the men I met. It was the leverage they evidently counted on using on me.



Rumors of impending diplomatic recognition by the United States were rife in Moscow at this time. The cables between the two countries were loaded. Wild tales of ambassadors and trade representatives filled the air. Floods of American dollars and engineers were supposed to be ready to pour into the Soviet Union. A new attitude of apparent friendship and sympathy arose between the countries. It was understood in informed quarters that President Roosevelt had held out a conciliatory hand, through his representative at the London Conference, to Litvinov,[61] and that secretly an informal understanding had been reached as a tentative basis for recognition.

Tension in the Far East created by the drastic, treaty-breaking actions of Japan was obviously a powerful impelling force in this new rapprochement. Germany had replaced Soviet Russia as the hated and despised nation. The brutality of the Nazis had made the bluebloods of Berlin outcasts, while the unrazored, flaming red Bolsheviks were soon to send invitations to the Cabots and the Lodges for embassy balls!

I wrote home at this time, sketching this prospect. My letter ended:

What magnificent revolution if we had the wit to see it! The San Francisco Chamber of Commerce, which placed our destiny in the hands of Herbert Hoover, and insists on keeping Mooney in prison, congratulating Roosevelt on joining hands with the Reds! Love-feasts of Wall Street and Moscow! And underneath, the dull rumble of the terrible upheaval which will shatter all the structures of society.

The foreign correspondents were making every attempt to find out the identity of the candidates for the position of Soviet ambassador to the United States in the event of recognition. Among the names mentioned, the most prominent was that of Mezhlauk. He had been in America and had been well received in American business circles. It was he who had arranged the General Electric machinery contracts for Dneprostroi, among


other large foreign purchases. He was reputed to have learned English well enough in three months to make a good speech.

Through a person close to him, I heard a rumor at one time that he had left Moscow secretly for the United States. This might have indicated that recognition was imminent. Lyons ran this rumor down, however, and found it to be untrue.

My next meeting with the O.G.P.U. was set by a telephone call from Clark, as usual. It was held in the same apartment as the previous one. The higher officer had not come. I did not comment on this, but asked what action had been taken regarding Lyons' apartment. The officer assured me that everything necessary was being done to expedite the job and protect the American correspondent from unfair demands. I was certain that actually nothing had been done.

My report on the reasons for Professor May leaving the Soviet Union was ready. I had gone directly to him and reviewed his correspondence with Ordzhonikidze and Rudzutak. In my report I emphasized the discourtesy and neglect with which these high Soviet officials had treated one of the greatest city planners and architects in the world. Besides this, May's recommendations had received little consideration. My report minced no words; its criticism was sharp and burning. It made a great impression on the officer when he read it. At several points Clark hesitated to translate. I suggested, facetiously, that a permanent copy be written on asbestos and filed under water, to prevent it from igniting the files. The officer agreed grimly that this would be advisable.

At this time, also, I submitted my suggestions of two possible positions in the Soviet organizations where I would have maximum usefulness. The first was in the Heavy Industrial and Housing Section of the State Planning Commission for the Moscow district. There my technical and economic experience and training would find the widest scope in efficiently fixing the position and the magnitude of the new industrial and housing developments.

The other was consulting to the trust in charge of organizing construction work on large industrial projects. This included planning of transportation, building methods, equipment, auxiliary structures, standardization and rationalization of materials, time schedules, and control of labor forces.

These suggestions were well received by the officer. He said they


would be transmitted at once for consideration to his superiors. This concluded the meeting.

Next day I went with Lyons to inspect his apartment. We found progress so unsatisfactory that Lyons decided to appeal to the Foreign Office. He telephoned to Zalkind, the attorney in the Foreign Office, who conducted all legal negotiations with foreigners, and made an appointment for us to meet him.

At the Foreign Office we found Zalkind, a courteous, intelligent, thorough person. We told him of the situation on the job, the continual delays and extortionate demands for extra payments, and the poor workmanship. The story clearly disturbed him and he said that he would investigate at once and then let us know the results.

Evidently he considered the situation to be serious enough to warrant his visiting the job. He arranged to meet us there. With the embarrassed directors, he went over the whole job. Zalkind then took the matter under advisement because of the complicated nature of the contract between a Soviet institution dealing in Soviet currency with Soviet citizens and the sole exception of one foreigner, paying in American currency.

A few days afterwards he made his decision, sustaining us in every claim. The apartment house management was ordered to proceed at once with the construction, which was to be completed within sixty days, strictly according to my directions. They were also ordered to defer all claims for extra payment until the job was finished, and then submit them to Zalkind.

Crestfallen, the management ungraciously began to fulfill these instructions with many petty, irritating evasions.

During these days I frequently met Garry, who talked with me about my work but indicated no knowledge of the turn of affairs which had brought me into contact with the O.G.P.U.

The O.G.P.U. were negotiating with me for a new position for me in the State Planning Commission. I intimated to Garry that I was being considered for such a position. I expected at any day to be called before the State Planning Commission to conclude arrangements.

Garry strongly approved of such a post. He was friendly with Osinsky, vice president of the State Planning Commission, to whom he said he would speak at once to expedite the matter.

The next day he told me that he had had a long conversation with Osinsky, who said that he would be very glad to have my services for the


State Planning Commission, but that the matter had not yet been brought to his attention. Garry had told Osinsky, in his own way, of the bureaucratic opposition which I had met in the Soyuzstroi. Osinsky had laughed uproariously.

"Doesn't your American engineer friend know that our organization is the most bureaucratic of all?" he asked. "Tell him to put a stipulation in the contract he signs with us that bureaucracy shall be specifically excluded. Otherwise I am afraid it will creep in here too!"

Weeks passed, and months, since I had last seen Emma. A gray mass of days. Lost in impenetrable grief, knowing only the necessity of intense labor to dull the edge of agony. Work, day and night. Work for her land. Work for a social order which claims to be the farthest advanced in the world, but whose atmosphere is poisoned with espionage and intrigue, sinister and terrible suppression. Dark forces that break lives and intrude into the most private recesses of men's inner life. Dark forces that have sundered me from the woman I love.

And so the Beloved Companion is no longer a reality. Again she becomes a vision of haunting loveliness.... I seek release from the deadly pain that grips my heart. Work is a narcotic. I crave it—but the same dark forces deny me even that.... My every effort to give of my knowledge and experience is negated by a sodden bureaucracy, apathetic, dishonest, vicious. There is only one solace, the music bound up in my mind indissolubly with Emma. Night after night, work done, I drink deep of Tchaikovsky, the Fourth Symphony, the Fifth, the Pathétique . Rending, lacerating music.

Utter despair grips me, yet it is necessary to plumb this grief to the end. To yield to it is to skirt the edges of madness. The tension is unendurable and therefore must be broken. All the forces of my being must be mustered in a last stand against the powers of destruction. Companions, friends, brothers of the human spirit, I call to you! You who have been alone, you who have known irrevocable loss yet lived on and labored. You also who have dreamed shining dreams of beauty and have striven heroically towards them. Leonardo, serene, silent. Beethoven, flaming in revolt. Prometheus, unconquerable even in torture. I thought I understood you in the past, from the outside, but now I am one with you. Now I know your sorrows, your loneliness.

I see your radiant faces. I see the radiant countenance of the Dark Goddess among them! Yes, she is there! She is there! Strength flows


back into my heart. I feel your indomitable courage and it seems to me that your words, your spirits surge through me. No power on earth can divide me from the beloved! The gray, terrible clouds over my life break. I swerve away from the edge of an abyss. A road passes beyond, and this I follow, in your company.

Whatever the suffering, whatever the peril, this is my Way, this was her Way ...

And so I remained in Russia despite the wrecking of my private dream. Far from abandoning the work I had undertaken, I felt impelled to finish it, to continue the heart-rending fight. It seemed to be a debt to my dream, which I must make every effort to pay. The long, painful months that followed my loss of Emma were deeply stained with the color of my pain. In my mind I knew that the loss was final; but in my heart I could not credit that knowledge, and a vague, meek hope persisted. It was that hope which made me accessible to overtures from the O.G.P.U. officials speculating upon my personal tragedy.

But stronger than that hope, stronger even than my sorrow, was the desperate determination to make a genuine engineering contribution to Russia. I must bend every fibre of my being to that task. I must, if humanly possible, save my Soviet sojourn from utter futility. I must continue to batter the walls of bureaucracy, indifference, stupidity that shut me off—as it shut off thousands of honest Russians—from practical and fruitful work.

Towards the end of October, Clark telephoned me to come to another O.G.P.U. meeting. This time we were to meet at the Savoy Hotel.

Winter had already arrived. Snow covered the streets. Everyone wore rubber galoshes. In the checkroom we took ours off. Accidentally I noted the number of the room with which they were chalk-marked at Clark's direction. Clark led the way upstairs, then down a corridor and to a room. The number was not the one marked on our galoshes. The door was unlocked. We entered and seated ourselves.

For some minutes we waited in silence. Suddenly, without knocking, a man entered. He took off his heavy fur coat and fur hat, hung them on the rack in the vestibule, and strode briskly into the room. He was in full uniform of the higher ranks of the O.G.P.U. His brusque manner and gestures indicated considerable authority and power. Clark's deferential attitude confirmed this. None of the urbanity and graciousness which characterized the young officer with whom I had been dealing until now


was shown by this official. He shook hands with me formally and sat down unsmiling.

Immediately, he began a sort of examination. Instinctively I bristled.

When had I come to the Soviet Union? For what purpose had I come? Who were my parents? What was my training? Despite his grim counternance, I could hardly restrain a smile. All of this information was known and had been recorded dozens of times, years before.

Why had I not brought my family to the Soviet Union? he asked suddenly.

"Because the physical hardships of life are too great," I answered. "Moreover, all my family are workers and I have found conditions such in the Soviet Union that good work is difficult or even impossible."

"What do you mean by that?" he demanded, his eyes flashing.

I knew I had struck fire. "When I came to the Soviet Union," I said, "I intended to bring with me my staff composed of the ablest construction engineers and architects in America. Now I would not permit them to come at all."

"You are very careful about your family and staff," he snapped.

"Oh, yes, very careful. A true socialist like myself does not mind hardship and is not primarily interested in financial compensation. For instance," drawing my wallet from my pocket and indicating a Chase National Bank book and some gold currency, "I do not need the Soviet Union for this. My colleagues, however, might be dependent upon Soviet arrangements. From my experience, that would be unfortunate for them.

The officer's glance hardened.

"Another matter," I pursued, "is even more important. The spirit of relationship between the Soviet authorities and foreign engineers, in my estimation, is bad. The air is thick with suspicion and distrust. Soviet authorities are entirely cynical. Although they preach socialist devotion, their actions indicate that they hardly believe in it. Foreign engineers who come to aid in building the new social order, indifferent to personal ease and compensation, are taken advantage of at every turn by the Soviet authorities."

The officer was having great difficulty in restraining himself from an outburst.

"Some years ago," I continued, soon after the advent of the Russian Revolution, the greatest electrical engineer in the United States, Steinmetz, of the General Electric Company, who received an enormous salary, offered to come to the Soviet Union and work for nothing.


"This spirit which animated some of us is neither understood nor appreciated here! It would be advisable to adopt a purely business point of view towards the Soviet authorities and drive a hard bargain with them, as we do with the business elements in our own capitalistic society!"

"Yes, let it be on a strictly business basis!" the officer said. Then, apparently another consideration crossed his mind, and in a softer tone he said, "You are right. We have made great mistakes in dealing with foreign engineers, and we have lost heavily thereby. But you must understand that we are surrounded by enemies. We can trust very few people. We have placed great confidence in you. We know that you are an idealist, but we are realists. However, we are going to arrange everything for your convenience here and equip you to do the best possible work. We want you to bring your family here and settle in the Soviet Union. I have asked my subordinate to get a statement from you on the position and facilities which you want. When this is agreed upon, we will put it into effect. We hope this will change your opinion, and that you will decide to remain in the Soviet Union and bring over your family and colleagues."

"We shall see," I said.

"You do not place much faith in us," the officer observed.

"I, too, am a realist, in my way," I answered. "I believe only in results, never in promises."

He smiled grimly.

"You are not afraid to say what you believe!" he said.

"That is the tradition of my country and also, I thought, of the Soviet institution of self-criticism."

The officer looked significantly at Clark and relaxed his grim countenance for a moment. Clark smiled and said, "We like Comrade Witkin because he says what he thinks, even though it may be unpleasant for us to hear."

"When you first sent for me," I said, "your assistant said you were a business organization and told me that you would act quickly on whatever we undertook. Some weeks ago I brought to your attention an important matter in Soviet relations with foreigners. Your assistant said it would be settled at once. Nothing was done. I warned you then that a very unpleasant situation might arise with the Soviet Foreign Office."

The officer looked sharply at Clark.

"What situation?"

Clark turned to me for explanation. I reminded him of Lyons' apart-


ment, the actions of the building cooperative management, and told him that Lyons had finally complained to the Foreign Office. "I have yet to be convinced about your organization," I concluded.

"Very well," said the officer. "Are you ready with your proposition?"

"What proposition?"

"The place and terms you desire in Soviet industry."

"As for the position, my suggestions have been made already to your assistant. It is for you to determine which of the two places you think I can fill most usefully. Regarding terms, I did not think that you would be ready to discuss them yet."

"We are ready now."

"When I present my terms," I said, "I do so not because I need money, nor because I feel that it is my real compensation—I derive that only from accomplishment in my work. But you will value my services more if you have to pay heavily for them."

"Realistic!" said the officer.

I took out a piece of paper and handed it to Clark. On it I had written my terms. I specified a large salary, use of a State automobile, a properly qualified secretary and a technical assistant, an apartment which was described in detail, even to furniture, also a fully equipped office where I could work to advantage. Clark read this to the officer who listened carefully. The attitude of the latter indicated that it was acceptable.

When Clark finished reading, the officer asked if I had any other conditions.

"None," I answered. "They are the basis for my future work here in the Soviet Union!"

I had to leave the Soviet Union soon to renew my passport. According to their agreement, I expected them to provide my exit and re-entry visas and railway tickets. I told the officer that I was being hampered in the Soyuzstroi by lack of a secretary, that my work was held up, and that my patent application for the building blocks ought to be expedited. The officer brusquely ordered Clark to arrange these matters at once. He turned, put on his coat and hat, saluted, and left us.

Clark and I left the hotel room, separately, at intervals of some minutes. At the checkroom, I retrieved my rubbers with the incorrect room number.



On November 7, a great military demonstration and parade was held, celebrating the anniversary of the 1917 October Revolution, by which the Bolsheviks took power. Preparations for the celebration so occupied all government departments that, as usual on these occasions, work was at a standstill. For several days I heard nothing further from Clark.

The military celebration was made the occasion for strong pronouncements by Soviet leaders regarding Japan's aggressive tactics in the Far East. War talk had boiled for months; Commissar for Foreign Affairs Litvinov had stated confidentially to two American correspondents that he believed conflict inevitable within a year.

Red Army men in Moscow discussed the situation as an impending struggle. They were ready and felt confidence in the outcome. Fighting airplanes and heavy bombers had been concentrated in the military airbases in the maritime province of the U.S.S.R. near Vladivostok. Upon these the Soviet military leaders counted to deal quick, paralyzing blows at the principal Japanese industrial centers and large cities, immediately on the battle signal.

Dangerous incidents had occurred on the border between Soviet Siberia and the territory torn from China by Japan. The Soviet press, early in November, charged Japanese war planes with violating the frontier by flying over Soviet territory. Japan was warned that any repetition of such incidents would lead to armed reprisal.

Japan immediately denied any such occurrences. In its turn the Japanese press carried a bitter accusation that Soviet coastal batteries had fired upon Japanese fishing vessels. The Soviet Government denied this. However, Red Army men and officers of the O.G.P.U. whom I knew in Moscow were secretly gleeful about this. They said that the Japanese ships fired upon were disguised naval vessels, trawling for mines.

The entire aspect of Soviet-American relations was affected by this tense situation. America's Far Eastern policy was understood to be deter-


mined partly by the outcome of the antagonism between the U.S.S.R. and Japan.

The Vinson big-navy bill was pending before Congress. American observers were watching developments with grave concern.

On the evening of November 9, Lyons entertained several people in his home and asked me to be his guest. Among the others were a Japanese diplomat and a Japanese newspaper correspondent. Both of these men spoke English. Our conversation turned on the reports of the Far Eastern border airplane and coastal fishing-vessel incidents. The Japanese expressed themselves cautiously but did not reflect on the authenticity of these incidents. We conjectured how it would be possible to avoid a terrible conflict which would involve at least three nations in a death grapple.

I suggested the formation of a neutral zone along the Soviet-Japanese Manchurian border. This zone was to be two hundred miles wide, half on either side of the border. All military forces were to be withdrawn from it. This would preclude the dangerous small clashes which might easily set the spark to the conflagration of war. This idea met with general approval. We planned to have our suppositious project sponsored by the League of Nations and outstanding world citizens, such as Romain Rolland[62] and Bertrand Russell,[63] whose names I selected.

On November 15 Lyons went to Leningrad. Through friends there he was attempting to interview Sergei Kirov,[64] one of Stalin's right-hand men. Virtual dictator of the northern region, Kirov had never been talked to by foreign reporters and was something of a mystery man.

The day after Lyons left, I came to his office. A few minutes later his telephone rang. A man asked for him in English.

"He is not in Moscow," I answered.

"Is this Witkin?" the voice asked. "This is ———."

I recalled a Russian-American artist, well connected in official circles.

"I must reach Lyons right away," he said excitedly. "I have important news for him."

I thought instantly that it may have some relation to American recognition of the Soviet Government. Rumors on the subject had filled the capital in recent weeks.

"Sorry," I said, "Gene is in Leningrad. Perhaps I can help you."

He hesitated a moment, but he knew that Lyons and I were the closest of friends. He whispered over the phone: "Great news! Recognition!"


"Don't get overheated!" I said. "Rumors have been flying around for weeks." I wished, by apparent indifference, to draw him out and find if he had authentic information which I did not possess.

Irritated, he insisted sharply that he had authoritative news. Again I said, negligently, "No use bothering to get Lyons. These are just wild rumors."

At this he lost control of himself and, angered, blurted out, "I know what I am talking about. I have just been in ———'s home (naming a high Soviet leader), where I heard this."

This was exactly what I wanted. It sounded authoritative. I said, "Thanks for the rumor, but don't tell anyone else. There is nothing behind the story. We have heard it many times before."

Disgusted with me, he hung up.

Immediately I telephoned to Ralph Barnes of the New York Herald-Tribune . Lyons had a working arrangement with him to protect each other on news when either was absent. I gave Barnes the information I had gotten. He at once queried the Foreign Office. Though mystified as to its source they could not deny it. Barnes at once cabled the story in Lyons' name, as well as to his own editors. A few hours later all the foreign correspondents knew it and sent their dispatches.

Barnes had acted so rapidly that the American State Department deadline on the release of this news had been broken by his dispatch to New York. Both the American and Soviet governments were annoyed. All through the night congratulatory cables poured in from America to Moscow for Lyons, telling him of his "beat."

His secretary phoned him and he started right back for Moscow. The interview with Kirov had actually been arranged, and he was heartbroken to sacrifice it. But the recognition story took precedence over everything else at that moment. (The following year, when Kirov was assassinated by a young Communist, he had further cause to regret that sacrifice of what would have been Kirov's only interview to a foreign newspaperman.)

Next morning Lyons arrived from Leningrad to learn what a great correspondent he was (and indeed he is) and also to find a summons to the Soviet Foreign Office to explain why he had broken the deadline for the release of this news. With his customary happy grace, he accepted the congratulations from America, which he communicated to Barnes in great amusement, and then informed the Soviet Foreign Office, smil-


ingly, that as they could verify, he had been in Leningrad during the time the dispatch had been sent from Moscow.

Excitement ran like wildfire through Moscow that day. Every American was an object of friendly demonstrations by the Russians. The hotels, cafes and streets were crowded with people celebrating the event.

The Soviet press made a remarkable sudden about-face in their treatment of American news and political comment. Overnight, President Roosevelt was transformed from a Wall Street candidate, a hireling of a rotten, disintegrating society to an enlightened, humane liberal doing his best to bring recovery out of a serious, unfortunate crisis. The United States, formerly a corrupt capitalist country protecting bloated multimillionaires, exploiting and oppressing its workers, now became a sister-republic with mutual interests in the Far East, animated by the desire for world peace and planning great expansion of commerce with the Soviet Union. Every organ of the Soviet press, the radio, and all other agencies for the dissemination of news sang the same song.

Litvinov, the Soviet foreign minister, prepared to depart at once for the United States to ratify a formal agreement with President Roosevelt, confirming the interchange of messages between him and President Kalinin.[65]

A group of Polish aviators were then visiting Moscow. The Soviet Foreign Office had arranged a concert in their honor for the night of November 11 at the Moscow Conservatory of Music. Lyons and his wife were to join me, after which we were all to go to the Metropol Hotel to dance.

Throughout the concert, I waited for Lyons, who never came. After it ended, I went to the Metropol Hotel. In the main dining-room I found a table and was soon joined by an American engineer whom I knew. A few minutes later Lyons entered, alone. Instantly I sensed from his expression that something critical had occurred. He came directly to my table and sat down. I watched him intently and his glance indicated that he wished to talk alone with me. The orchestra began to play again and the engineer went off to dance.

Lyons leaned quickly over the table.

Then he told me the whole story. After dinner that evening two Russians well known to both of us—and well connected in the highest official circles—came to visit him. They were in high spirits.


"After they'd been with me a while," he recounted, "I asked them for the cause of their hilarity. They proceeded to tell me in great detail about how the Soviet forces in the Far East were giving the Japanese a lesson in manners. In particular they gave me a circumstantial account about seven Japanese bombing planes having crossed the Soviet border for reconnoitering and how they had been shot down by anti-aircraft batteries. Also, about the bombarding of Japanese war boats disguised as trawlers off in Soviet waters."

These Russians, Communists and men of considerable standing in the O.G.P.U. and elsewhere, were scarcely the sort to give a correspondent such significant information without knowing what they were doing. Their detailed narrative, in addition, only corroborated the reports which all of us had heard elsewhere.

"I felt," Lyons continued, "that they were giving me this dope on purpose—that they wanted it sent. In fact I asked them whether they were not afraid that I might cable the stories. Despite this warning they only enlarged on their high-spirited stories.

"When they had gone, I debated whether to send it. I wrote the story out, very carefully, as unconfirmed reports which both governments are likely to deny. I laid the dispatch aside, my better judgment telling me to ignore it. But just then my London office called me on the telephone, on another matter. A little impulsively, I gave them the dispatch."

Thinking it over, however, Lyons became panicky. If, as he expected, both governments should repudiate the facts, he would be left "holding the bag." He had no doubt of the truth of the story, but he would not be able to reveal the source of his information without possibly getting his Russian acquaintances into trouble. He therefore called back London and tried to stop the dispatch. But American news reporting works fast—it was already on the wires, circling the globe.

"I don't feel right about this story," he concluded. "I've worded it carefully and indicated in advance that the two governments will probably throw me down. But it will make a sensation, and I was probably unwise to send it. I'm beginning to wonder why I was given the information. It's a little strange ... and maybe I've allowed myself to be used."

We left the hotel at once and went directly to his office. Lyons' intuition was quickly verified. Pandemonium reigned on the transatlantic cables. In a few hours messages began to pour in demanding confirmation from Lyons of the rumor. Lyons replied to these, but steadfastly refused to reveal the sources of his information. During the night, both


the Soviet and the Japanese governments issued official denials of the incidents.

Lyons was in a grave quandary. He asked my frank opinion of his action. I said that my view could be determined solely by the truth or falsity of the story. Considering the detailed information that X. and Y. had given him, it could not be unfounded. Moreover, it fitted perfectly into the picture of reports then current in Moscow. I suggested that he try to discover further information by discussing the matter with the military attachés of the foreign embassies. I also advised him to communicate at once with Far Eastern foreign correspondents who might know more of the incident because of their proximity to the scene.

Lyons started this search early in the morning. I intended to see X. myself and learn what I could about the matter. That day being a rest-day, I called at this Russian's home. Before I had a chance to approach the question, he asked me to let him use my telephone.

We went to my home. He made his call and then came into my room. He sprawled out on the couch and began at once to tell me about the shooting down of the Japanese planes, describing various military and technical details of the encounter. Fifty-one rounds of ammunition had been fired by the Soviet batteries, he said. Twenty-seven bodies had been removed from the seven wrecked planes.

I told him then that both the Soviet and Japanese governments had officially denied the story, which his friend Lyons had transmitted.

He smiled.

"Official denials in such cases," he said, "are purely formal. They really confirm the incident." He reminded me of the previous violations of the Soviet border by the Japanese planes, reported in the Soviet press a few days before. He was jubilant over the fine marksmanship of the Soviet batteries which had brought down the Japanese bombers. He regarded it all as a triumph for Soviet aviation, which was making giant strides.

X. left my room about noontime. I then went to see Ralph Barnes, the correspondent of the New York Herald-Tribune . I wanted to find out his position in regard to the story.

Only a few months before, Barnes had been under threat of expulsion because of his dispatches about the famine of the previous winter. He did not wish to further antagonize the Soviet Foreign Office. The new incident had been officially denied by both governments, he said. He would simply transmit these denials. However, he said he would visit the Japanese embassy and try to obtain more information.


We left his home together. He went to the Japanese embassy and I returned to Lyons' office. During the day more cablegrams came from America insisting that Lyons divulge the source of his information. This he firmly refused to do. He feared he might be endangering the lives of his informants. He showed me one cablegram he had prepared offering his resignation if the United Press felt that his dispatch had embarrassed them. I tore this up at once. I did not know that he had also written a letter to his agency presenting his resignation. He did not tell me that until several days later.

As published abroad the Japanese airplane story was more sensational and definitive than he had sent it. Somehow his qualifying phrases had been lost in the excitement. The only way he could square himself for an ill-advised dispatch was to disclose the sources, but he had no intention of betraying the Russians. My own talk with X. left not the faintest doubt in my mind that the incidents had actually occurred.

Every attempt of Lyons' to obtain additional confirmation was blocked. A Russian who had seen the story in a local Far Eastern paper, for instance, promised to obtain a clipping for him in the Leningrad library. On the railroad platform as he was starting out for Leningrad this man was arrested and he was not released until after Lyons departed from Russia. Both X. and Y. promised to bring corroborative clippings on file at headquarters of the O.G.P.U. (with which both were identified, aside from their regular jobs), but failed to do so.

When Lyons learned that the European chief of the United Press, Ed L. Keen, was coming to Moscow, he again pressed X. for this information. X. told him not to worry—as soon as Mr. Keen arrived, the official proofs would be made available to him. When Mr. Keen did arrive, however, X. disappeared mysteriously. He remained in hiding throughout the period Lyons' chief was in the capital. After Mr. Keen had returned to London, X. reappeared. He gave Lyons to understand that his absence was not voluntary. Larger forces were clearly determined to make the U. P. correspondent the scapegoat in the episode.

Mr. Keen had come personally to advise Lyons of his recall from Moscow. Not until later, when we were back in New York, did we get the fill-in on what happened in America. Commissar Litvinov, seconded by Umansky,[66] had made the disputed dispatch the basis for a formal and heated demand that Lyons be withdrawn. It was, of course, no more than an excuse. It was not this one dispatch that bothered the Russians but the whole tenor of Lyons' reporting, which had become increasingly sharper


and more truthful in the last year or two. At the beginning of the year he had been threatened with expulsion for revealing that the entire population of three Kuban towns, running into tens of thousands of men, women and children, the innocent along with the guilty, had been summarily deported. Thereafter Lyons had annoyed his official hosts by writing more boldly about the horrible Ukrainian famine than his colleagues. The Japanese story was a godsend for the Press Department. Litvinov pretended that the story had been a trick for interfering with his negotiations—though the Japanese charged, on the contrary, that it was a trick to help those negotiations by showing President Roosevelt how serious the Far Eastern situation was becoming.

For a while the United Press opposed the pressure. Then it yielded and instructed Mr. Keen to notify Lyons of his recall. Dictatorship thus succeeded in ridding itself of an American correspondent who knew too much and had the backbone to stand up for the truth.

When I was in Washington in the spring of 1934, a high official of our State Department told me that four hours after the receipt of Lyons' famous dispatch describing the Japanese incident, the Vinson big-navy bill had been rushed through Congress, so critical was the situation considered.

Whatever the strange forces operating behind that whole story, the one thing perfectly clear was that Lyons unwisely had allowed himself to be used by the Soviet authorities for their own purposes. He was taking the consequences with good grace. For six years he had never gotten any Russian into trouble by revealing his news sources and he was ready to leave with that record unbroken. He remained in Moscow until the end of January, to settle his affairs.



My friend Garry was engaged in November in the organization of the Kharkov aviation plant. For this he wanted me to meet Rudzutak, member of the Political Bureau and head of the R.K.I., from whom he hoped to gain support for the project. Rudzutak had expressed to Garry a wish to talk with me about my criticism of the R.K.I., which Stalin had sent to him.

Characteristically, our interview was to be concealed under the cover of another project. The great Soviet newspapers used an enormous tonnage of paper, which came wound on hollow cylinders of compressed pulp. Disposition of the quickly accumulating cylinders was a serious problem. One Russian engineer suggested that they might form excellent building material for country houses.

Rudzutak became interested in this scheme and planned an experimental house in a suburb of Moscow to test out the idea. He wanted a thorough study made of the idea. On Garry's recommendation, he had decided to engage me to make it.

Garry and I were to go to Rudzutak's country home on the afternoon of November 23, remaining there overnight so as to have plenty of time for undisturbed discussion.

At two o'clock, I arrived at Garry's home as arranged. He was to come for me in a government automobile. I waited almost an hour. Suddenly Garry burst in.

"You must excuse me for being late," he said in suppressed excitement. "A terrible catastrophe has occurred. Our visit to Rudzutak will have to be postponed. I must leave for Kharkov immediately."

I could not help showing my disappointment, which Garry saw.

"I know how you feel about this after so much preparation and waiting," he said, "but a frightful accident has happened. If I tell you, you must not tell anyone, particularly the correspondents."

I pledged secrecy by a gesture.

"The great plane has fallen at Kharkov. Fourteen of the most important men in Soviet aviation have been killed! I must go at once."


He jumped into the waiting automobile and drove off.

The whole nation was rocked by this disaster. Only a few days before, the Soviet press had proudly announced to the world the successful trial flights of this giant "flying wing," with its seven motors, and capacity of one hundred passengers. Now a heavy grief pervaded the columns of the papers, shot through with heroic phrases.

Garry returned from Kharkov five days later. He telephoned to me to come at once to his office. I found him smiling. Immediately upon his arrival at Kharkov he had been arrested by the O.G.P.U. and put on trial for his life in connection with the fall of the plane. This plane, he said, had flown twenty times, successfully. The twenty-first flight had ended in this terrible disaster. Almost a score of the leading figures in Soviet aviation had been wiped out in a single tragic blow. But for a peculiar chance, Garry would not have survived the disaster.

He had flown on almost every previous trip. Short of money, he had borrowed several hundred rubles from me, partly for a suit of clothes. This was being cut over to fit him. It had kept him waiting in Moscow. When Kharkov telegraphed him to come for this last test flight, he had replied that it was not necessary and to proceed to fly without him.

All of the men who had died had been his intimate friends. They had worked together for years to create the great plane.

This monster flying wing had a spread of well over two hundred feet. It carried twenty-one guns, three being light artillery. The causes of the disaster were shrouded in mystery. The secret O.G.P.U. trial which absolved Garry from the charge of contributory negligence determined, however, that a combination of causes was responsible; primarily, lack of attention to mechanical details, especially with the controls.

One of the survivors had saved himself in an amazing fashion. Formerly he had been a plasterer, accustomed to working on scaffolds. Drilled into his mind to the point of subconscious reflex action was the idea of grasping a support above, in case of a scaffold falling. In the terrible seconds when the great plane hurtled downward, he jumped from its floor and grasped a guy-wire overhead. This had cushioned the crash, and he survived.

An impressive funeral was held in Kharkov for the dead. The designer of the plane, Kalinin, broke down and wept, crying out that he was sorry that he had not flown in the plane and been killed with the others. (Soviet plane designers were forbidden by law to fly, since good designers were scarce, while good pilots were plentiful.)


After this tragic speech, Garry spoke. In ringing tones, he declared that he was glad he had not flown and had not died! Only by sacrifice and unceasing determination could Soviet aviation progress, he said. Those who survived were ready for the ultimate sacrifice.

"Tomorrow a new plane will be started!" he cried. "I will fly on every flight!"

Garry had brought Kalinin, the designer of the Kharkov plane, back to Moscow with him. He never let Kalinin out of his sight, even for a moment. The designer's nerves had broken under the stress of the tragedy and he wanted to commit suicide. I saw Kalinin in Garry's home the second day after their return to Moscow. Tall, spare, hair matted, unshaven, with burning eyes, he had the appearance of a figure in a phantasmagoria rather than of a living, rational being. He remained silent, never uttering a sound for hours. Wherever Garry went, he took Kalinin with him.

After ten days, this faithful watch had its desired effect. One day Kalinin rose, shaved and resumed normal human intercourse. Immediately Garry noticed this change and sent for me. That evening we outlined, with Kalinin, the general plan for the new airplane factory at Kharkov. Garry was eager to start the work. He asked me to form a technical organization to construct it.

I investigated the qualifications of several foreign engineers and Russians with whom I was acquainted and selected a German architectural engineer and a Russian superintendent of construction, as a nucleus.

Meanwhile, the Soyuzstroi continued on its halting way, without any plan of work. The intimations which Nikitin had given me, that it might be liquidated and its functions taken over by several smaller and less unwieldy organizations, were finally confirmed by the announcement of a definite policy to this effect. The administration seized upon the nearing dissolution as an excuse to slack off in the work and shelve pending proposals. Nikitin could not be seen. He absented himself more and more from the office. I was left practically free, with no duties except those I imposed upon myself.

For several days after the holiday of November 7, I awaited a call from Clark. This came on the thirteenth. It had been agreed by then that my new post with the State Planning Commission would be arranged quickly. This was important because I had to go to Poland to renew my American passport. It would take days, if not weeks, of conferences with


the State Planning Commission to arrive at a satisfactory agreement and get the new work started. I wanted to have this definitely settled before I left the U.S.S.R.

On the thirteenth, Clark met me. The chief could not come, he said. He was still busy with matters connected with American recognition. On the fifteenth he would be present. That date was fixed for our next meeting.

On the fifteenth, the same thing occurred. This time Clark requested that I make a report on the attitude of certain Americans in Moscow towards recognition. This was irrelevant to our work and I told him so. I insisted, furthermore, that it was important that we conclude arrangements quickly with his chief.

For the third time, on the seventeenth, Clark met me alone. In an evasive manner, he said that his chief was very eager to get my "report" before our next meeting with him.

I decided that this was the last straw.

"Go back and tell your chief that our negotiations are ended!"

Clark started and gasped. Then he tried to mollify me. I interrupted him.

"My part of our agreement has been fulfilled!" I said. "Your organization has failed to carry out any of its pledges. I have met with the same experience before. There is nothing further to do. Our relations are dissolved."

Clark was shocked.

"Don't be hasty!" he pleaded. "You do not really feel this way. Tomorrow you will think differently. I cannot tell this to the chief."

"Tell him exactly what I said," I replied sharply. "I made this decision days ago, after considering your actions. The continual postponements of our meetings have convinced me that you are not proceeding honestly with me. I no longer take your statements seriously."

"I cannot tell this to the chief," said Clark dejectedly.

"If you are afraid to, I will tell him," I said. "Arrange an interview for me."

Clark said he would do this and left, seriously distressed.

Next day I notified the Soyuzstroi that I would have to leave the U.S.S.R. to renew my passport. I asked that the proper releases and request for my visas be prepared. These were made out and I took them to the Visa Bureau. I was told that on the twenty-ninth of November all papers would be ready.


On that date I returned. My exit visa was given to me, but not the one for re-entry. They would give no explanation. This meant that I would have to leave the U.S.S.R. and wait an indefinite time for my application for re-entry to be considered, when all this could be done beforehand without delay. I returned at once to the Soyuzstroi and made a strong protest.

Reorganization was already in process in the Soyuzstroi. Considerable confusion reigned among those in authority. Various officials with whom I took up the matter were so vague in their general assurances that I was certain that nothing would be done.

The journey from Moscow to Poland takes a night and half of the next day. Since I had to be in Warsaw by December 12, I would have to leave Moscow by the ninth at the latest in order to have a safety margin. I had to buy some long-deferred necessities in Poland. My exit visa had been granted on the twenty-ninth of November. It required that I be on the border in ten days. The ninth, therefore, was the last day I could remain in Moscow.

While I was at the Soyuzstroi, Clark telephoned. He had been instructed, he said, to ask me to meet the chief at once. He gave me the New Moscow Hotel as the rendezvous.

Clark was waiting for me when I arrived there. He was quite affable and in a talkative mood. I was preoccupied and replied in monosyllables. My thoughts were being formulated for the chief.

We had waited about twenty minutes when he entered. He strode into the room with even greater abruptness than at our previous meeting and roughly demanded my intentions. I answered quietly that all matters between us were closed, since my re-entry visa had not been granted. In a few days, I said, I would leave the Soviet Union. The O.G.P.U., I added, had failed to keep its agreement with me, and I therefore considered all relations at an end.

"Ty ne khozyain, ya khozyain! (You're not the boss, I'm boss!)," he snapped. For an instant, the mask of normal intercourse was torn from him by his outburst. The bestial fury of his nature was revealed, accustomed to unrestricted power of life and death over others.

"Don't dare speak like that to me!" I said, burning with anger. "You are not dealing with a Russian. Neither you nor I am boss here. We had an agreement for cooperation. I did my part. You failed to do yours. You may not need me, but I do not need you. Our relationship is concluded."


"We stopped your visa," said the chief. "We are all-powerful. We can do anything."

I made no reply.

"But everything can be straightened out," he went on. "We will give you a visa. As soon as you cross the Polish border, write me a letter to an address which I will give you. Your visa will be forwarded at once."

"Keep the address!" I said. "I will not write any letter. Your organization agreed to assist me. Instead, it did all it could to obstruct me. You do not understand how to deal with trained men. I am leaving your country for two reasons; one, the impossibility of doing good work, and the other, a personal one, which touches one of your high chiefs."

"What?" exclaimed the officer, his face contorted with astonishment and anger. I remained silent.

"With what chief of ours have you any association?" he inquired insistently.

"It is no longer of any consequence," I replied. "Our accounts are closed. I am going away."

"No! No! We will help you. Why are you not frank with us? Why do you not tell us who the high chief is with whom you have contact?"

"Very well, it is Prokofiev!"[67]

The name had a powerful effect. Prokofiev was one of the highest officials of the O.G.P.U.

"Prokofiev?" he echoed in amazement.

"Yes, we are strangely connected, though I have never met him!" I continued. "I understand why my visa was not granted."

"What have you to do with Prokofiev?" the officer asked.

"That has nothing to do with us," I answered. "It is a personal matter and it is already too late to do anything about it. History cannot be turned back. Some time ago I spoke to your assistant about something personal that I might ask your organization to do for me in the future. It concerned the Russian woman I had intended to marry. Communication with her has been cut off. She has been threatened, intimidated and restrained from me. I understand who is responsible for this."

"Oh, that girl!" exclaimed the chief, with a marked sense of relief. "I have known her since she was a child in the Ukraine. You can have her. We can arrange that."

"We do not understand each other," I said. "This is a far more serious matter than you realize. The situation you created is irrevocable."


I rose to leave.

"One moment," said the chief. "I will give you the address for the letter for your visa."

"I don't want it," I said. "I will not write a letter. You can issue the visa if you want to live up to your agreement. The power is yours. I have nothing further to do in the matter. Good-bye!"

I walked out of the room.

I had one more "bullet" left. On December 1, I wrote a letter to Stalin. This was placed in his private mail-box, the only one not subject to censorship in all the U.S.S.R. The letter read as follows:

Joseph Stalin, Sec.-Gen.,
Tsk VKP(b) [Central Committee of the All-Union Communist Party]

Comrade Stalin:

This is a sequel to my letter of June 15, 1933. I address you to inform you of the results of the efforts to realize my work, which were made, through your influence and by the action of Izvestia and the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense.

1. With the aid of Engineer Karyagin of the Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense (S.T.O.), a Soviet patent has been accepted from me on "Interlocking Blocks," which I invented here (No. 134288).

2. Of my other work, little has been effectively realized.

3. Nothing has been done to improve my living conditions, which remain as before.

On the assurances of various organizations, including S.T.O. and Izvestia , that facilities for effective work would be provided for me, I have waited until now.

My American passport expires on December 12. I must leave the U.S.S.R. to renew it. A return visa to re-enter the U.S.S.R. has been denied me, without explanation. My subscription to the government loan (171 per cent of my monthly salary) has not been returned to me.

Under these conditions I depart for the United States in several days, with my work largely unrealized, and with a lasting impression of wasted effort, complete lack of cooperation, and outrageous personal treatment.

Respectfully yours,

Zara Witkin

In order to leave no stone unturned I went to see Garry and told him of the denial of my re-entry visa. He said he would investigate the matter at once through his friends in the Commissariat of Heavy Indus-


try. I also called on Zaidner of Intourist to say good-bye, since the chances appeared to be against my returning to the U.S.S.R.

Zaidner telephoned to Lugashin, the head of the Soyuzstroi, and asked about the situation. Lugashin told him he knew nothing of the matter! He promised Zaidner that he would look into it at once. Zaidner stressed the need for quick action since the day of my departure was rapidly drawing near. He asked me to call him in two days to learn what he had done.

On December 4, I communicated with both Garry and Zaidner. They each told me that they had ascertained that it was customary to grant visas for entry into the U.S.S.R. only while the applicant was abroad. I knew this to be a rule, however, which was sometimes broken. They each assured me that I would have no difficulty in obtaining my visa a few days after I left Moscow, at the Soviet consulate in Warsaw. Evidently, there was nothing further which could be done in that quarter.

While I was in my office that afternoon, Lugashin, the director of the Soyuzstroi, entered with three other officials. Though I knew who he was, I had never met him.

He spoke to my temporary secretary in his booming voice for a few moments, then abruptly turned and asked me if I was satisfied with my work. I did not reply to him, but instructed my secretary to inquire who had addressed me, adding that I was not acquainted with him. My secretary and the other officials gasped. Lugashin himself was taken aback. My secretary hastily mumbled an introduction.

I then turned to Lugashin.

"I am glad to meet the director of the Soyuzstroi, after working here for more than a year," I said. "You ask if I am satisfied with the work? No! Nor with any other conditions."

I pulled open my desk drawer and drew out a file of reports that had been submitted to the management half a year before.

"Nothing has been done about any of these," I said, indicating the papers before me.

"We will take them up at once!" said Lugashin. "Tomorrow!"

I smiled. "I do not think so," I said. "Tomorrow is a rest-day."

"Yes, so it is!" said Lugashin, abashed. "Then, after tomorrow, without fail!"

"There is a matter of immediate importance," I said, "which must be


considered even before the work which has already been neglected so long. A re-entry visa must be provided for me. In five days I leave the U.S.S.R. for Poland to renew my passport. If my visa is granted, I shall return to work here. If not, I shall proceed homeward to the United States."

"It will be provided for you," said Lugashin pompously, in his sonorous voice. "Come to my office the day after tomorrow with all your reports. Everything will be done."

The rest-day of the sixth, I packed my trunk so as to be ready for any eventuality.

On the seventh I went to my office and collected my papers for the meeting with Lugashin. Several times I was called to his reception room before he was free to see me. Finally, I was admitted.

Lugashin greeted me warmly. We talked about various phases of my work. Why had I not come to him before? he asked. He would have saved me much effort and many struggles. Everything would have been straightened out for me, he declared.

"A director must watch his assistants, and not have the assistants run like children to the director with complaints," I answered.

"True! true!" he cried. "Empty barrels make the most noise and get the most attention!"

"I am not an empty barrel!" I said.

Lugashin laughed loudly.

"I will study over your recommendations. Regarding your visa, I have talked with certain authorities. I will see personally that it is granted. We want you to work here and it will be arranged."

With this assurance, I left him. There remained little to do but wait for my railway ticket. All Soviet trusts have special foreign departments to handle such details. I took care to notify Soyuzstroi that I would leave on the eighth of December, not the ninth, as I really intended. This would allow an extra day, in case they failed at first to make necessary arrangements.

On the morning of the eighth, I went to the trust to check up. I was told that they would send someone to the railroad station in the afternoon for my ticket. The manner in which this was said alarmed me. Underneath it, I sensed that they felt I was dependent upon them. For revenge they might delay my departure, causing me to be overdue in renewal of my passport in Poland. This might result in serious consequences. I decided not to rely on them, and I went to Lyons and told him


of the situation. He sent his secretary and chauffeur to the railway station to get a ticket for me.

Just that day, however, the railroad management changed their policy of selling tickets to people's servants or agents. They required that the person travelling come himself and stand in line, taking a chance of getting a ticket for that day's train. After waiting in the queue for hours, if a ticket was not available, it was necessary to take one's luggage home and try again the next day.

Lyons' secretary and chauffeur returned in the late afternoon, empty-handed, having been unable to get a railroad ticket for me.

Here was an impasse! One government agency issuing me a visa requiring that I leave the country by a certain date, the other failing to provide me with the necessary transportation!

While we were discussing the matter, the telephone rang. Lyons answered, then passed the instrument to me.

"But no one knows I am here!" I said, as I took it. I did not leave your number with anyone."

"This is Witkin speaking," I said.

"Oh, we are so glad we found you!" I heard an excited feminine voice say. "Can you come to the office at once?"

"Who is this?" I asked.

"This is Elena Vladimirovna speaking (the librarian at the Soyuzstroi). There is a big meeting here called about you. Comrade Nemetz is here. We have hunted all over the city for you. Can you come right away? We will send an automobile immediately."

"All right. Send the car."

I heard an excited exclamation of relief just before I hung up the receiver. Then I turned to Lyons and told him of the conversation.

There could be only one explanation. Stalin had received my letter and had acted at the eleventh hour!

Ten minutes later the automobile of the trust pulled up in front of the United Press office. The librarian, an earnest young woman whom I had helped often with technical translations, jumped out and ran to the building. I met her at the door, and together we returned to the car.

"What is all the excitement about?" I asked.

"I don't know," she answered breathlessly. I was almost ready to go home when Comrade Sokolov, who is taking Lugashin's place while Lugashin is home ill, sent for me, knowing that I am acquainted with you."


"'Where is Mr. Witkin?' he asked. 'I do not know,' I told him. 'We must find him at once. Try his home; try every friend he has in Moscow. We must get him at once.' So I called your home and you were not there, and after several other trials reached you at your friend Lyons."

"But what is the meeting about?" I asked again.

"I don't know," she answered. "I'm only happy that I found you."



The car raced across the snow-covered streets. We were soon at the Soyuzstroi. The librarian and I got out and entered the building. We went at once to the office of the director.

This time there was no waiting. Everyone stepped aside obsequiously. I passed through the vestibule entrance and stood in the doorway of the room. Seated around a long table were Sokolov, acting director of the Soyuzstroi in Lugashin's absence; Nemetz, former acting director, who had always been friendly to me and who had first arranged my work; Orlionov, Party secretary; and two minor officials, one of whom I knew to be an O.G.P.U. agent, having seen his reports in the hands of the O.G.P.U. chief with whom I had had several meetings.

Everyone rose deferentially. Sokolov indicated a chair for me opposite him. I sat down and looked intently at him.

He was a thickset man, about forty, with a fat, pleasant face. He wore a heavy, fur-lined leather coat and a fur cap. I glanced at Orlionov, the newly appointed Party secretary, who sat next to him. Orlionov was a handsome young man, about thirty years of age. He had arranged for the redemption of some of my Five Year Plan bonds, in a friendly, expeditious fashion.

"You are going away in a few days?" asked Sokolov.

"Tomorrow," I said, "providing I get a railway ticket."

"You will have one," he said. "But we want to straighten out everything for you: your visa and your work when you come back. You are coming back, aren't you?" he smiled.

"Comrades," I said, looking around the group, "what is this meeting about? You know that I do not believe a single word of any of you except Orlionov, the only Soyuzstroi man who ever fulfilled a promise to me (Orlionov beamed and all turned to him questioningly for a moment), and Nemetz, who is no longer here, for reasons we all understand."

Sokolov glanced significantly at Nemetz, who turned to me and in a


conciliatory tone asked what the trouble was and what I wanted. It was clear to me that Nemetz had been called to the meeting because it was known that I had expressed a high regard for him in my letter to Stalin.

"From the time you left this organization I have received neither cooperation nor aid," I said. "I have been obstructed in everything. I must leave for Poland at once to renew my passport. I have tried all possible ways to obtain my return visa and railroad ticket. Soyuzstroi, which should have done all this for me, has done nothing. I know that it has, in fact, blocked me. I have no trust in scoundrels!"

There was a moment of shocked silence. Sokolov's face had reddened. Then Nemetz spoke: "I am sure that you have misunderstood things. These men are ready to help you."

"Words mean nothing here, contracts less. Let us be realistic. You people do not know how to deal openly and honestly."

Nemetz tried to gloss over what he thought was my anger.

"What is it that you want?" he asked. I said nothing. "Did you write to Ordzhonikidze (the Commissar of Heavy Industry)?"

I knew at once by this question of Nemetz' that Stalin had required Ordzhonikidze to investigate my situation.

I looked keenly at Nemetz. Then I answered deliberately.

"I never communicated with Ordzhonikidze. I have never met him! I do not know him!"

Nemetz, quick to sense a mystery he had failed to penetrate, turned the subject. To Sokolov he said, "Get a railroad ticket at once for Comrade Witkin!"

Sokolov turned to another official and ordered him to telephone the Foreign Section of the Commissariat of Heavy Industry.

I listened in silence. The minutes passed. No one spoke except the official wrangling over the telephone.

Finally I interrupted. "You will get nowhere this way," I said. "The Heavy Industry Section is composed of good-for-nothing bureaucrats who never do anything. If you are in earnest about getting a railway ticket, the way to do it is to go direct to the railway station office."

Sokolov consulted with the other official, then turned to me. "It cannot be obtained in that way," he said.

"Telephone the railway office and find out," I replied.

The railway office was called. To their genuine astonishment it turned out to be as I had stated.


Sokolov then instructed the librarian and the other official to take an automobile and go at once to the railway station and get the ticket. They left the room. Then Sokolov turned to me.

"When you come back from Poland," he said, "we will clear up all matters so that you will be comfortable and satisfied with your work."

I looked steadily at him until he flushed in confusion.

"I believe there is nothing further," I said, rising. "Tomorrow I must leave. You are responsible for providing my transportation. But in any event I will leave."

"What do you mean?" asked Nemetz in a friendly but puzzled tone.

"Up to now, I have dealt exclusively with Soviet institutions," I answered. "Tomorrow, if necessary, I will communicate with the American Government! Good-night, comrades!"

As I went out I saw the consternation on the faces of the group.

I returned to Lyons' home where we discussed eventualities until about nine o'clock in the evening.

Then the telephone rang. It was the librarian calling from the railway station. It had just closed, she said. She had not gotten the ticket, but the superintendent of the station had promised one for the next day. She would positively get it by noontime and bring it to me, she said. I thanked her.

In the morning I went to make a farewell call on Ralph Barnes. We talked about our Soviet experiences and the significance of the events which were shaking the world. He pressed me to stay to lunch.

While we were at table, his telephone rang. It was for me. The librarian of Soyuzstroi was calling. She was at the Commissariat of Heavy Industry, in the Foreign Section. She had been trying to get a railway ticket, she said. They could get one for the next day, but not for that one!

"I told you not to fool with the Foreign Section of the Commissariat," I said. "They are bureaucratic rats who only obstruct action. Tell them and tell Sokolov too, this: It is now twelve o'clock. By half past one, a railway ticket for tonight's train to Warsaw will be delivered to me, or I will telegraph to Ambassador Bullitt and cable the American State Department as follows—write it down: 'Prevented by Soviet authorities from leaving U.S.S.R. Railway transportation refused. Renewal American passport requires presence Warsaw Consulate December 12!'

"Have you written it down?" I asked.



"That is all," I said. "Don't telephone me any more. If the ticket is not here by half past one, the telegrams go."

I resumed my conversation with Barnes. Just as the great Kremlin clock-tower tolled quarter past one, the telephone rang. It was for me. I picked up the receiver.

"This is Elena Vladimirovna speaking. We have your ticket. We are bringing it right over to you. Please don't telegraph! We are coming in a few minutes."

"In fifteen minutes the cables go," I said.

How the automobile crossed the heart of the city to where Barnes lived in ten minutes I do not know. But Elena Vladimirovna placed the ticket in my hand just before half past one!

That evening I planned to be with Lyons. With my railroad ticket in my pocket, I went home to finish packing.

Just as I entered my house, the telephone rang. I recognized the voice of the caller. It was a young woman whom I had met several times in Lyons' home, a celebrated Soviet musician. She wanted to practice some duets on the piano with me! I told her I was leaving Moscow that very night. That did not deter her. She said that she would come at once.

Lyons and his wife had told me something of the life of this woman. She had just won the all-union music prize for a march composed for the Communist Youth. Several million copies of her composition had been printed. She had a beautiful daughter of eleven, who was already an amazingly fine dancer. With one sister and her mother, she was the survivor of a large Jewish family, all the rest of whom had died in the Great War, the Revolution, the Civil War and the interventionist wars which followed.

She had herself been in the Red Army. From the Polish front, she had brought home the dead bodies of her last two brothers. At this final blow, her father had died of grief.

Possessed of enormous vitality, she had not only survived the frightful hardships of that period but had acquired a thorough musical education and made herself a notable figure in the concert halls of Moscow. Her second marriage to a prominent O.G.P.U. official had increased her influence in high official circles.

Twenty minutes after her telephone call, this woman—whom I shall call M.—stood smiling in my doorway. I conducted her into my apart-


ment and was helping her off with her coat and rubber overshoes when the telephone rang.

It was Clark. He again wanted to give me the address which had been mentioned in our last O.G.P.U. conferences. I interrupted him before he could complete his sentence.

"Keep it," I said. "I leave your country in four hours."

I heard him gasp. Before he could utter another word, I hung up the receiver. Then I returned to my visitor.

She had brought some Beethoven piano duets. We began to speak in a mixture of Russian, Yiddish and French. The telephone rang again. This time it was Soyuzstroi trying to clear up some details of unfinished work. Evidently they expected me to return and carry it on.

During the next hour, the phone rang every few minutes. Friends were calling to wish me a happy journey and a quick return. Various departments of Soyuzstroi, obviously under pressure from above, were making every gesture of aid.

My guest laughed uproariously at the continuous interruptions, mimicking my maid's voice in calling me repeatedly to the telephone. Ultimately we had to give up all hope of serious musical practice, and we talked of our many experiences of Soviet life.

It was approaching the time when I had agreed to be at Lyons' home. My guest decided to walk with me in that direction, since she said she also had to make a call in that vicinity.

For several months I had lived secretly in a gray fog of emotional suffering. The mysterious ending of my companionship with Emma had had a terrible, draining effect upon me. I had avoided new associations and in particular any with Russian women.

As we walked through the swirling snow, wrapped in furs, I became keenly aware of a deep instinctive sympathy emanating from my new acquaintance. She manifested a joyous, childlike delight in the freedom of the open after the stuffiness of the house and the distraction of the telephone. Like two children, we went talking, running, sliding, laughing through the white drifts. Suddenly, the grief and loneliness which had oppressed me came to my mind, and I realized that here was a friend who had caused me, for a time, to forget them. I inferred that she knew more of my life in Moscow than I had told her, and I was not mistaken. From her friend Mrs. Lyons and other sources she had gathered considerable information about me. Knowing her people well, she guessed much more with accuracy.


Once she said quietly that she knew my friend, the Russian actress. Then she relapsed into silence. It was clear that she understood much of my experience.

We finally reached the street corner where she had to leave me and go elsewhere. She clasped my hand so tightly that I felt it for minutes after.

At Lyons' I discussed our plans for the future. Each of us would soon begin a new life in our own country. The prospect loomed difficult and unfamiliar after his six years' and my own two years' residence in the totally different Soviet scene.

As we sat talking, M. entered!

Immediately the spirit of the evening was transformed. She sat down at the piano and began to play and sing. Never have I seen such abounding vitality. Russian folk-songs, original compositions, dances, musical mimicry poured forth in unending profusion, accompanied by gestures and pantomime which alternately made us laugh and weep. The air was charged with the significance of departure and the severance of dear friendships. The impending departure of Lyons and myself from the U.S.S.R. was irrevocably accepted in our secret consciousness. Every word contained special intensity.

The hour grew late. Lyons was to take me to the train in his car. I rose to go. As I passed into the hall M. followed me. While I put on my coat and rubber shoes she stood quietly beside me. Then, without a word, she gave me a small paper-wrapped package. I glanced into it. It contained some flowers, but in the semi-darkness I could not clearly distinguish them. I thanked her warmly and with a farewell handclasp turned away and entered the car which stood waiting. We drove rapidly to the station.

Two American correspondents were on the platform bound for the Polish border to meet Ambassador Bullitt, who was coming to assume his duties in the Soviet Union.

There were several vacant compartments in my car. I recalled the "inability" of Soyuzstroi to get me a ticket.

One of the correspondents asked to see the flowers I carried. For the first time I removed the paper cover. They were orchids! We were astounded. Orchids in the dead of winter in Russia! How had M. gotten them?



The next morning we were approaching the Polish border. A melancholy air hung over the empty white fields. This was the route over which Napoleon's legions had so proudly advanced and later retreated with such frightful suffering. The Soviet frontier point is the tiny hamlet of Negoreloye. On the Polish side, it is the village of Stolpce.

Formerly there had been a sharp contrast between the bedraggled, dirty, bare Soviet station and the clean, commodious, well-stocked Polish one. This marked difference had been eliminated. The Soviet station was now also fairly clean and well ordered. Frontier guards, warmly clothed, stood in groups around the building.

We had to pass the customs inspection. All bags and luggage were thoroughly investigated, but our clothes were not searched. This was fortunate since my Moscow friends had loaded me with correspondence to avoid benefit of censorship. Walter Duranty, Stanley Richardson of the Associated Press and several others had given me some letters. I had also some dispatches of the American diplomatic representatives in Moscow.

After inspection our luggage was placed on other cars, and we boarded the train which began to move through the barbed-wire barricades marking the actual frontier. Soon we were stopped again. Polish border guards in splendid uniforms came aboard to make their inspection. This formality over, the train went on to the station of Stolpce. We got out there, mailed our letters, changed some money and ate breakfast. In the evening, I arrived in Warsaw and went to the Hotel Evropeiskaya.

Next morning I called at the American consulate. In ten minutes my passport was renewed. After my Soviet experiences this seemed sheer magic. Then I went to the Soviet consulate.

The consulate door was heavily barred. I rang several times before a face appeared at an aperture and asked me who I was and what I wanted. I explained my purpose. Then the peep-hole was slammed shut.[*]

* The caution was a result of the assassination of a previous Soviet ambassador to Poland.


For several minutes I waited, then the door was opened again, and I entered a vestibule. I had to explain once more that I wanted a return visa to Moscow, which the head of my trust had said would be ready for me in Warsaw.

The second assistant counsellor of the consulate received me. He told me that the consulate had no information regarding a visa for me, but promised to communicate with Moscow at once about it. I wanted to see Warsaw and had some purchasing of clothes and supplies to make. A few days could be well spent while the visa was forwarded.

Lyons had given me a letter of introduction to a Warsaw newspaper correspondent. The morning after my arrival, in answer to my telephone call, he came to see me at my hotel. He represented a London yellow sheet and also the Hearst press and did his work with cynical disgust for his employers. He was a bachelor and kept several young alligators in his room as pets. Known in every quarter and to everyone, he was as good a guide in the Jewish ghetto or the night clubs as in the Foreign Office.

The city engineer of Warsaw invited me to visit various municipal buildings, especially the water purification plant. These structures were superbly built. The control room of the water plant, on an elevated bridge overlooking the great filter beds, was as spotlessly clean and well ordered as the steering room of a ship. Considerable pride was taken in the quality of construction, quite in contrast with Soviet building.

This was manifested also in the extensive new housing developments in Warsaw which surpassed some of the excellent German work I had seen in Frankfurt, Munich, Berlin and Hamburg. Private construction companies had built them with funds of a private insurance company which had a monopoly granted by the government. The housing was available for workers who were compulsorily insured against unemployment by law, the employers sharing in the cost. By this method the efficiency and economy of competitive private construction was obtained, yet the development as a whole came under the direction and control of the government. Proper care of the houses resulted from their rental to insured workers, who realized that good maintenance led to reduction of their insurance costs. The total capacity of these new houses was about 75,000 inhabitants, a significant part of the total population of the city.

Warsaw presented strange contrasts between the splendid, well-kept, clean, modern sections of the city, occupied by government buildings and new shops, and the misery and degradation of the Jewish ghetto with its narrow, filthy streets and medieval-looking inhabitants.


Even in my few social contacts, I had the same sense of contrast in the population, extreme and unhealthy. Silver-spurred, gold-braided, bemedalled army officers crowded the cafes and sipped coffee and liqueurs with heavily painted ladies of vague occupation. The obsequious politeness of attendants pursued one everywhere with an obvious end. Prostitutes filled the streets. Jewish millionaires overate and kept mistresses, developing gout, diabetes and venereal disease. Their overfurnished homes flaunted an opulence of bric-a-brac and art objects and oppressed one to suffocation.

The engineering officials of the government showed evidence of individual initiative. Orders were given on the telephone, arrangements made and actually carried out—and quickly too—a strange novelty after the heavy inertia of the Soviet bureaucracy.

The counsellor of the American chancellery, Mr. Nielson, invited me to call upon him. This cultivated, charming man knew conditions in the U.S.S.R. intimately, from first-hand experience during the early revolutionary years. A true diplomat in the finest sense of the term, it was an intellectual delight to discuss international affairs with him.

Five days passed without word from the Soviet embassy about my visa. This delay worried me. I decided to call there again. The official whom I had seen previously was "not in" this time. (I heard him arrange not to see me.) Another one spoke to me; he had "heard nothing of the matter" and knew nothing of any letter that had been promised to be sent to Moscow to inquire about my visa.

I wrote at once to Lyons in Moscow, telling him that I had received no word and asking him to investigate at the Soyuzstroi. Lyons telephoned to me in Warsaw immediately on receipt of my letter. We planned how to expedite the document. Lyons tried to find out what Lugashin in the Soyuzstroi had done.

The next day a telegram came to me from Kantorovich, the Party secretary of the Soyuzstroi, saying that my visa would be sent in three days. This reassured me and I settled down to some writing, reading and seeing Warsaw. A letter to America, which I wrote then, was the first in two years which did not have to pass through the Soviet censorship. In part it ran:

The situation may be summed up by saying that the creative efforts of serious constructive workers wither in the atmosphere of espionage, suspicion, fear, irresponsible management and dishonesty, which unfortunately are widespread in Soviet organizations. No one's word can be depended upon, no matter how high his station. One can never come to grips with


the hidden opposition. (I then told of my letter to Stalin and the effects of his action in the Soyuzstroi.)

However, in my absence now, cut off from contact, it is uncertain who will win. If Stalin's attention is diverted by more important issues, as is quite probable, I may be blocked out and shall start for home via Italy.

Frankly, I am disgusted with the situation. The Soviet Union, the so-called workers' country, honey-combed with intrigue, spying, eavesdropping, bureaucracy, strangling efforts to better a bad condition.

I remain friendly, ready as always to give my all for reconstruction, but now with open eyes to the ways in which they foul their own nests, poison their own atmosphere, and force through brutal and inhuman policies of questionable intelligence.

The noble-seeming beauty who drew me here, whose image is etched on my living fibre, has been as a stone on my heart, requiring a supreme effort of will to throw off, a superhuman struggle to shift affection and a dangerous drain of vital energy. She appeared as the unique, the perfect mate, so long sought. Though the unworthy secret of her disappearance is now known to me, her shining beauty in memory still pales all living women.

The three days specified in Kantorovich's telegram went by. I then communicated with the Soviet embassy. They stated they had neither documents nor information from Moscow. Lyons telephoned again the next evening to say that he was pressing the matter in the Soyuzstroi and also in the Foreign Office. He said that the visa was promised, but that he could not get definite information as to when it would be ready. He begged me to wait a few more days.

A day later I wrote to Lyons instructing him to get my trunk and ship it to America—that I had left it behind on representation of the head of the Soyuzstroi that my visa would be quickly sent. I had decided, I wrote, to return to the United States. In case of any difficulty in obtaining my trunk, I would ask the aid of the American State Department.

Lyons telegraphed immediately upon receipt of this letter, asking me to wait just two more days before I left. He hinted that my letter had had a strong effect, indicating that it had gotten to high authorities through the censor. Nevertheless, I prepared to leave for Vienna and selected railroad tickets and a steamer for the trip home. I informed Lyons of this in a further blistering letter commenting on the evasion and dishonesty of the Soviet consulate at Warsaw and the unreliable tactics of the Soyuzstroi and the Foreign Office: all, of course, with a view to the censors who read incoming mail to foreigners.


On December 28, I had been in Warsaw eighteen days. I decided to leave the next night and made definite reservations for my journey to Vienna.

When I returned to my hotel that evening I found a message from the American consulate asking me to call there. It was already closed, so I had to wait until the next morning.

As soon as the consulate could be reached by telephone the next day, I talked to the undersecretary. He told me that my visa was ready at the Soviet consulate.

I hurried there. For an hour I was kept waiting. Finally the papers were presented for my signature by a sullen but submissive official. I paid the fee and received the document.

I rushed back to pack, cancelled my reservation for Vienna, made another for Moscow and then hurried out to purchase the things I needed for myself and various Americans and Russians in Moscow.

I bought warm gloves and silk stockings, rare luxuries, for M. I bought several kilograms of the celebrated Warsaw sausage for some Russian friends who, after fifteen years of revolutionary diet, vividly remembered this delectable food. There were also shirts, underwear, ties and socks to buy. After several years in the Soviet Union it no longer seemed queer to bring a few articles of ordinary food and clothing thousands of miles from abroad. To a people who had suffered incredible privation for so long these appeared like heavenly manna.

Laden with bundles I hurried back to the hotel and ate a hasty dinner. My newspaper friend came to escort me to the station. Nineteen days had passed! Back to Moscow!

That night on the train, I rested open-eyed, planning the next steps in my work.

In the bitterly cold forenoon of the next day, we drew into the Moscow station. On the platform, waiting for me, was Lyons, breathing frosty vapor and friendly warmth. With a pang, I realized the immense difference between this unshakable comradeship and the evasive, equivocal, even antagonistic attitude of the "comrades."

We swamped each other with questions which we hardly waited to hear answered. What had happened in Moscow? Why had my visa been delayed so long? Who had obstructed it? How had it been obtained? What were Lyons' plans? How were Lyons' wife and little girl?

I learned that Lugashin had fallen ill the day after I left Moscow.


Soyuzstroi had slacked up in its effort to obtain my visa. Lyons had pressed them daily. But the real job, he said, was done by M. She had exerted all her influence in the Foreign Office to bring me back to Moscow.

I did not have to be told this. In some strange manner I sensed the great friendship of this woman. Inexplicably, I felt with perfect assurance that I would see her at once in Moscow. Since I did not even know her address, this was absurd. Yet the presentiment persisted.

We got into Lyons' Ford and drove to his office. In the next hour we reviewed all matters which had occurred during my absence. As we stepped out of his office to go across the hall to his apartment, M. entered the building. In a glance between us, all was said, all understood.

Together we went into the living room where we were joined by Mrs. Lyons. M. sat down at the piano and commenced to play a wild medley of folk-songs in her inimitable fashion. She overflowed with good spirits. Her Joy communicated itself to all of us. We wanted to celebrate our reunion, and decided to go that night to the Music Hall. Harpo Marx was to give his pantomime performance for the first time in Moscow. It was a midnight show. The next day, however, was a rest-day and we could sleep late.

I first went to the Soyuzstroi, eager to track down the secret opposition which had bottled me up in Warsaw for nineteen days. Of greater importance was the problem of my new work.

I went directly to Lugashin's office. He was not in. The secretary told me that he had been ill and absent all the time that I was in Warsaw. Sokolov now filled his place and would continue to fill that capacity until the Soyuzstroi was liquidated.

Sokolov received me with a sheepish smile on his fat, round face.

"You are here," he said.

"Yes. You didn't expect me?" I asked.

"We did! We worked hard to arrange for your return."

"Did you?" I asked, smiling, but watching him intently. For a moment I thought I detected a gleam of malice in his beady black eyes. But his fat face instantly relaxed again, and resuming his usual bland countenance he said,

"The delay was not with us. It was in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry and the Foreign Office."

"I will know soon from other sources about that," I said.


Sokolov's eyes narrowed for an instant. He started as though to speak, then shrugged his shoulders and remained silent.

"Now what about my new work?" I asked.

"Soyuzstroi is being liquidated," Sokolov said. "Some of the men will go to various construction jobs, some to Promstroiproekt and others to Glavstroi (other government trusts). We can arrange for you to work in one of these trusts."

"Whatever is to be done, let us do at once," I said. "Much precious time has been lost."

"In Russia, whatever our shortages, we have plenty of time and people," said Sokolov, grinning. "I will arrange interviews with the directors of these trusts. I will notify you through Elena Vladimirovna. Until you hear from me, you are free. There will be much confusion here because of the liquidation, but that must be completed by February 1 (1934)."

I left Sokolov's office and went down to mine to collect my papers. Since a good part of the day remained, I decided to inspect construction progress on Lyons' apartment.

It was almost completed, eighteen months too late, but there were a host of defects that required correction. The paint was already peeling because it had been applied in freezing weather. The procrastination of the management had nullified all my attempts to get the paint on before winter. I carefully listed all necessary work and went to Lyons' office.

I found him arranging to rent his apartment to his successor, the new correspondent of the United Press. This required a special lease agreement to cover conditions which might arise after Lyons left the Soviet Union. I drew up a lease which was satisfactory to the new United Press man. Lyons told me later that the writers' management which controlled the cooperative that was erecting the building interposed strong opposition. Ostensibly this was based on a question of legality under the Soviet law. In reality, however, this was only a smoke-screen to hide an attempt to extort more money from Lyons. They presented him with an enormous bill, supposedly for extra work. It exceeded the entire price of an apartment to the Soviet writers! I strenuously objected to this banditry. On my insistence, Lyons took the bill to Zalkind in the Foreign Office.

A few days later Zalkind rendered his decision cutting the bill to about a quarter of the amount. Lyons paid this at once. He also paid the management a large additional sum which they secretly demanded. To


this hold-up Lyons surrendered. He was sick at heart over the outcome of his Soviet experience and ready to do anything to wind up his affairs and get out.

That night a crowd was already gathering at the Music Hall when we arrived. This was one Moscow theatre which attempted to entertain its audience rather than to instruct them.

When the doors opened and the throngs poured in, many leading figures in literary and official circles were seen promenading in the foyer. Litvinov, the Soviet foreign minister, sat in the box next to ours. The entire American colony in the land of Karl Marx was there to see America's Harpo Marx.

It was a virtual reunion for me; my American friends were there and warmly welcomed me back. Duranty called me aside and introduced me to the representative of the American State Department who was gathering data for a new embassy building to be put up in Moscow. We made an appointment for a confidential interview the next working day.

The Russians too had turned out en masse. They were not disappointed. Harpo's antics convulsed them. The hall rocked with shouts of laughter. At the end of his act, Harpo withdrew, leaving dozens of knives scattered on the stage in a side-splitting climax. Foreign Minister Litvinov forgot his official dignity and laughing uproariously, rushed on the stage, gathered up the knives, and presented them to the comedian.[68]

The hilarious performance and the crisp, cold air had intoxicated us. We stayed up the rest of the night talking and dancing.

After the rest-day, I hunted up the librarian in the Soyuzstroi. She was very glad to see me and told me of her efforts to expedite my visa while I was in Warsaw. From her description it was clear that there had been a sharp struggle in the Commissariat of Heavy Industry between my bureaucratic enemies and certain friendly authorities. This would doubtless remain hidden despite any attempts to dig to the bottom of the mess. I abandoned further investigation and turned to my new work.

On my request the librarian went with me to see Sokolov. By accident the chief engineer of Glavstroi was there. Sokolov introduced him to me and we discussed the possibility of my joining his staff. In reply to his questions, I told him briefly of my experience. He said that he had been in America for several years and asked me to telephone to him in two days. He might be ready to conclude arrangements for me then, he said.


Sokolov told me that I was free to use my time as I wished. But that day the official publication of the Second Five Year Plan was released in a series of tremendous articles by Stalin, Molotov, Kuibyshev,[69] Ordzhonikidze, Grinko[70] and Mezhlauk.

Immediately I began a detailed analysis of the second plan similar to the one I had made of the first. The purpose of this investigation was to establish the magnitude of the second plan. It was an intricate, difficult task requiring several days and nights of concentrated effort.



The Soviet leaders, in announcing the second plan, had claimed that the volume of capital construction was to be almost three times that of the first. This was of profound significance to the world as well as to the Soviet Union. If the claim were correct it would be proof of extremely successful development of the national industrialization set in motion in 1928. Sixty per cent or more of all cattle, horses, sheep, goats and hogs had died in steady annual increments down to 1934. From this it was clear that the slaughter of livestock by their peasant owners opposed to collectivization, in the brutal liquidation of the kulaks, was responsible for only a fraction of the losses. The major part had occurred on the State collective farms because of neglect, exposure and starvation. Of thirty-four million horses in 1928, there remained only sixteen million in 1934. These dreadful facts helped explain the breakdown in the food supply and accounted for the critical shortage of meat and dairy products.

I noticed at once that the volumes of actual construction work proposed for the Second Five Year Plan were approximately the same as those for the first. The appropriations in rubles, however, were very much larger. The claim of the Soviet leaders that the capital construction would be almost three times as much as in the earlier plan was based on comparisons of these "ruble" appropriations. Hidden away in the investment program was the unobtrusive statement that the appropriations for the second plan were in "rubles of 1933"! This was the clue to an entirely different estimate of the new plan. The ruble of 1933 had depreciated heavily from the value of the 1926–27 ruble in which the appropriations of the first plan had been set up. This depreciation, which could be determined from the unit prices of similar work in the two plans, amounted to about 70 per cent! With this correction applied to the figures of the Second Five Year Plan, it was seen to be actually slightly smaller than the first! The rate of industrialization


had therefore slowed up instead of accelerating as claimed by the Soviet leaders.

While engaged on this study, I had to obtain some statistics from a library on the other side of the city. The young girl working there who found them for me was so courteous and helpful that I expressed my appreciation for the real socialist cooperation that she had shown, which was rare in my experience in the Soviet Union. She trusted me with the books I needed for which I merely signed a slip, an unusual procedure.

A week later, after many late nights spent in the study of the plan, I decided to retire early. About ten o'clock I switched off my light and immediately fell asleep. Some time later I was disturbed by some undefined noise. Through the dim perception of sleepy senses, I became aware of a knock at my door! Irritated, I thought it must be the servant. But what does she want now? I thought! Again the knock. This time it jarred me awake. It was not the servant's typical knock! It was a strange one!

I sprang out of bed, snapped on the light, threw on my robe, went to the door, and swung it open.

There stood a young girl in a fur coat powdered with snow.

"What do you want?" I asked, startled.

"Don't you know me?"

I looked closer but could not recall the face half-hidden in fur.

"I am the librarian who gave you the books you needed," she said.

I was dumfounded! I collected my thoughts. "But why do you come here late at night?" I began, then stopped. "Please come in," I said. "It must be very cold outside."

"Not in my coat," she said laughingly as she entered.

I offered to help her take off her coat, but she vigorously removed it herself.

Suddenly I became aware of my own costume and felt embarrassed. I excused myself and crossed to the other side of my room, behind the door of my armoire, which made a screen. I dressed hastily. Then I returned to my visitor.

She sat quietly, observing me with a friendly, quizzical glance. Her eyes turned to my table heaped with papers and books.

"Do you work much?" she asked.

"Yes," I replied, "on your Second Five Year Plan!"


She smiled, revealing her glistening teeth.

"Why have you come?" I asked.

"I wanted to see you and to talk with you. Your address was on the slip which you signed for the books. But I am so sorry that I disturbed you. We Russians do not sleep so early. I shall go now."

"No, no," I said, "I am completely awake and very glad to see you and to feel the trust you put in me."

"Trust?" She laughed confidently. "Why should I not trust you? There is nothing to fear!"

"Nothing," I said, and continued half to myself, "with such fearless and independent comrades as you are, the lives of men are made sweet and strong."

"How strangely you speak!" she said. "Like in an idyll. We do not like idylls here. We have great work to do. Our personal feelings must be sacrificed for it."

"No, dear girl," I answered. "From those emotions we draw the strength to carry on the work. One of your greatest women was partly the cause of my coming here. Much of my work for your country was inspired by her beauty. You Russian women are heroines. I regret that I was not born among you, that I did not grow with you, struggle and suffer with you. What joy and strength your companionship brings! It cannot be found elsewhere in the world!"

Long into the night we talked. She told me of her life in Moscow, of her schooling and her work.

"Think of helping to collect and use the knowledge of the whole world for the new society we are building!" she cried, with radiant eyes. "And you, comrade, have I helped you?" she asked eagerly.

"More than you know," I said fervently. "If the administrators with whom I work had your socialist spirit, the entire construction industry of your country could have been transformed. I would have given up homeland, family, friends and remained among you. But that spirit is, unfortunately, rare. The deadly bureaucracy kills us. It has isolated me and blocked my work. So I shall return to America soon. But I shall remember the true comrades who worked with me."

I offered to take her home.

"Take me?" she asked, astonished.

"Yes. Tell me where you live."

"No, I will go alone," she said decisively. "You shall not leave your home so late. It is very cold."


"Dear comrade, I am proud of your courage and your independence. But I shall go with you for two reasons. First I do not want you to go alone in the night ..."

"That is nothing," she interrupted, smiling ...

"The second," I continued, "is that I want to be near you while I can. It is a rare joy to me. I shall go away soon. We will never see each other again."

"You are very strange," she said. "Russian men are not so."

"You also are strange," I replied. "I am happy that Russian women are so!"

Her eyes shone with a proud tenderness. I looked long into them, then turned away to conceal unexpected tears.

I put on my fur coat. Arm in arm we went out into the white night.

We expected to walk to her home. At such an hour there would be no conveyance. There would be hardly an hour of rest after I returned, before dawn. Miraculously, we saw a taxicab soon after we started walking. It slowed down at our call! Still more amazing was the driver's willingness to take us to my companion's home and afterward to bring me back to mine.

The cab flew through the snow-covered, silent streets. At her home we got out. I went with her to the door. At her request I wrote down her address. We agreed to go together to a concert three days later. Then she clasped my hand vigorously and, with a brilliant smile, disappeared through the doorway.

As in a dream, I walked back to the waiting cab. I dozed in happy reverie during the long ride back. In front of my home, the driver shook me gently. I got out, paid him four times the bill, left him gaping in astonishment, and climbed the stairs to my door on the fifth floor. Just as the first rays of the winter sun shone through the frosty window panes, I fell asleep.

The chief engineer of Glavstroi, whom I had met in Sokolov's office, had asked me to telephone to him two days afterwards. He had said that he would be able then to arrange a new contract for me with his trust. He was not in his office when I telephoned and could not be located. Throughout the rest of the day and during the next, I rang at intervals but could not reach him.

On the third day of continuous telephoning, I finally got him.

"What do you want?" he demanded brusquely, over the wire.


"I am calling at your request," I answered. "You wanted to discuss a contract with me. This is the third day that I have been telephoning continuously since the time that you set for me to call. I would like to get the matter arranged quickly and start work."

"You think you are still in America," he sneered. "I am not interested in how many times you called. Things are different here. We don't always answer our telephones. You have been here two years and you are still not Sovietized. You ..."

"Just a moment, comrade," I interrupted. "You asked me to telephone you about work. I have no intention of bickering with you. I am well aware that I am not in America. It is easy to see that by your irresponsibility and bad manners, which I certainly do not care to learn. Considering your attitude, there is nothing further for us to discuss." I hung up the receiver.

I went at once to Sokolov and reported the conversation. He shrugged his shoulders in a gesture of disgust and disappointment, and cursed under his breath. Then he telephoned the director of another trust, Giprostroi [State Institute for the Design of Enterprises of the Construction Materials Industry]. A short conversation ensued. He turned to me and explained that Giprostroi was a special trust for planning and organizing construction.

A good deal of my work had been in that field, and the director of Giprostroi said that he needed me. He wanted to talk with me at once, Sokolov said.

The office of Giprostroi was on Miasnitskaya Street near the post office, on the sixth floor of a building squeezed in between two higher ones. In the gray, wintry day it was quite dark and had to be artificially lighted. The elevator was not running. I climbed the six flights of stairs to the office.

The director welcomed me warmly. An enthusiast in his work, and a voracious reader, he was acquainted with the instructions I had developed for organization of Soviet construction. He wanted me to work with him. Everything possible would be done, he said, to provide satisfactory conditions. There was to be a trial period, following which a long-time contract might be drawn up.

Construction of a steel mill on the Oka River was our first work. Its height was equivalent to eight stories. It was a rush job, scheduled for completion in four months. An interpreter-secretary, a capable young man, was assigned to me. Two men had come from the site, presumably


familiar with conditions there. Together, we laid out the general plan of the work and the methods and equipment to be used.

There were unusual problems owing to the high, heavy spans in reinforced concrete, which required special centering. Winter pouring of concrete necessitated protection and heating. The Russians had devised a method for electrical heating of the concrete which consisted of sending current through embedded bars which remained as reinforcement. I pointed out the serious expense of this method and proposed an alternative one.

The building was to have a few large columns. For several story heights it would have no continuous walls. The Russian method of protecting construction in winter is to enclose the entire building with curtains of wood veneer (there were no canvas tarpaulins). Salamanders are used to heat the confined air.

My proposal was to box in only the columns, which would require much less labor and material and greatly reduce the amount of air which would have to be heated, and also cut down the leakage. The Russians were greatly interested in this proposal and they adopted it.

In order to make an accurate time schedule, it was necessary to know the exact state of affairs on the site. The men from the job were vague in their descriptions of the work already done. Several telephone calls to the job elicited no clearer information. Therefore, I strongly urged that someone be sent to the site to make an accurate report. This was done. Three days later, the man returned to Moscow with data which considerably affected our plans, eliminating much work which would otherwise have been wasted.

Temporarily, I had part of a desk in a small room so crowded that we literally had to climb over each other to get in or out. The windows were sealed. Smoke from what was called tobacco filled the room, burned the eyes and made the air so murky that it was dark even in the daytime. After a few hours in this foul atmosphere, one's clothes reeked.

I suggested that a small ventilator be opened. This met with horrified exclamations from my colleagues. For two days I deferred to them, but the continuous stupor in which the fumes held us precluded good work. On the third day I battered open the ventilator. There was a hurried consultation among the comrades. Then one approached me and informed me that they were going to close the window. Very gently I said that if the window were closed again and smoking went on during work,


I would break the glass. With Soviet speed, this would take until spring to be replaced! They looked at me with consternation. From then on we had fresh air.

Our room was so crowded that there was no space for a separate desk for me. I insisted that I be given a single drawer in which to place necessary supplies and plans. Two days passed before this was provided. These conditions made efficient work impossible. Every day I quietly requested the secretary to speak to the director and remind him of our agreement. Nothing came of this.

One morning when I arrived at the office I found the window closed. The room was filled with shouting, gesticulating men. The air was so foul that it hit the lungs like a blow. Suddenly it appeared ridiculous to imagine that good work could be done in this fashion.

I called the secretary in a tone quite unlike my usual one. He looked up alarmed.

"Write a memorandum to the director," I said. I began to dictate. It was a sharp criticism of my working conditions. He wrote a few sentences and then stopped.

"I cannot write this," he said hesitatingly, and with obvious fear.

"Very well," I replied, "I will finish it."

I took it from him and completed it.

With the document I went to the office of the director. He received me at once. There were indications that he had already heard of the memorandum. I handed it to him. He began to read. His face flushed and then paled. He completed the reading before making any comment. Then he looked up in agitation.

"This is a serious document," he said. "I think it should not have been written."

"Is there anything in the writing which is not correct?" I asked coldly.

"No, no," he said quickly.

"Its form then is not of material importance."

"What do you want?" he asked.

"What we agreed on when I came here."

"I cannot arrange anything better. Professor Meyer, the German consultant, is satisfied here."

"Professor Meyer's relation with you has nothing to do with me. His facilities for work are entirely adequate. If these are not furnished me at once, I shall return to the Soyuzstroi. I have no time to waste. Even my


authority over my secretary is limited, since he is borrowed from his work for me."

"I cannot give you anyone," said the director regretfully, but doggedly.

I rose.

"What are you going to do?" asked the director.

"Report to Sokolov immediately," I answered.

He changed color.

"We have done all we could," he said.

"Perhaps," I said.

As soon as I got back to the Soyuzstroi, I sent the memorandum in to Sokolov. In a few minutes he asked me to come into his office. He had read the memorandum. He said that he was now trying to locate me in another trust where I would find intelligent management. He asked me to wait a few days until he arranged an interview with the director of this other organization.

While these jockeyings were going on, the representative of the American State Department called me to his hotel to confer on the proposed American embassy building in Moscow.

We discussed Soviet technical conditions exhaustively, materials, labor and prices. His secretary made stenographic records of our lengthy conversation. It was difficult for him to understand unit costs of work because Soviet currency had no international exchange and prices for Soviet materials and labor were fixed arbitrarily. Later on he admitted to me that he had doubted the accuracy of my figures since they differed so greatly from those he had obtained from official Soviet sources. He had discussed this discrepancy with Duranty who said, "Witkin is never wrong in his figures!" Afterwards he obtained confirmation of my estimates from Mr. Gillis, a very able American mining engineer long resident in the Soviet Union.



The Second Five Year Plan took most of my time in the next few days. I also visited the Lyons' apartment construction, which was almost finished.

Twice again I was invited to discuss the embassy project with the State Department representative. At the end of the third conference, he declared that he was grateful for the assistance I had rendered and that he spoke for the State Department. He wished to know if I would supervise the construction of the building. I thought a moment. It would take months to prepare the plans and get the appropriation through Congress. I thanked him but reserved my decision.

Two days after my first talk with the American representative, most of the American colony and certain Russian circles were buzzing with the story that I was to build the new embassy. The librarian of the Soyuzstroi asked me point-blank if this were true, greatly excited at the prospect. This amused me considerably, thinking of the precautions taken in the "confidential" interview in the hotel, which was under thorough surveillance at all times.

About the tenth of January, I had my first interview with the director of Promstroiproekt. He was courteous, suave and careful in his speech, manner and dress. Again I went through the tiresome process of describing my work in America and in the U.S.S.R.

The director said that he would like to have me on his staff, but he was afraid that he could not provide the conditions I should have. The main difficulty, he said, was to secure an apartment.

I made no comment. He asked me to come back in three days.

Since my return to Moscow not a day passed without meeting my friend M., the pianiste. Her tireless energy and vitality were amazing. She took care of her aged mother and her young daughter. Each day she crossed the city to practice on a friend's piano. In this period she gave several concerts. And she managed to see me every evening.

We spoke an exasperating mixture of Russian, Yiddish and French, in none of which we were equally proficient. Often we walked in the snow


through the brilliant white nights. My American friends whom we visited were captivated by the flaming personality of this woman and her exuberant musical nature.

The tremendous social changes about us brought us even closer together. Often she counselled me in my work. On one occasion she told me she had been taken to task by certain officials for consorting "with a damned foreigner." An illuminating remark from the official comrades who professed international fraternity among workers! However, I had long since seen through the lip-service paid to the Revolution in many high quarters. The remark to my friend had precipitated a violent altercation. She bitterly criticized her powerful acquaintances for what she called their anti-socialist nationalism.

It was apparent, at this stage, that the attention of Stalin had been diverted from my projects. Garry, as intermediary, had practically ceased to function since the incident involving the recall of Lyons. He disappeared for three weeks. This stopped publication of the book I had written, Modern American Construction Technique for the Soviet Union , which he had arranged to be printed [no trace of such a publication could be found].

Towards the end of January, only five days before Lyons' scheduled departure, Garry appeared at Lyons' office. I was present. He was haggard and disheveled, though his eyes twinkled with mysterious humor. In a hollow, dramatic voice, he said, "Strange things happen in my country—to me, the strangest. You are wondering, no doubt, about my disappearance. It is a complicated matter, very difficult to explain. However, I shall be with you until the moment you leave."

Lyons, knowing Garry well, smiled.

"Who is she, Garry?" he asked.

Garry's theatrical pose collapsed.

"The one from Leningrad," he confessed, sheepishly, looking more like a little boy caught stealing the jam than a daring revolutionary commander, "but now I will be with you until you leave."

Neither of us ever saw Garry again. I never heard anything more about my book. Together with so many projects I had developed, it disappeared into the vast sink-hole of the Soviet bureaucracy.

I went back to Promstroiproekt in three days as the director had requested. We had a more detailed discussion about the work of his organization and my qualifications, but reached no conclusion since he said that


he had been unable yet to make arrangements for an apartment. He set another date for me to see him again. On two more occasions we conferred. He was uniformly courteous and apparently friendly, but no headway was made in arriving at an agreement for actual work. In this way, January passed.

Meanwhile, I was busily engaged in the vitally significant analysis of the Second Five Year Plan. It formed the technical basis for Lyons' articles in the Literary Digest , which were well received throughout the world.

During this time, the Soyuzstroi continued to pay my salary and provide for my food rations and supplies, though I was given no definite duties to perform.

One evening while I was at home my telephone rang. I answered it and was astounded to hear the voice of the young girl who the previous summer had been drafted by the O.G.P.U. for work in connection with the Japanese embassy. I had never expected to see or hear from her again after her journey to Leningrad and the silence which had swallowed her up.

She told me that she was again in Moscow, studying and working. She was eager to see me. I was equally interested in learning more about her. We made an appointment at the university, where she was studying.

On the evening we had agreed, I came to the Education Building. At half past nine, N. and several of her companions, girls studying in her department, came trooping down the great stairway. There were excited introductions. We all took a street-car which ran to the great student dormitory in the Ostankino Woods where they lived.

The tramcar was filled to bursting, though it was late at night. The long ride to our destination took almost an hour. At the end of the line, we walked a half mile through the snow-laden groves to the dormitory.

Possessing hardly more than they carried on their backs, studying several hours every evening after a full day's work, these girls overflowed with the joy of life. They drank in the beauty of the night at every pore. They romped in the snow like playful animals.

I suggested that they might be tired after their hard work and offered facetiously to carry them along the trail. They burst into gales of laughter. Running to one side they held a hurried whispered consultation. Then with a merry shout, they bore down on me like a football squad. Each sturdy girl grasped an arm or leg of mine. Protesting as vigorously as I could, choking with laughter, I was carried instead! In


this sedate fashion, we arrived at the dormitory, where I was deposited with great solemnity and care. Another whispered consultation was held among the girls. Then my friend approached me and, speaking for the group, invited me to stay that night in the dormitory with them. They would find room for me she assured me. But there was no running water in the building, they added. They were concerned, also, about the food. Though satisfactory for them, they were afraid it might be too coarse and inadequate for me! My brain reeled at this inversion of solicitude. Since I was a foreigner, my stay might be considered a breach of discipline. I therefore declined their hospitable offer. After bidding them a friendly good-night, I walked back through the trees just in time to catch the last car back to Moscow.

I saw N. once again. At that time she related her adventures after going to Leningrad. She had been released from the Secret Service because of the illness of her father. A letter from her home had requested her to come at once. She was permitted to do so. After a summer in the Caucasus, she had returned to Moscow to resume her studies. The O.G.P.U. had not disturbed her further. (Whether she was telling the truth I cannot know.) Sun, water and better food had left her hard, brown and clear-eyed. She seemed taller and stronger.

When I told her that my departure for the United States was imminent, she showed a touching sadness. I had told her about my family and life in America. Sorrowfully, she said that it was better that I go back to my own people and country. She thought that I could not be happy in her land.

Towards the end of January, Lyons concluded the lease of his apartment to his successor as correspondent of the United Press and prepared to leave the U.S.S.R. He made a half-hearted attempt to sell his belongings, but his generosity and the privation of numbers of Russian acquaintances overcame him. The sale was quickly transformed into a distribution of gifts. Like a flock of crows in a corn field, the Russians circled around his home and picked it bare. His books, plate, china, glassware, rugs and objets d'art were packed in wooden boxes. After extensive negotiations with the custom officials, they were shipped to America. With them went my trunk, containing books and equipment.

On the thirty-first of January, 1934, I went to my office to keep an appointment with the director of Promstroiproekt. When I arrived my


secretary told me that the meeting would have to be postponed because a great demonstration was to be held that day.

"What is the parade for?"

"I do not know," she answered.

"Do you mean to say you are going out to demonstrate and you do not know what for?"

"That is the case," she smiled wryly.

"When was the order for the parade received?" I asked.

"A half hour ago."

My appointment had to be put off until the next day.

I left the Soyuzstroi and went to Lyons' home. He was leaving that night. The sudden demonstration had knotted and tangled his last day. Tickets, permits, everything was delayed. Threats and pressure were needed to get the slightest thing done. And no one seemed to know for certain what the parade was all about. People were gathering in the streets to march like driven sheep. Lyons later told the story of that day, as symbolic of the chaos of Moscow life, in an article in the New Outlook entitled "Farewell to Moscow," and ultimately that article served as the final chapter in his book Moscow Carrousel .[71]

Many Muscovites assumed that the demonstration was in honor of Soviet airmen who the previous night had made a new record for altitude in a stratostat [stratospheric?] balloon. After having reached that altitude, and reported it by radio, nothing more was heard of them. The morning papers carried the news of the record, but no indication of the mysterious silence.

By this time we knew that the balloon had crashed tragically and all the aviators had been killed. But the public did not know this. The announcement of the tragedy was not made until after the parade, so as not to spoil the occasion. The demonstration, as we all soon learned, was in honor of the Communist Party congress[72] then in session. The futility of all this synthetic enthusiasm, when the masses did not even know for sure what they were enthusiastic about!

That evening I was among the dozens of people, foreigners and Russians, who saw Lyons off at the railway station. I agreed to meet him soon in Berlin for a trip through Europe.

The next day I went again to Promstroiproekt. The director received me in his affable manner. After some moments of conversation, he told me


that he had not yet been able to obtain necessary facilities for me, but that he expected to do so soon. He asked me to come back again.

"No," I said smiling, "I shall not return. My next contract will be written in America. I shall leave the Soviet Union at once. Continual delays have convinced me that there is no prospect of doing any effective work here."

The director seemed stunned. After some moments he rose from his chair. His quiet, reserved manner was gone. In great agitation he attempted to dissuade me. I pointed out that our negotiations had been put off over and over again. Almost every third day since the tenth of January we had discussed the matter without result.

"I have no choice," I concluded, "but to cut loose of this idle talking and return to work in my own country."

The director begged me to wait until he communicated with Sokolov, the head of the Soyuzstroi.

"Useless," I said. "Nothing now can change my plans. An entire month has been wasted. Years were wasted before that. I cannot tolerate it any longer."

Still unwilling to accept my stand, he accompanied me to the door deploring the situation and urging me to wait a few days more while he made arrangements which would be sure to satisfy me. I thanked him, declined and left his office.

From there I went directly to the Visa Bureau, where I applied for the necessary document to leave the U.S.S.R. The last ironical touch of bureaucracy was added there. For months I had been trying unsuccessfully to get the Soviet trusts to use my services. The Visa Bureau informed me that my exit visa could not be granted until my trust released me from service! By now, however, the stupid formality of Soviet procedure was no longer novel to me. I accepted it in relatively good humor. I had reached the stage where I would have been bewildered had anything proceeded in a sensible manner. I went back to the Soyuzstroi, where I requested the release. Sokolov made much protestation. He reiterated promises to "straighten everything out." I listened with only one ear. The other was already attuned to the grave events in my own country into which I expected soon to be plunged.

The next day, I obtained my exit visa. Within ten days I would pass the frontier of the Soviet Union. I was to join Lyons in Berlin for a tour of Europe, studying political, economic and social conditions in countries


ruled by dictatorships. I had written Romain Rolland, telling him that I proposed to visit him in Switzerland. I mentioned that Lyons would be with me. For Rolland's reply I gave my address in care of Lyons in Berlin.

In the few days remaining for me in Moscow, M. was with me as much as possible. She told me much of her tumultuous life.

The full meaning and joy of companionship with this intrepid woman was increasingly borne in upon me during my last days in the Soviet Union. Subconsciously, our thoughts turned to the possibility of being together again at some future time. She said she felt, intuitively, that I would return to the Soviet Union.

Three days before I was to leave, the tension between us had grown to a high pitch. Suddenly she cried out, "Take me with you. I will help you. Together we can do anything! We will write our symphony. (She had reviewed my themes for a heroic symphonic poem.) I will bear you the glorious children of whom you have dreamed! Nothing can withstand us, together!"

Like a great clean wind, the powerful call of this inspiring woman swept through my soul. For a long moment I saw the vision of a life animated and strengthened by her comradeship. The loneliness and the devastation of spirit into which the disappearance of Emma had cast me seemed to recede. In this instant there leaped before me the thrilling spectacle of a life with one who would accept any circumstances and wring from them a fierce creative joy.

Then the heavy, sodden curtain of Soviet suppression came down upon my struggling thoughts. With aching heart, I asked dully, "How will you obtain a passport?"

"I will join you in Paris!" she cried with shining eyes. "I will do it, never doubt."

Bureaucratic obstruction had already numbed me. I was certain that her hope was beyond the bounds of possibility.

"I will ask Duranty to aid you in getting the necessary foreign visas," I said. "Through ——— (naming a friend of mine whom she knew) I will communicate with you. In all my messages I will call you 'Margo'" (for some unknown reason taking a name that came spontaneously into my mind).

"How is it that you call me 'Margo'?" she cried excitedly. "Why do you use that name?"


"I do not know," I replied. "I did not think about it. It just came to my mind.

Her eyes suddenly shone with happy tears. A great tenderness welled up and flowed from her. In a low voice she said, "That is the pet name my father gave me when I was a little girl."

For a long time we said nothing. Then hand in hand, we went out into the night.



Moscow, February 6, 1934

Dear Mother,

... Before you read this I shall be en route homeward. The last days in the U.S.S.R. are replete with comedy, tragedy, irritation and ecstasy. Yesterday was my last day at work. I refused to consider a new contract. The Russian administrators have been unreliable, indefinite and vague. This nation has suffered beyond endurance. Pain has distorted its thinking, deformed its soul, hardened its heart, and steeled or destroyed its nerves. There is nothing like it in the world.

There is talk here of a projected group of buildings which will be celebrated. It appears unanimous that I should be chief constructor on my possible return.

Yesterday I completed the analysis of the Second Five Year Plan, inspected various construction jobs, visited some American friends, and went to a farewell dance at the Metropol Hotel. Between times I took two good walks in the snow. The atmosphere was extraordinarily luminous and not extremely cold.

The roots of friendship here must now be torn up. They are almost exclusively among Americans. We no longer seek Russian friends. There are good reasons for this. Every Russian acquainted with a foreigner is suspect and is usually called periodically to report on the life, thoughts, words and actions of the foreigner. This espionage and surveillance destroys the possibilities of friendship and poisons the nature of the people. The high officials are careful not to associate with foreigners who are ideologically "untouchable." In this way an impenetrable barrier is reared and maintained between the foreigner and the native population. Chauvinistic, at once envious and bitterly critical of capitalistic society, a secret hatred is held and sustained by the master class here and is fostered among the masses, who, friendlier by nature, learn by dreadful lessons to obey. I do not know any society in the world today where class lines are so rigidly drawn and bitterly held.

Despite this, the deep, vital, emotional understanding of life of Russian women, and their warm natural character results in a stronger, more joyous, more interesting relationship than is known in Anglo-Saxon society. Russian men, however, all caught in the vast political net which owns


and controls them, body and soul, action and thought, are unsatisfactory personalities—unreliable, usually incompetent except in intrigue, incapable of sustained effort. The greatest leaders, who lose their positions in the Party by independent thinking, are reduced immediately to pitiful, impotent figures.

It is slow, blundering progress, burdened crushingly with enormous waste and suffering, the consequences of bureaucracy and dictatorship. There will probably come a time when all the people will be decently housed, clothed and fed—but that time is yet far off. Stalin's last speech, remarkable for its long-overdue exposure of terrible defects in the organization of industry, transport and agriculture, stated in ringing denunciation the weaknesses which I have been pointing out for two years.

There is now no more talk of overtaking and surpassing America. It is recognized that the directors of Soviet enterprise must talk less and do more work, instead of straining statistics beyond the limits of exaggeration to try to fool the world.

The impressive thing here is to see an entire nation with a common purpose, even though it is forced and the masses have no choice but to obey or starve. The cumbersome, cruel workings of this vast, new, fascinating social mechanism which has had a profound influence upon history are never-to-be-forgotten. They have transformed the world. Money has been replaced by power. Human rights have been arbitrarily abolished. The human soul is enslaved. The heavy dead weight of bureaucracy crushes creative impulses and consumes the best energies of the people. Yet the right of every man and woman to work has been established (though there is some unemployment here, too), children get preferential treatment, education of a biased sort is widely disseminated, sex problems are met simply, naturally, effectively, and the arts and music are conserved, though little Soviet literature, music or drama can yet be compared to the old Russian classics.

Despite all their misery and suppression these remarkable people play and sing and dance, wringing moments of ecstasy from their harsh existence. Their suffering and joy I have shared. Food I have sometimes eaten you would not give a dog. Houses I have known and lived in had better remain undescribed. Smells here sometimes have made one regret the possession of a fifth sense. Frightful waste of time and delay which defeats constructive purposes, and reveals to the penetrating mind the secret of the continued abysmally low living standards. Unending struggle against the bureaucracy skillfully holding their seats and doing nothing. The probable loss of much of my work.

Other things—divine music such as the great, brooding eyes of Beethoven would light up at hearing. Experiences which make Halliburton sound like pink lace handkerchiefs. Heavy portentous rumblings of impending conflict into which the nations will hurl their best lives and entire populations will be wiped out. Vast new construction, confused, chaotic, but


pushed forward by uncounted masses. Womankind radiant in beauty and warm in comradeship. Terrible living tapestries covering the crumbling walls of our society with vital figures indelibly impressed on mind and heart....

Uprooting myself was a difficult, painful task. Many relationships were to be closed, probably forever.

I asked Ralph Barnes to take care of any matters which might arise after I had gone. I saw him every day of the last week I was in Moscow.

We reviewed the momentous events which we had witnessed in the years of my stay. Barnes had sent his paper, in condensed form, the Izvestia articles describing my struggle against the bureaucracy in the construction industry. He now asked me for a general summary of my analysis of the First and Second Five Year Plans and for my opinion of Soviet industry and methods.

I gave him accurate figures of the achievements in construction and industrial production which were concealed beneath the deceptive surface of Soviet official statistics. From these he wrote an article which appeared in the Herald-Tribune and caused considerable comment. I said that I thought that the bureaucracy was too well intrenched to be blasted out of its position in the Soviet structure.

"Even the attempt to attack the bureaucracy by ridicule failed," I said.

"What was that?" asked Barnes. His newsman's ears stuck out. I recalled the "Meteoric Metals" hoax of the previous summer that had been silenced because of the high Soviet officials who had been taken in through their ignorance. Barnes begged me to tell him the story.

"It is seven months old and stale," I replied.

"That does not matter," he urged.

I demurred for a while but finally described the entire occurrence to him. He roared with laughter and rushed to the typewriter.

"This is the juiciest tale to come out of Russia this year," he cried gleefully.

He cabled it at once. It made a tremendous sensation in the American press and was copied in the magazine Time .

The ninth of February I was to leave. This morning I rose early and completed my packing, leaving out my travelling hat and a pair of French leather bedroom slippers. Then I went out for a farewell visit to some


Russian friends. I gave them several thousand rubles for which I had no further use. They had shown me much kindness. The money would make a marked improvement in their living standard.

That day there was to be a great parade of the Red Army. I had to thread my way back to my house through columns of assembling troops, batteries of artillery, and lines of ponderous tanks.

Keenly as I felt my departure, I was even more deeply touched by the effect of separation upon my friends. The last afternoon I had reserved to be with M. She came to my home shortly after noon. Her first glance was searching and sombre. Then with a toss of her head she put her arm in mine and impelled me down the stairs. Suddenly mirthful, she cried, "We are going to a cinema! The last day in Moscow! No one but M. could do that!"

And so we went. She had found a theatre which was showing a new Soviet sound film called The Marionettes . It was a biting satire on European Fascism. Events in an imaginary kingdom were paralleled with a puppet show. Our last day together in the Soviet Union was filled with turbulent political ideas!

After the theatre we went to dine at my home. Later I was to be at the home of William Henry Chamberlin, correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor . My American friends were to gather there for a farewell evening.

M. and I went together through the swirling snow to Chamberlin's home, which had once been the headquarters of the American Quaker Society. We parted there. Later she was to be at the railway station.

In Chamberlin's home were the Americans closest to me, especially Ralph Barnes and his lovable wife, Esther. I had often said that she was a veritable Biblical Esther. In fact, she even had a decided Semitic cast of features, though she is not a Jewess.

Chamberlin talked in his quiet manner of Soviet conditions, foreshadowing his revolt from the restriction of the Soviet censorship which several months later took form in his articles and book Russia's Iron Age .[73] His cool impartiality was the outcome of gradual alienation of partisanship caused by acts of the Soviet Government which violated his sense of fairness and human justice. I realized that the same process had taken place in myself, though as a worker participating in the actual struggle of construction I could never feel as detached as a correspondent to whom the entire social change was something to be observed and


recorded but not lived. Extremely modest in spite of his extensive researches, Chamberlin admitted his lack of the technical knowledge required to fully comprehend the detailed industrial transformation of the Soviet Union. Occasionally he had discussed with me the results of my analyses, but he judged of their consequences in human mass reactions and like Lyons evaluated them in terms of the effect on the individual man and woman.

The hour came to leave. I shook hands with each of my friends. Then I left with Ralph, who was to take me to the station.

His car dashed through the snowy streets to my home. Up the stairs we bounded together to get my bags. The entire household stood by in intense excitement. My landlady excitedly reminded me to find her cousin, Zemach, the great Hebrew dancer, in America. Her son begged me to send him a slide rule. The faithful servant girl regarded us in amazement. At any other time she would have pushed me aside and carried my bags, but now she lay ill and fevered on her cot. I slipped some Russian currency into her hand, a triviality to me, several months' wages for her. Before she could make any protest, we had waved goodbye to all and were clattering down the stairs with my luggage, forgetting my hat and slippers. The car flew through the streets to the station. We arrived with a quarter of an hour to spare.

In the bitterly cold night, a group of Americans and Russians had gathered to see me off. "Going out" is always a ceremonious occasion. "Going out" for good, however, sounds a special note. I looked around at the friendly faces. For one which would not appear, I searched subconsciously. Another had come to mean much strength and warmth. That one which had drawn me so strongly in my own country, which had symbolized the heroic struggle of modern Russia—the face of she who had become my dearest companion for a time, had utterly disappeared. I was freighted with rich tragedy.

Joe Baird, the new United Press man, arrived and handed me a telegram from Berlin. I tore it open. It read: "Rolland agreed—Lyons." So we were to meet Romain Rolland, the great free citizen of the world, the literary champion of human justice.

Then through the snow the brisk, strongly knit figure of M. appeared. Many of the Americans knew her. They knew also of our inseparable companionship during my last month in Moscow. They withdrew and left us alone for a moment. Tears shone in the eyes which watched


me so intently and with such tenderness. They mirrored my own, which were moist. In a low, vibrant whisper she said, "I will be with you in Paris."

The whistle blew; I leaped on the car steps. The wheels began to turn. I waved farewell to the little group which quickly merged into the snowy night.



Upon the vast stage of Europe and Asia a tremendous, historical drama is being enacted. The relentless drive of the Communist Party leaders has welded the masses of the Soviet Union into a powerful nation, armed to the teeth, founded upon a self-sustaining heavy industry, permeated by a new spirit and culture which has evoked dreadful reactions abroad. The seeds of destiny have been sown. Collision with imperialist Japan and expansionist Germany appears inevitable. Darkening shadows of the impending conflict already hang over the world. Only the terrible moment is awaited when it shall be considered opportune to strike.

Whatever the opinions of its internal policies, the Soviet Union, internationally, is a powerful force for peace.[74] It covets no territory. It has no megalomaniac or imperialistic dreams. It harbors no diseased notions of race-purity or race-domination. The doctrine of class war is not to enlarge its boundaries, and in the last decade it has so restricted its foreign action that it is charged with sabotaging the class war abroad.

The mystery of internal Soviet policies and the enigma of its people's life are hidden in its secret dominating forces. Only outward administrative organs are visible. The political structure of the Soviet Government begins in districts, in which under the new Soviet Constitution, delegates are elected theoretically by secret ballot.[*] These delegates, meeting in national congress together with the selected Council of Nationalities, according to the theoretical structure, choose an executive committee (the Presidium of the Supreme Council), in order to function without the unwieldy size of the entire group. The congress (the Supreme Council) selects the heads of the commissariats, the highest administrative officers of the Soviet State. This is the organization which the foreigner can see.

Parallel with this obvious legislative and administrative organization of

* Only to the Council of the Union. The Council of Nationalities, the other half of the Supreme Council, is selected from above, not chosen by the citizenry.


the Soviet Government, is the organization of the Communist Party. Similarly, it draws delegates from the uttermost regions of the Soviet Union. In convention they, too, select an executive committee from which ostensibly the Political Bureau is chosen, the ten officers who formulate fundamental policies of the U.S.S.R. In theory, the Political Bureau selects a General Secretary of the Party.[*] This is the real power-holding organization from which the legislative-administrative organization receives its instructions. This organization the foreigner does not see.

It is necessary now to understand the flow of control in a dictatorship. Concentration of power in the central figure and the adulation which follows in its wake leads to a completely inverted actual governmental structure. The dictator, in fact, selects his policy-making entourage. Together they pick the executive committee of the national congresses, which in their turn nominate exclusive lists of candidates for the national assembly drawn from the ultimate districts.

But there is a third structure of control in the Soviet Union which goes even deeper into the lives of the people and their institutions than the legislative-administrative or the Party organization. This is the organization of the secret police, formerly called the O.G.P.U., now termed the Commissariat of Internal Affairs.[**]

Gradually and with increasing momentum, this secret organization has taken over real control of the fundamental activities of the people and of practically all phases of their expression. Supervision of the customs, international espionage, censorship of the mails, of the telegraph and telephone, suppression of free assemblage, surveillance over the entire populace, control of passports and visas, thereby confining the people within the boundaries of the U.S.S.R. and preventing any from leaving—administration of the railroads, of the collective farms, of military industrial plants, of heavy industrial construction; these are some of the fields now in the hands of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs. Their power is unlimited. They operate without legal restraint, accountable to none. They are at once police, judge, counsel, jury, jailer and executioner. The nation is kept by them in constant terror. By espionage, imprisonment, forced labor and secret death, they dominate the life of the people; a strange, ruthless, dehumanized organization. This is the real government of the Soviet Union, which the foreigner will never see.

* Now Joseph Stalin.

** Under the Czar the secret police were also in the "Ministry of the Interior."


The new Soviet Constitution grants freedom of speech, assembly, the press, secret ballot and private communication. That none of these accepted civil rights of democratic government actually exist in the U.S.S.R. is common knowledge among informed observers. This sinister contradiction staggers rational minds. Once Communist dialectical materialism might have explained it, but no longer. The greatest of the dialecticians, the Bukharins, the Zinovievs, the Radeks,[75] themselves have been liquidated.

In order to retain absolute political power, the so-called dictatorship of the proletariat concentrated authority to the highest degree of centralization. Pervading fear resulted, inculcated by the unpredictable, harsh penalties meted out by this power. Fear paralyzed action and killed responsibility in the line officials. Efficiency was destroyed. Output fell seriously below reasonable anticipations. This resulted in shortage of every kind of goods, as well as inferior quality, prolonging the suffering of the Soviet masses. Suppression of the individual, involved in this process, cost the Soviet Union untold losses of creative energy. It removed the healthiest balance in any society—the critical, outspoken analysis of the sentient individual. Disaster after disaster that fell upon the Soviet masses through breakdowns in productivity were inevitable under dictatorial control, with all its implications. Dictators do not possess greater administrative ability or political wisdom than democratic leaders. They possess greater power and suppressive apparatus, which stamps out criticism and opposition. Consequently, dictators can pursue any course more quickly to its end. With human fallibility, however, the end may often be disastrous. Under dictatorial control, therefore, a country may be projected rapidly towards a frightful catastrophe, since no opposition dares express the indications of impending disaster which all know. Certain phases of the industrial, agricultural and construction development of the Soviet Union have vividly illustrated this.

The hope that this condition in the Soviet Union will be ameliorated with time is doomed to disappointment. Instead of decentralization of power, which is a pre-requisite of self-reliant, responsible management, greater centralization is in progress. This is the inevitable path of dictatorship.

The abuses of the dictatorship in the U.S.S.R. are not necessarily Communist. They are, in fact, peculiarly Russian. From out of the dark and horrible well of Russian history, the incredible brutalities of the vanished autocrats can be dredged. In their actions are revealed the


sources of many present events. Traditional Oriental cruelty has been carried over into the new regime.

Strangely, there is no reasonably imaginable alternative to the existing government in the U.S.S.R. Return to imperialism, the Czar, is unthinkable. Against foreign intervention Russians would fight to the last man and woman. The age-old autocratic tradition of Russian history is utterly devoid of democratic, constitutional experience. Forms of Western democracy are unknown and probably would be unworkable in the Soviet Union. This is why the Communist Party, or its ruling bureaucracy, retains control. The present governmental form is the only possible one. It is of paramount importance, therefore, to know its socially useful elements and to understand its anti-human actions. With the general social objectives of the Soviet Union, no socially minded person can greatly differ. With its methods and the execution of some of its policies, no humane person can concur.

In the economic sphere of the Soviet Union, duplication of facilities, a characteristic of capitalism, has been eliminated, and the wastes of competition and advertising with it. The productive activities of the whole people have been placed under a controlling national plan. But this very control, highly centralized, badly and ignorantly administered, has proven so cumbersome and inflexible and so wasteful of creative energy as to result in productive losses comparable to those in capitalism.

The entirety of a society is as broad as the whole human world. It encompasses the complete range from good to evil. It cannot be denominated as heaven or hell. The Soviet Union has contributed to the world social advances of crucial importance. It has also re-instituted medieval cruelty and abolished civil rights for which humanity has struggled so painfully in its tortuous march through the centuries.

Against this vast background the individual experience is relatively unimportant. Its hopes and its tragedies are significant only in so far as they shed light on social conditions which affect the lives of the whole people.

A Russian proverb says, "When a branch falls on one, he cries out, but when the whole tree falls, he is silent." In this may be found the explanation of the strange silence of devoted revolutionaries, who staked their social faith and creative effort on the development of the Soviet Union.

Bit by bit, as recorded in this chronicle, the great motivating social dreams crumbled, not by hardship or difficulty in the work, but by the


impossibility of coming to grips with it. The creative engineering mind, accustomed to pitting imagination, skill and initiative against the difficulties of great constructive tasks, cannot function against the devious and stifling Soviet bureaucratic control. Step by step, the bureaucracy isolated the creative men who challenged and attacked it, until all of their channels of contact with responsible authority were closed, and they were circumscribed in nets of enforced inaction. Few of the determined sympathetic foreign engineers, who devotedly offered their services to the Soviet Union, survived this poignant course. The attrition of the bureaucracy wore down the strongest among them and reduced their great potential contributions to tragic collections of vanished hopes. Only when they were left without any further instruments of action, when nothing more could be accomplished, did they turn away.

In the end also, dark forces overwhelmed the personal love of the writer in irrevocable tragedy. To the world this individual tragedy is of little historical consequence. But it illustrates a unique and frightful condition affecting an entire nation. The forces which destroyed that love exercise arbitrary control over the innermost life of a whole people, invading even private relationships. They have caused an immeasurably greater social tragedy of which the personal tragedy was an integral and inevitable part. This vast tragedy encompasses the entire development of the Soviet Union. While houses have been built, new factories belch smoke and steel tracks exist where even ox-carts did not go before, human beings have been made into spiritual and intellectual galley slaves. Woe to the back which does not bend in unison to the arbitrary dicta of these modern inquisitors! Bread increases slowly, but thought and life are not safe.

When a catastrophe overwhelms a nation, it is not immediately possible to unravel the cause. The choking dust, the surrounding wreckage, the exhaustion and anxiety of the survivors obscure a clear view of the destruction. Only time and patient investigation can bring it to light.

The collapse of civil liberty and the perpetuation of governmental terrorism in the U.S.S.R. have been phenomena which have confused many distinguished liberal intellectuals.[*]

But the masses of the world have instinctively realized the condition. However bitter their lot, they no longer look to the U.S.S.R. Their sad march towards a better world has not found a destination. It must go on.

* See letter to Romain Rolland [pp. 314–16].


The betrayal of revolutionary faith, of workers' solidarity, of human comradeship, the crushing out of civil safeguards and the ruthless terrorism of the Soviet secret police have overbalanced the material, educational and social developments. It has wrought a fearful general tragedy—the vast death of the hopes which arose with the Russian Revolution for a better world in birth.



The long afternoon Lyons and I spent with Romain Rolland at his home in Villeneuve, Switzerland, remains one of the most tragic memories of my European experience—a sort of apex to the cumulative sadness and disorder of Russian life. We had expected confidently to find in this great humanitarian at least a deep sorrow over the sufferings of the Russian people, the famine victims, the overcrowded concentration camps. Instead we found that he was deliberately blotting these things out of his consciousness. In a sort of weariness of spirit he preferred to accept the Soviet professions and slogans while steering his mind away from the Soviet realities.

After the interview I made a long memorandum on our visit and sent it on to him, with my comment. He replied in his own handwriting, in great detail. My own letter to him conveys the essence of my attitude towards the U.S.S.R. after my bitter experience, and I feel that it makes an appropriate final word in this book.

April 2, 1935

Dear Romain Rolland:

The great care you took to review and answer my letter and memorandum of our visit is a conclusive proof of the passionate sincerity of Romain Rolland which we have never doubted.

All my life I have been a worker and remain one. Precisely because of my knowledge (I say nothing of my suffering under them) of the injustice and the exploitation in capitalistic society I supported the Revolution and the U.S.S.R. while I was still a youth. When it meant endangering one's livelihood my radical views were tolerated only because of professional competence.

In the strict discipline of my faith there was only one ultimate course for me to pursue, to go to the Soviet Union, accepting any hardships, to help with my engineering knowledge, to cast in my lot with "the world in birth." For this I forsook homeland, family, friends, career and material position.

Of the accomplishments of the Soviet Union I can speak best, with


authority, from first-hand participation in the agony of their creation. I built airplane plants for its defense, housing to shelter its workers, factories to supply the needs of its people. The blood of my family was shed for the Revolution. It is now represented in the Red Army.

The earliest fundamental analyses of the First and Second Five Year Plans and the first correct determination of their real magnitude and fulfillment are to be found in my published studies. They remain the only accurate definitive summary of construction under these programs.

In the Soviet Union I was entrusted with the rationalization of the construction industry (see Izvestia , June 18, 1933). I contributed years of my labor without regard to compensation and physical privation. In 1933, the year of starvation, in which millions died who could have been saved but for the ruthless policy of the Soviet Government, I, too, collapsed from hunger. I carried on a grim struggle against the stifling bureaucracy which brought me ultimately in contact, by correspondence, with Stalin. I witnessed the great achievements of industrialization, education, the emancipation of women, care of children and other great social advances.

But I observed other things too—a people fearful of uttering a word of free thought on any political or economic subject; a people suffering incredible want and hunger, not because of conditions inherited from the Czar but because of brutal and stupid governmental policies and an incubus of an unshakable bureaucracy which sucks the blood of living enterprise, destroys initiative, and with it, quality and productivity. A people without a voice, or a means of protest, suffering in silence, which to break means imprisonment or death; a people terrorized by the unrestrained, merciless suppressions of a master class which has arrogated to itself all power and which has placed itself above the law.

Much of this is Russian, rather than Communistic. But I am speaking of the actual Soviet Union, not of theoretical or romantic literary utopias.

Where I find the dreadful danger of your new position, justifying and approving of official terrorism, is that it takes the ground out from under our feet in opposing Fascist violence. Governments are not abstract entities. They are associations of men and power. When men seize by violence and hold power of life and death over their fellow beings, frightful outrages against human rights follow inevitably. Do you, Romain Rolland, know the Soviet decree which re-establishes the barbarous hostage system? Do you imagine that any impartial person who has lived and worked in the U.S.S.R. for years, in an atmosphere at once inspiring and horrible, can believe the Soviet press, when it prints post-mortem "confessions" and "charges" against its already secretly executed victims?

If there were authentic plots against the Soviet Union linked with the Kirov assassination, why were they not revealed to the world to expose the dastardly activities of the Nazis?[*] Why was legal representation denied

In the first trial, held in 1934.


the accused? Why were they called "White Guards" when, in fact, an entire group were Communists, including the assassin?

These victims were killed in the darkness because the proceedings could not stand the light of day. This is the method of Mussolini and Hitler, who copied it from the Kremlin.

You speak of a classless society in the U.S.S.R. Do you know that the O.G.P.U. live apart from the people in special apartment houses built by the forced labor of political prisoners; that they have ample clothing, shelter and food, while the masses suffer deprivation?

Do you think that I would have returned to capitalist society, even to my family and friends, had I found genuine socialist fraternity in the U.S.S.R.? Do you think we should overlook the espionage and the terror that hang like a deadly blight over the land? How do you regard the spectacle of the uncompromising hero of the Revolution, Trotsky, an execrated exile, and the official re-writing of history to poison the minds of the Soviet youth against his great memory?

Romain Rolland, we earnestly call your attention to grave conditions that you cannot know unless you live and suffer under them, as we did. With all our hearts we wish they were otherwise, but they are as they are.

They are proof that humanity cannot be advanced by secret executions, extraordinary tribunals, censorship, espionage, and all the dark weapons of dictatorship, under any cloak. Whatever their avowed objectives, in method and action, they are the same. Fanatical and dogmatic sincerity only makes them worse oppressors.

Those who truly love the Worker's State should oppose all which brutalizes it and besmirches it with needless bloodshed, rather than to brutalize themselves and try speciously to justify such excesses.

From Romain Rolland we have learned the supreme social lesson: To stand at all costs against brutal injustice anywhere, especially in our own camp, if we are to lead humanity into new paths of decency and freedom and not sink into the same bloody morass as the oppressors. No cynical exploitation of the socialized spirit, no disguise of revolutionary terminology must be permitted to blind us to the inhuman acts of unrestrained power.

With deepest respect and warmest friendship,

Zara Witkin[76]



Editor's Introduction

1. Unpublished article by Eugene Lyons, "The Kremlin Conquers an American: A Russian Memoir," n.d., p. 3, in Zara Witkin Collection, Hoover Institution Archives.

2. Eugene Lyons, The Life and Death of Sacco and Vanzetti (New York, 1927). Nicola Sacco and Bartolomeo Vanzetti, Italian immigrants to America, were philosophical anarchists executed for a murder committed during a robbery. Though the evidence was inconclusive, the judge and jury convicted them, apparently partly on the basis of their beliefs and their evasion of military duty. The case drew worldwide attention as part of the anti-Communist hysteria gripping America after World War I and the Bolshevik Revolution. Though public outcry forced the governor of Massachusetts to order an investigation, and though the trial was found to have involved breaches of legal standards, the conviction was not overturned. Sacco and Vanzetti were electrocuted in August 1927, to the horror of many in America and throughout the world.

3. Eugene Lyons, Assignment in Utopia (New York, 1937).

4. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 1.

5. Ibid., p. 2.

4. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 1.

5. Ibid., p. 2.

6. See Andrea Graziosi, "Foreign Workers in Soviet Russia, 1920-1940: Their Experience and Their Legacy," International Labor and Working-Class History 33 (Spring 1988): 38-59.

7. John Scott, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel (Boston, 1942; Bloomington, 1989).

8. Andrew and Maria Smith, I Was a Soviet Worker (New York, 1937).

9. Fred E. Beal, Proletarian Journey: New England, Gastonia, Moscow (New York, 1937).

10. Peter Francis, I Worked in a Soviet Factory (London, 1939).

11. Walter Arnold Rukeyser, Working for the Soviets: An American Engineer in Russia (New York, 1932).

12. Allan Monkhouse, Moscow, 1911-1933 (Boston, 1934). In the Metro-Vickers trial a large group of Soviet and British engineers was convicted of deliberately sabotaging Soviet electrical generating facilities. The British engineers were deported; the Soviet engineers received terms in the labor camps. See n. 42 to the Memoirs, below.

13. Among the more facile was Alcan Hirsch. In his book Industrialized

Russia (New York, 1934), Hirsch failed to even mention food shortages at the time of the 1932/33 famine and argued that Soviet labor laws were not repressive enough. See also Maurice Edelman, How Russia Prepared: The USSR beyond the Urals (New York, 1942). Edelman was a Russian-speaking British businessman in the Soviet Union from 1932 to 1939; his book maintains Stalinism was necessary because it strengthened the USSR's defenses.

14. John D. Littlepage and Bess Demaree, In Search of Soviet Gold (New York, 1937); A. P. Serebrovskii, Na zolotom fronte (Moscow, 1936).

15. Sergei Mironovich Frankfurt, Men and Steel: Notes of a Director of Soviet Industry , trans. S. D. Kogan (Moscow and Leningrad, 1935).

16. Victor Kravchenko, I Chose Freedom: The Personal and Political Life of a Soviet Official (New York, 1946).

17. Lyons, Assignment in Utopia , p. 514.

18. Lyons, "Kremlin," pp. 9-10.

19. Ibid., p. 13.

18. Lyons, "Kremlin," pp. 9-10.

19. Ibid., p. 13.

20. This is the judgment of Anthony Sutton ("Memorandum on Zara Witkin," apparently dated 2 January 1968, in Zara Witkin Collection, Hoover Institution Archives). Sutton examined several hundred reports by and about Western engineers who had worked in the Soviet Union while researching his Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development , vol. 1, 1917-1930 ; vol. 2, 1930-1945 ; and vol. 3, 1945-1965 (Stanford, 1968-73). See the chapter "Technical Assistance to Planning and Construction Projects," 2:249-61. The Dutch Communist S. J. Rutgers also worked for the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate as a technical consultant on irrigation projects and as a member of its commission on foreign specialists in 1930 and 1931 (Gertruda Trincher and Karl Trincher, Rutgers [Moscow, 1967], pp. 172-73).

21. I am grateful to Professor Holland Hunter for this appraisal and for pointing out the difficulty of making absolute comparisons between the Soviet Union and other countries, or between the Soviet Union and tsarist Russia. Modern attempts to quantify Soviet economic growth include G. Warren Nutter, Growth of Industrial Production in the Soviet Union (Princeton, 1962); Richard Moorsteen and Raymond P. Powell, The Soviet Capital Stock, 1928-1962 (Homewood, Ill., 1962); Abram Bergson, Real National Income of Soviet Russia since 1928 (Cambridge, Mass., 1961); and Abram Bergson and Simon Kuznets, Economic Trends in the Soviet Union (Cambridge, Mass., 1963). R. W. Davies concludes that Witkin's estimates for Soviet construction may have been somewhat low, but in order of magnitude they were "about right" ("Capital Investment and Capital Stock in the USSR, 1928-1940: Soviet and Western Estimates," in Robert W. Davies, ed., Soviet Investment for Planned Industrialization, 1929-1937: Policy and Practice [Berkeley, 1984], pp. 149-50).

22. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 6.

23. Ibid., p. 7.

22. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 6.

23. Ibid., p. 7.

24. "Mlle. Zessarskaya [ sic ] is excellent as Praskova and acts the part with pleasing restraint. Despite her cumbersome peasant's costume and headgear, she often appears exceedingly attractive and gives evidence of an authentic depth of character" ("Intelligent Soviet Film," review of Her Way of Love, New York

Times , 21 August 1929). In a review of Grain , a critic commented, ''The buxom Emma Tsessarskaia [ sic ] is capable and wholesome, as usual, in the role of the pioneer kolkhoz (collective farm) girl, who is driven out of the fake cooperative group started by the kulaki [rich peasants] as a blind for their nefarious schemes early in the action and who returns later as a skilled tractor operator and helps the real kolkhoz folk make good" ("At the Cameo Theatre," New York Times , 18 January 1936). A Soviet encyclopedia describes her portrayal of Aksinia in the 1931 film Tikhii Don ( The Quiet Don ), based on Mikhail Sholokhov's novel, as "charming, full of life, and vividly temperamental" ( Kinoslovar ', [Moscow, 1970], s.v. "Tsesarskaia, Emma," p. 870).

25. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 7.

26. Ibid.

25. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 7.

26. Ibid.

27. Waldo Frank, Dawn in Russia: The Record of a Journey (New York, 1932), p. 172. Tsesarskaia was no stranger to prominent foreign visitors. She knew Albert Rhyss Williams and visited Armand Hammer with Witkin. Both Frank and Williams produced books typical of the naive foreigners who visited the USSR in the 1930s and believed everything their tour guides told them. See, for instance, Williams's The Soviets (New York, 1937). The purge trials disenchanted Frank with the Soviet experiment; see Chart for Rough Waters: Our Role in a New World (New York, 1940) and The Memoirs of Waldo Frank (Amherst, 1973).

28. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 8.

29. Ibid., pp. 8, 10-11.

28. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 8.

29. Ibid., pp. 8, 10-11.

30. Witkin and Lyons's tour of Europe is discussed in the chapter "A Tour of Tyrannies" in Lyons's Assignment in Utopia , pp. 610-23. Lyons had been assigned a series of political articles for Cosmopolitan , and the tour was oriented primarily to the investigation of fascism in Western and Central Europe.

31. Lyons wrote the following about the meeting with Rolland:

We tried to speak of Russia. But Rolland would not listen. Tremulously, in genuine panic, he shied away every time, switching the talk to Germany, France, the war and the peace. I stared in unbelieving consternation—not in all my thirty-six years had I seen a clearer show of intellectual and moral diffidence. Here were two earnest young men, reasonably intelligent, who had lived and worked for many years in Russia—who were eager to save a little of the faith they had brought with them to Russia. At the very least, Rolland might have made some inquiries about conditions in that country; about the truth or falseness of the famine reports, the direction in which that nation was tending and the temper of its humanity. He asked nothing and looked distressed each time Zara or I tried to drag the conversation back to Russia.... When we forced him to speak by point-blank questions, Rolland limited himself to a few threadbare formulas about the Soviet Union's hostile surroundings.

Lyons recalled that Rolland's Soviet Russian wife, "an ardent communist of the Stalinesque brand," did her best to "divert the conversation to safer channels" (ibid., pp. 618-19). See also n. 62 to the Memoirs, below.

32. Witkin's disenchantment must have been particularly painful. In the

letter of introduction he and Lyons had sent Rolland before leaving Moscow, they had written that they shared a "profound admiration for the viewpoints you exemplify"; that "the moral integrity and humane qualities in your life's work are especially precious at the present time of cynical abuse of power and ruthless destruction of human values"; and that "searching for the guiding principles needed amid the confusions and threatened dangers of our time ... we have often turned to the fundamental values running through your life and work" (Letter from Zara Witkin and Eugene Lyons to Romain Rolland, 31 January 1934, Fonds Romain Rolland, Département des Manuscrits, Division Occidentale, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris).

33. "The Home of the Future: What Will It Look Like? How Will It Be Built? How Much Will It Cost?" California Monthly , October 1934, pp. 12-15, 42-43.

34. Letters from Zara Witkin to Romain Rolland, lo April 1939, 8 August 1939, 26 December 1939, Fonds Romain Rolland, Département des Manuscrits, Division Occidentale, Bibliothèque Nationale, Paris.

35. Lyons, "Kremlin," p. 14.

36. See David Caute, The Fellow Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment (New York, 1973).

37. Freda Utley's memoirs, Odyssey of a Liberal (Washington, 1970), are largely concerned with this issue. See also the chapter "To Tell or Not to Tell?" in Lyons, Assignment in Utopia , pp. 624-36.

38. See n. 20 above.

39. I used the following additional sources in the preparation of the introduction: phone conversation with Bernard Witkin, spring 1988; "Memorandum of conversation with Mr. Zara Witkin," U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to Secretary of State, 27 December 1933, State Department Decimal File 861.5017, Living Conditions/737, National Archives; "Possible acts of reprisal," dispatch from U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to Secretary of State, 29 December 1933, State Department Decimal File 361.112, Witkin, Zara/1, National Archives; letters of Eugene Lyons to Zara Witkin, 2 December 1937, Zara Witkin Collection, Hoover Institution Archives; Antony Sutton to Eugene Lyons, 14 October 1967, Zara Witkin Collection, Hoover Institution Archives; Who's Who in Engineering: A Biographical Directory of the Engineering Profession (New York, 1937), p. 1530; America's Young Men: The Official Who's Who among the Young Men of the Nation (Los Angeles, 1936), p. 616; ibid. (1938), p. 641; obituaries in Engineering News-Record , 27 June 1940, and Los Angeles Times , 7 June 1940; Certificate of Death for Zara Witkin.

38. See n. 20 above.

39. I used the following additional sources in the preparation of the introduction: phone conversation with Bernard Witkin, spring 1988; "Memorandum of conversation with Mr. Zara Witkin," U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to Secretary of State, 27 December 1933, State Department Decimal File 861.5017, Living Conditions/737, National Archives; "Possible acts of reprisal," dispatch from U.S. Embassy in Warsaw to Secretary of State, 29 December 1933, State Department Decimal File 361.112, Witkin, Zara/1, National Archives; letters of Eugene Lyons to Zara Witkin, 2 December 1937, Zara Witkin Collection, Hoover Institution Archives; Antony Sutton to Eugene Lyons, 14 October 1967, Zara Witkin Collection, Hoover Institution Archives; Who's Who in Engineering: A Biographical Directory of the Engineering Profession (New York, 1937), p. 1530; America's Young Men: The Official Who's Who among the Young Men of the Nation (Los Angeles, 1936), p. 616; ibid. (1938), p. 641; obituaries in Engineering News-Record , 27 June 1940, and Los Angeles Times , 7 June 1940; Certificate of Death for Zara Witkin.

The Memoirs of Zara Witkin 1932–1934

1. War Communism (1918-21) refers to the policy of nationalization and centralized industrial control the Soviet government adopted during the civil war that followed the Bolshevik Revolution. The New Economic Policy (NEP, 1921-28) adopted to achieve more rapid reconstruction after the war, replaced grain requisitioning from the peasants with a standardized tax, permitted limited private enterprise in the retail and small-manufacturing sectors, and left

large-scale industry, banking, foreign trade, and other "commanding heights" in state hands. The First Five-Year Plan was adopted in 1928 as a means to recentralize the economy under state control and to speed industrialization; it included the collectivization of much of the land privately owned by the peasants. Collectivization met with violent resistance tantamount to a second civil war. See Alec Nove, An Economic History of the USSR (London, 1972). Recent studies of War Communism and the New Economic Policy include Silvana Malle, The Economic Organization of War Communism, 1918-1921 (Cambridge, 1985), and Alan M. Ball, Russia's Last Capitalists: The Nepmen, 1921-1929 (Berkeley, 1987).

2. The Amtorg Trading Corporation, founded in 1924 in New York City, was a Soviet agency for the development of trade and industrial cooperation with American firms and individuals. Though bureaucratic incompetence characterized many of its operations, it successfully covered industrial espionage by the Soviet secret police. (See the testimony of Basil W. Delgass in House of Representatives, Investigation of Communist Propaganda , 71st Cong., 3rd sess., Report No. 22-90, 17 January 1931, pp. 48 ff.) Amtorg was active in the lend-lease program of World War II. An insight into the functioning of the Soviet foreign trade apparatus abroad is provided by the memoirs of Tamara Solonevicha, who worked in the German analog to Amtorg, the Berlin Trade Office ( Moi gody v berlinskom torgpredstva [Sofia, 1938]). An article on the foundation of Amtorg appeared recently in Ogonek ("Glavnyi sovetskii kupets v Amerike," Ogonek 42 [October 2989]: 6-7).

3. The Soviet film director Sergei Eisenstein (1898-1948) was a pioneer of the modern film. His most important productions are The Battleship Potemkin , about a sailors' mutiny in 1905; Aleksander Nevsky , about a thirteenth-century prince who defeated the German Teutonic Knights; and Ivan the Terrible , in which Eisenstein was pressured to cast the medieval tyrant as a progressive statebuilder—a clear metaphor for Stalin.

Vsevolod Ilarionovich Pudovkin (1893-1953), who never achieved the international recognition of Eisenstein, made a number of patriotic films about pre-revolutionary military leaders such as Aleksandr Suvorov and Pavel Nakhimov, heroes, respectively, of the Napoleonic and Crimean wars. He is best known for his film The Mother , based on Maxim Gorky's novel of the same name.

4. The review was apparently never published. Lyons noted on the manuscript that the journal was The Nation .

5. Hugh Cooper, an American, was the chief engineer at the Dneprostroi Dam construction project. One of the largest single enterprises built during the first of Stalin's five-year plans, and the biggest dam in the world at the time, it symbolized the Soviet regime's industrialization effort, as Cooper came to epitomize American-Soviet industrial cooperation. Unlike Witkin, Cooper was happy with his experience in the Soviet Union. Dneprostroi is the subject of a study by Anne D. Rassweiler, The Generation of Power: The History of Dneprostroi (Oxford, 1988).

6. The plan for the Palace of Soviets failed. The ground began to sink under the foundation and it was replaced with Moscow's largest swimming pool. See

n. 15 below on the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, destroyed to make way for the Palace of Soviets.

7. Vyborg, originally a Finnish city, is located in territory ceded to the USSR after the Winter War of 1939-40. Though architecturally similar to Helsinki, the city has become bedraggled, contrasting sharply with the cleanliness and modernism of the Finnish capital. The railroad station Witkin and his companion photographed is now filthy and decrepit.

8. The Intourist agency was founded in 1929 to promote tourism in the USSR. In the 1930s Intourist specialized in package tours that accommodated gullible foreigners in fancy hotels and showed them model factories and collective farms. The agency helped the secret police by spying on foreigners, monitoring their contacts with Soviet citizens, and intimidating the latter from entering into personal friendships with tourists. Tamara Solonevicha, an Intourist employee who later defected, published a volume of remarkable memoirs about her work with foreign visitors ( Zapiski sovetskogo perevodshchitsa [Sofia, 1937]).

9. This was a misapprehension on Witkin's part. Law and order were maintained in the capitals, but elsewhere life could be extremely brutal. Magnitogorsk, a steel town built during the First Five-Year Plan and initially populated primarily by single men, was "one giant knife fight" according to Steven Kotkin, who recently completed a major study of the city ("Magnetic Mountain" [Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1988]). The Soviet film Moi drug Ivan Lapshin ( My Friend Ivan Lapshin ) graphically depicts the brutal life of a Volga port town in the mid-1930s. (Directed by Aleksei German and based on a story by his father, Iurii, the film was completed in 1982 and released in 1985.)

10. Valerii Ivanovich Mezhlauk (1893-1938) was a Bolshevik revolutionary from 1907 and later a state and party leader. He played an important role in military politics during the Civil War and served as the People's Commissar of Transport and a member of the Presidium of the Supreme Council of National Economy in the 1920s. In the late 1920s and 1930s he sat on the All-Union Central Executive Committee, the Council of People's Commissars, the State Planning Commission (he was the chair from 1934), and the Council of Labor and Defense (as the chair from 1934). He replaced Sergo Ordzhonikidze as People's Commissar of Heavy Industry in 1937. Arrested in 1937, he was executed 29 July 1938 as an enemy of the people. He is the subject of an extensive official literature.

11. Part of the American-Jewish Joint Distribution Committee, Agro-Joint supported Jewish mutual aid, and especially vocational training and agricultural colonization. In the 1920s and 1930s Agro-Joint raised funds to establish Jewish agricultural settlements in the Soviet Union, most notably in the Ukraine, the Crimea, and Birobidzhan (in Siberia). Its Soviet activities were suppressed during the Great Purge. See Yehuda Bauer, My Brother's Keeper: A History of the American Joint Distribution Committee, 1929-1939 (Philadelphia, 1974), pp. 57-104; Joseph C. Hyman, Twenty-Five Years of American Aid to Jews Overseas: A Record of the Joint Distribution Committee (New York, 1939), pp. 27-33; Evelyn Morrissey, Jewish Workers and Farmers in the Crimea and Ukraine (New York, 1937); and Leon Dennen, Where the Ghetto Ends (New York, 1934).

On Jewish agricultural colonization (unrelated to Agro-Joint), see Solomon Lifshitz, History of the Jewish Kolkhoz in Siberia, 1926-1934 (in Russian, with English title) (Jerusalem, 1975).

12. Kliment Efremovich Voroshilov (1881-1969), a Soviet state, party, and military leader, rose to prominence during the Civil War of 1918-21. His important responsibilities during the war included organization of the Red cavalry and coordination with Joseph Stalin of the defense of the key Volga city of Tsaritsyn (later Stalingrad and subsequently Volgograd). Allied with Stalin, he rose rapidly in the political firmament and became People's Commissar of War in 1925; in this post he helped his master carry out the bloody and destructive purge of the officer corps in 1937. His incompetence in the defense of Leningrad during the early stages of World War II led to his transfer to the State Defense Committee in 1940. Though Voroshilov continued to be politically active during the remainder of Stalin's lifetime and was promoted to the (largely ceremonial) chairmanship of the Supreme Soviet after Stalin's death, he was incapable of effective political initiative on his own and was easily maneuvered out of power by Nikita Khrushchev. Forced from all positions of authority in 1957 as a member of the so-called anti-party group, he held honorary positions in the 1960s and later became the subject of official hagiographical literature. See his memoirs, Rasskazy o zhizni , pt. 1 (Moscow, 1968) and the short biography, "K. Ye. Voroshilov: Red Marshal," in Roy Medvedev, All Stalin's Men (Oxford, 1983), pp. 1-27.

13. Mikhail Markovich Borodin (né Grusenberg, 1884-1953) was a Russian revolutionary and Soviet political leader. Born of Jewish parents, he participated in the Jewish Labor Bund, changed allegiances to the Bolsheviks in 1903, took part in the 1905 Revolution, and then emigrated to the United States, where he studied and took part in socialist politics. Borodin returned to the Soviet Union in 1918, where he entered the Soviet diplomatic service. After his expulsion from Britain for subversive activities, Borodin was sent to China as Communist International adviser to the Kuomintang. There he carried out Stalin's line among the Chinese Communists, which led to the disastrous Shanghai uprising of 1927. Returning to the Soviet Union, Borodin took over the English-language Moscow Daily News (see n. 14 below). Borodin occupied a number of other minor posts until his death in 1953. See Dan Jacobs, Borodin (Cambridge, Mass., 1981); Lydia Holubnychy, Michael Borodin and the Chinese Revolution, 1923-1925 (Ann Arbor, 1979); and May-ling Soong Chiang (Madame Chiang Kai-shek), Conversations with Mikhail Borodin (London, 1978).

14. The Moscow Daily News was an English-language Soviet newspaper; it became a weekly in 1934 and was renamed the Moscow News . Many American and English Communists and fellow travelers contributed to it, including, most notably, Anna Louise Strong. No longer written by foreigners, the paper appears today in Russian and several foreign languages, maintaining a strong liberal stance.

15. The "church" whose destruction Witkin discusses was the famous Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, built in the nineteenth century with donations collected across Russia to celebrate Alexander I's victory over Napoleon. See the

photographic history by Nina Potapova-Molin'e, comp., Razrushenie Khrama Khrista Spasitelia (London, 1988). Ironically the architect who produced the first plan for the cathedral—approved by Alexander—suffered many of the same tribulations as Witkin a century later; he was falsely accused of misappropriating funds during the early stages of construction by jealous colleagues and was cruelly punished by Alexander's heir, Nicholas I. See Alexander Herzen, Childhood, Youth, and Exile , pts. 1 and 2 of his memoir My Past and Thoughts (Oxford, 1980), pp. 242-54.

16. The Kharkov Tractor Factory was another of the showpiece giants of the First Five-Year Plan. Many foreigners worked here in the early 1930s. A detailed account of life at the enterprise is in the memoirs of Fred Beal, who headed the political instruction apparatus for foreign employees during the same years Witkin was in Russia ( Proletarian Journey: New England, Gastonia, Moscow [New York, 1937]).

17. The Soviet regime in the 1930s did emphasize the development of mass sport, but it concentrated resources on highly visible sectors such as the semiprofessional team sports sponsored by the trade union apparatus, the army, and the political police; mass sports spectacles such as the displays of gymnasts in parades; and military-related physical education programs under the control of the civil defense league Osoaviakhim. Access to sport activities for the masses was severely limited by the absence of facilities, shortages of equipment, and incompetent management of trade union-sponsored factory clubs; organized sports were virtually unknown in the countryside. See James Riordan, Sport in Soviet Society: Development of Sport and Physical Education in Russia and the USSR (Cambridge, 1977), especially pp. 120-52. On Osoaviakhim see William Odom, The Soviet Volunteers: Modernization and Bureaucracy in a Public Mass Organization (Princeton, 1973).

18. The Soviet political police, originally called the Cheka, was founded during the Revolution to combat counterrevolutionary organizations, suppress left-wing parties outside Bolshevik control, and enforce the requisition of food, supplies, and labor during the Civil War. Under the innocuous-sounding name of State Political Administration (GPU), and later, the United State Political Administration (OGPU), the political police maintained a low profile during most of the 1920s, concentrating on such tasks as surveillance of foreigners, protection of prominent state and party officials, control over private businessmen during the New Economic Policy, repression of dissident elements, and administration of part of the country's penal institutions. The OGPU was largely responsible for the suppression of peasant resistance following the enactment of the violent "extraordinary" grain collection measures of 1928 and the collectivization of agriculture beginning in 1929; its power grew tremendously at this time, as it developed its own internal security army, a system of mass internal exile, and the notorious archipelago of forced labor camps. The OGPU caused millions of peasants and their families to be deported under deplorable conditions to distant parts of Central Asia, Siberia, and the Far North. Stalin used the OGPU to spy on members of the Communist party who were suspected of opposing his policies. The most frightful chapter in the history of the political police began not long

after Witkin left the Soviet Union. Standard studies include Robert Conquest, The Great Terror: Stalin's Purge of the Thirties (New York, 1968); Conquest, Inside Stalin's Secret Police: NKVD Politics, 1936-1939 (Stanford, 1985); Lennard Gerson, The Secret Police in Lenin's Russia (Philadelphia, 1976); George Leggett, The Cheka: Lenin's Political Police (Oxford, 1981); Roy Medvedev, Let History Judge (New York, 1989); Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago (New York, 1974-78), especially vol. 1, chap. 2; and Simon Wolin and Robert Slusser, The Soviet Secret Police (New York, 1957).

19. In the 1920s and 1930s the political police undertook the management of a number of institutions for the orphans created by the Civil War and the collectivization of agriculture. The children's homes run by the OGPU received the greatest financial resources and were run along progressive lines. They were shown to foreigners as showcases of the new regime—127 delegations from thirty countries visited the Dzerzinskii Commune (named after the founder of the secret police) in its first five years. The most potentially dangerous inmates of the "self-governing" children's communes were controlled by their fear of deportation to prisons and labor camps. (See Iurii Solonevich's conversations with a group of children in Povest' o dvadtsati dvukh neshchast'iakh [Sophia, 1938], pp. 169-78.) Still, something of the spirit of utopianism and experimentation of the revolutionary generation seems to have survived into the 1930s in these facilities. Many graduates felt they owed everything to the regime, and some went on to careers in the political police.

Witkin apparently visited the Dzerzhinskii Commune, which was known for the manufacture of electric hand tools and cameras. The reminiscences of its founder, A. S. Makarenko (who from 1935 to his death in 1938 was the assistant director of labor camps in the Ukraine), were published as Learning to Live: Flags on the Battlements (Moscow, 1953). See also Oscar Friche, "The Dzerzhinskii Commune: Birth of the Soviet 35mm Camera Industry," History of Photography 3 (April 1979): 135-55, and René Bosewitz, Waifdom in the Soviet Union: Features of the Sub-Culture and Re-Education (Frankfurt, 1988). The entire March 1934 issue of the Soviet photojournal The USSR in Construction is devoted to children's communes.

20. The soviet building was the seat of government. Soviets were the organs of state, as opposed to party, administration; though the party was theoretically separate from the state, it was actually superior to it. Soviets, or councils, functioned at all levels from district, city, and regional, to republican and all-union. Though the soviets were burdened with most of the mundane matters of civil administration, control over the economy and other important spheres of government activity rested in the people's commissariats, in principle subordinate to, but in practice independent from, the soviet apparatus. Neither the soviets nor the people's commissariats (later called ministries) had genuine authority, however, to initiate policy: all real power rested with the party and its specialized organs.

21. Witkin's negative impressions of a Soviet maternity hospital are confirmed by Freda Utley in Lost Illusion (London, 1949), pp. 88-89, 144-45, and by Tanya Matthews (Svetlova) in Journey Between Freedoms (Philadelphia,

1951), pp. 118-24. Utley, a Communist, was a British economist who resided for several years in Moscow; Matthews was a Russian English teacher from the Caucasus region who married an English journalist during the war. Both describe their own childbearing experiences.

22. Valentina Bogdan, a former mechanical engineer from Rostov, portrays private life and work there in the years immediately after Witkin left in her Mimikriia v SSSR: vospominaniia inzhenera, 1935-1942 gody, Rostov-na-Donu (Frankfurt, 1982).

23. The torgsin stores were originally established to raise funds to finance the First Five-Year Plan. They accepted only hard currency and were frequented primarily by foreigners, but many Soviets were forced to sell family heirlooms in the torgsin shops to obtain money for food and other essentials. Miron Dolot's trek with his mother from their starving village to the torgsin store in the nearest town and their experiences at the store during the famine of 1932/33 are described in his Execution by Hunger: The Hidden Holocaust (New York, 1985), pp. 177-88.

The OGPU periodically rounded up persons suspected of possessing gold and forced them to "donate" it to the government. Torture was often employed, the most common being to cram suspects into a steam room and to feed them salt fish while giving them nothing to drink. Victims would be brought in on several different occasions, until the police were satisfied they had sweated all their gold or foreign currency from them. Dentists and Jews were frequent targets since some dentists kept gold to fill teeth on the black market and many Jews received gifts of money from relatives abroad. F. E. Bogatyrchuk was briefly interrogated since, as a doctor, he was suspected of having taken payment in precious metals or hard currency for privately rendered medical services; see his Moi zhiznenyi put'k Vlasovu i prazhskomu manifestu (San Francisco, 1978), pp. 96-98. On sweating gold from the population see Lyons, Assignment in Utopia , pp. 415, 447-50, 454-58, and Solzhenitsyn, The Gulag Archipelago , 1:52-54. For a time the regime allowed foreigners to use hard currency to purchase exit visas for Soviet relatives; Witkin refers to this practice on p. 151 ("I burned at the thought of ransoming human beings from a government").

The torgsin shops have survived, under a new name, as today's berezki , where Soviet citizens generally cannot shop, since they are forbidden to own foreign currency except under special circumstances.

24. It was still common to see a droshky, or horse-drawn cab, in the early 1930s, though mechanized conveyances were steadily replacing them. Waldo Frank, who visited Emma Tsesarskaia in 1932, described one: "The first ride in a droschke [ sic ] was memorable. The cab's upholstery was mildewed, the wood was splintered; the izvostchik [ sic ; driver] looked as if his prime had been the days of Gogol; and his horse, a poor relative of Rosinante, as if the Revolution had murdered all its friends and left it oatless" ( Dawn in Russia , p. 12). As "nepmen," or small capitalists, the drivers were denied ration cards and taxed heavily.

25. This would be the Kiev-Pechersk Monastery, the so-called Monastery of the Caves, one of the oldest landmarks of Russian and Ukrainian culture. Dating

from the eleventh century, it burned and was rebuilt in the seventeenth century. Communist authorities closed it as a religious institution in 1926. During World War II most of the architectural features of the monastery suffered heavy damage. Today, largely restored, it is a historical monument and major tourist attraction; recently it began service as a monastery again.

26. The Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, or RKI (Raboche-Krestianskaia Inspektsiia, or Rabkrin), was established during the Civil War and functioned as a unit until 1934, when it was split between the Commission on Party Control and the Commission on State Control. Though technically a people's commissariat, and therefore an organ of the state, the RKI functioned as an investigatory agency of the party with special portfolios for finance and industrial management. The RKI worked closely with semivoluntary "workers' control" brigades organized by the trade unions and the Young Communist League. The latter directed raids on factory stores, cafeterias, and bookkeeping departments to uncover petty theft and incompetence. At the higher levels, the RKI worked hand-in-hand with the OGPU to root out more serious forms of corruption and bureaucratic mismanagement. Few foreigners worked as closely with this agency as Witkin, or at least none has left a record of such collaboration. See the recent study by E. A. Rees, State Control in Soviet Russia: The Rise and Fall of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, 1920-1934 (New York, 1987).

27. For a description of James Abbe's activities in the Soviet Union, see n. 56 below.

28. Ernst May (1886-1970) was a German architect and pioneer city planner, famous for his work in Frankfurt and many other German cities. In 1930 May went to the Soviet Union at the government's invitation. His frustrated career in the USSR mirrored Witkin's. He helped develop plans for the general reconstruction of Moscow and for housing in Magnitogorsk, but both plans went unrealized. Later he supervised industrial and residential construction in Novokuznetsk. (After a visit to Novokuznetsk following World War II, George Kennan learned that officials blamed the wretched state of the city's housing on the deliberate "sabotage" of Ernst May [George F. Kennan, Sketches from a Life (New York, 1989), pp. 99-100].) After May left Russia in 1934, he was denied reentry into Germany, then under Nazi domination. After working in Kenya and Uganda, he was interned as an enemy alien in South Africa for two years during World War II. He returned to work in West Germany for several years after the war. See also n. 29 below.

29. The gigantic steel centers of Magnitogorsk and Novokuznetsk were built during the First Five-Year Plan. Both were constructed in remote and difficult locations (Magnitogorsk east of the Ural mountains, Novokuznetsk—then named Stalinsk—in Siberia) under the rudest possible conditions and in the shortest possible time. Their names were synonymous with hardship and heroism, the suffering of thousands of forced laborers, and the selfless enthusiasm of young Communist volunteers. Magnitogorsk was entirely designed by an American firm and both projects extensively employed foreign consultants and skilled workers, though overburdened and inadequately trained Soviet managers frequently ignored their advice. Magnitogorsk is colorfully pictured in John Scott's

remarkable memoir, Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel (Boston, 1942; Bloomington, 1989). More recently, Zaveniagin, the director of Magnitostroi ( stroi = construction) has been pictured as the character Mark Riazanov, along with some of the incidents in the project's history, in a novel by Anatolii Rybakov ( Children of the Arbat [Moscow, 1987; Boston, 1988]). Zaveniagin was demoted during the Great Purge and sent to direct a mining complex north of the Arctic Circle, though technically he went as a free employee. On the history of Magnitogorsk see Kotkin, "Magnetic Mountain," and Tatjana Kirstein, "The Ural-Kuznetsk Combine: A Case-Study in Soviet Investment Decision-making," in Davies, ed., Soviet Investment , pp. 88-106. The director of Kuznetskstroi, Sergei Mironovich Frankfurt, wrote an informative officially published memoir, Men and Steel: Notes of a Director of Soviet Industry , trans. S. D. Kogan (Moscow and Leningrad, 1935). Witkin's friend Ernst May (see n. 28 above) designed housing projects for both Magnitostroi and Kuznetskstroi, facing the same exasperating difficulties as Witkin did.

30. Umberto Nobile's Soviet experiences are recounted in his posthumously published memoir, My Five Years with Soviet Airships , trans. Frances Fleetwood (Akron, 1987). Witkin is not mentioned in the book.

31. On the famine, see Robert Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow: Soviet Collectivization and the Terror-Famine (Oxford, 1986); Miron Dolot, Execution by Hunger; First Interim Report of Meetings and Hearings of and before the Commission on the Ukraine Famine Held in 1986 (Washington, D.C., 1987); Second Interim Report of Meetings and Hearings of and before the Commission on the Ukraine Famine Held in 1987 (Washington, D.C., 1988); and Report to Congress of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine (Washington, D.C., 1988).

32. Pilnyak (the pseudonym of Boris Andreevich Vogau, 1894-1942?), was a prominent writer of the revolutionary period, the 1920S, and the 1930s. Though he supported the Revolution, his work is notable for distinguishing the revolutionary passion of the masses from the calculated political manipulation of the leaders. Pilnyak antagonized Stalin with his 1926 novel Story of the Unextinguished Moon , in which he presents the death of Mikhail Frunze, head of the Red Army, as the result of medical murder. The publication abroad of his novel Red Wood led to his dismissal as head of the Writers' Union. He wrote another novel, The Volga Flows into the Caspian Sea , about the First Five-Year Plan. Pilnyak was apparently arrested in 1938 and died, perhaps in 1942, in a labor camp.

33. This was Witkin's perception. Eugene Lyons wrote in the margin of the manuscript, "Only he was!"

34. Walter Duranty (1884-1957), the Pulitzer prize-winning New York Times correspondent, was a fellow traveler whose influential articles from 1921 to 1934 helped establish the climate of public opinion necessary for diplomatic recognition of the USSR. Franklin Roosevelt was impressed with his reportage. Duranty used his authority to deny the existence of famine in the Ukraine and elsewhere, even though he conceded in private that as many as ten million people may have died of hunger and disease. As Witkin's memoirs suggest (p. 208), "a few million dead Russians" meant little to Duranty as compared to the experi-

ment in modernizing Russia. Duranty wrote later of the Moscow trials as legitimate juridical processes. See James William Crowl, Angels in Stalin's Paradise: Western Reporters in Soviet Russia, 1917 to 1937. A Case Study of Louis Fischer and Walter Duranty (New York, 1982), and Sally Taylor, Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty, The New York Times's Man in Moscow (Oxford, 1990).

35. Nikolai Mikhailovich Shvernik (1888-1970), a Bolshevik from the 1905 Revolution, occupied a number of public posts throughout a career that spanned more than three decades after the Bolsheviks seized power. He is remembered primarily as head of the trade union movement after 1930, when Stalin defeated the so-called right opposition, which had a strong base in the labor movement. From 1930 a member of the Organizational Bureau of the Central Committee and from 1939 a member of the Politburo, he retained party posts well into the Khrushchev era and received numerous honors under both Stalin and Khrushchev. As a leader Shvernik was a colorless figure who carried out Stalin's line unquestioningly. He oversaw extensive purges and bureaucratic housecleanings of the trade union apparatus from 1937 to 1938 and was the only member of the trade union secretariat to survive the Great Purge. On the trade unions at this time see Isaac Deutscher, Soviet Trade Unions: Their Place in Soviet Labour Policy (London, 1950).

36. Annual campaigns were mobilized during the Stalin period to pressure people to subscribe to the state loan. Subscription was anything but voluntary: harassment or arrest awaited those who refused. The suggested subscription ranged as high as one month's salary. Few saw any return on their ''investment": maturation was long in the future, and in the 1930s everyone understood the loans to be simply gifts to the state. Numerous other campaigns mobilized the population in the pursuit of regime goals; on labor productivity campaigns, for example, see Lewis Siegelbaum, Stakhanovism and the Politics of Productivity in the USSR, 1935-1941 (Cambridge, 1988).

37. On the economics and politics of output norms in Soviet industry during the 1930s see Lewis Siegelbaum, "Soviet Norm Determination in Theory and Practice, 1917-1941," Soviet Studies 36, no. 1 (January 1984): 45-68, and Siegelbaum, Stakhanovism and the Politics of Productivity .

38. Vyacheslav Mikhailovich Molotov (né Skryabin, 1890-1986), joined the revolutionary movement in 1905 and the Bolsheviks in 1906. He became one of the secretaries of the Central Committee in 1921 and a Politburo member in 1926. A consistent supporter of Joseph Stalin, Molotov helped purge his master's opponents in Leningrad and Moscow in the late 1920s, after which he vigorously supported Stalin's hard line on the collectivization of agriculture. Molotov was appointed Chair of the Council of People's Commissars in 1930, a position he held until Stalin took it over in 1941. In 1939 Molotov replaced Litvinov, a Jew, as People's Commissar of Foreign Affairs; in this capacity he masterminded the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact. During the war, Molotov represented the USSR at the Teheran, Yalta, and Potsdam conferences, and then at the San Francisco conference founding the United Nations. He held various posts after the war. Stalin had Molotov's wife, Polina Zhemchuzhina (a friend of Emma Tsesarskaia's mother, possibly the engineer of Tsesarskaia's semirehabilitation in 1939), ar-

rested as a "Zionist" and sent into internal exile in 1949. Despite this, he remained a diehard Stalinist. In 1957 Nikita Khrushchev eliminated him from positions of power as a member of the so-called anti-party group that had tried to halt his reform program. Khrushchev consigned Molotov to the ambassadorship of the People's Republic of Mongolia, later allowing him to serve as Soviet representative on the International Atomic Energy Agency in Vienna. See Medvedev, All Stalin's Men , pp. 82-112.

39. A leading Bolshevik revolutionary, theoretician, and politician, Nikolai Ivanovich Bukharin (1888-1938) was a close associate of Lenin's in the early years of the Revolution. He became Stalin's ally during the inner-party struggles of the mid-1920s, but opposed Stalin's policies of forced collectivization of agriculture, crash industrialization, and intensified political repression. Though Bukharin was politically defeated in 1928, his subsequent recantation of views and self-abasing public support for Stalin opened the way for him to continue some political activities in the early and mid-1930s, including editing Izvestiia and promoting technical innovation. Arrested in 1937 and executed in 1938 after the last of the Moscow show trials, he was exonerated of all crimes under Khrushchev but treated in the official literature as a political deviationist until recently. He is currently the subject of an extensive apologetic literature in the Soviet press. See the standard biography by Stephen F. Cohen, Bukharin and the Bolshevik Revolution: A Political Biography, 1888-1938 (New York, 1975), and the biography by Roy Medvedev, Nikolai Bukharin (New York, 1980).

40. Adopted in 1932 and 1933 and still in force today, the Soviet passport system was initiated in part as a response to the disastrously high rates of labor turnover during the First Five-Year Plan, though it is not clear how effective it was as a solution to this problem. The system includes official registration in one's place of residence ( propiska ) and information about one's social origins and nationality; as the law was enforced in the 1930s, it placed tremendous control over people's residence in the hands of the state. Peasants were not given passports, which made it illegal for them to leave the collective farms unless they were already hired by some industrial enterprise. Passportization constituted a kind of purge of the entire population because certain categories of people were not reregistered as residents and were forced to leave the major cities, and because information gathered on people's class background or political histories was used to expel many from institutions of higher learning or from certain types of employment. The reintroduction of passports, which had been abolished after the Revolution, was perceived as the abandonment of an important democratic right and a return to tsarist practice. The internal passport and the system of residency registration—as of 1990 the Soviet Union is the only state with such a system—are to be abolished shortly.

41. Grigori Evseevich Zinoviev (né Radomylskii, 1883-1936) was a prominent Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet politician. Though one of Lenin's closest collaborators from 1903, at first he opposed Lenin's plan for a seizure of power in 1917, which he, along with Lev Kamenev, betrayed on the eve of the coup. He later repented and played an active role in Soviet politics during the Civil War and the 1920S. As head of the Communist International from 1919 to

1926 he reduced that agency to an instrument of Soviet foreign policy. He was a member of the Politburo from 1919 to 1926 and head of the Leningrad party organization from 1917 to 1926. After Lenin's death in 1924 Zinoviev and Kamenev joined Stalin to defeat Leon Trotsky (1878-1940), the People's Commissar of War, in a struggle for power. The discovery of a cache of forged letters bearing Zinoviev's name and encouraging revolutionary subversion led to the fall of England's first Labour government in 1924. After the defeat of Trotsky, Stalin began to undermine Zinoviev's power; frightened, Zinoviev, with Kamenev, established a new left opposition in 1925, but was politically outmaneuvered by Stalin and his supporters. He joined with Trotsky in 1926 and was expelled from the party, with Trotsky, in 1927. Readmitted in 1928 after a self-abasing recantation, he was expelled once more in 1932 and readmitted a second time in 1933. Convicted in 1935 of "moral complicity" in the December 1934 assassination of Sergei Kirov (almost certainly arranged by Stalin to eliminate a powerful rival), he was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. Zinoviev's arrest in 1935 was the signal for the wholesale expulsion of his supporters and alleged supporters from positions of authority. Retried in August 1936 at the first of the Moscow show trials of former party leaders, he was sentenced to death and executed, the first time the leadership had shed the blood of a party member. The news of the execution of Zinoviev, Kamenev, and others must have shocked even Witkin; he understood the confessions had to have been extorted. Under Khrushchev Zinoviev was posthumously exonerated of all crimes, but official literature continued to depict him as a political deviationist. Recent reconsiderations in the Soviet press have restored Zinoviev's place in the history of the Revolution and the Soviet state.

42. The Metro-Vickers case was one of a series of show trials held between 1928 and 1933 in which innocent engineers, economic planners, and foreign specialists were made scapegoats for economic problems (the foreigners were deported, the Soviets sent to the Gulag). While Soviet authorities have now admitted the earlier trials were fraudulent, the defendants of the Metro-Vickers trial have not yet been officially exonerated. On the trials of industrialists and technicians, see Conquest, The Great Terror (1968), pp. 222-58, 730-40; Kendall Bailes, Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin: Origins of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1928-1941 (Princeton, 1978), pp. 69-140; Bailes, "Stalin and the Revolution from Above: The Formation of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1928-1941" (Ph.D. diss., Columbia University, 1971), pp. 10-215; Medvedev, Let History Judge , pp. 110-39 (in the more-complete Russian edition, K sudu istorii [New York, 1974], see pp. 236-74); and Monkhouse, Moscow , pp. 268-317.

43. Monkhouse, Moscow, 1911-1933 (Boston, 1934).

44. This explanation of the trial remains hearsay. Where a genuine crime did not exist the Stalinist government was not above fabricating a case out of whole cloth. The need to offer scapegoats to the masses was "cause" enough for the Metro-Vickers affair.

45. The Central Control Commission, a disciplinary organ of the Central Committee of the Communist Party, undertook investigations of corruption,

incompetence, and oppositional attitudes among party activists and officeholders. It played a role in certain purges and carried out some minor purge operations on its own. In 1935 the Central Control Commission merged with one branch of the newly divided Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate and became the Commission on Party Control. This commission took over the duties of the RKI and not only participated in the purges of the later thirties, but also carried out efforts to limit their effect on the party rank and file. See also n. 26 above.

46. Ian Ernestovich Rudzutak (1887-1938) was a Bolshevik revolutionary and Soviet leader who served on the Central Committee from 1920, became one of Central Committee's secretaries in 1923, and held the position of People's Commissar of Transport from 1924 to 1930. After 1930 Rudzutak headed the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate and the Central Control Commission and played a key role in the 1933 party purge; he chaired the Central Purge Commission and reported on the results of the purge at the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934. Rudzutak was something of a faceless bureaucrat, and to the degree that his personality emerges from the grayish blur of inner-party politics, it is only as a hard-core Bolshevik stalwart. Despite his loyalty to Stalin, Rudzutak was arrested in 1938 and disappeared into the Gulag. A recent Soviet consideration is in G. Trukan, "Ian Ernestovich Rudzutak," Agitator 8 (1988).

47. The party purge of 1933-34 was called a chistka , or "cleansing." Garry's prediction that it would eliminate a third of the party's membership proved too high, as the figure was closer to 22 percent (including those reduced from "candidate" membership to "sympathizer" and not including those whose expulsions were overturned on appeal). Though many oppositionists and "class-alien elements" were hounded out during this operation, equally strong goals were to expel those who were not models of hard work at their jobs as well as anyone who failed to fulfill statutory membership requirements, such as payment of dues, attendance at meetings, and carrying out of regular party assignments. Eugene Lyons wrote a perceptive article about the chistka when he left the Soviet Union; see "The 'Purging' of Russia's Communists,'' Literary Digest 117 (17 March 1934): 14, 30-31. See also J. Arch Getty, Origins of the Great Purges, the Soviet Communist Party Reconsidered, 1933-1938 (Cambridge, 1985), pp. 38-57. A different interpretation is offered in Michael Gelb, "Mass Politics under Stalin: Party Purges and Labor Productivity Campaigns in Leningrad, 1928-1941" (Ph.D. diss., University of California, Los Angeles, 1987), pp. 21-109.

48. The Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense (STO), was a state commission subordinate to the Council of People's Commissars. Founded in 1920 (and reorganized in 1923) to coordinate and supervise the work of party and state agencies involved in industrialization and military development, its broad powers and responsibilities were vaguely defined, though it could issue decrees binding on all agencies except the Council of People's Commissars. It was abolished by a decree of the Central Executive Committee of the USSR in 1937.

49. Witkin's analysis of the forces supporting and opposing Soviet recognition suggests his sympathy with the former; but many American engineers and technical specialists who had worked in the USSR testified against recognition on the basis of the widespread use of forced labor in Soviet industry and agriculture.

See House of Representatives, Prohibition of Importation of Goods Produced by Convict, Forced, or Indentured Labor: Hearings before the Committee on Ways and Means on H.R. 15597, H.R, 15927, and H.R. 16517 , 71st Cong., 3rd sess., 27 and 28 January 1931; House of Representatives, Embargo on Soviet Products: Hearings before the Committee on Ways and Means on H.R. 16035 , 71st Cong., 3rd sess., 19, 20, and 21 February 1931; Prohibition of Soviet Imports: Remarks of Hon. Tasker L. Oddie of Nevada in the Senate of the United States , 15 March 1932 (with fifty-six pages of appended documents); and Barring Importation of Russian Anthracite: Conference of Treasury Department , Bureau of Customs, 24 March 1932. Unpublished depositions of American engineers are in the Hoover Institution Archives, Clarence T. Starr Collection. Apparently, neither the moral nor the protectionist argument outweighed the temptation of doing business with such a large country. Similar debates raged in other countries. See also Peter G. Filene, Americans and the Soviet Experiment, 1917-1933 (Cambridge, Mass., 1967), pp. 211-40.

50. William Henry Chamberlin (1897-1969) was the Moscow correspondent of the Christian Science Monitor from 1922 to 1934. At first a sympathizer with the Soviet regime, Chamberlin later grew embittered at the suffering he witnessed. He authored many books, including the classic The Russian Revolution , 2 vols. (Princeton, 1987 [1935]). See also Russia's Iron Age (Boston, 1937), and Soviet Russia: A Living Record and a History (Boston, 1930). Journalists were among the best-informed experts on Soviet affairs in Witkin's day, and they had relatively greater influence on public opinion and government policy than they do today. Witkin's accounts of his relationships with several American journalists are a valuable sidelight to his story.

51. Clara Zetkin (née Eissner, 1857-1933) was a German-born feminist, socialist, and later, Communist. As a member of the left wing of the German Social Democrats, she fought for a greater role for women in the party as well as for broader citizenship rights such as the vote; she opposed World War I. She adopted Marxism under the influence of the Russian émigré Ossip Zetkin, later her common-law husband. With Rosa Luxemburg she was one of the founders of the Spartacus League and later of the German Communist Party. She was elected regularly to the Reichstag from 1920 to her death but spent most of her time in the USSR, where she collaborated with Lenin in the Communist International, took part in the International Society in Aid to Revolutionaries, and supported official Soviet women's organizations. Her influence in Russia declined with that of the women's movement in general in the years after Lenin's death, but she actively opposed the growing Nazi movement in Weimar Germany. To the end of her life faithful to Marxism and the goal of a Soviet Germany, Zetkin was buried in the Kremlin wall.

52. Nadezhda Konstantinovna Krupskaya (1869-1939) was Lenin's wife and comrade in the revolutionary underground. Though primarily known for her association with Lenin, Krupskaya's work was significant in its own right. One of her early assignments in the post-revolutionary years was to create a system of restricted sections in Soviet libraries. Later she emerged as a sponsor of the anti-illiteracy campaign and as one of the architects of the Soviet educational system.

Krupskaya made feeble efforts to restrain Stalin's rise in the mid-1920S, but in 1927 she abandoned the opposition. In addition to acting a ceremonial role as Lenin's widow and working in the People's Commissariat of Enlightenment, Krupskaya helped to create the Soviet scouting organization, the Young Pioneers, and enthusiastically promoted the cult of Pavlik Morozov, the little boy who turned his father in to the secret police. Despite her faith in the Revolution, Krupskaya's last years would appear tragic, as she watched many of Lenin's (and her) closest comrades perish in Stalin's purges. See her Reminiscences of Lenin (New York, 1960) and Soviet Woman: A Citizen with Equal Rights (Moscow, 1937). See also Robert H. McNeil, Bride of the Revolution: Krupskaya and Lenin (Ann Arbor, 1972); Lev Goncharov and Ludmila Kuznetskaya, "Nadezhda K. Krupskaya, Founder of Soviet Public Education," School and Society 94 (April 1971): 235-37; and Bertram Wolfe, "Krupskaia Purges the People's Libraries," in Wolfe, Revolution and Reality: Essays on the Origin and Fate of the Soviet System (Chapel Hill, 1981), pp. 98-112.

53. Aleksandra Mikhailovna Kollontai (1872-1952) was a revolutionary, party official, and diplomat. She joined the revolutionary movement before the turn of the century and was eventually attracted to the moderate wing of Russian socialism; during World War I she was drawn to the Bolsheviks by their anti-war stance. Despite her strong interest in "the woman question," Kollontai criticized "bourgeois" feminism, arguing that only a proletarian revolution could liberate women. Though she wrote extensively on women's problems, her pleas for the party to establish special organs devoted to women workers fell on deaf ears. After the Bolshevik Revolution Kollontai worked on legislation that eliminated women's legal disabilities, protected women workers, and restricted child labor. Kollontai joined the opposition to the Brest-Litovsk peace treaty with Germany, but was drawn back into party politics by an invitation to organize women's departments ( zhenotdely ) in the party apparatus; she also worked in other programs to help integrate women into public life. After Kollontai's participation in the "Workers' Opposition" of 1921, the leadership assigned her to a diplomatic post in Norway to remove her from affairs in Moscow. Subsequently Kollontai served as ambassador to Mexico, Norway, and Sweden. She retired in 1945. See The Love of Worker Bees , a novel (London, 1977); The Autobiography of a Sexually Emancipated Communist Woman (New York, 1971); and Selected Writings , edited by Alix Holt (Westport, 1977). See also Barbara Evans Clements, Bolshevik Feminist: The Life of Aleksandra Kollontai (Bloomington, 1979), and Cathy Porter, Alexandra Kollontai: The Lonely Struggle of the Woman Who Defied Lenin (New York, 1980).

54. Since the consolidation of Stalin's dictatorship, the secret police has had offices at all significant Soviet enterprises and institutions, whose purpose is to maintain a network of informers and keep records on the attitudes of employees. Under Gorbachev their number and activities have been curtailed.

55. Where membership was not tied to a particular geographical locality, or when either security considerations or severe resistance to Communist methods required the heightened presence of the OGPU, the party organization in certain institutions was headed not by an ordinary party committee but by a politotdel , or political department. Politotdely were found in the military, on the railroads,

in maritime and riverine transport, and in the countryside in the machine-tractor stations (MTS). Created after it was found during the initial stages of collectivization that the collective and state farms were not reliable instruments for extracting grain, the MTS allocated all machinery and fuel upon which the collective and soviet farms depended; those farms which did not turn in enough produce might find themselves without fuel or equipment. Because supporters of the regime in the countryside were few and far between, the MTS, where most rural Communists were concentrated, served as bastions of the regime. Party members at the MTS were united under politotdely rather than under ordinary party committees. Witkin's description of the politotdely as organs of the OGPU is technically incorrect, as they were party agencies; nonetheless, they were reinforced with the toughest OGPU men and were feared in the villages as extensions of the secret police. See R. Miller, One Hundred Thousand Tractors: The MTS and the Development of Controls in Soviet Agriculture (Cambridge, Mass., 1970), and Daniel Thorniley, The Rise and Fall of the Rural Soviet Communist Party, 1927-1939 (New York, 1938).

56. For more on the varying responses of Western journalists to the famine and to Soviet efforts to cover it up, see Conquest, Harvest of Sorrow , pp. 308-21, and Report to Congress of the Commission on the Ukraine Famine , pp. 151-84. On Louis Fischer, see Crowl, Angels in Stalin's Paradise . Maurice Hindus produced many books about his Soviet experience, all of them justifying collectivization as necessary, if cruel. Interesting personality sketches of Lyons, Chamberlin, Barnes, Duranty, and others are in James Abbe, "Men of Cablese," New Outlook 162 (December 1933): 27-32. A fellow traveller, Abbe was appointed to a commission of sympathetic foreigners who were to visit the Don industrial region and testify they had seen no forced labor. Abbe later explained to Lyons, "Sure, we saw no forced labor. When we approached anything that looked like it, we all closed our eyes tight and kept them closed. We weren't going to lie about it" (Lyons, Assignment in Utopia , p. 367). After being expelled in 1933 for photographing in restricted areas, Abbe published a noteworthy album, I Photograph Russia (New York, 1934).

57. Lazar Moiseevich Kaganovich (b. 1893), a Bolshevik revolutionary and prominent Soviet state and party official, was, with Molotov, one of Stalin's most loyal lieutenants. Kaganovich became a member of the Central Committee in 1924 and of the Politburo in 1934. In that year he was appointed head of the Commission on Party Control, in which capacity he helped carry out the purges of the mid-and late thirties. At various times Kaganovich also served as head of the Ukrainian party organization, head of the Moscow party organization, People's Commissar of Transport, and People's Commissar of Heavy Industry. Known as Stalin's fixer, Kaganovich instituted a reign of terror on the railroads during his tenure as transport commissar. As Witkin noted, Kaganovich was one of the few Bolshevik leaders besides Stalin to have a sense of humor (though a cruel one) and his pronouncements are often eminently quotable. A diehard even after Stalin's death, Kaganovich was removed from power in 1957 by Nikita Khrushchev. Though since that time Kaganovich has led a reclusive life, he recently granted an interview in which he advocated extreme Russian nationalist and anti-Semitic views (his own Jewish background notwithstanding); see "'Pamiat' Kaganovicha"

in Argumenty i fakty , 9-15 June 1990. On Kaganovich's biography see Medvedev, All Stalin's Men , pp. 113-39. Stewart Kahan's Wolf of the Kremlin (New York, 1987) is poorly written and historically inaccurate, but it is based in part on interesting information from an interview with Kaganovich, a distant relative of the author's.

58. Maxim Gorky (pseudonym of Aleksei Maksimovich Peshkov, 1868-1936), a novelist and playwright, first drew world attention as a young man for his stories of the ordinary folk he met on his wanderings through Russia. His 1902 play, The Lower Depths , is a classic portrayal of Russia's destitute. Gorky's autobiographical trilogy, Childhood, In the World , and My Universities (1913-23), is considered a masterpiece. Arrested for his support of the revolutionaries in 1905, Gorky was released in response to world outcry. He traveled in Europe and America and then settled in Italy. His negative portrayal of New York in City of the Yellow Devil (1906), a fruit of these early travels, served as anti-American propaganda during and after the Stalin years (favorable comments about Herbert Hoover and American relief during the Russian famine of 1921 and 1922 were expunged from all editions of his works). Though not himself a Bolshevik, Gorky channeled financial support to Lenin. He returned to Russia before World War I at the invitation of the government. After 1917 he adopted a critical stance toward the Bolshevik dictatorship, and he organized relief for destitute writers during the Civil War. Embittered, Gorky left Russia again in 1921, but remained unhappy in Italy, and, beginning in 1928, he returned to Russia for increasingly lengthy stays. He seems to have been converted to the Stalinist line—perhaps by the seeming successes of Stalin's Five-Year Plan—and played a leading role in Soviet literary politics, serving as head of the new Union of Soviet Writers from 1934. Gorky led an authors' collective that produced a justification of forced labor as a means to reeducate criminals, Belomor: An Account of the New Canal between the White Sea and the Baltic Sea (1934). Though Gorky is considered the founder of socialist realism, his only explicitly revolutionary novel, The Mother (1906), is tendentious; his novels The Artamanovs' Business (1925) and The Life of Klim Samgin (4 vols., 1927-36) are known for their convincing characters. Gorky died during an operation in 1936. The doctors and the head of the secret police, Genrikh Iagoda, were later accused of his murder and executed. Rumors that Stalin arranged Gorky's death persist; though apocryphal, they are the theme of a novel, The Fall of a Titan , by Igor Gouzenko (New York, 1954). Gorky is the subject of an extensive biographical and critical literature.

59. Grigori Konstantinovich ("Sergo") Ordzhonikidze (1886-1937), a Bolshevik revolutionary from Georgia, helped subdue the Caucasus during and after the Civil War. He served on the Central Committee from 1912 and in the Politburo from 1930. While head of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate and the Central Control Commission (from 1926 to 1930), he participated in the elimination of inner-party opposition, the party and state purges of 1929, and the first show trials of industrial specialists (he was a strong supporter of Stalin). He chaired the All-Union Council of National Economy and then the People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry (1930-37), where he showed great organizational ability and even statesmanship. Fragmentary evidence suggests Ordzhoni-

kidze, as one of the implementors of the five-year plans, eventually comprehended the staggering cost of breakneck industrialization under Stalin and the foolishness of the Stalinist policy of intimidating, repressing, and scapegoating technical and managerial specialists. By many accounts Ordzhonikidze strove to protect numerous individuals from harassment and repression. Apparently driven to suicide by the purges of his subordinates, the arrest of his brother, and his despair at the gathering destruction of the political, technical, and cultural elite of the country, he is the subject of extensive hagiographical literature. Ordzhonikidze's failure to answer Ernst May's letter about housing at Magnitogorsk contradicts the experience of other engineers and specialists who appealed to him; it is possible that May's request was deflected, or that it simply disappeared in the flood of similar requests.

60. The perjorative term kulak originally applied to wealthy peasants and village moneylenders. In the Marxist literature of the 1920s it denoted the more affluent class of peasants. During collectivization the term came to be applied to all peasants who had over two cows, more than the bare minimum of land, a brick house, or a tin roof. Eventually any peasant who spoke out against the collective farms or resisted collectivization in any way might also be labeled a kulak. Those too poor to be categorized as kulaks came under the newly invented term subkulak . A policy of "dekulakization," or liquidation of the kulaks as a class, was adopted in 1930 and led to the deportation of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of peasant families to labor camps or exile in Central Asia, Siberia, and the Far North. Hundreds of thousands perished in cattle cars en route or in the miserable conditions they were forced to live in when they arrived. Dekulakization was a historic disaster that destroyed the most industrious elements in the countryside. Kulaks and their children suffered civil disabilities, such as exclusion from higher education, until the 1936 constitution gave all classes equal rights. See Moshe Lewin's essay "Who Was the Soviet Kulak?" in his The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia (New York, 1985).

61. Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov (né Wallach, 1876-1951), a Bolshevik revolutionary, and later a state and party official, served as Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs in the 1920s and as Commissar of Foreign Affairs from 1930 to 1939. Known for his disarmament proposals, advocacy of collective security against Nazi aggression, and for negotiating U.S. recognition, he was replaced by Molotov during the discussions leading to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, since he was a Jew. He served as ambassador to the United States from the Nazi invasion in 1941 until 1943, when he once again was appointed Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Litvinov was also a member of the Central Committee and deputy to the Supreme Soviet. He retired in 1946. See Hugh Phillips, Between Revolution and the West: A Political Biography of Maksim M. Litvinov (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1985; forthcoming as a book). See also Jonathan Haslam, Soviet Foreign Policy, 1930-1933: The Impact of the Depression (New York, 1983), and The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security (New York, 1984). The published diary, Notes for a Journal (New York, 1955), is spurious; on reminiscences Litvinov is known to have written, but

which were subsequently lost, see Elena Danielson, "The Elusive Litvinov Memoirs," Slavic Review 48, no. 3 (Fall 1989): 477-83.

62. Romain Rolland (1866-1944), the French novelist, Nobel Prize laureate, pacifist, and social critic, wrote numerous plays, as well as studies of Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Jean Jaurès, and others. His most famous work is the multi-volume novel Jean Christophe , based in part on the life of Beethoven, in part on the author's. One of the most popular writers of his day, Rolland is no longer widely read. Much of his fame derived from his outspoken condemnation of European civilization during and after World War I. His defense of the Soviet Union was part and parcel of this condemnation. It was natural that an idealist such as Witkin should come to regard Rolland highly. In 1937 the American novelist and literary critic Waldo Frank suggested that Rolland form an international commission with Bertrand Russell (see n. 63 below) and others to investigate the charges against the accused in the Moscow show trials (Frank, Memoirs , p. 186). Such a commission was indeed formed, under the direction of the American philosopher John Dewey, but Rolland not only refused to take part, he also denounced efforts to defend Trotsky (who was assassinated in his Mexican exile in 1940) and the other accused. (Frank himself turned down Dewey's invitation to take part in the countertrial because he felt "they were all convinced beforehand" of the defendants' innocence, and their verdict would "mean nothing"; in any case he soon broke with the Communists in disgust at the Stalinist witch-hunts [ibid., p. 192]). Not long after Witkin and Lyons left him in 1934, Rolland journeyed to Russia, where he met not only his friend Gorky, but also Stalin himself. In private he successfully interceded on behalf of the Trotskyist novelist Victor Serge, then in Siberian exile. But he remained enamored of the USSR's "invincible ascent" and stifled his urge to speak out, fearing "reactionaries'' would exploit his words. In 1938 Rolland wrote Stalin twice on behalf of a Leningrad doctor (a friend of twenty years) imprisoned eight months without being charged. Gorky was no longer alive, and Stalin failed to reply. In public Rolland continued to express orthodox Communist opinions on the witch trials and even in private correspondence wrote, "I have no occasion to doubt the condemnations, which strike down Kamenev and Zinoviev, persons long despised, twice renegades and traitors.... I do not see how one can reject as invented or extorted the declarations made publicly by the accused." But in his private journal he noted, "This is a regime of the most absolute uncontrolled arbitrariness," with no trace of liberty or human rights (cited in Caute, Fellow Travellers , pp. 130-31). Only in 1939, with the signing of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, did Rolland break quietly with his Communist and fellow-traveling associates. See David James Fisher, Romain Rolland and the Politics of Intellectual Engagement (Berkeley, 1988). On the Dewey Commission and various left-wing responses to it see Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky, 1929-1940 (New York, 1963), pp. 363-82, 393. See also n. 32 to the Introduction.

61. Maksim Maksimovich Litvinov (né Wallach, 1876-1951), a Bolshevik revolutionary, and later a state and party official, served as Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs in the 1920s and as Commissar of Foreign Affairs from 1930 to 1939. Known for his disarmament proposals, advocacy of collective security against Nazi aggression, and for negotiating U.S. recognition, he was replaced by Molotov during the discussions leading to the 1939 Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, since he was a Jew. He served as ambassador to the United States from the Nazi invasion in 1941 until 1943, when he once again was appointed Assistant Commissar of Foreign Affairs. Litvinov was also a member of the Central Committee and deputy to the Supreme Soviet. He retired in 1946. See Hugh Phillips, Between Revolution and the West: A Political Biography of Maksim M. Litvinov (Ph.D. diss., Vanderbilt University, 1985; forthcoming as a book). See also Jonathan Haslam, Soviet Foreign Policy, 1930-1933: The Impact of the Depression (New York, 1983), and The Soviet Union and the Struggle for Collective Security (New York, 1984). The published diary, Notes for a Journal (New York, 1955), is spurious; on reminiscences Litvinov is known to have written, but

which were subsequently lost, see Elena Danielson, "The Elusive Litvinov Memoirs," Slavic Review 48, no. 3 (Fall 1989): 477-83.

62. Romain Rolland (1866-1944), the French novelist, Nobel Prize laureate, pacifist, and social critic, wrote numerous plays, as well as studies of Mahatma Gandhi, Leo Tolstoy, Jean Jaurès, and others. His most famous work is the multi-volume novel Jean Christophe , based in part on the life of Beethoven, in part on the author's. One of the most popular writers of his day, Rolland is no longer widely read. Much of his fame derived from his outspoken condemnation of European civilization during and after World War I. His defense of the Soviet Union was part and parcel of this condemnation. It was natural that an idealist such as Witkin should come to regard Rolland highly. In 1937 the American novelist and literary critic Waldo Frank suggested that Rolland form an international commission with Bertrand Russell (see n. 63 below) and others to investigate the charges against the accused in the Moscow show trials (Frank, Memoirs , p. 186). Such a commission was indeed formed, under the direction of the American philosopher John Dewey, but Rolland not only refused to take part, he also denounced efforts to defend Trotsky (who was assassinated in his Mexican exile in 1940) and the other accused. (Frank himself turned down Dewey's invitation to take part in the countertrial because he felt "they were all convinced beforehand" of the defendants' innocence, and their verdict would "mean nothing"; in any case he soon broke with the Communists in disgust at the Stalinist witch-hunts [ibid., p. 192]). Not long after Witkin and Lyons left him in 1934, Rolland journeyed to Russia, where he met not only his friend Gorky, but also Stalin himself. In private he successfully interceded on behalf of the Trotskyist novelist Victor Serge, then in Siberian exile. But he remained enamored of the USSR's "invincible ascent" and stifled his urge to speak out, fearing "reactionaries'' would exploit his words. In 1938 Rolland wrote Stalin twice on behalf of a Leningrad doctor (a friend of twenty years) imprisoned eight months without being charged. Gorky was no longer alive, and Stalin failed to reply. In public Rolland continued to express orthodox Communist opinions on the witch trials and even in private correspondence wrote, "I have no occasion to doubt the condemnations, which strike down Kamenev and Zinoviev, persons long despised, twice renegades and traitors.... I do not see how one can reject as invented or extorted the declarations made publicly by the accused." But in his private journal he noted, "This is a regime of the most absolute uncontrolled arbitrariness," with no trace of liberty or human rights (cited in Caute, Fellow Travellers , pp. 130-31). Only in 1939, with the signing of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, did Rolland break quietly with his Communist and fellow-traveling associates. See David James Fisher, Romain Rolland and the Politics of Intellectual Engagement (Berkeley, 1988). On the Dewey Commission and various left-wing responses to it see Isaac Deutscher, The Prophet Outcast: Trotsky, 1929-1940 (New York, 1963), pp. 363-82, 393. See also n. 32 to the Introduction.

63. Bertrand Russell (1872-1970), an English ethical and logical philosopher, and from the 1920s an internationally recognized pacifist, dissenter, and social critic, was an insightful observer of Soviet affairs from the Revolution onward. Freda Utley, a British Communist who lived in the USSR for many years before the arrest of her Soviet husband in 1936, recalls that Russell tried to dissuade her

from Marxism and Leninism: "Nor would I accept the truth of his Theory and Practice of Bolshevism . This book, written in 1920, is uncannily prophetic of the Russia I was later to know." On a visit home in 1931, Utley argued that the terrible outcome of the Revolution was the fault of Stalin's deviation from the Leninist path. "But Bertie would bang his fist on the table and say, 'No! Freda, can't you understand, even now, that the conditions you describe followed naturally from Lenin's premises and Lenin's acts?'" (Utley, The Dream We Lost: Soviet Russia Then and Now [New York, 1940], pp. 10-11). Utley's memoirs, Lost Illusion , offer a highly interesting picture of life in the USSR at the time Witkin lived there. Russell wrote the introduction.

64. Sergei Mironovich Kirov (né Kostrikov, 1886-1934), a Bolshevik revolutionary and subsequently a Soviet state and party leader, worked and was arrested several times in the revolutionary underground in the Caucasus. He helped establish Soviet power in the Caucasus and Astrakhan (on the Volga) during the Civil War. He served on the Central Committee from 1922 and as party leader of Azerbaidzhan from 1921 to 1925. In 1925 he was sent with other Stalin supporters to Leningrad to destroy the Zinoviev opposition. In 1926 he replaced Zinoviev as the head of the Leningrad party organization, after which he was promoted to deputy member of the Politburo; he became a full member in 1930. Known as a tough but accessible leader, Kirov enjoyed the reputation of a populist. An effective orator, highly popular in party circles, at the Seventeenth Party Congress in 1934 Kirov received more votes than Stalin for Central Committee Secretary. His assassination on 1 December 1934 was most likely arranged by Stalin, who feared Kirov as a man around whom discontented party members might rally. Kirov's assassination provided the occasion for emergency legislation giving the secret police broad new powers, and for a campaign against supposed enemies of the state. It is often considered the beginning of the Great Purge. Witkin's description of Kirov as the "virtual dictator of the northern region" should read "northwestern region," since the area included vast territories extending from Murmansk in the north to Pskov in the south but extended no further east than the western shores of the White Sea. Kirov aggressively promoted development of the resources of Karelia and the White Sea region. He is the subject of an extensive official hagiography. See Robert Conquest's study of the assassination, Stalin and the Kirov Murder (Oxford, 1989).

65. Mikhail Ivanovich Kalinin (1875-1946) was a Bolshevik revolutionary, a participant in the October Revolution, and from 1919 Chair of the All-Russian (later All-Union) Soviet Executive Committee, or titular head of the government. He became a member of the party Central Committee in 1919 and joined the Politburo in 1926. From 1938 to 1946 he served as Chairman of the Supreme Soviet. Thus, Kalinin was often referred to as the president of the Soviet Union. Kalinin remained a loyal supporter of Stalin, though he was reputed to have privately sympathized with Bukharin's "right opposition." Kalinin was popularly regarded as "a man close to the people," and he listened to thousands of appeals on behalf of individuals arrested during the Great Purge; in a few cases he assisted, but, as little more than a helpless pawn himself, for the most part he had to acquiesce in Stalin's repressions. In 1937 Kalinin's wife was arrested and

tortured into signing false depositions against him. For several years he was held under virtual house arrest, with agents of the NKVD living in his apartment, allegedly "for his own protection." But Kalinin was never arrested, and his wife was released a few days before his death; after his death she was re-arrested and sent into exile. Kalinin died of natural causes. Under Stalin as under all of his successors, the official literature has treated Kalinin as a hero.

66. Konstantin Aleksandrovich Umansky (1902-1945), a Soviet journalist and diplomat, worked for TASS (Telegraphic Agency of the Soviet Union) in Rome, Paris, and Geneva from 1923 to 1930. In 1931 he was promoted to chief of the Press Department of the People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs, in which capacity he was responsible for censoring the reports of Western journalists. From 1936 to 1939 he was counselor and then chargé d'affaires at the Soviet embassy in Washington. From 1939 to 1943 he served as ambassador first to the United States, and subsequently to Mexico. He died in a plane crash on 25 January 1945 during a flight to Costa Rica.

67. G. E. Prokofiev (d. 1938), the Second Deputy People's Commissar of Internal Affairs, was one of the most important officials of the secret police and a close associate of Genrikh Iagoda (1891-1938), who headed the secret police from 1934 to 1936. When Iagoda was demoted to People's Commissar of Communications, Prokofiev was demoted to First Deputy People's Commissar of Communications. Arrested as a member of the "rightist conspiracy," he was executed along with his boss. Witkin's contact with him remains unclear.

68. Harpo Marx's Russian adventures are recorded in his reminiscences, Harpo Speaks! (with Rowland Barber; London, 1961), pp. 299-337. The most amusing was his dubious reception at Soviet customs:

From the trunk they removed four hundred knives, two revolvers, three stilettos, half a dozen bottles marked POISON, and a collection of red wigs and false beards, mustaches, and hands.... Would I please explain why I was transporting weapons and disguises? I told them they were all props for my act. Act? What act? I said I had come to Russia to put on a show. Americans do not entertain in Russia, they said. [Marx was the first American entertainer booked after U.S. diplomatic recognition in 1933.]

Marx had further difficulty explaining his harp and the three hundred rubles given to him earlier by a fellow passenger (it is forbidden to bring rubles into the USSR). When the growing crowd of inspectors and guards began to shake their heads and argue heatedly among themselves, Harpo "didn't need an interpreter.... They were debating whether to have me shot now or wait for morning, when the firing squad would have clearer aim and would waste fewer bullets" (ibid., pp. 302-3). Marx was befriended by Eugene Lyons and Walter Duranty during his stay in Moscow (ibid., pp. 314, 330). He performed in a number of Russian cities.

69. Valerian Vladimirovich Kuibyshev (1888-1935) was expelled from school when he joined the revolutionary movement in 1904; he was subsequently arrested many times. During the Civil War he served as military commissar on several fronts. He supported Stalin against Trotsky and was promoted to the

Politburo in 1927. He headed the party's Central Control Commission from 1923 to 1926, the Supreme Council of National Economy from 1926 to 1930, and the State Planning Commission (Gosplan) from 1930. He died of natural causes in 1935, but persistent rumors suggest Stalin had him killed. Official historiography from Stalin's day to the present treats Kuibyshev as a hero of socialist construction.

70. Grigorii Fedorovich Grinko (1890-1938), a Ukrainian revolutionary and Bolshevik from 1920, held a series of positions in the Ukrainian government and party apparatus, as well as all-union positions during the 1920s. He became People's Commissar of Finance in 1930 and wrote a famous pamphlet for foreign consumption, The Five-Year Plan of the Soviet Union: A Political Interpretation (New York, 1930). Dismissed from his posts in 1937, he was tried in 1938 with the "right oppositionists" Bukharin, Rykov, and others. Forced to confess to being a "direct agent and spy of the fascist powers," Grinko was shot, probably on 15 March 1938. He has been rehabilitated posthumously.

71. Eugene Lyons, Moscow Carrousel (New York, 1935), pp. 347-48. This book contains many interesting vignettes but reflects the author's continuing reluctance to "tell."

Before submitting it to the publishers, I went through the manuscript carefully and deleted words, phrases, entire sections which might offend communist sensibilities too sharply. I was still under compelling psychological pressure to save face for the revolution. There was scarcely a hint in the book of the towering horrors which I have recounted in the present volume. More than that, I wrote in pages of apology, putting them into the mouths of fictitious Russians, to blunt the effect of "unfriendly" passages. The book stands as a monument to my indecision and cowardice; I soon came to feel ashamed of its mealy-mouthed evasions.

Despite this, liberal reviewers were "appalled" at Lyons' book, and "what the communist reviewers did to me can well be imagined!" ( Assignment in Utopia , pp. 630-31).

72. The Seventeenth Party Congress, also known as the "Congress of Victors," was an epochal political event at which the triumph of Stalinism was celebrated after the completion of the First Five-Year Plan, the collectivization of agriculture, the end of the famine of 1932/33, and the defeat of all organized opposition groups. Sergei Kirov received more votes than Stalin to the party secretariat (there were several secretaries), potentially making him eligible to replace Stalin as General Secretary. A few months after the congress, Kirov was assassinated, most likely at Stalin's behest. A majority of the delegates to the congress, and two-thirds of the Central Committee they elected, perished in the Great Purge.

73. See n. 50 above.

74. Witkin wrote these lines before the conclusion of the Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, after which the Red Army occupied the Baltic countries of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania and parts of Romania, Poland, and Finland. Despite this, Witkin's characterization remains partly correct, for the USSR was most persis-

tent in its efforts to prevent war in the 1930s. Stalin turned to Germany only after efforts to secure an alliance with Britain and France proved fruitless, largely due to these countries' obstructionism, procrastination, and appeasement of Hitler.

75. Karl Bernardovich Radek (n2 Sobelsohn, 1885-1947?) was a revolutionary who joined the Bolshevik Party in 1917, held a succession of significant posts in the new Communist administration, and gained prominence as one of the Soviet Union's most prolific and wittiest foreign affairs commentators. An adherent of the Trotskyist opposition in the 1920s, Radek was expelled from the Communist Party in 1927 but reinstated after renouncing his former views and publishing an abject panegyric to Stalin. Brought to trial during the 1937 purge of former Trotskyists, Radek was sentenced to ten years' imprisonment. His subsequent fate remains cloaked in mystery. See biographies by Warren Lerner, Karl Radek: The Last Internationalist (Stanford, 1970) and Jim Tuck, Engine of Mischief: An Analytical Biography of Karl Radek (New York, 1988).

76. The last page of Witkin's manuscript was damaged. Eugene Lyons retyped the page, adding a note at the end: "After 30-odd years, thank God, only the last page has been damaged. I have just copied it as best I could.—Eugene Lyons, Oct. 14, 1967."


Publications by Zara Witkin

"Special Structural Features of San Francisco Theater." Engineering News-Record , 1 February 1923.

"Efficient Lumber Handling on Los Angeles Building Construction." Engineering News-Record , 24 July 1924.

"Economic Study of Plant Layout for Building Construction." Engineering News-Record , 17 June 1926.

"Worth-While Construction Wrinkles on a Building Job." Engineering News-Record , 21 July 1927.

"Deep Foundation Pit in Earth Dug on a Novel Plan." Engineering News-Record , 27 October 1927.

"Bad Building Habits" (letter to the editor). Engineering News-Record , 13 September 1928.

"Falsework for Construction of 104-Ft. Dome." Engineering News-Record , 15 August 1929.

"Efficient Concrete Plants on Two Building Jobs." Engineering News-Record , 16 January 1930.

"Tests of Concrete" (letter to the editor). Engineering News-Record , 1 May 1930.

"Printsipy i metody upravleniia stroitel'nymi rabotami" (The principles and methods of construction management). Amerikanskaia tekhnika i promyshlennost' 8 (1932).

"Only after Long and Persistent Efforts Were This Engineer's Proposals Accepted." Moscow Daily News , 15 September 1932.

"U.S. Consulting Engineer Describes Bureaucracy." Moscow Daily News , 15 November 1932.

"Engineer Relates Detailed Story of Lack of Official Responsibility." Moscow Daily News , 16 November 1932.

"Engineering Analysis of Five-Year Plans for Russian Rehabilitation." Engineering News-Record , 9, 16, 30 August 1934.

"The Home of the Future: What Will it Look Like? How Will It Be Built? How Much Will It Cost?" California Monthly , October 1934.

"Famous Engineers" (letter to the editor). Engineering News-Record , 11 April 1940.

"Thin-Shell Dome" (letter to the editor). Engineering News-Record , 4 July 1940. (This letter was written shortly before Witkin's death.)


Publications About Zara Witkin

"New Methods Developed for Soviet Four Billion Program." Constructor , January 1933. (Article based on Witkin's reports.)

Garri, A. "Muki tvorchestva" (The agony of creation). Izvestiia , 18 June 1933.

———. "Muki tvorchestva" (The agony of creation). Izvestiia , 12 August 1933.

Selected Publications by Eugene Lyons

The Life and Death of Sacco and Vanzetti . New York, 1927.

Ed. Six Soviet Plays . New York, 1934.

Moscow Carrousel . New York, 1935.

Assignment in Utopia . New York, 1937.

Ed. We Cover the World, by Sixteen Foreign Correspondents . New York, 1937.

The Terror in Russia: An Open Letter to Upton Sinclair . New York, 1938.

With Upton Sinclair. Terror in Russia? Two Views by Upton Sinclair and Eugene Lyons . New York, 1938.

Stalin, Czar of All the Russias . New York, 1940.

"Stalin's Counter-revolution." In The Inside Story , comp. Eugene Lyons. New York, 1940.

The Red Decade: The Stalinist Penetration of America . New York, 1941.

"My Six Years in Moscow." In As We See Russia , comp. Eugene Lyons. New York, 1948.

Our Unknown Ex-President: A Portrait of Herbert Hoover . New York, 1948.

Our Secret Allies: The Peoples of Russia . New York, 1954.

Herbert Hoover: A Biography . New York, 1964.

Workers' Paradise Lost: Fifty Years of Communism. A Balancesheet . New York, 1967.

Selected Memoirs of Foreign Specialists and Workers

Beal, Fred. Proletarian Journey: New England, Gastonia, Moscow . New York, 1937. (The highly interesting account of an American labor organizer who worked at the Kharkov Tractor Factory in the early 1930s.)

Bornet, Francisque. Je reviens de Russie . Paris, 1947. (A short account by a French engineer who worked for much of the 1930s in the USSR, including in Magnitogorsk.)

Burrell, George A. An American Engineer Looks at Russia . Boston, 1932. (Burrell was a petroleum engineer who worked in the Caucasus oil town of Groznyi from 1931 to 1932.)

Ciocca, Gaetano. Giudizio sul bolscevismo . Milan, 1933. (The account of an Italian engineer's experience in the USSR during the First Five-Year Plan.)

Cotte, Jules. Un ingénieur français en URSS . Paris, 1946. (Cotte, a French chemical engineer, lived in Russia for much of the period from before World War I to 1946; his account is distorted by pro-Soviet bias.)


Francis, Peter. I Worked in a Soviet Factory . London, 1939. (The author worked ten months in a plastics factory northeast of Moscow, 1936–37.)

Grady, Eve Garrette. Seeing Red: Behind the Scenes in Russia Today . New York, 1931. (Grady was the wife of an American engineer who worked in Kharkov in 1930.)

Ilyashov, Anatoli. "Victor Reuther on the Soviet Experience: An Interview." International Review of Social History 31 (1986): 298–303. (See also Reuther, The Brothers Reuther and the Story of the UAW , cited below.)

Kleist, Peter. G.P.U. Justice . Edited by Maurice Edelman. London, 1938. (The notes of a German engineer working in the Soviet Union from 1933 to 1937; he was imprisoned 1937–38. Not one of the better personal accounts.)

Koerber, Lili. Life in a Soviet Factory . London, 1933. (Koerber was an Austrian who worked in Leningrad's Putilov Works [later Kirov Works] for one month in 1931.)

Krupinski, Kurt, ed. Rückkehrer Berichten über die Sowjetunion . Berlin, 1942. (German specialists tell about their experiences in the USSR; published in Nazi Germany at the height of World War II.)

Legay, Kleber. Un mineur chez les Russes . Paris, 1937. (The insightful observations of a French miner who spent most of 1936 in the USSR with a trade union delegation.)

Littlepage, John D., and Bess Demaree. In Search of Soviet Gold . New York, 1937. (Littlepage worked in Soviet mines from 1927 to 1937; highly interesting, though politically unsophisticated.)

Miller, Jack. "Soviet Planners in 1936–1937." In Soviet Planning: Essays in Honor of Naum Jasny , ed. Jane Degras and Alec Nove, pp. 123–25. Oxford, 1964. (The author studied economic planning in the USSR; he recounts the observations of the planning students with whom he lived.)

Monkhouse, Allan. Moscow, 1911–1933 . Boston, 1934. (Monkhouse was a specialist in electrical generating equipment with two decades of experience in Russia and the USSR; he was a defendant in the Metro-Vickers trial of 1933.)

Nobile, Umberto. My Five Years with Soviet Airships . Translated by Frances Fleetwood. Akron, 1987. (Nobile, an Italian dirigible designer and polar explorer, worked in the USSR from 1929 to 1936.)

Reuther, Victor. The Brothers Reuther and the Story of the UAW: A Memoir . Boston, 1976. (Reuther and his brother Walter, later president of the United Automobile Workers, worked in a Soviet automobile factory for eighteen months between 1932 and 1934. See also Ilyashov, "Victor Reuther on the Soviet Experience," cited above.)

Robinson, Robert, with Jonathan Slevin. Black on Red: My Forty-Four Years inside the Soviet Union . Washington, D.C., 1988. (Robinson, a Jamaican-American toolmaker sent by Ford to work at the Stalingrad Tractor Factory, took Soviet citizenship, was elected to the Moscow city soviet, and became an honored Soviet engineer; he left the USSR in 1974 after nearly thirty years of difficulties.)

Rukeyser, Walter Arnold. Working for the Soviets: An American Engineer in


Russia . New York, 1932. (Rukeyser worked in the Urals asbestos industry from 1928 to 1930.)

Scott, John. Behind the Urals: An American Worker in Russia's City of Steel . Boston, 1942; Bloomington, 1989. (A classic account by an American who worked for most of the 1930s in Magnitogorsk. The 1989 edition includes previously unpublished material.)

Seymour, June. In the Moscow Manner . London, 1935. (Seymour was the wife of a Canadian engineer working in the USSR from 1931 to 1934.)

Smith, Andrew, and Maria Smith. I Was a Soviet Worker . London, 1937. (Andrew Smith was a left-wing American worker in a Moscow electrical factory. Includes perceptive observations of Soviet economic and political life and the story of the authors' disenchantment with Soviet communism.)

Strom, Arne. Uncle Give Us Bread . London, 1936. (A rare glimpse of Soviet animal husbandry by a Danish-American poultry specialist.)

Westgarth, John R. Russian Engineer . London, 1934. (Westgarth was a British consultant to Gosplan on the metalurgical complex at Novokuznetsk, 1929–31.)

Wood, William, with Myrian Sieve. Our Ally: The People of Russia . New York, 1950. (Wood, an American engineer, and his wife lived in the USSR from 1931 to 1934, in 1937, and in 1941. This account describes their relations with the bureaucracy, everyday life, and the treatment of foreign specialists compared to that of Soviet engineers.)

Selected Memoirs of Soviet Specialists and Workers

Bogdan, Valentina. Mimikriia v SSSR: Vospominaniia inzhenera, 1935–1942 gody, Rostov na Donu . Frankfurt, 1982. (A specialist in food processing machinery writes of her career and family life.)

———. Studenty pervoi piatiletki . Buenos Aires, 1973. (The author describes her youth and education.)

Busygin, Aleksandr Kharitonovich. Svershenie . Moscow, 1972. (Autobiographical account by one of the most famous Stakhanovite workers of the late 1930s.)

Byli industrialnye: Ocherki i vospominaniia . Moscow, 1973. (Reminiscences of workers, specialists, and political figures about the first three five-year plans.)

Chernavin, Vladimir V. I Speak for the Silent: Prisoners of the Soviets . New York, 1935. (An account by a fisheries expert exiled to the Far North, later imprisoned.)

Direktor I. A. Likhachev v vospominaniizkh sovremennikov: O zavode i o sebe . Moscow, 1971. (Likhachev was the director of the AMO automobile factory in Moscow.)

Fedoseev, Anatolii Pavlovich. Zapadnia . Frankfurt, 1976. (The autobiography and political reflections of an electrical engineer and physicist; he spent much of 1938–40 in America under Soviet contract with RCA.)

Frankfurt, Sergei Mironovich. Men and Steel: Notes of a Director of Soviet


Industry . Translated by S. D. Kogan. Moscow and Leningrad, 1935. (Informative memoir of the director of construction of the Kuznetsk metallurgical complex.)

Gudov, Ivan. Sud'ba rabochego . Moscow, 1970. (The memoir of a famous Stakhanovite of the 1930s.)

Kravchenko, Victor. I Chose Freedom: The Personal and Political Life of a Soviet Official . New York, 1946. (This remarkable autobiography of a Soviet metallurgical engineer ranges from his youth and technical education to his responsible work in factories in the Donbas and the Urals, a senior post in a Moscow commissariat, and finally to his appointment to one of the allied purchasing commissions; the last assignment made possible his defection to America during the war.)

———. I Chose Justice . New York, 1950. (Recounts Kravchenko's celebrated libel suit against the French Communist Party.)

Lukov, Oleg. "A Life of Ordeals." In Thirteen Who Fled , ed. Louis Fischer, pp. 232–39. New York, 1949. (Lukov was a construction engineer. Fischer's book is a collection of first-hand accounts by former Soviet citizens from all walks of life.)

Magid, A. Pamiatnye vstrechnyi (zapiski starogo rabkora ). Vladimir, 1960. (Magid was a correspondent for newspapers of the Kharkov and Vladimir tractor factories in the 1930s.)

Markov, Nikolai. "The Trials of a Soviet Workingman." In Thirteen Who Fled , ed. Louis Fischer, pp. 131–40. New York, 1949.

Neizvedannymi putiami: Vospominaniia uchastnikov sotsialisticheskogo stroitel'stva . Leningrad, 1967. (Recollections of participants in 1930s industrialization.)

Serebrovskii, A. P. Na zolotom fronte . Moscow, 1936. (The author was one of the most important figures in the Soviet mining industry; he was shot during the purges.)

Shafir, Frol. Iz ada v nebesa: pravdivye rasskazy . New York, 1988. (The first three chapters describe the lives of specialists in the Putilov [later Kirov] Works in the 1930s and during World War II.)

Solonevich, Boris. Na sovetskoi nizovke: ocherki iz zhizni nizovogo sovetskogo liuda . Sofia, 1938. (Description of daily life in a railway workers settlement in the early 1930s.)

Stakhanov, Aleksei. Rasskaz o moei zhizni . Moscow, 1938. (The official autobiographical account of the founder of the Stakhanovite labor productivity movement. A somewhat franker edition appeared much later: Zhizn' shakhterskaia [Kiev, 1975].)


Babitsky, Paul, and John Rimberg. The Soviet Film Industry . New York, 1955.

Bailes, Kendall. "The American Connection: Ideology and the Transfer of American Technology to the Soviet Union, 1917–1941." Comparative Studies in Society and History 23, no. 3 (July 1981): 421–48.


———. Technology and Society under Lenin and Stalin: Origins of the Soviet Technical Intelligentsia, 1928–1941 . Princeton, 1978.

Ball, Alan. Russia's Last Capitalists: The Nepmen, 1921–1929 . Berkeley, 1987.

Bassow, Whitman. The Moscow Correspondents: Reporting on Russia from the Revolution to Glasnost . New York, 1989.

Bek, Aleksandr. Novoe naznachenie . Moscow, 1987. (A novel based on the life of I. F. Tevosian, People's Commissar of Shipbuilding, and subsequently Commissar of Ferrous Metallurgy.)

Berg, Raisa L. Acquired Traits: Memoirs of a Geneticist from the Soviet Union . New York, 1988.

Berliner, Joseph. Factory and Manager in the USSR . Cambridge, Mass., 1957.

Berton, Kathleen. Moscow: An Architectural History . New York, 1977.

Blakely, Allison. Russia and the Negro: Blacks in Russian History and Thought . Washington, 1986. (See especially the chapters "The Black 'Pilgrims' " and "The Negro in Soviet Art.")

Borngraeber, Christian. "Die Mittarbeit antifaschistischer Architekten am sozialistischen Aufbau während der ersten beiden Fünfjahrpläne." In Exil in der UdSSR: Kunst und Literatur im antifaschistischen Exil, 1933–1945 , ed. Klaus Jarmatz et al., pp. 326–47. Frankfurt, 1979.

Carroll, Wallace. We're in This with Russia . Boston, 1942. (Written by a U.S. correspondent who was in the USSR in 1941; the section "Exiles in Utopia" discusses Americans who moved to the Soviet Union in the 1930s.)

Caute, David. The Fellow Travellers: A Postscript to the Enlightenment . New York, 1973.

Chamberlin, William Henry. Russia's Iron Age . Boston, 1937. (Chamberlin was the Christian Science Monitor's correspondent from Russia from 1922 to 1934.)

Conquest, Robert. The Great Terror: A Reassessment . New York, 1990.

Crossman, Richard, ed. The God That Failed . New York, 1950. (An anthology of essays by leading Western intellectuals recounting their disillusionment with communism in the 1930s and 1940s.)

Crowl, James William. Angels in Stalin's Paradise: Western Reporters in Soviet Russia, 1917 to 1937. A Case Study of Louis Fischer and Walter Duranty . New York, 1982.

Davies, Robert W., ed. Soviet Investment for Planned Industrialization, 1929–1937: Policy and Practice . Berkeley, 1984. (Selected papers from the Second World Congress of Soviet and East European Studies.)

Dennen, Leon. Where the Ghetto Ends . New York, 1934. (Record of the author's visits to Jewish agricultural colonies in the Ukraine and the Crimea.)

Deutscher, Isaac. Soviet Trade Unions: Their Place in Soviet Labour Policy . London, 1950.

Dudintsev, Vladimir. Not by Bread Alone . New York, 1957. (Major novel, published during the post-Stalin thaw, about the struggle of the inventor of a new industrial process against jealous and corrupt bureaucrats.)

Dunmore, Timothy. The Stalinist Command Economy: The Soviet State Apparatus and Economic Policy, 1945–1953 . New York, 1980.


Eisenstein, Sergei M. Immoral Memories: An Autobiography . Boston, 1983. (Recollections of the USSR's most famous film director of the 1920s, 1930s, and 1940s.)

Filene, Peter G. Americans and the Soviet Experiment, 1917–1933 . Cambridge, Mass., 1967.

———, ed. American Views of Soviet Russia, 1917–1965 . Homewood, Ill., 1968.

Filtzer, Donald. Soviet Workers and Stalinist Industrialization: The Formation of Modern Soviet Production Relations, 1928–1941 . Armonk, N.Y., 1986.

Fitzpatrick, Sheila. Education and Social Mobility in the Soviet Union, 1921–1934 . Cambridge, 1979.

Garb, Paula. They Came to Stay: North Americans in the USSR . Moscow, 1987.

Gouzenko, Igor. The Fall of a Titan . New York, 1954. (A novel about the rumored murder of Gorky, written by a former Soviet intelligence officer; noteworthy for vivid pictures of Soviet life in the 1920s and 1930s.)

Gouzenko, Svetlana. Before Igor: Memories of My Soviet Youth . New York, 1960. (Reminiscences of growing up in the household of an engineer in the 1920s and 1930s.)

Gozak, Andrei, and Andrei Leonidov. Ivan Leonidov: The Complete Works . New York, 1988. (The authors provide an introduction and compilation of this Soviet architect's work from 1919 to 1959, including plans, unrealized, for Magnitogorsk.)

Graham, Margaret. Swing Shift . New York, 1951. (A novel that includes a fictionalized account of Americans at a famous international workers' colony that laid the foundations of the western Siberian metallurgical industry in the 1920s.)

Granick, David. The Red Executive . London, 1960.

Graziosi, Andrea. "Foreign Workers in Soviet Russia, 1920–1940: Their Experience and Their Legacy." International Labor and Working-Class History 33 (Spring 1988): 38–59. (This article includes references to the first-hand accounts of numerous Italian, Spanish, French, and other foreign workers.)

Harrison, Mark. Soviet Planning in Peace and War, 1938–1945 . Cambridge, 1985.

Hay, Julius. Born 1900: Memoirs . La Salle, Ill., 1974. (Hay, a Hungarian playwright, Communist, and later, dissident, spent ten years in the Soviet Union in the 1930s and 1940s; his memoirs include an account of his brief association with the Soviet film industry.)

Hollander, Paul. Political Pilgrims: Travels of Western Intellectuals to the Soviet Union, China, and Cuba, 1928–1978 . New York, 1981.

Hoover, Calvin. The Economic Life of Soviet Russia . New York, 1931. (This volume is interesting for the first-hand observations and numerous interviews carried out by the author during a research stay in the USSR in 1929 and 1930.)

Hunter, Holland. "The Overambitious First Soviet Five-Year Plan." With comments by Robert Campbell, Stephen Cohen, and Moshe Lewin. Slavic Review 32 (June 1973).


Huppert, Hugo. Men of Siberia . New York, 1934. (Colorful but romanticized account by a German Communist mineworker of Urals-West Siberian industrial projects during the First Five-Year Plan.)

Hyman, Joseph C. "The Agro-Joint in Russia," chapter 3 of Twenty-Five Years of American Aid to Jews Overseas: A Record of the Joint Distribution Committee , pp. 27–33. New York, 1939.

Istoriia sovetskogo kino, 1917–1967 . 4 vols. Moscow, 1969–1978.

Junghanns, Kurt. "Deutsche Architekten in der Sowjetunion während der erste Fünfjahrplan und des vaterländischen Krieges." Wissenschaftliche Zeitschrift der Hochschule für Architektur und Bauwesen 29, no. 2 (1983).

Kartsev, Vladimir. Krzhizhanovsky . Moscow, 1985 (in English). (Biography of Gleb Maksimilianovich Krzhizhanovsky [1872–1959], a revolutionary, electrical engineer, economic planner and science administrator, and the driving force behind the Soviet electrification program.)

Kataev, Valentin. Time Forward! Translated from the Russian by Charles Malamuth. Bloomington, 1976. (A classic Five-Year Plan novel about worker heroes at Magnitogorsk.)

Kenez, Peter. Cinema and Soviet Society . Forthcoming.

Khrushchev, Nikita. Khrushchev Remembers . Boston, 1971. (Provides interesting pictures of Soviet industrialization, Stalin, and his lieutenants.)

Kinoslovar '. 2 vols. Moscow, 1966–1970.

Kopp, Anatole. Town and Revolution: Soviet Architecture and City Planning, 1917–1935 . London, 1970.

Kotkin, Steven. "Magnetic Mountain: City Building and City Life in the Soviet Union in the 1930s." Ph.D. diss., University of California, Berkeley, 1988. (On Magnitogorsk.)

Kuromiya, Hiroaki. Stalin's Industrial Revolution: Politics and Workers, 1928–1932 . Cambridge, 1988.

Lampert, Nicholas. The Technical Intelligentsia and the Soviet State: A Study of Soviet Managers and Technicians, 1928–1935 . New York, 1979.

Lawton, Anna, ed. The Red Screen: Politics, Society, and Art in Soviet Cinema . New York, 1991.

Leyda, Jay. Kino: A History of the Russian and Soviet Film . New York, 1973.

Lewin, Moshe. The Making of the Soviet System: Essays in the Social History of Interwar Russia . New York, 1985.

Liehm, Mira, and Antonin J. Liehm. The Most Important Art: Soviet and Eastern European Film after 1945 . Berkeley, 1977.

Malle, Silvana. The Economic Organization of War Communism, 1918–1921 . Cambridge, 1985.

Margulies, Sylvia R. The Pilgrimmage to Russia: The Soviet Union and the Treatment of Foreigners, 1924–1937 . Madison, 1968.

Marshall, Herbert. Masters of the Soviet Cinema: Crippled Creative Biographies . London, 1983.

Matthews (née Svetlova), Tanya. Journey between Freedoms . Philadelphia, 1951. (The memoirs of a Soviet English teacher who married a British journalist during World War II.)


Mayne, Judith. Kino and the Woman Question: Feminism and Soviet Silent Film . Columbus, 1989.

Medvedev, Roy. All Stalin's Men . Oxford, 1983. (Biographies of important Stalinists.)

———. Let History Judge . New York, 1989. (A magisterial survey of the origins, character, and consequences of Stalinism.)

Medvedev, Zhores. The Rise and Fall of T. D. Lysenko . New York, 1969. (A study of the career of a Stalinist charlatan who organized the persecution of genetics as a "bourgeois" science under Stalin and Khrushchev.)

Michelson, Annette, ed. Kino-Eye: The Writings of Dziga Vertov . Berkeley, 1984. (Vertov was one of the major Soviet directors of the 1920s and 1930s; his work was suppressed in the 1940s and 1950s.)

Miliutin, Nikolai Aleksandrovich. Sotsgorod: The Problem of Building Socialist Cities . Cambridge, Mass., 1974. (Miliutin was one of the most important Soviet town planners of the late 1920s and early 1930s. This edition of his classic work was translated, annotated, and introduced by Arthur Sprague, who died before completing a dissertation on Soviet architecture and town planning. Prepared for publication by George R. Collins and William Alex, this volume contains valuable illustrative material and an extensive bibliography.)

Millar, James, and Alec Nove. "Was Stalin Really Necessary? A Debate on Collectivization." Problems of Communism 25 (July–August 1976): 49–62.

Morray, J. P. Project Kuzbas . New York, 1983. (The official history of the Autonomous foreign workers' colony and its contribution to Siberian industrialization in the 1920s.)

Morrissey, Evelyn. Jewish Workers and Farmers in the Crimea and Ukraine . New York, 1937.

Muggeridge, Malcolm. Chronicles of Wasted Time. Chronicle 1: The Green Stick . New York, 1973. (Memoir by the British journalist, social critic, and satirist that includes a chapter, pp. 205–76, about his assignment in Moscow in 1932–33 for the Manchester Guardian . At first a sympathizer, Muggeridge, one of the first to publish articles about the Ukrainian famine, was profoundly disillusioned by Soviet tyranny. After his expulsion from the Soviet Union and return to England, Muggeridge was boycotted by liberal intellectuals and found it impossible to retain his position at the Guardian or to obtain journalistic employment elsewhere.)

Nizhny, Vladimir. Lessons with Eisenstein . New York, 1979. (The notes of a student in a course taught by the greatest Soviet director—one of the founders of the modern film arts.)

Nove, Alec. An Economic History of the USSR . London, 1972.

Ocherki istorii sovetskogo kino . 3 vols. Moscow, 1956–61.

O'Neill, William. A Better World. The Great Schism: Stalinism and the American Intellectuals . New York, 1982. (Describes left-wing intellectuals' responses to the Soviet Union before, during, and after World War II.)

Paperny, Vladimir. "Moscow in the 1930s and the Emergence of a New City." In The Culture of the Stalin Period , ed. Hans Günther, pp. 229–39. New York, 1990.


Perrieux, Gabriel. Romain Rolland et Maxim Gorky . Paris, 1968.

Platonov, Andrei. The Foundation Pit/Kotlavan . Ann Arbor, 1973. (A gloomy allegorical novel about Stalinist industrialization.)

Potapova-Molin'e, Nina, comp. Razrushennye Khrama Khrista Spasitelia . London, 1988. (A photographic study of the destruction of the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer.)

Rassweiler, Ann D. The Generation of Power: The History of Dneprostroi . Oxford, 1988. (About construction of the Dneprostroi hydroelectric dam during the First Five-Year Plan; construction was supervised by the American firm of Colonel Hugh L. Cooper.)

Razrushennye i oskvernennye khramy . Frankfurt, 1978. (An album of churches, cathedrals, and monasteries the Soviet government destroyed, vandalized, or converted into warehouses, including a photograph of the dynamiting of the Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, discussed by Witkin.)

Rees, E. A. State Control in Soviet Russia: The Rise and Fall of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate, 1920–1934 . New York, 1987.

Rogger, Hans. "Amerikanizm and the Economic Development of Russia." Comparative Studies in Society and History 23, no. 3 (July 1981): 382–420.

Rutland, Peter. The Myth of the Plan: Lessons of Soviet Planning Experience . La Salle, Ill., 1985.

Rybakov, Anatolii. Children of the Arbat . Moscow, 1987; Boston, 1988. (Novel whose character Riazanov is based on the first director of the Magnitogorsk metallurgical complex.)

———. Tridtsat' piatyi i drugie gody . Moscow, 1988. (Novel which continues Children of the Arbat ; forthcoming in English as 1935 and Other Years .)

Schnitzer, Luda, Jean Schnitzer, and Marcel Martin, eds. Cinema in Revolution: The Heroic Era of the Soviet Film . Translated and with additional material by David Robinson. London, 1973. (Autobiographical statements of twelve pioneering directors of the 1920s and early 1930s, including Eisenstein, Pudovkin, Dovzhenko, and Vertov.)

Shudakov, Grigory. Pioneers of Soviet Photography . London, 1983. (Vivid images of the Soviet Union in the 1920s and 1930s.)

Siegelbaum, Lewis. "Soviet Norm Determination in Theory and Practice, 1917–1941." Soviet Studies 36, no. 1 (January 1984): 45–68.

———. Stakhanovism and the Politics of Productivity in the USSR, 1935–1941 . Cambridge, 1988.

Smith, Homer. Black Man in Red Russia . Chicago, 1964. (Smith was an American black who organized Moscow's first express mail service; in 1935 he became a correspondent for the American black press. He married a Russian and lived in the USSR until 1946.)

Solonevich, Iurii. Povest'o dvadtsati dvukh neschest'iakh . Sofia, 1938. (Among other things, this memoir recounts the author's experiences as the assistant to an eccentric and egotistical film director in the early 1930s.)

Solzhenitsyn, Aleksandr. The Gulag Archipelago . 3 vols. London, 1974–78. (A classic literary-historical survey of forced labor in the Soviet Union.)

Sovetskie inzhenery: sbornik . Moscow, 1985.


Starr, Frederick. Melnikov: Solo Architect in a Mass Society . Princeton, 1978.

———. "Visionary Town Planning during the Cultural Revolution." In Cultural Revolution in Russia, 1928–1931 , ed. Sheila Fitzpatrick, 207–40. Bloomington, 1978.

Stewart-Murray, Catherine, duchess of Atholl. The Conscription of a People . London, 1932. (A consideration of Soviet and unofficial information about restrictive labor legislation and forced labor in the USSR.)

Strong, Anna Louise. I Change Worlds: The Re-making of an American . New York, 1935. (A fellow-traveler's experiences from 1921 to 1934; the chapters "Early American Immigrants in Russia," "We Organize the Moscow News ," and "Americans of the Five-Year Plan" are of special interest.)

Sutton, Antony. Western Technology and Soviet Economic Development . Vol. 1, 1917–1930 . Vol. 2, 1930–1945 . Vol. 3, 1945–1965 . Stanford, 1968–73.

Swianciewicz, Stanislaw. Forced Labor and Economic Development: An Enquiry into the Experience of Soviet Industrialization . Oxford, 1965.

Taylor, Richard. Film Propaganda: Soviet Russia and Nazi Germany . London, 1979.

———. The Politics of the Soviet Cinema, 1917–1929 . Cambridge, 1979.

Taylor, Richard, and Ian Christie. The Film Factory: Russian and Soviet Cinema in Documents, 1896–1939 . Cambridge, Mass., 1988.

Taylor, Sally R. Stalin's Apologist: Walter Duranty, the New York Time's Man in Moscow . Oxford, 1990.

Timbres, Harry, and Rebecca Timbres. We Didn't Ask Utopia: A Quaker Family in Soviet Russia . New York, 1939. (An account by American epidemiologists who fought malaria in the Volga region from 1936 to 1937.)

Trincher, Gertruda, and Karl Trincher. Rutgers . Moscow, 1967. (The biography of a Dutch Communist, president of the Autonomous Industrial Colony of foreign workers employed in establishing the metallurgical industry of western Siberia in the 1920s; in the 1930s he was an engineering consultant on Soviet irrigation projects.)

Utley, Freda. Lost Illusion . London, 1949. (The memoirs of a British Communist economist who lived in the USSR for several years.)

———. Odyssey of a Liberal . Washington, 1970. (Utley's later memoirs, including a period in the 1950s when she was a cold warrier, and her subsequent return to liberalism. Much of the text relates the author's moral anguish in the 1930s over her disenchantment with the Soviet experiment, her hesitation to speak out for fear of harming the cause of socialism, and her unhappiness as intellectuals turned a deaf ear to her accounts of life in the USSR.)

Von Eisenstein bis Tarkowsky: Die Malerei der Filmregisseure in der UdSSR . Compiled and edited by Igor Jassenlawsky, Kora Zeretelli, and Jewgeny Wolkowisky. Munich, 1990. (Catalog of a museum exhibition.)

Vucinich, Alexander. Soviet Economic Institutions: The Social Structure of Production Units . Stanford, 1952. (Though in some regards dated, this pioneering study contains valuable material on social relations inside industrial enterprises, collective farms, and workers' cooperatives in the Stalin era.)


Werskey, Gary. The Visible College . London, 1977. (A study of five British scientists and their belief in the Soviet experiment under Stalin.)

White, William C. These Russians . New York, 1931. (A collection of articles about people in various walks of life; the chapter "Andrei Georgievitch: The Engineer" is based on meetings with an architect who later defected and committed suicide.)

Youngblood, Denise. "The Fate of Soviet Popular Cinema during the Stalin Revolution." Russian Review 50 (April 1991): 148–62.

———. Soviet Cinema in the Silent Era, 1918–1935 . Austin, 1991.

Zaleski, Eugene. Planning for Economic Growth in the Soviet Union, 1918–1932 . Chapel Hill, 1962.

———. Stalinist Planning for Economic Growth, 1933–1952 . Chapel Hill, 1980.


The Films of Emma Tsesarskaia

Baby riazanskie (Village of Sin [lit. Peasant women of Riazan]), 1927.

Svetlyi gorod (Bright City ), 1928.

Ee put' (Her Way of Love ), 1929.

Iuda (Judas ), 1930.

Dve materi (Two Mothers ), 1931.

Tikhii Don (The Quiet Don ), 1931.

Vosstanie rybakov (Revolt of the Fishermen ), 1934.

Liubov' i nenavist' (Love and Hate ), 1935.

Vrazhi tropi (Grain [lit. The paths of the enemy]), 1935.

Devushka s kharaketerom (A Girl with Character ), 1939.

Shumi gorodok (Make Noise, Little Town ), 1940.

Baby (Women ), 1940.

Bogdan Khmel'nitskii (Bogdan Khmelnitskii ), 1941.

Osvobozhdennaia zemlia (The Liberated Land ), 1946.

Maiskaia noch' (A May Night ), 1952.

Na dikom berege Irtysha (On the Wild Banks of the Irtysh ), 1959.

Visokosnyi god (Leap Year ), 1962.

Kogda kozaki plachut (When Cossacks Cry ), 1964.




Abbe, James, 80 , 335 n.56

Agievich (chief engineer, Zavodostroi), 93 , 99

Agro-Joint, 46 , 322 -23n.11

All-Union Congress of Architects, 83

All-Union Congress of Engineers, 130

All-Union Construction Trust. See Soyuzstroi

All-Union Institute for the Scientific Study of the Film Arts, 13

All-Union Trust for the Exploitation of Meteoric Metals, 211 -12

American Federation of Labor, 181

American Society of Civil Engineers, 82

Amkino, 31

Amtorg, 2 , 30 , 52 , 91 , 113 , 321 n.2

Anna (pseudonym). See N.

Annunevsky Street housing project, 177

Arbat, 169

Armstrong-Vickers, 146

Aronovich (S.T.O.), 169 -71, 178

Automobile Trust, 212


Baird, Joe (United Press correspondent), 306

Balkhash copper project, 114

Baransky (engineer, Zavodostroi), 72 , 75 , 78

Barnes, Ralph (New York Herald-Tribune correspondent), 187 -88, 208 -10, 243 , 254 , 257 , 273 -74, 304 -5, 335 n.56

Beal, Fred, 5 , 17

Beard, Charles, 16

Belsky (editor, Krokodil ), 211 -12

Blocks, interlocking, Witkin's proposal for, 7 , 8 , 113 -14, 128 -29, 157 , 165 -67, 171 -74, 189 , 200 , 212 ;

and first Izvestia article, 162 -63;

in letter to Stalin, 266 ;

and purge, 201 ;

and second Izvestia article, 204

Bogashevsky (editor, Tekhnika ), 135

Borminsky (S.T.O., O.G.P.U.), 175 -76, 178 , 204

Borodin, Mikhail, 50 , 77 , 86 -87, 91 -93, 135 , 154 -55, 160 , 323 n.13

B.R.I.Z. (Bureau for Rationalization and Invention, Soyuzstroi), 113 -14, 159 , 162 -63, 173 -74, 204

Bukharin, N. I., 17 , 135 , 310 , 330 n.39

Bullitt (U.S. ambassador), 273 , 276

Bureau of Inventions. See B.R.I.Z.

Bureau for Rationalization and Invention. See B.R.I.Z.


Calder, Jack, 114 -15

Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer, 51 , 323 -24n.15

Central Committee, of Communist Party, 163

Central Control Commission (later Commission on Party Control), 153 , 331 -32n.45

Central Film Actors' Studio, 11

Cessarskaya, Emma. See Tsesarskaia, Emma

Chamberlin, William Henry (Christian Science Monitor correspondent), 181 , 208 , 305 , 333 n.50

Cheka (forerunner of O.G.P.U.), 179 , 187 , 324 -25n.18

Chicago Exhibition, 228

Church of Christ the Redeemer. See Cathedral of Christ the Redeemer

Clark (Foreign Section, R.K.I.), 252 , 262 , 275 ;

and articles for Tekhnika , 135 ;

and meeting with Witkin,


Clark (continued )

106 ;

and Witkin's contract with R.K.I., 149 -50;

and Witkin's meeting with O.G.P.U., 235 -43, 245 , 248 , 250 -51, 263 -64;

and Witkin's plans to marry Emma, 195 -96

Cleaning (purge) commissions, 168 , 201 , 204 , 332 n-47

Commissariats. See People's Commissariats

Constitution, Soviet ("Stalin Constitution of 1936"), 308 -10

Constructor , 73

Cooper, Hugh (chief engineer, Dneprostroi), 37 , 321 n-5

Council of Labor and Defense (S.T.O.), 9 , 157 , 170 -71, 175 -77, 182 , 201 , 204 , 266 , 332 n.48

Council of People's Commissars, 170

Crocodile (Krokodil ), 211

Customs House, 77 -78


Davis, Arthur Powell, 36 , 51

Department of Labor Norms, 129

Derham (McDonald Engineering), 37

Dewey (International General Electric), 37 , 45

Dneprostroi, 37 , 59 , 62 -63, 154 , 244 , 321 n.5

Dnepropetrovsk, 61

Donets Basin (Donbas), 189 , 201 -2

Donskaya housing project, 177 , 205

Duranty, Walter (New York Times correspondent), 112 , 181 , 188 , 208 -10, 277 , 284 , 293 , 300 , 328 -29n.34

Dvinsky (Stalin's economic secretary), 167 , 189

Dzerzhinskii Commune for Waifs (O.G.P.U.), 55 , 168 -69, 325 n.19


Efremov power plant and distillery, 78 , 83 , 94 -96

Eisenstein, Sergei, 31 , 46 , 321 n.3

Elena Vladimirovna (librarian, Soyuzstroi), 269 -70, 273 -74, 283 -84, 294

Elisaev (Foreign Section, R.K.I.), 230

Engineering News-Record , 9 , 73

Experimental Institute of Leningrad. See Leningrad Institute


Famine, in North Caucasus and Ukraine, 207 -10, 259 , 328 n.31, 335 n.56

Feinhouse (engineer, People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry), 166 , 172 , 204 -5

Fili aviation factory, 177 , 197 -200

First Industrial Building Trust. See Zavodostroi

Fischer, Louis (Nation correspondent), 208 -9

Foreign Office (People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs), 246 , 280 , 282 -83;

and foreign correspondents, 117 , 187 -88, 208 , 210 , 254 -55, 257 ;

and Metropolitan-Vickers trial, 143

Foreign Specialists' House, 73 , 84 -86

Foreign specialists' store, 114 , 127 -28

Francis, Peter, 6

Frank, Waldo, 11

Frankfurt, S., 16

Frankfurt am Main, 82 , 232 , 278

Furniture Trust, 212


Garibaldi, Giuseppe, 35

Garry (Garri), 8 , 182 , 204 -5, 211 , 214 -15, 227 , 266 -67, 295 ;

and death of sister-in-law, 202 -3;

and Donbas trip, 189 , 201 -2;

and fight with Soviet bureaucracy, 153 -59, 161 , 167 -71, 173 -74, 200 -201;

and Gosplan, 246 -47;

and Kharkov aviation disaster, 260 -62;

Witkin's biography of, 179 -80

Gasparian (Standardized Housing Trust), 52

Gastonia Boys, 6

General rationalization program. See Rationalization program

Gillis (American mining engineer), 293

Giprostroi (State Institute for the De-sign of Enterprises of the Construction Materials Industry), 290 -93

Glavstroi (Main Construction Directorate), 283 , 284 , 289

Gorky, Maxim, 231 , 336 n.58

Gosplan. See State Planning Commission


Government (State) Technical Book Trust, 136

Grinko, G. F. (People's Commissar of Finance), 285 , 341 n.70


Hearst press, 278

Hindus, Maurice, 208 -9

Hoover Institution Archives, 17

Hotel Evropeiskaya, Warsaw, 277


Institute for Construction Materials, 98

Intourist agency, 4 , 43 , 46 , 65 , 70 , 91 , 178 , 322 n.8;

incompetence of, 57 , 61 -63, 73 -75;

and offer to super-vise hotel construction, 114 ;

and sale of exit visas for gold, 151

Ivanov (B.R.I.Z.). 163 , 204

Izhevsk industrial combine, 99

Izvestia , 8 , 63 , 153 , 158 , 161 , 171 , 204 215, 266


Kaganovich, L. M., 211 -12, 335 -36n.57

Kalinin (aircraft designer), 261 -62

Kalinin, M. I., 255 , 339 -40n.65

Kantorovich (Party secretary, Soyuzstroi), 279 -80

Karyagin (chief engineer, S.T.O.), 171 , 176 -78

Keen, E. L. (United Press International), 258 -59

Kessel, Lawrence, 46 , 53 , 70

Kharkov, 53 , 169 -70, 214 -15, 260 -62

Kharkov Tractor Plant, 6 , 53 -54, 324 n.16

Khimkent zinc plant, 114

Khlamov (director, Leningrad Institute), 201 , 204

Kiev, 68 -70

Kirov, S. M., 253 -54, 315 , 339 n.64

Klavdia Mikhailovna, 10 -11

Klin rayon factory, 87

Kollontai, Aleksandra, 195 , 334 n.53

Kravchenko, Victor, 6

Kremlin Hospital, 84 , 203

Krupskaya, Nadezhda, 195 , 333 -34n.52

Krylova, Tatiana, 13

Kuibyshev, V. V., 285 , 340 -41n.69

Kuznetskstroi. See Novokuznetsk


Le Corbusier, and design for Palace of Soviets, 37

Leningrad, 4 , 43 -45, 98 , 142

Leningrad Institute, 157 , 162 -63, 165 , 173 -75, 178 , 189 , 201 , 204

Leningradsky Chausee housing project, 177 , 205 -6

Lenin Mausoleum, 47 -48

Littlepage, John, 6

Litvinov, M. M. (Commissar of Foreign Affairs), 244 , 252 , 255 , 258 , 284 , 337 -38n.61

Lubertsi airplane-lumber storage project, 75 , 78 , 93 -95

Lubianka Square (headquarters, political police), 106 , 141 , 235 , 243

Lugashin (director, Soyuzstroi), 117 , 201 , 267 -69, 271 , 279 , 281 -82

Lyons, Eugene, 3 -17, 112 , 188 -89, 227 , 268 -69, 273 , 276 , 278 -284, 295 -300, 306 , 341 n.71;

and conflict with Moscow Daily News , 91 ;

and construction of apartment, 183 -86, 241 -43, 245 -46, 250 -51, 283 -84;

and Garry, 152 -58;

meets Witkin, 80 -81;

and Metro-Vickers trial, 144 -46;

setup and expulsion of from U.S.S.R., 255 -59;

and Tsesarskaia, 100 -102;

and Ukraine famine, 208 -9;

and U.S. recognition of Soviet Union, 253 -55;

and Zinoviev, 139 -40


M. (musician, friend of Witkin's), 13 , 274 -76, 282 , 294 -95, 300 -301, 305 , 307

McDowell (American consultant, Verblud), 92

Maevsky (production engineer), 87 , 96

Magnitogorsk, 82 , 114 , 232 -34, 327 -28n.29

Mai Aviation Institute, 78 , 95 , 177 , 190 -94, 200

Marx, Harpo, 282 , 340 n.68

May, Ernst, 13 , 82 , 87 , 98 , 112 , 152 , 189 , 213 , 327 n.28;

reasons for


May, Ernst (continued )

departure from U.S.S.R., 232 -35, 240 , 245

Meshchanskaya housing project, 177 , 205 -6

Metropol Hotel, 140 , 255

Metropolitan-Vickers Company, 6 , 143 -47, 182 , 331 nn.42-44

Meyer, Prof. (German consultant, Giprostroi), 292

Mezhlauk, V. I. (Gosplan), 45 , 87 , 244 , 285 , 322 n.10

Molotov, V. M., 15 , 130 , 285 , 329 -30n.38

Monkhouse, Allan, 6

Moscow Daily News, Moscow News , 50 , 77 , 82 , 86 , 91 -96, 106 , 153 , 323 n.14

Moscow Institute for Testing Materials, 172

Moscow Soviet Hotel, 48 , 114

Moscow subway, 3 , 239 -40


N. (acquaintance of Witkin's), 140 -42, 296 -97

Nazi-Soviet nonaggression pact, 17

Negoreloye (border town), 43 , 277

Nekrasov, Prof., 136

Nemetz, Sergei (acting director, Soyuzstroi), 50 -51, 69 , 72 , 86 -87, 93 , 104 , 106 , 160 ;

and arrangement of Witkin's treatment in Kremlin Hospital, 84 ;

attempts of to persuade Witkin to stay, 269 , 271 -72;

and rationalization program, 99 ;

transfer of to Mariupol, 117 , 160

New Economic Policy (NEP), 25 , 320 -21n.1

New Moscow Hotel, 264

Nielson (U.S. embassy, Warsaw), 279

Nikitin (head, Rationalization and Re-construction, Soyuzstroi), 113 , 117 , 119 , 165 , 173 -75, 177 , 189

NKVD (People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs, political police), 14 -15, 324 -25n.18

Nobile, Gen. Umberto, 83 , 328 n.30

North American Film Corporation, 16

Novokuznetsk, 82 , 232 , 327 -28n.29

Novy Afon, 213 , 216 , 225 -26, 235


Odessa, 67 -68

O.G.P.U., 9 , 12 , 55 , 80 , 84 , 117 , 179 , 202 , 214 , 217 , 220 , 271 , 274 -75, 309 , 316 , 324 -25n.18, 334 n.54;

and aircraft factory construction in Kharkov, 168 -69;

discussions with Witkin, 235 -43, 245 -46, 248 -52;

and Lyons, 256 , 258 ;

and meteoric metals scam, 211 -12;

and inspection of construction sites, 197 -200;

and Metro-Vickers trial, 143 -47;

and M.T.S., 207 ;

and N., 139 -42;

and secret trial of Garry, 261 ;

and Tsesarskaia, 196 -97, 248 , 265 ;

and Witkin's contacts in Lubianka, 106 ;

Witkin's dissociation from, 263 -66;

and Witkin's supervision of secret construction, 235 -43, 245 -46, 248 -52.

See also Dzerzhinskii Commune for Waifs

Oka River steel mill project, 290 -91

Ordzhonikidze, G. K., 233 -34, 245 , 272 , 285 , 336 -37n.59

Orlionov (Party secretary, Soyuzstroi), 271

Osinsky (State Planning Commission), 246 -47


Palace of Soviets, 51 , 321 -22n.6

Party Cleaning Commission. See Cleaning (purge) commissions

Passagnik (Zavodostroi), 72

Pasternak, Prof. (Swiss consultant), 76

Patent Office, 182 , 212

Pavlovsky (consulting engineer-attorney), 178

People's Commissariat of Communal Economy, 233

People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs. See Foreign Office

People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry, 9 , 54 , 169 -70, 212 -13, 216 , 233 , 235 , 266 , 272 -73, 282 , 284 ;

and rationalization plan, 113 , 116 , 118 , 152 , 160 ;

response of to Stalin's intervention, 166 -67;

and Witkin's proposal for interlocking blocks, 172 , 176 , 178 , 200

People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs. See NKVD


People's Commissariat of Transportation, 213

People's Commissariat of the Workers' and Peasants' Inspection. See Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate

Piatnitsky, Dr., 84

Pilnyak, Boris, 101 , 328 n.32

Podolsky (censor, Foreign Office), 187

Polakov, Walter, 37 , 100

Politburo, 47 , 168 , 211 , 234 , 260 , 309

Politotdel , 207 , 334 -35n.55

Potemkin villages, 208

Pravda , 234

Pravov, I. (film director), 11

Preobrazhenskaia, O. (film director), 11

Press Department (Foreign Office), 259

Prokofiev, G. E. (O.G.P.U.), 265 , 349 n.67

Promstroiproekt (industrial construction agency), 283 , 294 -99

Pudovkin, V. I. (film director), 31 , 321 n.3

Purge. See Cleaning (purge) commissions


Radek, K. B., 310 , 342 n.75

Railway Commissariat. See People's Commissariat of Transportation

Rationalization Department (of Soyuzstroi), 117 , 166 , 173 -74, 189

Rationalization Department (of People's Commissariat of Heavy Industry), 166 , 172 , 204

Rationalization program (for construction in the Second Five-Year Plan), 99 -100, 104 -6, 114 -19, 130 -31, 134 ;

and Witkin's calculations on size of First Five-Year Plan, 110 -13;

and Witkin's calculations on size of Second Five-Year Plan, 286 -88, 296 , 302

Red Square, 47 -49, 116 -17

Revolutionary Council of Labor and Defense. See Council of Labor and Defense

Richardson, Stanley (Associated Press correspondent), 208 , 243 , 277

R.K.I. See Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate

Rolland, Romain, 15 , 253 , 300 , 306 , 312 , 314 -16, 319 n.31, 319 -20n.32, 338 n.62

Rosen, Joseph, 46

Rostov-on-Don, 56 -57

Rudzutak, Ian E., (head, Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate), 167 , 234 , 245 , 260 , 332 n.46

Rukeyser, Arnold, 6

Russell, Bertrand, 13 , 16 , 253 , 338 -39n.63


Sacco and Vanzetti, 31 , 317 n.2

Savoy Hotel, 248

Scott, John, 5

Scripps-Canfield Press, 73

Scripps-Howard Press, 180

Second Trust, 204

Serebrovskii, A. P., 6

Sevastopol, 63 , 161

Sholokhov, Mikhail, 11

Shvernik, N. M., 117 , 160 , 329 n.35

"Six-Point Speech" (Stalin), 85 , 160

Smith, Andrew and Maria, 5 , 17

Smollin (supervisor of plans for Palace of Soviets), 51 -52

Sochi, 215 -16, 226 -27

Sokolov (acting director, Soyuzstroi), 269 , 271 -73, 282 -85, 290 , 293 , 299

Soviet consulate, Warsaw, 277 -81

Soyuzstroi (All-Union Construction Trust), 5 , 69 , 72 , 84 , 86 -87, 89 , 99 , 104 , 150 , 160 , 169 , 198 -200, 204 -5, 247 , 268 , 296 ;

and chief engineer Vorobieff, 176 -77;

and O.G.P.U., 239 -40;

and rationalization program, 113 ;

reorganization of, 228 , 262 , 264 , 282 -84, 292 -93, 298 -99;

response of to Izvestia articles, 165 -68;

and R.K.I., 230 ;

and Stalin's intervention, 271 -73, 275 -76, 279 -80;

and Witkin's proposal for interlocking blocks, 173 -75, 189 -90, 201

Sproul, Horace, 16

Stalin, 8 , 15 , 27 , 47 , 83 , 163 , 170 -71, 179 , 189 , 200 , 225 , 285 , 295 , 303 ;


Stalin (continued )

and connection to Garry, 156 , 158 , 167 ;

and R.K.I., 260 ;

Witkin's letters to, 159 -61, 266 , 269 , 272 , 280

Stalingrad Tractor Plant, 114

"Standardization of Pre-Cast Wall Blocks" (Witkin). See Blocks, interlocking

Standardized Housing Trust. See Standartzhilstroi

Standartgorproekt (City Planning Trust), 234

Standartzhilstroi (Standardized Housing Trust), 51 -52, 72 , 114

Stanislavskii, Maksim, 14 , 15

State Bank, 212

State Experimental Farm of Verblud, 57 -59, 92

State Phonograph Trust, 212

State Planning Commission (Gosplan), 113 , 116 , 202 , 245 -47, 262 -63

State Rubber Stamp Trust, 211

Steinmetz (engineer, General Electric), 249

S.T.O. See Council of Labor and Defense

Stolpce, 277

Stoneman, William (Chicago Daily News correspondent), 208 -9

Sukhum, 202 -3, 225 -26

Sutton, Antony, 17


Tall (editor, Tekhnika ), 135 -36

Tchaikovsky 31 , 122 , 247

Tchaikovsky Film School, 11

Technical Book Trust, 189

Tekhnika , 135 , 160 , 189

Thomas, Norman, 16

Torgsin stores, 60 , 114 , 225 , 326 n.23

Trade unions, 117 -18, 159

Trotsky 316

Tsesarskaia, Emma, 10 -17, 26 , 80 , 108 -9, 112 -13, 119 -20, 136 -39, 147 -48, 153 , 224 , 280 ;

editor's interview with, 13 -17;

and end of romance with Witkin, 151 -52, 195 -97, 213 -15, 228 , 247 -48, 265 ;

and first meeting with Witkin, 100 -104;

in Her Way , 31 -34

Tsiam airplane plant, 177 , 199 -200

Tuchinow assembly plant, 78 , 88


Ulianova, Mariia Il'inichna (Lenin's sister), 107 , 160 , 178

Umansky, K. A. (Press Department, People's Commissariat of Foreign Affairs), 258 , 340 n.66

Uskia, 119 , 187


Vahktanghov Theatre, 231

Verblud (state experimental farm), 57 -59, 92

Vinakur (engineer), 204

Vinson big-navy bill, 253 , 259

Visa Bureau, 263 , 299

Vitkovsky (chief engineer, Zavodostroi), 79 , 93

Vorobieff (chief engineer, Soyuzstroi), 176 -77, 190 -94, 197 -99, 205

Voroshilov, K. E. (People's Commissar of War), 47 , 116 , 170 , 323 n.12


Wagner, Richard, 34 , 119 -20

War Communism, 25 , 320 -21n.1

Wells, Linton (International News Ser-vice correspondent), 208

Westgarth, John, 6 , 17

Workers' and Peasants' Inspection Commissariat. See Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate

Workers' and Peasants' Inspectorate (R.K.I.), 9 , 77 , 82 , 86 , 95 , 133 , 153 , 159 -60, 200 -201, 230 , 235 , 327 n.26;

and Clark, 195 -96;

and May, 234 ;

and investigation of Balkhash copper project, 115 ;

and investigation of Moscow Soviet Ho-tel construction, 114 ;

and Stalin's rebuke of Rudzutak, 167 -68;

and Witkin's articles for Tekhnika , 135 ;

Witkin's contract with, 149 -50, 238 ;

Witkin's first encounter with, 106 -7;

and Witkin's planned discussion with Rudzutak, 260 ;

and Witkin's report on diplomatic recognition by U.S., 180 -82, 332 -33n.49



Yalta, 64 -67

Yaroslavl, reinforced concrete bridge at, 78

Yauntzen, Madame (singer), 54

Yegor Bulichev (Gorky), 231 -32


Zaidner, Alfred (Amtorg, Intourist), 2 , 91 , 95 , 114 , 135 , 160

Zalkind (attorney at Foreign Office), 246 , 283

Zavodostroi (First Industrial Building Trust), 72 , 75 , 78 -79, 83 , 99 -100, 114 , 177

Zemach (dancer), 306

Zetkin, Clara, 191 , 333 n.51

Zhemchuzhina, Polina, 15 , 329 -30n.38

Zinoviev, Grigori, 139 -40, 310 , 330 n.41

Preferred Citation: Witkin, Zara. An American Engineer in Stalin's Russia: The Memoirs of Zara Witkin, 1932-1934. Berkeley:  University of California Press,  c1991 1991.