organization:air force

  • Air Force veteran Reality Winner is serving 5 years for blowing the whistle on Russian election interference, while Trump’s Russia-dealing cronies are going free / Boing Boing
    https://boingboing.net/2018/12/23/messenger-comma-shot.html

    In 2017, Reality Winner, a 25-year-old Air Force veteran and intelligence contractor was arrested for leaking confirmation of 2016 Russian election meddling to The Intercept; Winner seems to have been motivated by the same outrage that had animated Ed Snowden four years earlier: watching her bosses lie about matters of national interest.

    Winner is a principled, brilliant patriot who was facing a long prison sentence when she pleaded guilty and got a five-year term, the longest ever term for an offense of the sort Winner was accused of committing.
    ...
    Winner can receive letters and money for her commissary account, as well as books (only books sent direct by Amazon, due to prison rules):

    REALITY WINNER 22056-021
    FMC CARSWELL FEDERAL MEDICAL CENTER
    PO BOX 27137
    FORT WORTH, TX 76127

    #USA #justice


    • Par ailleurs,

      Some commentators predict that the Saudi crown prince is now so indebted to Trump that his support for the plan will be even more emphatic, but it’s more reasonable to assume that his newly-precarious hold on power will dissuade him from expressing emphatic support for a peace plan that is bound to enrage Palestinians as well as the proverbial “Arab street” in Riyadh, Mecca and other Arab cities.

      Netanyahu might actually welcome Saudi reticence that could help convince the Trump administration to hold off once again with its plan. The recent coalition crisis made it crystal clear that Netanyahu could be one of the first victims of his Washington BFF’s blueprint. Any peace plan published by the White House, even one viewed by Palestinians and the world as completely one-sided in Israel’s favor, will necessarily include relinquishment of territory, in East Jerusalem as well as the West Bank. It will be uniformly rejected by most of the Israeli right. Netanyahu is certainly loath to reject the fruit of Trump’s pro-Israel peace team’s labor, but anything less than a resounding “no” on his part could persuade even more voters to opt for parties to his right in the upcoming elections.

      The bottom line is that even the friendliest U.S. president in human history, as Netanyahu often describes him, is carrying a ticking time bomb that could soon blow up in the prime minister’s face. And as Netanyahu has recently learned from the botched military incursion in Gaza, the downing of the Russian plane and the horrid Khashoggi killing in Istanbul, unexpected developments can shake up the Middle East and demolish his image as its master manipulator. When lady luck thumbs her nose at the start of an election year, even the conventional wisdom about Netanyahu’s inevitable victory could dissipate in an instant, along with his hitherto-lauded grand strategies.


  • Thank you, Mother Russia, for imposing boundaries on Israel - For the first time in years another state is saying to Israel: Stop right there. At least in Syria, that’s the end of it. Thank you, Mother Russia.

    Gideon Levy SendSend me email alerts
    Sep 28, 2018
    https://www.haaretz.com/middle-east-news/.premium-to-russia-with-love-1.6511224

    A ray of hope is breaking through: Someone is setting limits on Israel. For the first time in years another state is making it clear to Israel that there are restrictions to its power, that it’s not okay for it to do whatever it wants, that it’s not alone in the game, that America can’t always cover for it and that there’s a limit to the harm it can do.
    Israel needed someone to set these limits like it needed oxygen. The recent years’ hubris and geopolitical reality enabled it to run rampant. It could patrol Lebanon’s skies as if they were its own; bombard in Syria’s air space as if it were Gaza’s air space; destroy Gaza periodically, put it under endless siege and continue, of course, to occupy the West Bank. Suddenly someone stood up and said: Stop right there. At least in Syria: That’s the end of it. Thank you, Mother Russia, for setting limits on a child whom no one has restrained for a long time.
    >>What Russia and Turkey really want in Syria | Explained ■ Russia’s claims on downed plane over Syria are dubious, but will usher in new reality for Israel | Analysis ■ Russia vs. Israel: The contradicting accounts of the downing of a plane over Syria

    The Israeli stupefaction at the Russian response and the paralysis that gripped it only showed how much Israel needed a responsible adult to rein it in. Does anyone dare prevent Israel’s freedom of movement in another country? Is anyone hindering it from flying in skies not its own? Is anyone keeping it from bombing as much as it pleases? For decades Israel hasn’t encountered such a strange phenomenon. Israel Hayom reported, of course, that anti-Semitism is growing in Russia. Israel is getting ready to play the next victim card, but its arrogance has suddenly gone missing.
    In April the Bloomberg News agency cited threats from retired Military Intelligence chief Amos Yadlin and other officers that if Russia gives Syria S-300 anti-aircraft missiles, Israel’s air force would bombard them. Now the voice of bluster from Zion has been muted, at least for the moment.
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    Every state is entitled to have weapons for defense against jet bombers, including Syria, and no state is permitted to prevent that forcibly. This basic truth already sounds bizarre to Israeli ears. The idea that other countries’ sovereignty is meaningless, that it can always be disrupted by force, and that Israeli sovereignty alone is sacred, and supreme; that Israel can mix in the affairs of the region to its heart’s content – including by military intervention, whose true extent is yet to be clarified in the war in Syria – without paying a price, in the name of its real or imagined security, which sanctifies anything and everything – all this has suddenly run into a Russian “nyet.” Oh, how we needed that nyet, to restore Israel to its real dimensions.
    It arrived with excellent timing. Just when there’s a president in the White House who runs his Middle East policy at the instructions of his sponsor in Las Vegas and mentor on Balfour Street; when Israel feels itself in seventh heaven, with an American embassy in Jerusalem and no UNRWA, soon without the Palestinians – came the flashing red light from Moscow. Perhaps it will balance out, just a bit, the intoxication with power that has overtaken Israel in recent years, maybe it will start to wise up and recover.
    Russia, without meaning to, may yet turn out to be better for Israel than all the insane, corrupting support it receives from the current American administration, and from its predecessors, too.
    Russia has outlined for the world the way to treat Israel, using the only language Israel understands. Let those who truly care for Israel’s welfare, and for justice, learn how it’s done: Only by force. Only when Israel gets punished or is forced to pay a price does it do the right thing. The air force will think twice now and perhaps many times more before its next bombardment in Syria, whose importance, if indeed it has any, is unknown.
    Had such a Russian “nyet” hovered above Gaza’s skies, too, so much futile death and destruction would have been spared. Had an international force faced the Israeli occupation, it would have ended long ago. Instead, we have Donald Trump in Washington and the European Union’s pathetic denunciations of the evictions at Khan al-Ahmar.


  • Reality Winner, who pleaded guilty to leaking secret U.S. report, gets 63-month sentence

    https://www.cbsnews.com/news/reality-winner-sentenced-pleaded-guilty-to-leaking-secret-u-s-report-today-2018-08-23/?ftag=CNM-00-10aab7e&linkId=55922192

    A former government contractor who pleaded guilty to mailing a classified U.S. report to a news organization was sentenced to more than five years Thursday as part of a deal with prosecutors, who called it the longest sentence ever imposed for a federal crime involving leaks to the media. 

    Reality Winner, 26, pleaded guilty in June to a single count of transmitting national security information. The former Air Force translator worked as a contractor at a National Security Agency’s office in Augusta, Georgia, when she printed a classified report and left the building with it tucked into her pantyhose. Winner told the FBI she mailed the document to an online news outlet.

    In court Thursday, Winner apologized and acknowledged that what she did was wrong.

    Authorities never identified the news organization. But the Justice Department announced Winner’s June 2017 arrest the same day The Intercept reported on a secret NSA document. It detailed Russian government efforts to penetrate a Florida-based supplier of voting software and the accounts of election officials ahead of the 2016 presidential election. The NSA report was dated May 5, the same as the document Winner had leaked.

    U.S. intelligence agencies later confirmed Russian meddling.

    #Reality_Winner


  • The U.S. Is Building a Drone Base in Niger That Will Cost More Than $280 Million by 2024
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/21/us-drone-base-niger-africa

    A U.S. drone base in a remote part of West Africa has garnered attention for its $100 million construction price tag. But according to new projections from the Air Force, its initial cost will soon be dwarfed by the price of operating the facility — about $30 million a year. By 2024, when the 10-year agreement for use of the base in Agadez, Niger, ends, its construction and operating costs will top a quarter-billion dollars — or around $280 million, to be more precise. And that’s actually an (...)

    #CCTV #drone #aérien #surveillance #vidéo-surveillance


  • Mysterious X-37B Military Space Plane Nears 1 Year in Orbit
    http://www.leonarddavid.com/military-space-plane-wings-toward-year-in-earth-orbit
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=u-7VNf7DCY8


    (pub de Boeing)

    The U.S. Air Force’s X-37B miniature space plane has winged past 340 days in orbit performing secretive duties during the program’s fifth flight.

    The robotic craft’s latest mission, known as Orbital Test Vehicle-5 (OTV-5), kicked off on Sept. 7, 2017, with a launch atop a SpaceX Falcon 9 rocket from NASA’s Kennedy Space Center (KSC) in Florida.

    As usual, Air Force officials have revealed few details about OTV-5. But we do know that one payload flying aboard the X-37B this time around is the Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader, or ASETS-11. Developed by the U.S. Air Force Research Laboratory, this cargo is testing experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipes for long durations in the space environment.
    […]
    Ground tracks
    Ted Molczan, a Toronto-based satellite analyst, told Inside Outer Space that OTV-5’s initial orbit was about 220 miles (355 kilometers) high, inclined 54.5 degrees to the equator. “Its ground track nearly repeated every two days, after 31 revolutions,” he said.

    On April 19, the space drone lowered its orbit by 24 miles (39 km), which caused its ground track to exactly repeat every five days, after 78 revolutions, Molczan said — a first for an OTV mission.

    Repeating ground tracks are very common,” Molczan added, “especially for spacecraft that observe the Earth. That said, I do not know why OTV has repeating ground tracks.

    Space Force ties?
    Does the X-37B program fit into the Trump administration’s call for a Space Force?

    Ironically, the X-37B is exactly the type of program — toward giving the U.S. flexibility of operations in space — that seems to be prompting the current push for a Space Force, yet are already underway,” said Joan Johnson-Freese, a professor in the National Security Affairs Department at the Naval War College in Newport, Rhode Island.


  • Secret Israeli Report Reveals Armed Drone Killed Four Boys Playing on Gaza Beach in 2014
    Robert Mackey | August 11 2018, 10:09 a.m.
    https://theintercept.com/2018/08/11/israel-palestine-drone-strike-operation-protective-edge

    A confidential report by Israeli military police investigators seen by The Intercept explains how a tragic series of mistakes by air force, naval, and intelligence officers led to an airstrike in which four Palestinian boys playing on a beach in Gaza in 2014 were killed by missiles launched from an armed drone.

    Testimony from the officers involved in the attack, which has been concealed from the public until now, confirms for the first time that the children — four cousins ages 10 and 11 — were pursued and killed by drone operators who somehow mistook them, in broad daylight, for Hamas militants. (...)

    https://seenthis.net/messages/276558

    • 10 questions on secret Israeli report over 2014 killing of four children on Gaza beach
      Haaretz.Com
      https://www.haaretz.com/misc/article-print-page/.premium-10-questions-on-secret-report-over-killing-of-four-kids-on-gaza-be
      Mordechai Kremnitzer | Aug. 13, 2018 | 10:03 PM | 3

      The secret investigation report on the killing of four Palestinian children on the Gaza beach in 2014, part of which was published on the website The Intercept and whose essentials were reported in Monday’s Haaretz, raises a lot of questions. The confidential Israeli military police report reveals that the attack on July 16, 2014, during Operation Protective Edge, was carried out by a drone and stemmed from an intelligence failure.

      No one disputes that Ismail Bakr, 9, Ahad and Zakaria Bakr, both 10, and Mohammed Bakr, 11, were not involved in hostile actions against Israel. Therefore, there was no justification for firing at them twice with a drone and certainly not to kill them. The report also shows that those involved in the decisions and actions that led to the boys’ killing thought that the four were Hamas operatives and were not aware that they were children.

      Despite signs pointing to negligence, at the very least, the previous military advocate-general, Maj. Gen. (res.) Danny Efroni, closed the case without taking any legal or disciplinary steps against those involved. This decision stood even after Adalah, the Legal Center for Arab Minority Rights in Israel, petitioned the attorney general, who has yet to respond.

      The central question is whether the error that was the basis for the Israel Defense Force’s actions was reasonable or not. Based on the answer to this question, one can determine whether the military advocate-general’s decision was justified or mistaken and negligent. We cannot pass judgment on Efroni’s decision without access to the investigation file and its full conclusions. However, questions arise that require a response.

      1. Was the investigation effective and thorough? For example, shouldn’t testimony have been taken from the journalists who saw the incident from the beach? An external perspective could have been critical in assessing the nature of the compound in which the children were seen, and the issue of the firing itself.

      2. The army acted on the assumption that the jetty on which the children were seen had previously served Hamas’ naval commandos. The day before the firing incident, the compound had been bombed by the IDF. Didn’t the bombing require a reevaluation about the nature of the place and the identity of anyone found there? After the structure was bombed, there were no secondary explosions heard, casting doubt on the initial conclusion that it had been used as a weapons depot. According to witnesses, after the bombing a new situation existed. There were no guards stationed at the entrance to the compound, it’s possible that the gate that surrounded it had been destroyed, and it was clear to Hamas that the site was an IDF target. All this indicates that a reevaluation would have pointed to a reasonable possibility that those the IDF had identified on the day the drone fired weren’t Hamas operatives but civilians (not necessarily children). If this possibility wasn’t raised, wasn’t that a negligent blunder? According to the testimonies, the question if the compound was open only to Hamas operatives or whether civilians also had access was raised with intelligence in real time. It isn’t clear what happened to that question. If this possibility was not discounted, it would have been correct to examine the responsibility of the soldiers involved in the killing.

      3. After the first shooting, the drone operators who fired asked for clarification as to the borders of the compound. But around half a minute afterward, before the question was answered, there was a second round of fire that killed three of the boys. Shouldn’t the operators have waited for an answer?

      4. All those involved declared that they could not identify the figures seen in the compound as children. The conclusion of the investigation was that it was impossible to discern that these were children, although the incident occurred in broad daylight. Two days earlier, however, the IDF Spokesperson’s Office had praised the ability of drone operators to identify potential targets under surveillance as children and thus avoid attacking them at the last moment. This is puzzling. If it’s not possible to distinguish the age of those being shot at, that is, it’s possible to shoot at children without being aware of it, were those involved in the shooting being overly reliant on the means at their disposal? Would it not have been appropriate to use additional means of observation? Was the possibility that the figures were civilians, or even children, not enough of a reason to refrain from firing? Under international law, in cases of doubt one is required to assume that the people are civilians. It should be noted that the soldiers did not claim that the figures had been identified as carrying weapons or as posing a significant threat to our forces.

      5. How is it possible to reconcile the testimony of the air force officer who coordinated the attacks, who said this is a highly unusual case in which the intelligence information was completely different from the facts on the ground, and the legal conclusion that there was no fault in the actions of those involved? If the intelligence presented was inaccurate, isn’t there a flaw in the structure of the division of responsibility between different parties such that it is impossible to hold anyone personally responsible? Do the accepted standards of skill, responsibility and caution not apply to Military Intelligence? Has chalking things up to an “intelligence mistake” become a way to whitewash prohibited and unjustified killings?

      6. Have all the operational and intelligence lessons, as well as the cognitive and moral ones, been learned so as to prevent similar incidents in the future?

      7. Doesn’t this incident offer support for the concerns raised regarding the use of drones, which can dull human sensitivity?

      8. Did the legal decision-makers use the reversal test – what would we say if it had been our children and the enemy had been the one to make the decisions and carry out those actions?

      9. Were the minimal humane steps taken, like an apology and compensation, steps that even an army that was not the most moral in the world would take?

      10. Does not the thesis that anyone suspected of being a Hamas operative is a legitimate target, even when he is not carrying a weapon and does not pose a risk to our forces, border on extrajudicial execution, which is prohibited by international law? Does it not create an unreasonable risk to the lives of civilians who must be protected, a risk that was actualized in the case of these four children?


  • Lawmakers Want to Know if US Troops Are Ready for Arctic Warfare | Military.com
    https://www.military.com/kitup/2018/07/30/lawmakers-want-know-if-us-troops-are-ready-arctic-warfare.html

    The report should include:

    – A description of current cold weather capabilities and training to support United States military operations in cold climates across the joint force;
    – A description of anticipated requirements for United States military operations in cold and extreme cold weather in the Arctic, Northeast Asia, and Northern and Eastern Europe;
    – A description of the current cold weather readiness of the joint force, the ability to increase cold weather training across the joint force, and any equipment, infrastructure, personnel, or resource limitations or gaps that may exist;
    – An analysis of potential opportunities to expand cold weather training for the Army, the Navy, the Air Force, and the Marine Corps and the resources or infrastructure required for such expansion;
    – An analysis of potential partnerships with state, local, tribal, and private entities to maximize training potential and to utilize local expertise, including traditional indigenous knowledge.

    If the proposal makes it to President Donald Trump for approval, it could lead to improvements in cold-weather equipment and training U.S. troops receive.

    #arctique #guerre #etats-unis


  • Navy Seeks $30 Million to Fix Gear That Hobbled Its New Carrier - Bloomberg
    https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2018-07-25/navy-seeks-30-million-to-fix-gear-that-hobbled-its-new-carrier

    The Navy is asking Congress to shift $30 million from other accounts to start repairing a damaged gear on the service’s costliest warship, the Gerald R. Ford aircraft carrier.

    The request for funds to repair the $13 billion carrier is part of a Pentagon package asking congressional approval to shift $4.7 billion in previously approved Army, Air Force and Navy funding into new programs or higher-priority projects. The package must be approved by all four congressional defense committees, where it’s pending.

    The $30 million is needed to pay for repairs to the propulsion-system gear while the carrier’s builder, Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc., “seeks compensation from the original manufacturer for warranty defects,” Naval Sea Systems spokesman William Couch said in an email.

    The Ford was forced to return to port after the failure in January of a “main thrust bearing” that’s a key propulsion system component. It returned to sea after the damage was contained. The defective gear was the result of “machining errors” by a General Electric Co. unit, according to Navy documents. Full repairs will take place during the vessel’s current yearlong shakeout period.


  • Trump Orders Establishment of Space Force as Sixth Military Branch - The New York Times
    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/06/18/us/politics/trump-space-force-sixth-military-branch.html

    WASHINGTON — President Trump said on Monday that he would direct the Pentagon to establish a sixth branch of the armed forces dedicated to protecting American interests in outer space, an idea that has troubled lawmakers and even some members of his administration, who have cautioned that the action could create unnecessary bureaucratic responsibilities for a military already burdened by conflicts.

    During a speech at a meeting of the National Space Council, Mr. Trump announced plans to protect American interests in space through monitoring commercial traffic and debris, initiatives he said would be “great not only in terms of jobs and everything else, it’s great for the psyche of our country.”

    With his interest in space, Mr. Trump appears to be taking a more protective stance than his modern predecessors, who over the years have wrestled with ways — and with rival governments, including Russia and China — to keep military conflicts in space at bay while still protecting American interests, including commercial operations and the current satellite system.

    “At best this is simply the creation of an additional D.O.D. bureaucracy,” Daryl G. Kimball, the executive director of the Arms Control Association, said in an interview, referring to the Department of Defense. “At worst, it is the first step in an accelerated competition between the U.S., China and Russia in the space realm that is going to be more difficult to avert without direct talks about responsible rules of the road.”

    The creation of a sixth branch of the military to join the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marine Corps and Coast Guard would require congressional authorization and approval. Senator Bill Nelson, Democrat of Florida, who is on the Senate Commerce Committee overseeing the nation’s space program — and who once spent six days in space — said that the president’s order lacked the support of the generals who would be required to carry it out.

    #Militarisme #Espace #Fin_des_communs #Etats_Unis #Guerre


  • Reality Winner Has Been in Jail for a Year. Her Prosecution Is Unfair and Unprecedented.

    https://theintercept.com/2018/06/03/reality-winner-nsa-paul-manafort

    THIS IS A tale of two defendants and two systems of justice.

    Christmas was coming, and Paul Manafort wanted to spend the holiday with his extended family in the Hamptons, where he owns a four-acre estate that has 10 bedrooms, a pool, a tennis court, a basketball court, a putting green, and a guest cottage. But Manafort was under house arrest in northern Virginia. Suspected of colluding with the Russian government, the former campaign manager for Donald Trump had been indicted on a dozen charges involving conspiracy, money laundering, bank fraud, and lying to federal investigators.


    Paul Manafort’s Hamptons estate, left, and the jail in Lincolnton, right.

    A lobbyist who became mysteriously wealthy over the years, Manafort avoided jail by posting $10 million in bond, though he was confined to his luxury condo in Alexandria, Virginia. That’s why, in mid-December, his lawyers asked the judge to make an exception. Manafort’s $2.7 million Virginia home could not provide “adequate accommodations” for his holiday guests, some of whom would have difficulty traveling because of health problems, the lawyers stated. A day later, the judge agreed to the request. Manafort could have his Christmas getaway in the Hamptons.

    Hundreds of miles away, another defendant in an eerily related case was not so blessed. Reality Winner, an Air Force veteran and former contractor for the National Security Agency, was sitting in a small-town jail in Lincolnton, Georgia. Arrested a year ago today, on June 3, 2017, Winner was accused of leaking an NSA document that showed how Russians tried to hack American voting systems in 2016.

    The bail system plays to the advantage of wealthy defendants like Paul Manafort and Harvey Weinstein (who paid his $1 million bond with a cashier’s check), because they can provide the government with fantastic sums; freedom is quite literally for sale, as in a story Anton Chekhov might have written about czarist Russia. The poor and the unlucky are stuck behind bars, punished before their guilt is determined. Defendants who are unable to pay bail have sometimes been held for years without a trial.

    IMAGINE THAT YOU are facing trial but are forbidden from searching for evidence to prove you are innocent. It is a scenario from a totalitarian “Alice in Wonderland” – you may do anything you want to defend yourself except the one thing that might actually help.

    That’s a rough approximation of the situation Winner’s lawyers have faced due to a strange twist in her case. She is accused of potentially causing “exceptionally grave damage” to national security by leaking a classified document that, the government claims, contains “national defense information.”

    Winner’s lawyers have stated in public filings that they needed to search on the internet to determine whether information in the document was known to a large number of government officials or was in the public domain. This was crucial to their effort to prove that the document did not merit NDI status. But because the document is classified, and because researching its contents on the internet could disclose search queries to hackers who theoretically could compromise the lawyers’ computers or access their routers, they were prohibited from Googling key phrases, according to court filings. In essence, Winner’s lawyers were forbidden from finding out if the document was as sensitive as the government claimed.


  • Help Resistance Hero Whistleblower Reality Winner

    https://standwithreality.org/reality-winner-resistance-hero

    Why do I have this job if I’m just going to sit back and be helpless … I just thought that was the final straw

    A young woman named Reality Leigh Winner has been jailed without bail since June 2017 for helping expose Russian hacking that targeted US election systems.

    Charged under the Espionage Act, she faces ten years in prison, for making a good faith effort to hold President Trump accountable. Reality is the first victim of Trump’s “war on whistleblowers.”
    After serving six years in the Air Force, Reality took a job as an NSA intelligence contractor in January 2017. On the day Trump fired FBI Director James Comey (May 9, 2017), Reality is charged with finding and printing a classified report entitled, “Russia/Cybersecurity: Main Intelligence Directorate Cyber Actors.”

    The next day (May 10), Trump celebrated with Russian officials in the White House, bragging that he had fired “nut job” Comey in order to end any “Russiagate” investigation. Hours later, Reality allegedly sent the NSA report to the media (May 11).

    Reality was an outspoken critic of Trump and an advocate for social justice causes, including Standing Rock, climate science, children with different abilities, animal rights, and Black Lives Matter. Those social media posts are now being used against her in Orwellian proceedings in which her lawyers are not allowed to see much of the evidence against her.
    By the time her trial starts–Summer 2018, at the earliest–she’ll have spent a full year behind bars. Meanwhile, the actual Russiagate indicted criminals, including Paul Manafort, Rick Gates, George Papadopoulos, and Michael Flynn, haven’t spent a day in jail.


  • Secretive #X-37B Space Plane Discovered in Orbit after Staying Hidden for 218 Days – X-37B – OTV-5 | Spaceflight101
    http://spaceflight101.com/x-37b-otv-5/x-37b-otv-5-identified-in-orbit


    Image: Boeing Phantom Works

    It circled the Earth in obscurity for more than half a year, now the semi-secret X-37B OTV 5 space plane has been conclusively identified by amateur satellite observers in a circular orbit around 355 Kilometers in altitude. The orbit’s inclination at 54.5 degrees is much different from previous OTV missions and in part responsible for the craft remaining undiscovered for so long.

    X-37B, conducting its fifth orbital flight, lifted off from Launch Complex 39A at Florida’s Kennedy Space Center on September 7, 2017. In the typical secrecy surrounding the Air Force’s X-37B program, the launch was shown until separation of the protective payload fairing and confirmation of successful orbital insertion was provided a short time later but operational aspects of the mission like the craft’s operating orbit, intended mission duration and specifics on the payloads it carries were not disclosed.

    Given the hush-hush nature of its missions, X-37B is a target of intense observation by the amateur satellite community and the orbital dynamics of all four prior OTV missions were closely watched. Typically, the spacecraft was spotted in orbit within a few days after launch; however, there were several cases where observers lost track of the spacecraft due to unexpected orbital maneuvers.

    X-37B OTV 5 proved to be a tougher nut to crack as it was clear from the outset that the spacecraft would operate from a different orbit than its predecessors: “The fifth OTV mission will be launched into, and landed from, a higher inclination orbit than prior missions to further expand the X-37B’s orbital envelope,” the U.S. Air Force Rapid Capabilities Office said in a statement before the craft blasted off atop Falcon 9.
    […]
    What the spacecraft might be up to in this type of Low Earth Orbit, some 50 Kilometers lower than the International Space Station, is pretty much unknown. As with the previous X-37B flights, only very few details on the OTV 5 mission are being shared with the public and most of what resides in the vehicle’s 2.1 by 1.2-meter payload bay will remain secret.

    One payload on the OTV 5 mission that was publicly acknowledged is the Air Force Research Laboratory Advanced Structurally Embedded Thermal Spreader that will test experimental electronics and oscillating heat pipe technologies over a long-duration space flight. Three oscillating heat pipes are part of the package to evaluate the technology for future applications in space as it could offer lighter and less expensive thermal control solutions for satellite missions. The goal of the OTV-5-mounted experiment will be to evaluate the technology’s initial thermal performance and monitor it over an extended period to assess long-term degradation.

    The Air Force also said the OTV 5 mission hosts small satellite ride shares to demonstrate greater opportunities for rapid space access; however, no additional objects have been cataloged under the OTV 5 mission’s international designator 2017-052 up to this point.


  • War in space may happen soon, but it won’t be what you expect | New Scientist
    https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg23831730-200-war-in-space-may-happen-soon-but-it-wont-be-what-you-ex

    orbital conflict won’t be a battle of spaceships and bombs

    the US space force already exists. The Air Force Space Command has been around since 1982 and employs more than double the number of people at NASA, the US civilian space agency, to operate and protect military satellites. The space force proposal for Congress wasn’t really about creating a new branch of the military, but part of a long-running push to move the space command out from under air force leadership, making space a higher priority.

    a space war is most likely to be waged more discreetly, with jamming, spoofing and hacking

    The #Outer_Space_Treaty prohibits deploying weapons of mass destruction in space

    This is cyberwarfare on a new stage, and international law has yet to catch up. “In terms of legal restrictions on war in space, there is precious little,” says Frans von der Dunk at the Nebraska College of Law. The Outer Space Treaty prohibits deploying weapons of mass destruction in space, but it doesn’t have any specific rules about regular weaponry. More importantly, because it was drafted in 1967, it doesn’t say anything about cyberwarfare.

    #espace #guerre #cyberguerre #satellites #USAC #États-Unis #débris


  • Trump’s sending troops to the border to take on 200 kids and parents

    According to President Donald Trump, the mightiest, richest country in the world is under a threat so huge and scary that it will require the deployment of military forces — as many as 2,000 to 4.000, Trump said Thursday — along its 2,000-mile southern border. The danger consists of a ragtag caravan formed by several hundred impoverished people, many of them children from tiny Central American nations. Yes, the time has come to protect America from marauding youngsters and their parents.

    https://edition.cnn.com/2018/04/05/opinions/trump-has-no-shame-on-immigration-fernandez-kelly-opinion/index.html?sr=twCNN040518trump-has-no-shame-on-immigration-fernandez-ke
    #Trump #frontières #armée #militarisation_des_frontières #USA #Etats-Unis

    • The cost of 2 National Guard border arrests would help a homeless vet for a year

      President Donald Trump’s decision to send #National_Guard troops to the U.S.-Mexico border has drawn a mixed response. Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey welcomed the move, while California Gov. Jerry Brown’s National Guard said it would “review” the request.

      Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Ariz., had a specific complaint: He said it was a poor use of tax dollars.

      “Using the National Guard to do border security is very expensive,” Gallego tweeted April 3. “For what it would cost the Guard to make just TWO arrests at the border, we could give a homeless veteran permanent housing for an entire year.”


      http://www.politifact.com/truth-o-meter/statements/2018/apr/05/ruben-gallego/arizona-rep-cost-2-national-guard-border-arrests-w
      #USA #Etats-Unis #coût #économie #prix #surveillance_des_frontières

    • Guard border deployment creates issues for Pentagon

      Customs and Border Patrol (CBP) have now sent two requests for assistance to the Pentagon’s new Border Security Support Cell, which was hastily established to help coordination between the Department of Defense (DOD) and Department of Homeland Security.

      It’s estimated that it will cost $182 million to keep 2,093 guardsmen at the border through the end of September, which represents just more than half of the personnel approved.

      The amount covers $151 million in pay and allowances for the 2,093 personnel, as well as $31 million for 12,000 flying hours for 26 UH-72 Lakota helicopters, according to a defense memo on the amount.

      http://thehill.com/policy/defense/386617-guard-border-deployment-creates-issues-for-pentagon

      #CBP #gardes-frontière #frontières

    • The Cal. National Guard Is Working At the Mexican Border, But Mostly Behind The Scenes

      In California - a state with strong differences with the White House on immigration policy - about 400 troops are on border duty. But they’re keeping a low profile.


      http://tpr.org/post/cal-national-guard-working-mexican-border-mostly-behind-scenes

      Signalé par Reece Jones sur twitter, avec ce commentaire:

      What are US National Guard troops doing at the border? Analyze intelligence, work as dispatchers, and monitor cameras “but not cameras that look across the border into Mexico”

    • L’armée américaine mobilisée pour défendre la frontière

      En campagne pour les élections américaines de mi-mandat, le président Trump a focalisé son discours sur la caravane de migrants d’Amérique centrale qui fait route à travers le Mexique. Il a promis de tout faire pour empêcher ces demandeurs d’asile de pénétrer sur le territoire américain (“Personne n’entrera”), y compris de déployer “entre 10 000 et 15 000 soldats” en plus de la police aux frontières et de la police de l’immigration.

      L’armée estime que seuls 20 % des migrants, soit 1 400 selon les estimations les plus hautes, iront jusqu’à la frontière qui se trouve encore à quelque 1 300 kilomètres et plusieurs semaines de marche, rapporte le Los Angeles Times. Le chiffre de 15 000 hommes correspond à peu près au nombre de soldats déployés en Afghanistan, observe le même quotidien. Les militaires envoyés à la frontière peuvent se poser des questions sur le sens de cette mission, comme l’illustre ici le dessinateur Chappatte.


      https://www.courrierinternational.com/dessin/larmee-americaine-mobilisee-pour-defendre-la-frontiere

    • U.S. Troops’ First Order at the Border: Laying Razor Wire

      Soldiers fill local hotels, joke about finding ways to keep busy.
      On Monday morning in this border town, about a dozen U.S. Army soldiers unfurled reams of razor wire on top of a wrought-iron fence alongside a bridge to Mexico.

      The soldiers from the 36th Engineer Brigade at Fort Riley, Kan., who wore helmets but didn’t appear to be armed, are among thousands of troops deployed in recent days to the southwest U.S. border as part of Operation Faithful Patriot.

      Around border crossings throughout Texas’ Rio Grande Valley, military personnel have filled up hotels and delivered trucks packed with coils of razor wire as they begin to support U.S. Customs and Border Protection officers.
      The personnel were sent in advance of the anticipated arrival of thousands of Central Americans, including children, traveling in caravans currently several hundred miles south of the nearest U.S. border crossing.

      At the DoubleTree Suites Hotel in McAllen, Texas, the bar did brisk business Sunday night as soldiers who had changed into civilian clothes chatted over drinks. Some joked about needing to find ways to keep soldiers busy during their deployment.

      The Anzalduas International Bridge, where the Kansas-based troops were working, is used only for vehicle traffic to and from the Mexican city of Reynosa. The wire was placed on top of fences at least 15 feet high along each side of the bridge that sat several dozen feet above an embankment.

      Outside the port of entry where vehicles from Mexico are stopped after crossing the bridge, shiny razor wire recently placed around the facility glistened in the afternoon sun.

      Migrants seeking asylum who cross the border illegally generally don’t come to the port, but swim or wade across the Rio Grande and turn themselves in to Border Patrol agents.

      Near another bridge connecting Hidalgo, Texas, to Reynosa, a concertina wire fence was recently erected along the river edge, a placement more likely to impede illegal migrants who arrive on foot.

      U.S. Customs and Border Protection officials have determined where the military placed razor wire, Army Col. Rob Manning, a Pentagon spokesman, told reporters Monday during a briefing.

      It is part of an effort previously announced by Air Force Gen. Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy, commander of the U.S. Northern Command, to “harden the points of entry and address key gaps.”

      Near the Donna-Rio Bravo International Bridge about 22 miles southeast of McAllen, troops on Monday were working on what looked to be a staging area to prepare for coming work. Two armed military police officers stood guard, opening and closing a gate as flatbed trailers carrying heavy military trucks and transports with troops inside arrived. At least one tent apparently intended to house troops was in place Monday.

      President Trump ordered the deployment last month after the first caravan made its way into Mexico. He had described the impending caravan’s arrival as an “invasion.”

      The Pentagon said Monday that more than 5,000 troops are at or would be on their way to the U.S.-Mexico border by the end of the day, with about 2,700 in Texas, 1,200 in Arizona and 1,100 in California. Eventually, nearly 8,000 will be deployed, according to a U.S. official. Officials from the Department of Homeland Security have said the troops won’t be used to enforce immigration laws but will provide backup for Border Patrol agents and Customs and Border Protection officers.

      At the Vaquero Hangout, an open-air bar within eyesight of the Anzalduas bridge, a flag declaring support for the U.S. military hung from the rafters. It was business as usual on Sunday evening. Some patrons watched the Houston Texans’ NFL game, while others were focused on a live band, George and the Texas Outlaws.

      A few folks briefly took notice of flashing lights from a U.S. Customs and Border Protection vehicle parked on the bridge as the soldiers lay down razor wire, an effort they would continue the next day.

      https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-troops-first-order-at-the-border-laying-razor-wire-1541509201
      #fil_barbelé #barbelé

    • Pentagon to begin drawdown of troops at border: report

      The Pentagon is planning to begin a drawdown of troops at the southern border as soon as this week, the Army commander overseeing the mission told Politico on Monday.

      Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan told the news outlet that the 5,800 active-duty troops sent to assist Customs and Border Protection at the U.S.-Mexico border should be home by Christmas.
      ADVERTISEMENT

      “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Buchanan, who is overseeing the mission from Texas.

      Buchanan said engineer and logistics troops, which make up the largest parts of the deployment, will begin returning home soon.

      According to Politico’s report, some troops will begin leaving the area before the so-called migrant caravan arrives at the border.

      The news of the troops’ return comes as critics call President Trump’s request to send thousands of troops to the border a “political stunt.”

      Trump before Election Day stoked fears over an approaching group of Central American migrants heading towards the southern border, which he referred to as an “invasion.” He requested the deployment of thousands of troops to the border in a support mission just before Nov. 6.

      Some lawmakers have accused Trump of wasting resources and manpower on the mission, as reports have emerged that the troops are restless and underutilized.

      Thousands of participants in the caravan over the weekend reached Tijuana, Mexico, where they were met with vast protests. Some of the protesters are echoing Trump’s language, calling the group a danger and an invasion, The Associated Press reported.

      Most of the members of the caravan are reportedly escaping rampant poverty and violence in their home countries.

      https://thehill.com/policy/defense/417503-pentagon-to-begin-drawdown-of-troops-at-border-report

      –-> commentaire sur twitter:

      Just 3 weeks after deployment, Trump’s Pentagon is sending the military home from the border. They’ve served their purpose as the GOP’s 11th hour campaign force. Now we’re stuck with a hundred miles of trashy concertina wire and a $200 million bill.

      https://twitter.com/LaikenJordahl/status/1064644464726048768

    • Troops at U.S.-Mexican border to start coming home

      All the troops should be home by Christmas, as originally expected, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

      The 5,800 troops who were rushed to the southwest border amid President Donald Trump’s pre-election warnings about a refugee caravan will start coming home as early as this week — just as some of those migrants are beginning to arrive.

      Democrats and Republicans have criticized the deployment as a ploy by the president to use active-duty military forces as a prop to try to stem Republican losses in this month’s midterm elections.

      The general overseeing the deployment told POLITICO on Monday that the first troops will start heading home in the coming days as some are already unneeded, having completed the missions for which they were sent. The returning service members include engineering and logistics units whose jobs included placing concertina wire and other barriers to limit access to ports of entry at the U.S.-Mexico border.

      All the troops should be home by Christmas, as originally expected, Army Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Buchanan said in an interview Monday.

      “Our end date right now is 15 December, and I’ve got no indications from anybody that we’ll go beyond that,” said Buchanan, who leads the land forces of U.S. Northern Command.

      The decision to begin pulling back comes just weeks after Trump ordered the highly unusual deployment.

      In previous cases in which the military deployed to beef up security at the border, the forces consisted of part-time National Guard troops under the command of state governors who backed up U.S. Customs and Border Protection and other law enforcement agencies.

      But the newly deployed troops, most of them unarmed and from support units, come from the active-duty military, a concession the Pentagon made after Trump insisted that the deployment include “not just the National Guard.”

      Buchanan confirmed previous reports that the military had rejected a request from the Department of Homeland Security for an armed force to back up Border Patrol agents in the event of a violent confrontation.

      “That is a law enforcement task, and the secretary of Defense does not have the authority to approve that inside the homeland,” Buchanan said.

      The closure earlier Monday of one entry point along the California border near Tijuana, Mexico, was only partial and did not require more drastic measures, Buchanan said.

      “About half of the lanes were closed this morning, but that’s it,” he reported. “No complete closures.”

      Other ports might be closed fully in the future, he said, but he did not anticipate any need to take more drastic measures.

      “If CBP have reliable information that one of their ports is about to get rushed with a mob, or something like that that could put their agents at risk, they could ask us to completely close the port,” Buchanan said. “You understand the importance of commerce at these ports. Nobody in CBP wants to close a port unless they’re actually driven to do so.”

      The troop deployment should start trailing off as engineer and other logistics troops wind down their mission of building base camps and fortifying ports of entry for the Border Patrol.

      Army and Marine engineers have now emplaced about 75 percent of the obstacles they planned to, including concertina wire, shipping containers, and concrete barriers at ports of entry. “Once we get the rest of the obstacles built, we don’t need to keep all those engineers here. As soon as I’m done with a capability, what I intend to do is redeploy it,” Buchanan said. “I don’t want to keep these guys on just to keep them on.”

      Logistics troops, too, will be among the first to head home. “I will probably ask to start redeploying some of our logistic capability,” Buchanan predicted. “Now that things are set down here, we don’t need as many troops to actually build base camps and things like that, because the base camps are built."

      Among the troops who will remain after construction engineers and logisticians start departing are helicopter pilots, planners, medical personnel, and smaller “quick response” teams of engineers who can help Border Patrol personnel shut down traffic at their ports of entry.

      In contrast to the speed of the deployment in early November and the fanfare surrounding it, the withdrawal promises to be slower and quieter — but Buchanan expects it to be done before Christmas.

      “That doesn’t mean it’s impossible,” he added. “But right now, this is a temporary mission, and we’re tasked to do it until the 15th of December.”

      https://www.politico.com/story/2018/11/19/troops-us-mexico-border-come-home-1005510

    • Trump’s Border Stunt Is a Profound Betrayal of Our Military

      The president used America’s military not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election.

      A week before the midterm elections, the president of the United States announced he would deploy up to 15,000 active duty military troops to the United States-Mexico border to confront a menacing caravan of refugees and asylum seekers. The soldiers would use force, if necessary, to prevent such an “invasion” of the United States.

      Mr. Trump’s announcement and the deployment that followed (of roughly 5,900) were probably perfectly legal. But we are a bipartisan threesome with decades of experience in and with the Pentagon, and to us, this act creates a dangerous precedent. We fear this was lost in the public hand-wringing over the decision, so let us be clear: The president used America’s military forces not against any real threat but as toy soldiers, with the intent of manipulating a domestic midterm election outcome, an unprecedented use of the military by a sitting president.

      The public debate focused on secondary issues. Is there truly a threat to American security from an unarmed group of tired refugees and asylum seekers on foot and a thousand miles from the border? Even the Army’s internal assessment did not find this a very credible threat.

      Can the president deny in advance what could be legitimate claims for asylum, without scrutiny? Most likely, this violates treaty commitments the United States made as part of its agreement to refugee conventions in 1967, which it has followed for decades.

      The deployment is not, in the context of the defense budget, an albatross. We are already paying the troops, wherever they’re deployed, and the actual incremental costs of sending them to the border might be $100 million to $200 million, a tiny fraction of the $716 billion defense budget.

      Still, we can think of many ways to put the funds to better use, like improving readiness.

      It’s also not unusual for a president to ask the troops to deploy to the border in support of border security operations. Presidents of both parties have sent troops to the border, to provide support functions like engineering, logistics, transportation and surveillance.

      But those deployments have been generally in smaller numbers, usually the National Guard, and never to stop a caravan of refugees and asylum seekers.

      So, generously, some aspects of the deployment are at least defensible. But one is not, and that aspect is the domestic political use — or rather, misuse — of the military.

      James Mattis, the secretary of defense, asserted that the Defense Department does not “do stunts.” But this was a blatant political stunt. The president crossed a line — the military is supposed to stay out of domestic politics. As many senior military retirees have argued, the forces are not and should not be a political instrument. They are not toy soldiers to be moved around by political leaders but a neutral institution, politically speaking.
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      Oh, some might say, presidents use troops politically all the time. And so they do, generally in the context of foreign policy decisions that have political implications. Think Lyndon Johnson sending more troops to Vietnam, fearing he would be attacked for “cutting and running” from that conflict. Or George W. Bush crowing about “mission accomplished” when Saddam Hussein was toppled. Those are not the same thing as using troops at home for electoral advantage.

      Electoral gain, not security, is this president’s goal. Two of us served in the military for many years; while all troops must obey the legal and ethical orders of civilian leaders, they need to have faith that those civilian leaders are using them for legitimate national security purposes. But the border deployment put the military right in the middle of the midterm elections, creating a nonexistent crisis to stimulate votes for one party.

      When partisan actions like this occur, they violate civil-military traditions and erode that faith, with potentially long-term damage to the morale of the force and our democratic practice — all for electoral gain.

      The deployment is a stunt, a dangerous one, and in our view, a misuse of the military that should have led Mr. Mattis to consider resigning, instead of acceding to this blatant politicization of America’s military.


      https://www.nytimes.com/2018/11/19/opinion/president-trump-border-military-troops.html

    • The Military Is ’Securing’ a 1,900-Mile Border with 22 Miles of Razor Wire

      #Operation_Faithful_Patriot” is nothing more than a very expensive, politically motivated P.R. campaign.
      Skim through the Pentagon’s media site for Operation Faithful Patriot—the fittingly ridiculous name for the deployment of some 7,000 American troops to various spots along the Mexican border—and you’ll see lots of razor wire.

      There are photos of American troops laying razor wire (technically known as concertina wire) along the California-Mexico border. Of wire being affixed to the top of fences and to the sides of buildings. Everywhere you look on the Pentagon’s site, you find wire, wire, and more wire. Photos of soldiers carrying rolls of unused wire, snapshots of forklifts bringing more of the stuff to the border, and even videos of wire being unrolled and deployed. It’s thrilling stuff, truly.

      The message is not subtle. President Donald Trump might not have convinced Congress to blow billions for a fully operational border wall, but good luck to any immigrant caravan that happens to stumble into the thorny might of the American military’s sharpest deterrents.

      The focus on concertina wire isn’t just in the Pentagon’s internal media. The Wall Street Journal dedicated an entire Election Day story to how troops in Granjeno, Texas, had “unfurled reams of razor wire on top of a wrought-iron fence alongside a bridge to Mexico.” Troops stringing wire also appeared in The New York Post, The Washington Post, and elsewhere.

      There is so much concertina wire deployed to the southern border that if it were all stretched out from end to end, it would reach all the way from Brownsville, Texas, on the Gulf Coast to....well, whatever is 22 miles west of Brownsville, Texas.

      Yes. Despite the deluge of photos and videos of American troops are securing the southern border with reams of razor wire, Buzzfeed’s Vera Bergengruen reports that “troops have deployed with 22 miles of the wire so far, with 150 more available.”

      The U.S.–Mexico border is roughly 1,950 miles long.

      The wire doesn’t seem to be getting strung with any sort of strategic purpose, either. That WSJ story about the troops in Texas hanging wire from a bridge says that the “wire was placed on top of fences at least 15 feet high along each side of the bridge that sat several dozen feet above an embankment” while the bridge itself remains open to vehicle traffic from Mexico. If there is a goal, it would seem to be making the border look more prickly and dystopian while not actually creating any sort of barrier.

      It’s no wonder, then, that the troops deployed to the border are confused about why they are there. On Wednesday, when Defense Secretary Jim Mattis visited some of the troops stationed near McAllen, Texas, he was met with lots of questions and provided few answers.

      “Sir, I have a question. The wire obstacles that we’ve implanted along the border....Are we going to be taking those out when we leave?” one of the soldiers asked Mattis, according to Bergengruen. Another asked Mattis to explain the “short- and long-term plans of this operation.”

      “Short-term right now, you get the obstacles in so the border patrolmen can do what they gotta do,” Mattis responded. “Longer term, it’s somewhat to be determined.”

      Even at a time when most American military engagements seem to be conducted with a “TBD” rationale, this feels especially egregious. Mattis did his best on Wednesday to make the effort seem like a meaningful attempt to secure the border, while simultaneously admitting that he does not expect the deployed troops to actually come into contact with any immigrant caravans. Lately he’s been talking about how the deployment is supposedly good training for unconventional circumstances.

      It’s becoming increasingly obvious that Operation Faithful Patriot—a name so silly that the Pentagon has decided to stop using it—is nothing more than a very expensive, politically motivated P.R. campaign. Of the 39 units deployed, five of them are public affairs units. There seems to be no clear mission, no long-term objective, and no indication that the troops will add meaningful enforcement to existing border patrols.

      As for all that wire? It doesn’t really seem to be working either.

      https://reason.com/blog/2018/11/19/the-military-is-securing-a-1900-mile-bor
      #Faithful_Patriot #barbelé


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 16
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM16.htm

    Stalin’s Party

    The days passed into weeks, the weeks into months. An incessant lapse of time in which there was no purpose, in which one only looked back and felt a great emptiness in the soul.

    Winter had come. The New Year of 1947 was approaching. In us Soviet men, who stood on the bound between two worlds, this aroused few cheerful memories and still fewer cheerful expectations. We had recently witnessed two noteworthy events: in the October there had been the first post-war elections to the Berlin municipal council, and in November the regular election of candidates to the Supreme Soviet of the U. S. S. R.

    The German elections aroused far greater interest among the Soviet residents in Berlin than one would have expected. Perhaps it was because they differed fundamentally from those to which we were accustomed. It was strange to see the pre-election slogans of the various parties. We were struck by the powerful and intelligent propaganda of the Socialist Unity Party. Here one sensed the long experience of Soviet propaganda; it was self-confident and shameless. We, who were the masters of the S. E. D. and knew what was behind it all, were particularly struck by this latter aspect.

    I well remember one incident that occurred during the Berlin elections. One Sunday morning I and two other officers decided to take advantage of the fine weather to go for a motorcycle ride. We borrowed three heavy military motorcycles from the Auto Battalion and tore out of Karlshorst along the Frankfurter-Allee.

    On our way to the Alexanderplatz we overtook a slowly marching column of men with crimson banners and flags in their hands. The demonstrators made an exceptionally depressing and joyless impression. Men in Thaelmann caps and red armbands were bustling backward and forward along its sides. We accelerated to drive past. It had been organized by the trade unions of the Soviet sector to express the wishes and desires of the German people. Attendance was compulsory. Any man who didn’t turn up was in danger of losing his job. It was pitiful and absurd to see this flock of sheep moving along under the supervision of the herdsmen in Thaelmann caps.

    I don’t know how it came about, but all the three of us Soviet officers began to ride our powerful military motorcycles round and round that column. The demonstrators looked at one another anxiously, assuming that we were a military patrol sent to ensure that the procession didn’t melt away. The herdsmen stared at us in astonishment, and as we drove close to the edge of the column they had to jump aside to avoid being knocked down. For our part, we were sickened at the sight of this shameful comedy, and on the other hand we enjoyed not having to take part in it ourselves for once.

    On that same day a Soviet patrol shot an American who was attempting to photograph a similar demonstration in the Soviet sector of Berlin. Evidently someone was of the opinion that such photographs might have the same effect on the close observer that that procession had made on us.

    The elections were held on 21 October. I have never known people in the Soviet Union to take any interest in the results of elections to the Soviet elected authorities. But on that election day in Berlin I doubt whether there was one man in Karlshorst who was not interested in the results. Most interesting of all was the fact that the S. E. D. came last but one of the parties. Not much was said about this eloquent circumstance.

    In the S. M. A. Administration for Industry the Berlin elections led to the following conversation between Captain Bagdassarian and Major Zhdanov:

    “You know,” Captain Bagdassarian said, as he pointed to the results printed in one of the newspapers, “when I think of these elections I get a queer thought. All the parties are voting. Supposing the Communist Party gets a majority. Does it mean that the others will let it take over the power?”

    “Yes, it looks like it,” Major Zhdanov answered uncertainly.

    “That’s funny! If the Communist Party comes to power, its first step will be to wring the necks of all the other parties. Yet these other parties are ready to give the power into the Communist Party’s hands without making any resistance. That doesn’t make sense!”

    “You can’t make sense of this democracy business all at once!” the major sighed.

    “It’s utter idiocy!” the captain agreed.

    “Perhaps it isn’t so stupid after all.” The major knitted his brows in the attempt to get to the bottom of it all. “Democracy as a political form is the will of the majority. If the majority votes for communism, there will be communism. True, very few are voting for it at the moment!” he ended on a different note.

    “All the same, it’s queer.” Captain Bagdassarian ran his fingers through his curly hair. “They all sling abuse at one another, but nobody puts anybody else into prison. But we do just the reverse: one says nothing and is put in prison. A man doesn’t even think, and still he’s put in prison...”

    In December 1946 the Officers’ Club in Karlshorst was the scene of electoral meetings at which candidates were nominated for the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet. On the day set apart for the Administration for Industry all the workers in the Administration had to be present in the Club, which had been decorated for the occasion with additional portraits of the leaders, and red bunting.

    We sat for some time in the hall, utterly bored. At last the chairman called on a speaker, who had been previously arranged. With a paper in his hand the speaker went to the platform and, speaking in a monotonous tone, began to explain how happy we all were that we ourselves could elect the representatives to our country’s supreme governmental authority. Then a further speaker went to the platform to propose our candidate from the Special Electoral District formed by the Soviet Occupation Zone.

    Then the candidate himself came out from the wings and told us his life story. He was a general, but I doubt whether he had ever spoken in such a humble and lackadaisical manner in his entire previous military career. The second candidate was someone quite unknown to all of us. We knew such a person existed only when he went to the platform not from the wings, but from the body of the hall. He was chosen to play the role of candidate ’from the very heart of the people’. Both candidates had been put forward in advance by the S. M. A. Political Administration and had been approved by Moscow.

    We all waited impatiently for this boring procedure to finish, especially as it was to be followed by a film show. When the chairman announced that he proposed to take the vote the hall sighed with relief, and everybody hurriedly raised their hands without waiting to be invited. Armed with pencils and paper, the tellers hurried through the hall. The audience began to murmur with impatience. At last the votes were counted, and the chairman asked in a drowsy tone: “Those against?”

    There was a dead silence. Nobody stirred.

    The chairman waited for a moment or two, then looked round the hall. Then, to intensify the effect of the unanimous decision, he asked in a tone of assumed surprise: “Nobody against?”

    And thus we elected two men ’chosen of the people’ to the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet.

    The turn of the year brought several innovations that made one take yet another glance back over the eighteen months that had passed since the capitulation of Germany.

    In the early autumn of 1946 the United States Secretary of State, Byrnes, had made a speech in Stuttgart, soberly surveying events since the end of the war and indicating the main features of American foreign policy. Only now, after eighteen months, were the Americans beginning to suspect that it was hard to sup out of the same bowl as good old Uncle Joe.

    Byrne’s’ speech was not to the Kremlin’s liking, and it was given a sharp answer in Molotov’s speech on the occasion of the revolutionary celebrations on 7 November. So much importance was attached to this speech that it was made the subject of compulsory study in all the political study circles throughout the S. M. A.

    There was no attempt to conceal the connection between the Byrnes and Molotov speeches from the senior officials of the S. M. A.; the two speeches were studied simultaneously, and those taking part in the discussion had to unmask the American’s imperialist intrigues and to stress Molotov’s peace-loving policy. But Byrne’s’ speech was regarded as too dangerous for the less politically educated workers, and they were allowed to discuss only their own leader’s speech.

    These two political speeches can be regarded as marking the beginning of the cold war. In the Control Commission Allied relations cooled off still more and went no further than diplomatic courtesy required. Decisions affecting the future of Germany were more and more removed from the Control Commission meetings to the private offices of the Kremlin and the White House.

    This situation also served as a signal for a final tightening of the screw on the Soviet post-war front. The S. M. A. Political Administration issued an instruction accusing minor Party authorities of having lost contact with the masses and neglecting political educational work. This was the crack of the whip. One could guess what would follow. In fact the first consequence was a change of Party organizers in all the S. M. A. departments. This was followed by measures to tighten things up all through the Soviet machinery.

    Hitherto the Soviet residents of Karlshorst had lived and worked without engaging in political study. Anybody who knows anything about Soviet life will know what that meant. The higher authorities were secretly astonished, the smaller fry quietly rejoiced; but one and all held their tongues, on the principle of not mentioning the devil in case he appeared. But now political studies were started, including study of the Short History of the C. P. S. U. And it had to be carried through in shock tempo at that. Evidently to make up for lost time.

    The next step was a campaign to raise labor discipline. It was decided to remind Soviet citizens abroad that there was such a thing as the Soviet labor code. Brand-new boards with hooks and numbers were hung up in all the departments, and every worker in each department had to take off and re-hang his own allotted number four times a day. In the Soviet Union these boards are the object of fear, but their effect on us was rather to get our backs up.

    The head of the Administration for Industry, Alexandrov, entrusted his number to his chauffeur, who very quickly lost it. We officers regarded the boards as an insult and took it in turn to remove several numbers at a time. But once more Soviet law with all its consequences hung as a threat over the head of every one of us.

    Then a hysterical ’vigilance’ campaign was inaugurated. Personnel Departments were instituted in all the S. M. A. offices with the obvious job of keeping closer watch on the workers. Once more extensive questionnaires were drawn up ’for Soviet citizens abroad’. These with their endless list of questions had to be filled afresh every three months. Many of us kept a copy of the questionnaire and our answers, and next time simply copied the old answers on to the new form.

    A demobilized lieutenant of the N. K. V. D. forces was appointed head of the Personnel Department in the Administration for Industry. From the very beginning he behaved with such rudeness and insolence that many of the officers, who were of higher rank, were infuriated. His room was in the basement, and he would ring someone up: “Comrade Colonel, come down to me and fill in your questionnaire.” But as often as not he got the answer: “If you need it filled in, bring it up to me. At the moment I’m still a colonel, I believe.”

    An order issued by General Dratvin, chief of staff of the S. M. A., was circulated for the information of all members of the S. M. A. In it, without actually mentioning names, he stated that the wives of quite a number of highly placed Soviet officials were going to the Berlin western sector while their husbands were at work, and were forming impermissible acquaintances among officers of the western powers. The order spoke in very sharp terms; it referred to fashionable restaurants, expensive furs, and, to crown all, agents of foreign intelligence services. All the accused women were returned to the Soviet Union at twenty-four hours’ notice, and the husbands were sternly reprimanded for their lack of Bolshevik vigilance.

    The secret purpose of this unusually frank order was revealed in its second paragraph, in which all members of the S. M. A. were strictly forbidden to visit the western sector, and were reminded of the necessity to be particularly vigilant in the circumstances of residence abroad. The women were chastised in order to serve as a warning to others.

    In conclusion General Dratvin threatened the application of sterner measures to all who violated the order... down to and including return to the Soviet Union. In saying so much, the general went too far. For thus officially, in the words of the S. M. A. chief of staff, return to one’s native land was recognized as serious punishment for Soviet citizens abroad.

    None of this was anything new to us. We had experienced it all before, at home. But coming after we had won the war, after we had looked forward hopefully to changes in the Soviet system, and above all after our comparatively free life in occupied Germany, this abrupt return to former practices gave us furiously to think. Or rather, to avoid thinking if possible. That was the only hope.

    II

    I had made Major Dubov’s acquaintance during the war. Even a brief comradeship at the front binds men together more strongly than many years of acquaintance in normal conditions. That may have been the reason why we greeted each other as old acquaintances when we met again as fellow workers in the S. M. A

    He was over forty. Outwardly stern and incommunicative, he had few friends, and avoided society. At first I regarded his reserve simply as a trait of his character. But after a time I noticed that he had a morbid antipathy to anybody who began to talk politics in his hearing. I assumed that he had good reasons for his attitude, and never bothered him with unnecessary questions.

    It so happened that I was the only person Dubov introduced to his family. He had a charming, well-educated wife, and two children. When I came to know his family, I realized that he was not only a good husband and father, but also a rarely decent fellow morally.

    His one great passion was hunting. That brought us still closer together. We often drove out of Berlin on a Saturday and spent all day and all night hunting, cut off from Karlshorst and the entire world.

    On one occasion, tired out after hours of wandering through the dense growth of thickets and innumerable little lakes, we flung ourselves down to have a rest. The conversation happened to turn to discussion of an officer we both knew, and I casually remarked: “He’s still young and stupid...”

    The major gave me a close look and asked with a queer smile:

    “And are you so old and wise?”

    “Well, not quite,” I answered. “But I’ve learned to keep a still tongue in my head.”

    He again looked at me fixedly. “Tell me, has anything ever happened to you... of... you know what?”

    “Absolutely nothing,” I replied, realizing what he was hinting at.

    “Then why aren’t you in the Party?” he asked almost roughly.

    “I’ve simply not had the time,” I answered shortly, for I had no wish to go further into details.

    ’Now listen, Gregory Petrovich, it’s not a joking matter," he said slowly, and I caught an almost fatherly note in his voice. “For a man in your position it smacks almost of a deliberate demonstration. It might even have serious consequences for you.”

    “I’m doing my job as well as any Party man!” I retorted.

    He smiled, rather sadly. “That’s how I argued once,” he said with bitter irony.

    Then, without my prompting him, in an objective sort of tone he told me his story: how he had come to join the Party, and why he avoided people who talked politics.

    In 1938 Dubov was an engineer working in a Leningrad factory producing precision instruments. He was a capable engineer, and held a responsible post connected with the construction of instruments for the air force and the navy. He liked his job, devoted all his free time to research, and bothered little about politics. Despite his responsible post he remained a non-Party man.

    One day he was summoned to the director’s room. From that moment he was not seen in the works again. Nor did he return home. His wife found out what had happened to him when the N. K. V. D. men turned up at their apartment in the middle of the night, made a thorough search, and confiscated all her husband’s personal property. Next day she went to the N. K. V. D. to ask for news of him. She was told they knew nothing about him, and was advised not to worry, nor to worry others. If there were any need, she would be informed.

    Dubov spent more than a year in the investigation cells of the N. K. V. D. He was charged with sabotage and counter-revolutionary activity. The sentence was the standard one: ten years’ imprisonment, to be spent in one of the camps in Central Siberia, where new war factories were being built. There he continued to work as an engineer.

    He discovered the real reason for his arrest only two years later. Among a fresh batch of prisoners he recognized the former chief engineer at the Leningrad factory for precision instruments. Dubov was delighted to see him, but the man seemed restrained and avoided Dubov as much as possible. But as the months passed the two engineers struck up a friendship based on their common memories of freedom. One day the conversation turned to the reasons why they had been sent to the camp.

    “Someone denounced me,” Dubov said.

    The chief engineer looked away, then sighed, and laughed bitterly. “Would you like to know who it was?” he asked.

    Dubov stared at him distrustfully.

    “I did it,” the other man said, and hurried on without giving Dubov a chance to comment: “We regularly received orders from the N. K. V. D. to provide them with so many persons possessing such and such qualifications. The lists had to be drawn up by the Party organizer and confirmed by the chief engineer and the director. What could I do? I too had a wife and children....”

    “But why was I put on the list?” Dubov asked.

    “Because you were not a Party member,” the former chief engineer said. “The Party organizer put you down.”

    Dubov said nothing for some time, then he looked wearily at the other man and asked: “But how did you get here?”

    The engineer only shrugged his shoulders helplessly.

    Dubov spent four years in the camp. But during all those years he did not suffer as much as his wife and children. Under Soviet law a political prisoner’s guilt extends to include his family. His wife was morally and physically shattered. Their children grew up in the knowledge that their father was ’an enemy of the people’, and felt always that they were not like other children.

    In 1948 he was released before the expiration of his term. With no explanation given, he was completely rehabilitated and the conviction quashed. He was called up straight from the camp into the army. That was the real reason for his premature discharge. Without seeing his family he went as an officer directly to the front.

    At the front he was an exemplary officer, just as he had been an exemplary engineer in Leningrad and an exemplary prisoner in the Siberian camp. He was just to his men and ruthless to the enemy. And he was devoted to his native land, with all its Party organizers and prison camps.

    Shortly before the end of the war he received another battle decoration, and in addition was singled out for the honor of being invited to join the Communist Party. This time he did not hesitate. Without a word he filled in the questionnaires. And without a word he accepted the Party ticket, which the corps commander’s political deputy presented to him.

    In the S. M. A. Major Dubov was regarded as one of their most reliable and knowledgeable engineers. He was given the responsible task of transferring the German industry in the Soviet zone to new lines, but his rank and position remained unchanged. Why? Because, although he had been completely rehabilitated and the conviction had been quashed, in his personal file was a curt note: ’Conviction under article 58.’ That was enough to cast a shadow over all his future life.

    III

    During my stay in Karlshorst I formed a close friendship with Captain Belyavsky. Little by little I came to know his story too, though he talked about himself very reluctantly, and only dropped hints. In 1936 Belyavsky was in Spain, where he was a lieutenant in the staff of the Republican forces. This was about the time that the Yezhov terror was at its height in the Soviet Union, and one night his father was arrested, to vanish without trace. Belyavsky was immediately recalled from Spain and demobilized. Until 1941 he shared the fate of other relatives of ’enemies of the people’; in other words, he was outside the pale.

    All those spheres of Soviet life in which the first requirement is a completed questionnaire were closed to him. Only a Soviet citizen can understand all the significance of such a situation. When war broke out in 1941 he was not called up for the army, since he was ’politically unreliable’. But when the German forces began to lay siege to his native city, Leningrad, he went to the military commander and volunteered for service. His request was granted, and that same day, as an ordinary private, he was flung into the fight - in a punitive battalion. In other words, straight to his death. But fate was more merciful to him than the Soviet regime, and he escaped with a wound.

    He spent the next three years as an ordinary soldier, going right through the siege of Leningrad. His service was exemplary, and he was recommended again and again for officer’s rank, but each time the questionnaire put an end to the story. In 1944, when the Soviet armies were suffering from a very serious shortage of officers, he was summoned to the staff once more.

    The colonel who interviewed him pointed to the entry: ’article 58’ on his questionnaire and asked: “Why do you always mention that?”

    Belyavsky did not reply.

    “Is it that you don’t want to fight?” the colonel asked sharply; he avoided looking at the decorations on Belyavsky’s chest. Belyavsky only shrugged his shoulders. The decorations rattled a little, as though answering the colonel’s question.

    “If you continue to make such entries, I must regard it as an attempt to avoid military service,” the colonel said. “Take a new form and fill it in properly. Leave a space for your service rank.”

    Private Mikhail Belyavsky did not return to his company. But next day First-Lieutenant Belyavsky was on his way to Moscow. In his pocket he had an order to proceed to the Military-Diplomatic College of the Red Army General Staff. Men were needed in wartime, and there was no bothering about a thorough examination of questionnaires. There would be plenty of opportunity for that after the war. And so Mikhail Belyavsky entered one of the most privileged military colleges in the Soviet Union.

    He was discharged from the college in the autumn of 1945 with the rank of captain, and was sent to work in the Soviet Military Administration. That was nothing extraordinary. Many of the students were freed from further study even in the middle of their second-year course, in order to take up a post.

    Captain Belyavsky’s personal file, which was kept in the S. M. A. Personnel Department, was in spotless order. All through his documents the phrase occurred again and again: ’Devoted to the Lenin-Stalin Party’. That was a stereotyped remark and was to be found in almost every officer’s personal file, but it was truer of him than of the majority.

    Certain days were set apart for political instruction, and on one of these days Belyavsky went to his office two hours earlier, as was his custom, and unfolded his papers. The educational circle to which he belonged was of a rather higher level, for it consisted exclusively of men with advanced education. With earnest faces they pored over the pages of the Short Course, though they must have known that the book was full of lies and falsifications.

    The leader of the circle, who normally was one of themselves, began proceedings by asking:

    “Well, who’s prepared to open on the third chapter? Any volunteers?”

    They all bowed their heads even lower over their books. Some of them began to turn over their papers hurriedly; others fixed their eyes on the table as though collecting their thoughts with a view to speaking later. There was no volunteer.

    “All right, then we’ll follow the list,” the leader proposed. There was a sigh of relief.

    The majority of the circle leaders kept alphabetical lists of their circle members. Each member knew whom he followed. And so the question was settled quite simply. The first on the list began to deliver a summary of the chapter, while the one who was to follow him read farther, underlining passages with red pencil. In this way the majority of circles got through their course without difficulty.

    All the members of Belyavsky’s circle had worked through the Short Course several times already. They were all bored to tears. When each had done his duty he sat gazing out of the window, smoking, or sharpening his pencil.

    Everything went off as usual. The speakers droned away monotonously. The leader sat with his eyes on his notebook, not even listening. It was a hot day, and everybody felt sleepy. And in that drowsy kingdom something happened to Captain Belyavsky that he himself would have had difficulty in explaining.

    When his turn was reached he had to expatiate on the passage which deals with the Entente’s three anti-Soviet campaigns. The theme had a heroic quality and there were parallels to the experiences of the war just ended. As soon as Belyavsky began to speak the leader raised his sleepy eyes and stared at him in astonishment. And one by one all the others began to gaze at him in bewilderment.

    For he spoke as though addressing a meeting. His voice had a note of unusual conviction. It sounded a note of faith, of challenge. He depicted the three foreign interventions in Soviet Russia after the 1917 revolution, and cleverly linked them up with the invasion and destruction of the Nazi armies in 1941-1945. He did not summarize the Short Course; he spoke extemporaneously, from a heart burning with conviction. The bewildered looks of his fellows expressed the mute question: ’Has he gone mad? Why all this unnecessary bother?’

    It happened that the circle that day included the Instructor from the S. M. A. Political Administration, who was there as observer. Belyavsky’s speech attracted his notice; obviously he had not often heard anyone speak with conviction in these circles for political education. He made a note of the name. Next day Belyavsky was summoned to the Political Administration.

    “Listen, Comrade Captain,” the instructor said to him. "I’m amazed at you. I’ve been looking through your personal file. An exemplary officer, the finest of testimonials, and yet you’re not a Party member. That simply won’t do. The Party must interest itself in men like you...

    “No, no, no...” he raised his hand, as though afraid Belyavsky might make some objection. “You made a very remarkable speech in the political circle yesterday... And yet you’ve never been drawn into Party work. We shall assign you to the task of giving political instruction to the officers’ wives. That to begin with. And secondly, you must put in your application for Party membership at once. No objections! Get that?”

    Belyavsky had no thought of objecting. Membership of the Party connoted a full and valid position in Soviet society. His heart was filled with joy; he shook the instructor’s hand with genuine gratitude.

    The November revolutionary celebrations were drawing near. In addition to having charge of a political education circle, Belyavsky was entrusted with the preparations for the festival. He plunged headlong into social and political activity and devoted all his free time to it. Spiritually he was born again. But above all he rejoiced because the Party had forgotten his past, because he was no longer a lone wolf. Only now did he fully realize how bitterly he had felt his alienation from society.

    Just about then an insignificant incident occurred which had unexpected consequences.

    Belyavsky was a keen motorcyclist. While working in the S. M. A. he had had innumerable specimens of motorcycles pass through his hands, and in the end he had picked on a very fine BMW sports model for himself. All Karlshorst knew that machine, and many a young officer stood to admire it as it flashed by.

    One evening, as he was riding past the house where Valia Grinchuk lived, he saw a light in her rooms, and decided to drop in and see her. He leaned the motorcycle against the railings, but did not lock it up, as was his habit, for he did not intend to stay long.

    Valia had guests, the company was a merry one, and he stayed longer than he thought. He left about ten o’clock. When he got outside his motorcycle had disappeared. He looked about him, thinking someone must be playing a practical joke. But there was no sign of it anywhere.

    He broke into a string of curses. Obviously someone had stolen the machine. But what infuriated him most was the knowledge that the thief must be one of his own, Soviet, people. No Berlin thief would ever have dared to take anything from Karlshorst, least of all a motorcycle.

    The Karlshorst commandatura was only a few paces away. He went and reported the theft to the officer on duty. The lieutenant sympathized with him and promised to find out whether the theft had been committed by one of the commandatura guards. He knew well enough who were responsible for the majority of the thefts that took place in Karlshorst.

    Belyavsky had no great faith in the commandatura, and he decided to go straight to a German police station situated just outside the sealed-off Soviet area. He returned accompanied by a German policeman and a police dog. At the spot where the motorcycle had been left the policeman put the dog on the scent. It made directly for the next wicket gate and began to paw at it.

    Belyavsky knew that the Party organizer for the Administration of Justice, Major Yeroma, and his deputy, Major Nikolayev, lived there, and he thought the dog was completely on the wrong trail. But each time they tried out the animal it persistently led them to that wicket gate. In the end Belyavsky shrugged his shoulders hopelessly and let the German policeman go.

    Next day he happened to be passing the gate at which the dog had pawed, and he decided to go in and make inquiries. He found four young women sitting in the sitting room. One of them was the wife of Major Nikolayev; another was the wife of the head of the S. M. A. Political Administration, General Makarov.

    All the women were rather problematic wives, wives only within the bounds of Karlshorst. Almost all the high S. M. A. officials had exceptionally young wives. Marshal Sokolovsky’s wife was several years younger than his daughter was. Such things were the result of the war.

    Belyavsky apologized for troubling them, explained why he had called, and inquired whether they had noticed anything suspicious the previous evening. They exchanged embarrassed glances and expressed their indignation at the theft. They seemed bored, and they invited him to stay awhile. Quite an animated conversation followed, a conversation, which played a large part in the further developments, chiefly because he made a very good impression on those young women.

    After searching fruitlessly for a week he had resigned himself to | the loss of his favorite machine, when one evening he was called | to the telephone. He was astonished to hear a woman’s voice

    “Is that Comrade Captain Belyavsky?” the unknown asked, and went on hurriedly: “You mustn’t mind my not mentioning my name. I I’m one of the ladies who... you remember, you called to inquire | about the motorcycle.... I phoned up to let you know that your machine is in the cellar of the house you called at. Go at once and you’ll find it. You can guess who took it.... Please don’t tell anybody how you found out. I wouldn’t like...”

    He hurriedly thanked her and put down the receiver. He sat for a moment considering what he should do next. For the thief could be no other than the S. M. A. Party organizer for the Administration of Justice, Yeroma himself. Finally he decided to ask a Lieutenant-Colonel Potapov and Major Berko to go with him as witnesses. On their way to Major Yeroma’s house they picked up the officer on duty at the commandatura.

    Major Yeroma was not at home. At the commandatura officer’s request the cellar was opened. There they found the missing motorcycle. The commandatura officer drew up an official report on the theft and discovery of the machine. In his simplicity he wrote: ’The thief is Major Yeroma, of the Administration of Justice, and Party organizer to the Administration of Justice.’ The report was signed by all the witnesses, including Major Yeroma’s wife.

    As the four officers struggled to haul the heavy machine up the stairs, between their groans and pants the officer could not help remarking: “One man couldn’t have got it down there by himself. He must have had at least two others to help him.”

    It transpired that the day the machine was stolen Major Yeroma was returning late in the evening from the Political Administration, accompanied by two other officers of the Administration of Justice. As he approached his house the Major noticed the machine and, without stopping to think, persuaded the other two officers to help him put it in his cellar. Probably it would not have been found if Belyavsky hadn’t chanced to call on the young women.

    They knew that Major Yeroma had got hold of a motorcycle the previous evening, but they had no idea where he had obtained it. When Belyavsky told his story they put two and two together, but they did not tell him what they were thinking, for obvious reasons. After he had gone they quarreled among themselves. The young wife of the head of the Political Administration took Belyavsky’s side and declared that the machine must be returned to him.

    In his indignation he decided to take steps to bring the culprits to justice. He wrote reports of the affair to General Dratvin, the S. M. A. chief of staff, to the Political Administration, and the S. M. A. Military Prosecutor. If justice were done, Major Yeroma should be expelled from the Party, stripped of his officer’s rank and sentenced to imprisonment for theft. So the law prescribed.

    When Major Berko heard what Belyavsky intended to do he advised him not to be in any hurry. A charge against Yeroma involved much else besides him, and in such cases it was advisable to be prudent. He suggested that Belyavsky should first go and see Yeroma personally, and they decided to call on him during lunchtime.

    They found him at home. He was sitting at the table, with his tunic unbuttoned and unbelted. Before him was an aluminum dish of steaming beetroot soup. He did not even look up when the visitors were shown in, but went on spooning up his soup.

    “Well, Yeroma,” Belyavsky said, “how did my motor-cycle get into your cellar?”

    “I found it,” the major answered with his mouth full of food, and not batting an eyelid.

    “I shall send a report to the Political Administration.” Belyavsky was so taken aback by the Party organizer’s impudence that he didn’t know what else to say.

    Yeroma went on eating, or rather guzzling his soup; the sweat rolled down his face. When he had finished the dish he picked it up and poured the last few drops into his spoon. Then he licked the spoon and smacked his lips.

    “You’ll never make any impression on him with a report,” Berko said in a rage. “Spit in his plate and let’s go!” They went, slamming the door behind them. The same evening Belyavsky went to the office of the head of the Political Administration and handed the adjutant on duty his report. While the adjutant was reading it with some interest General Makarov himself came out of his room.

    “Another case relating to Yeroma, Comrade General,” the adjutant reported with a smile.

    “Ah! That’s good!” the general observed. “He’s already on our list for bigamy...”

    The adjutant afterwards explained to Belyavsky that, following his superiors’ example; Yeroma had taken a new wife to himself. But in doing so he had made one tactical error: unlike others, he had registered his marriage at the Soviet register office in Karlshorst. But he had not taken the trouble to obtain a divorce from his first wife, who was in Russia.

    Belyavsky then went to the S. M. A. military prosecutor, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov. Orlov knew Belyavsky personally, and he told him frankly: “We can’t take him to court. In this case it all depends on the Political Administration. You know yourself it’s a Party matter.”

    If Belyavsky had had more experience in Party matters, he would probably have avoided measuring his strength against the Party. Meanwhile, the Political Administration had received a resolution from a local Party group recommending Captain Belyavsky’s acceptance as a Party member. His application was accompanied by brilliant testimonials to his conduct during the war. But now the affair of the stolen motorcycle was beginning to be talked about all over Karlshorst. In order to smother the scandal the Political Administration decided that it must close the mouth of one of the two antagonists, and the choice fell on Belyavsky.

    Quite unexpectedly he received the order that he was to be demobilized and returned to the Soviet Union. He knew at once what was behind that order. What he did not know was that on his return he was to be brought to trial. The explanation was quite simple. Not long before the motorcycle incident he had filled up one of the regular questionnaires. This time, in accordance with new, strict instructions, it was sent to the local M. V. D. departments in all his previous places of residence, to be checked. It was returned from Leningrad with the comment: ’father sentenced under article 58.’ So he was demobilized and sent back to the U. S. S. R., where he was tried for making a false statement which he had been forced into making under threat of court-martial.

    Belyavsky’s collision with the Party in the person of Major Yeroma was not a decisive factor in his recall to the Soviet Union. He belonged to a category of people whose fate was predetermined. That was shown by the fact that almost at the same time Major Dubov also was demobilized and recalled. Only the S. M. A. Personnel Department and Major Dubov himself knew what was behind that order. He, too, had to take his postwar place in life.

    IV

    Two men in my close circle of acquaintances had been cut out of life and thrown overboard. I respected them as men and liked them as colleagues. Others, too, thought of them as fine exemplars of the new Soviet society. Neither of them had anything in common with the old classes, which, according to Marxism, were destined to be eliminated. They had both been created by the Soviet world and were, in the best sense of the words, true citizens of Soviet society. Yet they were condemned, irrevocably condemned to death. To spiritual death at the least. And there are millions of similar cases.

    That can easily be proved. During the thirty years of the Soviet regime at least thirty million people have been subjected to repressive measures on political grounds. As the families of all such people are automatically classified as politically unreliable, if we assume that each of them had only two relatives at least sixty million people must be on the black list.

    If ten million out of the thirty million died in prison camps, and at least another ten million are still in the camps, while ten million have served their time and been released, we get a figure of eighty million people whom the Soviet State has turned into its enemies, or, at least, regards as its enemies. That explains why in every section of the Soviet state apparatus there are personnel departments charged with the scrutiny and check of questionnaires. Today it is indubitable that the main class of the new Soviet society consists of millions of automatic enemies of the Soviet State.

    This invisible class of enemies who are also slaves permeates all society from top to bottom. Is it necessary to cite examples? One could mention the names of many marshals of the Soviet Union, as well as Stalin prize-winners, who have been in N. K. V. D. prisons; and these would be names known all over the world. Of the millions of petty collisions between State and individual who can speak?

    State and individual! Involuntarily I think of Valia Grinchuk, an undersized girl, and a partisan fighter who in the fight for her freedom took up arms. She fought bravely. She not only defended her freedom against the foreign enemy; she climbed the ladder of Soviet society. She raised herself out of the gray mass and became an individual. And hardly had she achieved this when she felt the heavy hand of the State.

    Her duties often took her to the Allied Control Commission. There she came to know a young Allied officer. There could be no outward objection to this acquaintance, as she visited the Control Commission in the course of her work. After some time the acquaintance developed into a personal friendship.

    One day she was summoned to the Party organization. She was given to understand quite amiably that the Party knew of her acquaintance with an Allied officer. To her astonishment, that was all that was said, and it seemed that the Party leaders were quite sympathetic in regard to the friendship. Some time later this incident was repeated, and she had the impression that they were even encouraging the acquaintance.

    Time passed and this friendship between a Soviet girl and an Allied officer developed into a genuine attachment. But now she was once more summoned to the Party organization, and, as a Party member, was confronted with the demand to harness her love to State interests.

    Next day she was taken to hospital. The doctors found she had a very high temperature and blood pressure, but could find no visible reason for her condition. Weeks passed without any change for the better.

    One day an elderly, experienced neuro-pathologist came to her ward, studied her case history, and shook his head as he asked her: “Have you met with any great unpleasantness... in your personal life?”

    “No!” she curtly replied.

    She spent more than two months in hospital. When she was discharged she applied on health grounds to be transferred to work which did not bring her into contact with the Control Commission. Through acquaintances she informed her lover that she had been recalled to Russia. Valia had the heart of a soldier.

    Only very few people knew the connection between these incidents. Everybody continued to regard her as a fine officer who was assiduously doing her duty in Soviet society. And only a few noticed that she began to leave off wearing her officer’s tunic with its decorations, and took to ordinary feminine clothes.

    All these things happened to people who were close acquaintances of mine. They affected me personally because sooner or later I, too, would have to join the Party. There was no other choice, except to face up to a future, which for Major Dubov and Captain Belyavsky had become the present.

    Today there is no Communist Party in the Soviet Union. There is only Stalin’s Party with its obsolete facade. The aim and end of that Party is power, indivisible power. The ideal Party member should not have any independent thought; he must be only a dumb executive of the higher will. A striking example is provided by Party organizer Major Yeroma, a bestial brute and an ideal Bolshevik of the Stalin school.

    I was wearing Soviet officer’s uniform and I was a child of the October Revolution. If I had been born twenty years earlier, I would perhaps have been a convinced Marxist and revolutionary, active in the October Revolution. Today, despite everything, I was still not a member of the Communist Party. If I had not been faced with the necessity, the indubitable necessity, it would never even have entered my head to join the Party, which was called the Communist Party of the Soviet Union.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 08
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM08.htm

    The Fruits of Victory

    The B. M. W. car works in Eisenach was one of the first large industrial plants in the Soviet zone to receive the S. M. A.’s per-mission to start up production again. It at once began to work at high pressure, turning out cars for reparations deliveries and for the internal needs of the S. M. A. The new car park at Karlshorst consisted exclusively of B. M. W. machines. In addition, heavy motorcycles were supplied for the Soviet occupation forces.

    The Potsdam Conference had made a number of decisions concerning the demilitarization of Germany, and, with the active participation of General Shabalin, the Allied Control Commission drew up regulations strictly forbidding German industry to produce any kind of military or paramilitary material. Meanwhile, the same General Shabalin placed definite orders with the B. M. W. works for the delivery of military motorcycles. But of course motorcycles are only small items.

    The representatives of B. M. W. Eisenach managed to get their agreement with the S. M. A. at Karlshorst settled unusually quickly; other firms offering their products against the reparations account hung about the place for days and weeks on end before they got any satisfactory answer. But the B. M. W. board was more than usually resourceful in their methods.

    A few days after Shabalin had signed the license for the Eisenach firm to start up, I was looking through his morning post. Among other items I noticed a B. M. W. account for some 7, 400 marks, debited to Shabalin, and relating to payment for a car ’which you have received through our representative’. The account was stamped ’paid in full’. I threw Kuznetsov an interrogative glance, but he pretended to know nothing about the matter.

    Next day, as I was crossing the yard of the house where Shabalin had his apartment, I saw Misha at the door of the garage. He was polishing a brand-new car, so new that it was not yet registered, shining in splendor in the dark garage.

    ‘Whose car is that?’ I asked in amazement, knowing that the general had no car like it.

    ‘Ah, you’ll see!’ Misha answered evasively, quite unlike his usual garrulous self.

    When I noticed the chequered marque of the B. M. W. firm on the radiator I realized what had happened. The board had made the general a little ’present’. The 7, 400 Reichsmarks were a fictitious purchase price. And the general had ordered his adjutant and chauffeur to keep their mouths shut, just in case.

    Already during the advance into Germany General Shabalin had ’organized’ two cars, and with Misha’s help had sent them back home, together with three lorries loaded with ’trophies’. In Berlin he made use only of the two service cars at his disposal, and did not make a single journey with his new B. M. W. Shortly afterwards Misha dispatched the B. M. W. also to Russia, together with two more lorries. Naturally, not against reconstruction or reparations accounts, but strictly privately, to the general’s home address. So now he had three private and two service cars. He exploited the service machines, and spared his own, shamefacedly keeping them quiet. In this respect the general was as thrifty as a usurer.

    At first it did not occur to me to provide myself with a car. But later, when I saw how others were adapting themselves to local conditions, I thought it wouldn’t be a bad idea. It was easy enough to buy one, but it was much more difficult to get ’permission to possess a private car’. Such permission was issued by the head of the S. M. A. Administrative Department, General Demidov. General Demidov was subordinate in rank to General Shabalin, so I decided to sound Shabalin first. If he agreed, all he had to do was to phone up Demidov and the matter would be settled. I wrote out the requisite application and laid it before the general at the close of my usual service report.

    ‘Hm! What do you want a private car for?’ the economic dictator of Germany asked, rubbing his nose with his finger knuckle, as was his habit

    The Soviet leaders take good care to see that others should not too easily acquire the privileges they themselves enjoy. Even if an American, even if General Draper himself applied personally to Shabalin, he would decide that the applicant had ’No need whatever of a car’.

    ‘Wait a little longer. At the moment I haven’t time to deal with it,’ he said as he handed back the application.

    I knew it would get more and more difficult to obtain the requisite permission. But I also knew that no situation is insoluble; at the worst it was simply that one did not find the solution. ’You must howl with the wolves’ is one of the chief commandments of Soviet life. I had a strong suspicion that the general’s refusal was due only to his caution. He did not wish to run the risk of being charged with lack of bolshevik vigilance in allowing his subordinates to grow accustomed to ’capitalist toys’. He may have had that same feeling when he ’organized’ his own trophies, but the un-communist vestiges of desire for personal gain had overcome his fear. I decided to approach the question from a different angle.

    ‘Do you give me permission to apply to General Demidov, Comrade General?’ I asked in a casual manner.

    ‘Why not? Of course you can,’ he readily answered. So my assumption was confirmed. The general was not prepared to give his signature, but he had no objection to someone else taking the responsibility.

    General Demidov knew quite well that I was one of General Shabalin’s personal staff. In approaching him I could exploit the element of surprise. The next day, with a self-confident air I laid my application on the desk of the head of the Administrative Department. ‘By General Shabalin’s permission,’ I said as I saluted.

    Demidov read the application, assuming that Shabalin had already sanctioned it. In such circumstances a refusal would seem like opposition to a superior officer’s order.

    ‘But aren’t four cylinders enough for you?’ He knitted his brow as he looked through the car documents. ‘Six cylinders are for-bidden to private individuals.’

    Demidov was well known as capable of haggling all day with the utmost fervor over ten litres of petrol, though he had thousands of tons of it in store. In order to get the illegal extra two cylinders I invited him cheerfully: ‘Then ring up General Shabalin, Comrade General.’ I knew Demidov would never do anything so stupid. And, in any case, Shabalin had gone out, and was unobtainable.

    ‘Oh well!’ Demidov sighed as though he were committing a crime. ‘As Shabalin’s agreed...’ He countersigned my application, stamped it, and handed it back to me with the words: ‘But don’t break your neck.’

    This was a great achievement. Later on many officers spent months trying to get permission to own a private car, but had to go on being content with the trams.

    Quite early on I was warned always to go on foot in Karlshorst, and to look in every direction before crossing a street. In fact, there was more traffic accidents in Karlshorst than in all the rest of Berlin. Normal traffic regulations were modified to quite an extent by the drivers themselves, or rather, by the men at the wheel. Lorries always had priority, because of their tonnage. The logic was unusually simple, and dictated by life itself: the one likely to suffer most damage in a collision should always give way. Not for nothing was Karlshorst called the ’Berlin Kremlin’. The rules of the game were the same.

    However, generals’ cars introduced a controversial note into this ’traffic regulation’, and frequently the conflict between tonnage and prestige ended in crushed radiators. Then the glass of smashed headlamps scrunched underfoot at the street crossings, and the more inquisitive studied the nearest trees and fences in an attempt to reconstruct the details of the accident from the torn bark and twisted railings. The safest way of traveling through Karlshorst was in a tank.

    The drivers generally, ordinary soldiers most of them were genuinely annoyed at the fact that generals’ cars bore no distinguishing marks. How were they to know who was sitting in the car: some snotty-nosed lieutenant or a high and mighty general? You see, there was an unwritten law, strictly observed, that nobody had the right to overtake a general’s car.

    I remember an incident that occurred once when I was driving with General Shabalin from Dresden to Berlin. We were traveling along a narrow country road lined with apple-trees when a speedy little D. K. W. fitted past right under the nose of our weighty Admiral. The officer driving it did not deign even to glance at us. Misha looked interrogatively at Shabalin, sitting beside him. Without turning his head the general curtly ordered: ‘After him and stop him!’

    As a rule Misha was not allowed to drive fast because the general suffered from gastric trouble; now he did not need to be told twice. In anticipation of the pleasure that he could experience so seldom he stepped so violently on the gas that the general pulled a face.

    Not in the least suspecting the fate that threatened him, the unfortunate driver of the D. K. W. took up the challenge: he stepped on it too. After some minutes spent in furious pursuit the Admiral drew ahead and began to block its rival’s path. To give the maneuver an impressive touch the general stuck his head with his gold-braided cap out of the window, and shook his fist. The effect was terrific: the D. K. W. stopped with a jerk some thirty yards behind us, and remained at a standstill in expectation of the thunders and lightning about to be let loose.

    ‘Major, go and give that blockhead a good punch in the mug,’ the general ordered me.

    I got out to execute the order. A lieutenant was standing beside the D. K. W., fidgeting nervously. In a state of consternation, he tried to make excuses for his behavior. I took a cautious glance back and saw the general watching me from our car, so I let fly a volley of curses at the unlucky officer. But I was astonished to observe that he was far more frightened than the incident justified. So, as I was running a keen eye over his papers, I glanced inside his car. From the depths of it a German girl stared back at me, her eyes filled with tears. That explained the officer’s fright: this might cost him his tabs, for acquaintance with German girls was strictly forbidden. I gave him a searching look. He stood like a lamb awaiting the slaughter. I placed myself with my back to our car and said in a very different tone: ‘Hop it as quick as you can!’

    When I returned to our car the general greeted my cheerful face with an irritable look and muttered: ‘Why didn’t you knock out his teeth for him? And you’re a front-fighter!’ To appease his injured dignity I replied: ‘It really wasn’t worth it, General. You’d already given him such a fright that he’d got his breeches full.’

    ‘You’ve got a long tongue, Major. You’re always finding excuses for getting round my orders,’ he grumbled, and nodded to Misha. ‘Drive on. But not so fast!’

    Accustomed as I was to traffic conditions in Karlshorst, and especially after I had repeatedly had to drive on to the sidewalk to avoid a pursuing lorry, I found driving through other parts of Berlin a queer experience. I was out of my element. Even along the main street you drove at a reasonable speed, and you stepped politely on the brake when a huge American truck shoved its nose out of a side street. A truck that size driven by a Russian would never have given way even to the marshal himself. But the stupid American shoved on his pneumatic brakes that groaned like an elephant, and waved his hand from his superior height: ‘Drive on.’ Wasting his gas like that! He didn’t understand the simplest of traffic and other rules: ’If you’re the stronger you have priority’.

    The numbers of victims of car accidents rose threateningly. Marshal Zhukov was forced to resort to draconian measures. When a Mercedes in which General Kurassov, the first chief of staff of the S. M. A., was driving was smashed up at a Karlshorst crossing there was a furious development of car inspections. Next day all the street crossings were decorated with red ’prohibited’ signs, traffic lights, German traffic police and motor-patrols from the Soviet Military-Automobile Inspection. It was more confusing to drive through Karlshorst than through a virgin forest.

    The problem of guarding the Soviet citizens against the corrupting influence of the capitalist West caused the Soviet authorities in Germany many a headache. Take cars again, as an example. According to Soviet dogma a private car is a bourgeois luxury. As a rule there were to be only service cars, put at the disposal of those whom the State deemed worthy of them because of rank and position. Exceptions were few and of no importance, being made chiefly for propaganda purposes. But the time of vulgar equality and brotherhood was long past. Now we had scientific socialism. He who learned his lesson well had had a service car for a long time already.

    But then a struggle set in between the ’capitalist vestiges in the communist consciousness’ and the Soviet dogma. Despite thirty years of ’re-education’, those ’capitalist vestiges’ proved to be extraordinarily tenacious and, when transferred to other conditions, flourished again in all their beauty.

    In 1945 every Soviet officer in Germany could buy a car at the price of a month’s pay. In this case the policy of ’control through the ruble’ was ineffective. So the authorities had to resort to other methods. Patrols of the Military-Automobile Inspection, armed to the teeth, combed out all the yards in Karlshorst, and searched the garages and cellars for cars whose possession was not ’licensed’. Documents showing that they had been acquired quite legally made no difference whatever. Anyone could buy a car, but who would drive it was another matter. By such radical methods officers were deprived of cars that they had purchased officially and quite regularly, but for which they had failed to obtain a license. They had to deliver their cars to the State, or have them confiscated. Expropriation as a method of socialist education!

    In 1945 any officer holding the rank of major or higher could venture to apply for permission to own a private car. From May 1946 onward only officers of colonel’s or higher rank were allowed to apply, and this practically amounted to a ban on all officers. The Germans could come to Karlshorst in their cars and call on you. But the Soviet officers often had to use streetcars when visiting Germans. ‘I’ve left my bus round the corner’ was the usual formula in such cases.

    The golden days of 1945, when the Soviet western frontier was practically non-existent, was now part of the legendary past. The majority of the champions of private property, who had nursed the hope of showing off in their ’private’ cars in their home towns, and of traveling on their own horse-power all the way from Berlin, through Poland, to the Soviet Union, had their secret wish-dreams shattered: on reaching the Soviet frontier they had to leave their cars behind, and to drag their heavy cases to the train. The import tax on a car greatly exceeded its purchase price. It might have cost 5, 000 Reichsmarks, the equivalent of 2, 500 rubles; but the customs authorities fixed the tax according to the purchase price of the corresponding Soviet machine, i. e., between 10, 000 and 12, 000 rubles, and then imposed a tax of 100 to 120 per cent of this hypothetical purchase price. Of course nobody had such a large sum in his pocket.

    His fellow travelers in the train consoled the sinner thus being brought back to the Soviet fold: ‘Don’t worry, Vania. It’s better so. It only saves you further trouble. You think it out. Supposing you arrive in Moscow. Before you can dare to register the car you’ve got to have a garage built of brick or stone, and you yourself will have to live in a timber house with accommodation of nine square yards per soul. And you’d never get a license for purchasing petrol, and buying it on the side means either bankruptcy or the clink.’

    An obviously highly experienced individual poked his head down from the upper berth of the sleeper, and rubbed balm into the late car-owner’s soul: "You thank your lucky stars you’ve got out of it so easily. There was a demobilized captain in my town-he brought back a wonderful Mercedes with him. And what happened? He’s likely to be a nervous wreck for the rest of his life. He was just an ordinary sort like you or me, not a district Soviet chairman, and not an active worker. And suddenly this quite ordinary sort of individual goes driving around in an elegant automobile. All the local leaders were peeved. And they put their heads together to think up a way of swindling the Mercedes out of him. And then he had had it! Somewhere in the district a cow was run over by a train, and he was summoned before the public prosecutor: ’Why did you kill that cow?’ Somewhere a bridge collapsed with old age; he was called to the court again: ’What did you smash that bridge for?’ Whenever some misfortune happened in the district he was charged with it: ’You did it with your auto!’

    ‘At last this comedy began to get him down, so he decided to sell his car. But that wasn’t so easy: nobody would buy it. After much worry and trouble he arranged with the head of the local Machine-Tractor Station to exchange the car against a calf and a few sacks of corn from the next harvest. But then the Party Central Committee issued a regulation ’Concerning the Squandering of the Property of Collective Farms and Machine-Tractor Stations’. The head of the Tractor Station was arrested for his past sins, and the captain didn’t dare say a word about the calf and corn he was owed. So you see how that sort of game ends? Of course you’d have been wiser to sell your car and get drunk on the proceeds. But you can’t foresee everything.’

    After this story the car-owner felt greatly relieved, and began to think he’d been rather clever to leave it at the frontier. He even started to argue that under socialist conditions the non-existence of a car was an advantage. ‘Yes, you’re right,’ he remarked. ‘It’s only unnecessary trouble. In Germany, if your car goes wrong even on a country road, you’ve only got to whistle and a German jumps out of the nearest bush and puts it right for you. But in Russia you could have a breakdown in the middle of a town and you’d be as badly off as Robinson Crusoe.’

    When he arrived home that man felt he had been fortunate in ridding himself of the burden and becoming again a full member of Soviet society.

    ‘The best thing to do with this tobacco is stuff a mattress with it.’ The captain with a bleached greatcoat and his cap pushed back on his nape flung his half-smoked German ersatz Mixture Six furiously on the ground and contemptuously crushed it into the loose sand. A group of officers was sitting at the foot of the five-yard high obelisk, hurriedly knocked up from strips of veneer and painted all over with red paint, that stood outside the S. M. A. building. The socle of the obelisk was in the shape of a five-pointed star, and was made of red-painted boards, the center being filled with sand. The officers were warming themselves in the slanting rays of the autumn sun. In Germany the sun is genial, and apparently it is accustomed to order. It never forces you to seek shade; it only warms you, pleasantly and affably.

    The officers had made themselves comfortable on the veneer star while waiting to be summoned into the staff. The years of life at the front had taught them never to be in any unnecessary hurry, and to shorten the time of waiting with cigarettes and philosophical chats.

    ‘Thank goodness the war’s over, at any rate,’ said a young artillery lieutenant dreamily. "You didn’t think much in those days: today you were alive, tomorrow you were for the Land Department or the Health Department-who cared? Only when you had a letter from your mother did it occur to you to take care of yourself. So as not to worry the old people.

    ‘Yesterday I was sitting in the little square opposite the ’Capitol’,’ he went on. ‘There’s a marble woman stands there with a small mound at her feet, and on it is a little stick with a tricoloured flag. I asked some passing Germans: ’What’s all that?’ and they told me a Frenchman was buried there. Just where he fell, poor devil, there they buried him in the middle of the street. A rotten spot; I’d far rather be buried in a field, where there’s grass growing and the wind blowing. But that Frenchman isn’t allowed a moment’s rest. On 7 November our Pioneers had a fireworks display on that very spot in honor of the revolution. They buried six-inch shell cases in the earth and began such a firing that half Berlin was stood on its head. The Germans thought war had broken out again and Karlshorst was being bombed.’

    The lieutenant enjoyed talking, and he went on: ‘Yes, you can say what you like. It’s better on top than under the earth. I’m sorry for those who have to lie underneath. They say there used to be a memorial to the Unknown Soldier somewhere in Berlin. Fire burned everlastingly in front of it and in the roof above was a round hole and you could see the blue sky through it. And when you went inside you felt as though you were midway between this world and the next. That’s where the Germans soothed their consciences over those who had fallen in the fields and forests. And any mother who went there could think the fire was burning for her son. They say they’ve got a similar idea in Paris. So they haven’t forgotten the little Frenchman lying opposite the ’Capitol’.’

    An older captain, who had been only half listening, was interested in this theme and commented: "There are lots of strange things in this country. You’ll find a memorial to fallen soldiers even in the smallest of villages. And none of your veneer rubbish, but a real memorial; as you look at it you feel you’ve got to take off your cap. Made of granite or unhewn stone, the soldiers’ names carved in it, all overgrown with moss, and a spring with waters gurgling just by it. Great people, these Germans! They even make the dead comfortable.

    ‘There was a memorial in the little town where I worked in the commandatura,’ he continued. ‘It was in the shape of a large stone ball, probably to represent the earth, with a dying soldier spread out over it, with his face turned to the ball, his arms out-stretched, his hands clawing into the ground as though he were trying to embrace all the world. Our political commissar wanted the commandant to have it blown up, he said it was military propaganda. The commandant looked at him and said: ’Listen, commissar! You devote your attention to the living, and leave the dead in peace. Understand?’’

    The lieutenant agreed: ‘Yes, the Germans know how to respect their dead. One day I happened to drive on my motorbike into a cemetery, and I felt ashamed. It was so tidy, it suggested everlasting peace. But in Russia the only time I visited the cemetery was to strip zinc from the coffins. All the graves were opened, and the dead lay arse upward. And there were scoundrels fleecing the dead, because you could get more off the dead than the living, I had to go there to get hold of zinc for accumulators,’ he explained in self-justification.

    A third officer, who had a strong pair of spectacles with thick lenses on his nose, and a shock of curly hair on his head, joined in the conversation. You’ll always find someone who must take the opposite side of a question. He smiled: "That’s all bosh! In my hometown of Gorky the dead are cared for as well as anyone. Why, they’ve even made a dance floor.

    ‘Whom for?’ the lieutenant asked. ‘For everybody, living and dead.’ The others looked at him dubiously and expectantly. He explained: "There was a cemetery in the center of the town. The Town Soviet ordered that it was to be turned into a park. And so it was done, in accordance with all the rules of science and technique. The cemetery was ploughed up and a Park of Culture and Recreation named after Sverdlov was made of the site, with a dance-floor and other amusements. And the whole town called the park ’The Club of the Living and the Dead.’ The daughters dance a fox-trot on their fathers’ bones. But the old women cross themselves as they go by: ‘0, Jesu! Jesu!’’

    ‘A similar sort of thing happened in Rostov, where I come from,’ said the lieutenant. ‘They built a new theater there, the Maxim Gorky. The plans provided for the front of the building to be faced with white marble. They looked around to see where they could get the marble from, and decided to put a tax on the dead. All over the district of Rostov they took down the white marble monuments and lined the theater front with marble plates.’

    ‘Yes, it’s a fine theater, but its acoustics are rotten. I was in it once,’ said the officer with the shock of hair.

    ‘When it was finished everybody concerned with the building of it was arrested,’ the lieutenant explained. ‘It was an extraordinary thing, but you could hear better in the gallery than in the front row of the stalls. Of course they blamed the builders: sabotage. But the people whispered among themselves that it was the dead playing a trick.’

    The captain spat into the sand. The lieutenant thrust his next lot of Mixture Six into the sand, rose, stretched himself luxuriously, and tidied his tunic. The officers, thoughtfully, did not throw their cigarette ends and litter on the green grass, but thrust them into the sand of the star socle.

    They would have been not a little shocked if the earth had opened in front of them and the indignant spirit of their former supreme commander, the hero of the drive into Berlin and the city’s first Soviet commandant, Guards’ Colonel-General Bersarin, had risen from his grave beneath the littered sand and the peeling veneer. Neither the Soviet officers, nor the German workers who hung hopelessly around the staff headquarters, suspected that the nameless red construction which disfigured the yard, offending the eye with its lack of taste, was a memorial raised over a grave, that it was intended to honor the memory of the Soviet hero who played a part only second to Marshal Zhukov in the battle for Berlin.

    There was an absurd turn of Fate for you! To go unscathed right through the war on the most dangerous sections of the front and at the head of an army breaking through all resistance, to survive to see the victorious end, to enter the conquered metropolis as a conqueror crowned with fame, and then literally the next day to be the victim of a stupid traffic accident!

    General Bersarin had the habit of going for a motorcycle ride every morning. In a sports shirt with short sleeves, coatless and hatless, he drove a powerful German motorcycle out of a side street into the main Treptow-Allee, which runs to Karlshorst. A heavily loaded column of military Studebakers was driving along the Treptow-Allee at full speed. No one ever knew whether the general was affected by that sporting daring which possesses most motor-cyclists, or whether it was just an accident. In any case, he tried to dash between two of the speeding lorries. The driver who went over him swore at first at the fool who had torn right under his wheels; then, when he saw the general’s insignia, he drew his pistol and shot himself. It is not known where the driver is buried, but probably he is resting more peacefully than General Bersarin.

    During the early days after the victory we were reminded at every step of those who had won that victory. Once Major Dubov and I were taking a walk through side streets not far from the Kurfurstendam in the British sector. It was Sunday; the streets were deserted. We just felt like wandering around and plunging for a few moments into the real Germany as we had imagined it before the war: quiet, clean, and orderly.

    The broad streets were lined with trees. Like archaeologists, we attempted to discover and reconstruct the pre-war Berlin in the ruins all about us. Not the ’dens of the fascist monsters’, as it had been presented to us and thought of by us during the past few years. We wanted to see the city and the people who for many of us were a genuine symbol of culture before they began to be dominated by megalomania.

    We came to a little shady island at the intersection of three streets. Under the spreading boughs of chestnut trees two mounds had found shelter in a fraternal community in the middle of this chaotic ocean of the enormous city. Struck by the uncommon sight, we went closer. At the heads were two plaited crosses of birch bark. On one of them was a German steel helmet, on the other a Soviet helmet. A Soviet helmet! All around the unbridled passions of the world were raging; but here.... The living should follow the example of the dead.

    Apparently, when the street-fighting ended the people of the neighboring houses found the two bodies at the corner and buried them as best they could, in the shade of the chestnut trees. Respect for the dead was stronger than earthly hate.

    Suddenly I noticed something which caused an inexplicable, almost painful feeling to rise in my breast. The major had noticed it too. Fresh flowers! On both mounds lay fresh flowers, put there by a kindly hand. As though at a word of command we took off our caps, then we exchanged glances. The major’s eyes went moist, heavy puckers gathered round his mouth. He took out his handker-chief and wiped his brow, which was suddenly damp with sweat.

    ‘Our first thought was to raze all the German cemeteries to the ground,’ he said in a thick voice, ‘Damn this war and whoever invented it!’ he added quietly, after a moment.

    An old woman walking with a child not far from us stopped to stare inquisitively at the Russian officers, rare visitors to this part of the city.

    ‘Who put those flowers on the graves?’ The major turned to her. His voice was sharp and cold, as though he were giving a battle order.

    She pointed to a house; we went up its half-ruined steps. The elderly German woman who opened the door to us started back in alarm when she saw the crimson bands on our caps. A twilit corridor, a neglected home, with none of the usual comfort to be seen, and obviously lacking several of its former inhabitants.

    The major waved his hand to reassure her. ‘We saw the flowers on the graves. Did you put them there?’

    The woman had not recovered from her fright and she had no idea what the question was leading up to. She answered irresolutely: ‘Yes... I thought....’ She nervously gripped her hands together under her apron.

    The major took out his letter-case and laid all the money it contained-several thousand marks-on the table without counting it.

    ‘Go on laying flowers there,’ he said. Then he added: ‘On both graves.’

    He spread a sheet of notepaper with the Soviet crest and the S. M. A. address on the table and wrote: ’In the name of the Red Army I order all soldiers and officers to give Frau... every help and support.’ He signed it and gave it to the astonished woman. ‘If you have anything to do with Russians, this paper will help you,’ he said. Then he looked round the empty room and asked, as though he had just thought of something else: ‘Tell me, have you a husband or a son?’

    ‘My husband and one son fell at the front. My second son is a prisoner of war,’ she answered.

    ‘Where?’ he asked curtly.

    She hesitated a moment, then whispered: ‘In Russia.’

    He looked at the standard prisoner-of-war postcard, which she held out to him, and noted down the name and the field-post number of the prisoner-of-war camp.

    ‘I shall write to the camp commandant and the higher authorities. I’ll intercede for his earlier release,’ he turned and said to me.

    I had come to know Major Dubov while still at the front. He had been head of the Reconnaissance Department of the divisional staff, and he had had to screen the prisoners. If he saw the S. S. death’s head emblem on a prisoner’s cap, he knew that the man had dozens of men’s lives on his conscience, and did not hesitate to send him as one of a special group to the rear, though he knew their lives would end beyond the next turn in the road.

    In the street, pigeons were strutting about the pavement; they politely made way for us, like equals with equals. The full September sun streamed down on the lindens and chestnuts of Berlin, the leaves rustled quietly. Life went on. Life is stronger than death. And life is particularly good when there is no hate in the heart, when a man feels minded to do some good to other men, whether living or dead.

    During the first few months of my work in Karlshorst I was not greatly interested in the surrounding world. I had to work hard, and left Karlshorst only on duty. I forgot the very existence of the calendar on my desk, and when I did remember it I turned over a whole week at a time.

    One Sunday I awoke at the sound of the alarm clock and sprang out of bed as usual. The flowers and trees of the garden were brilliant through the wide-open window, purple plums showed ripely between green leaves. The morning sun streamed down, playing merrily on the walls of my bedroom. The quiet, inviolable peace of the Sunday morning filled my entire small house. The clang of the neighboring church bell rolled through the air. The clear morning air poured into my room, and cooled my hot skin and refreshed my body. I felt like doing something. I wandered aimlessly from room to room. Today I had got entirely to myself. What should I do with it?

    Suddenly I was overcome by a strange feeling: where was I in such a hurry to get to? A man goes on treading the treadmill all his life without stopping to think about it. But if he does stop to think, then he wonders why one is always in a hurry. Most men only recognize that when it is too late.

    Recently I had got hold of a German propaganda pamphlet, ’In God’s own Country’, in which they poked fun at America and the Americans. They were particularly sarcastic about the rate at which the Americans lived, and their everlasting pursuit of the dollar, of success. ’Your luck’s just round the corner.’ The American tore at full pelt to the corner in the hope of finding his luck. But he found only a vacuum. On the other hand, there were plenty of other corners. And so on all through life.

    On this count I’m with the Germans. But how can one learn the art of enjoying life?

    I took a cigarette from my bronze casket, lay down on my couch and stared at the ceiling. There wasn’t a single fly on that ceiling. What a queer country! You never saw any flies.

    I got up and fidgeted with the electric coffeepot, then went out on to the balcony, stretched myself in a deck chair and lit another cigarette. But after a few minutes I was seized with a deadly bore-dom. In the end I seated myself at my desk and prepared to write letters. I thought with longing of Moscow, and imagined what the people there were doing at that particular moment.

    Just then I heard noisy footsteps in the next room, behind my back. Without turning round I called: ‘Who’s there?’

    ‘Ha-ha-ha!’ There was a roar of laughter behind me. ‘Just look at the way they live here!’

    I turned round. Mikhail Belyavsky was standing at the double doors, and Valia Grinchuk’s fair head appeared over his shoulder. They were both roaring with laughter at the sight of me: I was sitting in nothing but a pair of trunks, with shoes on my sockless feet.

    I hurried to my bedroom, returning fully dressed a minute or two later. ‘How did you get here, Misha?’ I asked, still astonished at this unexpected visit.

    ‘We arrived yesterday. A whole group of us from the college. We’ve been sent here to help you out.’

    ‘How are things in Moscow, and what’s the latest news?’ I asked.

    ‘What news would you expect? Now Germany is all the rage. Everybody in the college dreams of being sent to Germany to work.’ He looked about the room. ‘Yes, you can live here! You’ve already got used to it, so you no longer notice the difference.’

    ‘Do tell me something about Moscow,’ I pleaded.

    ‘Oh, you read the papers!’ he replied evasively. ‘I’m glad I’ve got away from it. I’d rather you told us how things are here.’

    ‘You’ll soon see for yourselves. How would you like to go in to Berlin today? We’ll plunge into the thick of its life.’

    ‘That’s just what Valia and I were wanting to do. That’s why we came to haul you out of it.’

    ‘Well, then, let’s go!’ I exclaimed.

    We left Karlshorst just before midday and took the streetcar for the city center.

    The Reichstag. At one time we Russians regarded this massive building rising against the background of the Brandenburg Gate as the symbol of Hitler’s Reich. ’To the German people’ was inscribed in gold letters above the entrance to this enormous gray mass. Today those words could only seem like a malicious sneer to the Germans. The windows were walled up with bricks, with loopholes in between; the smoky traces of fire played over the walls. Inside, great heaps of scorched brick, puddles of stinking green water; the blue sky showed through the shattered dome. The wind blew about scraps of paper with black eagles printed on them. Half-used machine-gun belts, cartridge cases; gas masks.

    On the walls, innumerable inscriptions: ’Ivan Sidorchuk, of Kuchevka; 14. 5. 1945.’ ’Simon Vaillant, Paris; 5. 7. 1945.’ ’John D. Willis, Chicago; 23. 7. 1945.’ Frequently one could not think how the writer had reached the inaccessible point on which he had written his name in order to leave his everlasting mark in history. The inscriptions were written with coal, ash, pencil, and chalk. One inscription, scratched with a bayonet point by one of the Reichstag defenders, read like the last cry of a drowning man: ’Heil Hitler!’ On the opposite wall, carefully painted with oil paint, were the words: ’Here did Sergeant Kostya of Odessa shit.’

    Truly, the atmosphere of the place reminded one of certain well-known lines in Heine’s poem: ’Germany’. Evidently the Reichstag was being used by quite a number of people as a public lavatory these days. Certainly an instructive historical memorial!

    Between the Reichstag and the Brandenburg Gate, among the ruins of past glories, a new life was seething. Here was the inter-national black market. Looking about them anxiously, surreptitiously, Germans were selling umbrellas, shoes, and old clothes. The Russians were interested mainly in watches, and offered cigarettes, bread, and occupation notes in exchange. An American jeep pulled up not far from us. Without getting out, the negro soldiers in it began a lively trade: in chocolates, cigarettes soap. They emptied their packs, laughing all over their faces, and looked about them. One of them noticed us, and whispered something to his companion. Then he turned to us with a lively gesture, apparently inviting me to buy something. ‘What?’ I asked.

    He took an enormous army Colt from under his seat and raised two fingers: two thousand. I shook my head. So he pointed to the pistol hanging at my belt and asked the price. To the Allies’ obvious surprise I explained that it was not for sale.

    ‘What are you selling, then?’ the negro asked in businesslike tones.

    ‘Nothing,’ I replied.

    ‘Then what are you buying? Would you like a jeep?’ He slapped his hand on the seat of his car. I only laughed.

    A Soviet military patrol came along: two soldiers with red armbands, carrying automatics. Not far away a feeble old man was selling newspapers. He had enormous shoes on his feet, and he had difficulty in moving, either because he was weak or because of those awkward shoes. As the patrol approached him he held out his hand to beg, and smacked his shriveled lips: ‘Comrade, papyros’ (cigarette). One of the soldiers, who evidently thought he was beginning to be a nuisance, took the old man deliberately by the collar and pushed him aside. But he had overestimated the man’s powers of resistance. The beggar went sprawling like a sack into the road, leaving his enormous shoes behind him, while his newspapers scattered fanwise on the stones.

    Before Belyavsky could open his mouth to reprimand the soldier the man again seized the old fellow by the collar and hauled him up, to set him on his feet. He was rough, but there was no malice in his manner; rather was it a mixture of disgust and chagrin. He had not expected his push to have such an effect. The old man hung in his arms like a sack, lacking the strength to keep his feet.

    ‘Let him be! Come along!’ the second patrol said.

    ‘Wait! You bloody Fritz!’ the man scolded roughly, to cover his own embarrassment. ‘You, Fritz, hungry?’ The old man had sunk to the pavement again, and the patrol nudged him with his foot. But the beggar made no answer. ‘He’ll die anyway,’ the soldier grumbled, and looked around as though seeking something.

    A Russian girl in sergeant’s uniform happened to come along, carrying a satchel. It contained several dozen packets of cigarettes wrapped in cloth. Under her arm was a loaf of bread, also destined for exchange.

    The patrol reached for the loaf, snarling: ‘Don’t you know it’s forbidden to trade here?’

    The girl vanished in terror into the crowd, leaving the loaf in the soldier’s hand. He turned back to the old man, who was still sitting on the sidewalk. People standing round had gathered up his papers and put them in a pile beside him.

    ‘Here, Fritz!’ The soldier held out the loaf to him. But the man only blinked, as though blind. The patrol swore at him again, stuck the loaf in the newspaper bag, which was tied to the old fellow’s waist, and went off.

    We were amazed at the crowds of old men and women in the streetcars and on the streets. They were neatly dressed, the passers-by treated them with respect, gave up their seats to them in the cars, helped them across the road.

    ‘Ah, those godly women!’ Belyavsky sighed as he noticed two old women in neat black dresses with white collars get out of a streetcar. ‘In Russia they’ve given up all their souls to God long since. By way of natural selection.’

    What we were seeing was not any novelty to us. We knew a man should show respect for the aged. Not only did we know it, but we ourselves felt the need to behave like that. And yet we could not but admit that we had grown rough, we had forgotten how to be courteous and obliging in our relations with others. Existence forms the consciousness, so dialectical materialism proclaims. Soviet existence has changed old people into a burden and has made the corresponding dialectical adjustments in our consciousness.

    Later, as we came to know conditions in Germany more intimately, we realized that though the German social insurance seemed so small, it always assured a living minimum in the form of pensions and pay, it enabled the old people to live out their days in human conditions. In the Soviet Union old-age pensions are a completely fictitious concept. In practice a man can live only if he works, or if his children support him. And who can expect support from his children when they themselves have nothing?

    We saw many convalescent Soviet soldiers from Berlin hospitals roving around. Many of them were engaged in speculative activities, some of them did not stop at robbery in broad daylight. One man snatched something and fled into the ruins, while his companions used their crutches and sticks to cover his retreat. The war-wounded were embittered and rancorous, many of them were tipsy and ready for a fight. The Germans feared them like the plague, and even Russians kept out of their way if possible.

    What I have just said about old-age pensions in Russia is also true of war pensions. They are too much for death, too little for life. And yet in return we must show our gratitude. ’Our happiness is so boundless that one cannot describe it’, as one of our songs puts it. In conquered Germany the war-wounded of a lost war get higher pensions than those of the victor country. Paradoxical, but true.

    There are many children to be seen in the streets of Berlin. Even in the first world war, but still more in the second, the Germans attached great importance to the birth statistics. Ludendorff and Hitler did all they could to avoid any fall in the birth-rate during the wars, and that, and not humanity, is the main reason why the German soldiers were given regular home leave. The results strike the eye.

    The sight seemed strange to us, for during the war years infants were an uncommon occurrence in the Soviet Union. The Red Army men never had leave during the war. In due course the Soviet leaders will be faced with a serious problem, for in the years 1941 to 1945 the birth statistics dropped almost to zero. That will have its effect when those years are called up for military service.

    Berlin lay in ruins. But out of the ruins new life was reaching up to the light. That new life is particularly striking when seen against that background of dead ruins. Man’s will to live is stronger than the forces of destruction. We were astonished by the numerous florists’ shops in the dead streets. The burnt-out carcass of a building rises to the sky, surrounded by a dead sea of ruin. And in the midst of this joyless world, the brilliant colors of innocent flowers smile at us from the ground-floor windows.

    We returned to Karlshorst late in the evening; we were tired and dusty. During the following days I frequently met Belyavsky and Valia. He had been appointed to a post in the Air Force Directorate of the Control Commission, while she worked in the private office of Marshal Zhukov, the commander-in chief of the S. M. A. They were both very glad they had been able to remain in the capital and had not been posted to the provinces.

    In Moscow I had known Valia only as a fellow student. But here, far from one’s intimate circle of friends, she suddenly became dear and precious to me as a part of that for which I was yearning, as a part of Moscow and all it signified. In Valia I found an unusual quality which made me value her friendship highly: she was a true child of nature, untouched by the filth of life. She said what she thought, and she acted on what she said.

    A Sunday or two later Belyavsky and Valia again called on me. As I looked at him I was not a little astonished. I saw a very elegant young man in irreproachable light coffee-colored civilian dress. A dazzling tie and a brilliant felt hat completed the transformation. Hitherto I had seen him only in uniform.

    ‘What are you all togged up for?’ I whistled and examined him from all sides.

    ‘I want to go to the Opera, but Valia doesn’t. So I’ve decided to entrust her to your care.’

    ‘Really, Misha, the more I get to know you the more convinced I am that you’re a fine fellow! You’ve brought Valia along to me and now you’re going to vanish. Have you ever known such a disinterested friend, Valia?’

    I tried to persuade him to drive with us through the city, but he was as immovable as a rock. ‘My legs are still aching after last Sunday,’ he declared.

    The day was unusually sunny and warm. We put Belyavsky down in Friedrichstrasse and decided to go for a drive out of the city. To right and left of us historical relics of the past went by like museum pieces: Unter den Linden, a great name, now lined with ruins, and not a trace of green. The trees of the Tiergarten, shattered with shells and bombs, littered with the wrecked and rusting carcasses of aeroplanes. The Siegessaule, with the faded gold of its angel, the symbol of the victories and glories of 1871. Before us stretched the broad and straight East-West Axis.

    Berlin had its own aspect. The aspect of the capital of the Reich. The stones of Berlin are trodden with history. Germany gave the world dozens of men whose names are precious to every civilized being. The street nameplates testify to that: Mozartstrasse, Humboldtstrasse, Kantstrasse.

    Before us rose the Grunewald. Valia looked about her, then she leaned her head against the leather back of the seat and looked up into the sky, which hung over us like a blue dome, and remarked: ‘D’you know what, Grisha?’ “Yes?”

    ‘Somehow the sun shines differently here....’ “How d’you mean?”

    ‘I can’t explain it myself. I feel strangely different here. Tell me, don’t you feel it?’

    ‘It’s the feeling of the conqueror, Valia. That’s why the sun seems different too.’

    ‘It’s beautiful here,’ she said dreamily. ‘I have such a longing for a peaceful life. I often feel I could throw off this uniform and simply live for the sake of living....’ “What’s preventing you?”

    ‘I sometimes feel sorry I’m in uniform. It had to be during the war; but now... I want to be free.... How can I explain it to you?’

    ‘Explain it to someone else!’ I smiled. ‘And let me give you some good advice: don’t forget that here is the S. M. A. That forest is darker and more dangerous than your partisan forests. Otherwise you’ll feed the gray wolves yet. Get that?’

    She looked at me fixedly, was silent for a while, then said in a quiet, earnest tone:

    ‘You see, Grisha, often I feel so lonely; I’ve got nobody I can talk to. I love everything that’s good, and there’s so little of it in our world.’

    Before us the gray arrow of the river Avus cut through the autumn glory of the Grunewald. I took my foot off the accelerator, the car rolled slowly to a halt. The golden autumn extended all around us in a sluggish languor. The distance danced hazily in the sunlight, it slowly came to meet us.

    ‘Tell me, what are you thinking of?’ she whispered.

    ‘I’m thinking which way to take, left or right. The Wannsee must be somewhere around here.’

    The Wannsee is one of the largest lakes in the vicinity of Berlin. Its banks are lined with fine, large villas, the former residences of the wealthiest inhabitants of the capital. And here, too, was the largest and most modern of Berlin’s bathing beaches.

    We drove round the lake. It was quiet, almost deserted. The stones of the road were all but hidden under a thickly strewn carpet of leaves. To right and left fences overgrown with green, gates standing wide open, empty villas abandoned by their owners. Some had fled to the West before the Red Army’s advance; others had been transferred to other dwellings in the neighborhood, former wooden barracks for foreign workers. I turned the car in through the open gate of a particularly fine villa. Antlers that once had adorned the master’s room lay on the graveled drive; on the steps of the main entrance the wind was turning over papers bleached with rain.

    Below, by the waterside, was a small platform paved with square tiles, bridges from which to fish, and moorings for boats. Close by was the rusting shell of a boathouse.

    We got out and wandered through the garden. High above us century-old trees were murmuring. In between were trenches with caving walls, entangled rolls of barbed wire, cartridge cases. Higher up was a villa with a red-tiled roof, and draped with the colorful autumn attire of a wild vine.

    ‘Let’s have a look at the house,’ I suggested.

    The wind was blowing through the rooms. The boards creaked underfoot. Gas masks, remnants of furniture, cans of conserves were littered about. Upstairs we found the former master’s study. Faded heaps of photographs were lying on the floor, among them the features of bewhiskered men in high, stiff collars. These people could never have suspected that some day Russian officers’ boots would tread on their portraits.

    ‘Let’s get out, Grisha!’ Valia tugged at my arm. ‘It isn’t good to walk in a strange house.’

    After the twilight indoors the sun streaming on to the balcony dazzled more than usual. Below us extended the lightly crinkled surface of the great lake. Stirred by a gentle breeze, the reeds swayed and nodded down to the water. The wind sighed through the crowns of the trees. A dead picture of the collapse of human hopes behind us, and everlasting, inextinguishable life at our feet.

    Valia and I stood silent on the balcony. After the stony chaos of Berlin the peace and stillness of the Grunewald made a deep impression on her. Her face was overcast, as though she had a headache. Her breast rose and fell spasmodically, as though she lacked air..

    ‘Tell me, Grisha, what is happiness?’ she asked without turning to me.

    ‘Happiness? Happiness is man’s ability to be content with what he has.’

    ‘But when he has nothing at all?’

    She turned her face to me. Her eyes were serious, they looked at me searchingly, and they demanded an answer. A furrow clove her forehead between her eyebrows.

    I was silent; I didn’t know what to answer

    A man who is released after a long spell of prison cannot get used to freedom at first; he has a fear of space. There is even a special term for this: aerophobia. We, too, had that same sort of feeling during the early days of our stay in occupied Germany.

    In 1945 we had unrestricted freedom, we could openly visit the sectors held by our Western Allies. Twelve months later we had only the memory of those days. But meanwhile all the allied soldiers’ and officers’ clubs in the western sectors were open to us; we were always treated as welcome guests. To our shame it must be admitted that the guests often behaved in such a way that the hosts were forced to be more prudent.

    The following story was often told in Karlshorst. One day, a Soviet soldier traveling through Berlin got lost, and wandered by mistake into an American barracks. The Americans were delighted at this rare visit and made the mortally terrified Ivan welcome, relieving him of his pack. What else can a Soviet soldier have in his pack but a loaf of black bread and a couple of leg-rags? So the Americans made Ivan sit down at the table, and gave him such a quantity of good things to eat and drink, as he could never even have dreamed about, and persuaded him to spend the night in the barracks. Some versions add that they even provided him with a sleeping partner. Next morning they stuffed his pack full with all kinds of overseas delicacies and saw him to the barrack gates.

    Many of the narrators say that he applied to be taken into the American army. They all swear by God and all the saints that they personally met this Ivan right outside the gate of the American barracks.

    We were all struck by the fact that the Allies were far better equipped than the Soviet soldiers, and enjoyed much more personal freedom. Our officers who worked in the Control Commission used to remark with a smile that the American soldiers smoked the same cigarettes as their generals. In the Red Army, soldiers, non-commissioned officers, officers and generals are allotted various kinds of tobacco or cigarettes according to their rank. This is in token of their general equality and brotherhood.

    At first we lived as though on a forgotten island. As we were all ’living abroad’, we were not subject to any form of Soviet taxation, not once were we bothered with the voluntary state loans that one cannot avoid subscribing to in the Soviet Union. And-something that was completely incomprehensible-we were even freed from political instruction and study of the great and wise book which feeds up every Soviet human being, the Short Course of History of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union (Bolsheviks).

    Stalin committed the greatest of errors when he allowed Soviet citizens to see Europe, and on the other hand showed Europe Soviet conditions. The Soviet personnel began to take a much more critical view of what was going on behind them in the Soviet Union. And as the West came to recognize the true features of Stalinist Communism, it lost a large part of its illusions and was cured of certain rosy intentions.

    The first few months of the occupation were of great significance. In the midst of the chaos of shattered Germany, in the midst of ruined Berlin, in the life of the people who yesterday had been our enemies, we saw things that at first only amazed us. But then we gradually began to understand them aright and our views of things were modified in accordance.

    We had to overcome the enmity we felt for everything connected with the name of Germany. We had to seek new standards of measurement. But meanwhile, out of the dust and rubble left from the long years of the Hitler regime, the total war and the unconditional capitulation, we were able to reconstruct the normal life of the Germans, and of Europe generally, only with difficulty.

    The Soviet personnel were amazed at the astonishingly high living standards of the average western man. The words uttered by a Soviet soldier when he saw the home of a European worker: ‘Are you a capitalist?’, became proverbial among us. During the years of the occupation the Soviet soldier began to give these words an inverse application to his own life. Every Soviet citizen who has seen Europe is lost to the Soviet regime. He continues, like a wound-up piece of clockwork, to perform his functions, but the poison of his recognition of the truth has not left him unscathed.

    As the years pass the impressions of those early days will be erased. Everything will seem more ordinary, the contradictions will lose their sharpness, and men will grow accustomed to them. Others will replace the front-line soldiers and officers who formed the backbone of the occupation forces. And when they return to their homeland it will be difficult for them to share their impressions of Germany with others. Who wants ten years for ’anti-Soviet agitation’?

    Our first meeting with our conquered enemy opened our eyes to many things; we began to recognize our place in the world. We felt our strength and our weakness. In the light of subsequent experiences the impressions of the first post-war months are seen as a distinct phase in the life of the Soviet occupation troops. It was a kind of transient period of post-war democracy. Nobody else in the Soviet Union was as conscious of the victory as we, the men of the occupation forces. We looked victory in the face; we sunned our-selves in its light.

    Simultaneously the victory and our encounter with the West aroused old doubts and engendered new ones. In their turn these doubts strengthened our desire, our longing and hope for something different, for something that differed from what we had known before the war. In the rays of victory we lived in hope of a better future.

    That short period of post-war democracy allowed us to have this hope. That can be understood only in retrospect.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 01
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM01.htm

    The Military College

    ‘Kli-mov!’

    As the call filtered through the thick cloth of my military greatcoat it seemed to be coming from an immense distance. Surely I had dreamt it! It was so warm under my coat; I drew it right up over my ears. My bed of fir branches was so soft and comfortable. Of course I’d dreamt it!

    ‘Captain Kli-mov!’

    The shout again disturbed the nocturnal silence. Then someone muttered something to the guard pacing up and down between the rows of tents.

    ‘... He’s ordered to report immediately to the staff headquarters of the front,’ the voice said to the guard. Then once more came the shout: ‘Captain Klimov!’

    ‘Hell! Staff headquarters! That’s no joke!’

    I threw off my greatcoat, and at once felt the damp air from the nearby swamp, mingling with the omnipresent, distinctive smell of front-line soldiers. In-visible mosquitoes were buzzing. Taking care not to disturb my comrades, I crawled out of the tent backward.

    ‘What’s up?’ I muttered, still half asleep. ‘Whom were you shouting for? Did you say ’Klimov’?’

    ‘Comrade Captain, here’s a courier for you from the staff,’ the guard reported through the darkness.

    ‘Where is he? What’s it all about?’

    ‘Comrade Captain, here’s an order for you.’ A sergeant in a leather helmet handed me a document. By the light of a torch I read: ’Captain G. P. Klimov is ordered to report to the Personnel Department of the Leningrad front staff headquarters on July 17, 1944, at eight hours.’ At the bottom of the paper was a hand-written note from my commanding officer: ’Order to report at once.’

    ’Hm, this might be interesting!’ I thought. ‘Have you anything further to communicate?’ I asked the sergeant.

    ‘I’m ordered to take you to the staff at once,’ he answered as he kicked down the starter lever of his motorcycle combination.

    In the sidecar I quickly forgot my weariness. We jolted over the potholes of the forest road, then passed through a half-destroyed, deserted village. Against the slowly lightening sky I discerned the dark chimneys, the roof joists splintered by artillery fire. The motorcycle wheels spun in the sand; then we made a precarious crossing of a grassgrown ditch, and I was relieved to feel the smooth surface of the Leningrad high road beneath us.

    A light early morning haze was hovering over the steaming earth, and now the little houses of the Leningrad suburbs began to appear amid the green of trees. In the distance rose the chimneys of the city’s factories and industrial works.

    What was behind this urgent summons to staff headquarters? Away back in the tent my comrades would be just waking up. When they saw my empty place they would feel pretty glad that it was not they who had been called out. But then, when they learned that I had been taken urgently to the staff, they would scratch their napes thoughtfully and exchange uncertain glances.

    At this time I was serving in a K. U. K. S. force, undergoing a course for advanced training of officer personnel for the Leningrad front. The K. U. K. S. was a very unusual type of military formation, a ’curiosity shop’, as the members of the course themselves called it. It consisted of comparatively young men with beards and whiskers of extraordinary shapes and sizes. These grim-looking individuals had a queer habit of wearing fur hats in the hottest of weather. In fact they were former officers and commanders of partisan detachments, who were being purged of their partisan ideas and spirit and were having army discipline drummed into them.

    Shortly after the liberation of Leningrad from the German blockade in January 1944 the city celebrated the triumphal entry of partisans of the Leningrad province. But within a month Narcomvnudel Special Brigades had to be ordered hurriedly to the city to disarm the overzealous men of the woods. The partisans were behaving like the conquerors of an enemy fortress and were using hand-grenades and automatic pistols against the militia who tried to reduce them to order. They regarded every militiaman as a hereditary enemy and openly boasted of how many they had bumped off.

    After the partisans had been disarmed they were packed quietly into cattle-trucks and sent to special Narcomvnudel camps. The newspapers had glorified the ’wild’ partisans as patriotic national heroes, but when they emerged from their forests into the light of day they at once came under the sharp eyes of the Narcomvnudel. Those partisans who were members of the regular detachments built up out of Red Army personnel, and the semi-regulars under commanders sent from the central command and obeying orders issued by the central radio and air force, were acceptable. But anyone who had fought in the forests and had had to resort to straightforward ’food requisitioning’ when their stocks of homemade vodka and fat bacon came to an end-God help them! The N. K. V. D. put them through a thorough purging before passing them on to the regular army, and their commanders were sent to receive special training in the K. U. K. S., such as the one for the Leningrad front.

    While in the K. U. K. S. I often heard the enigmatic questions: ‘Where are you from? Out of the Eighth?’ “No, the Ninth,” the answer would come reluctantly. After a time I found out that the ’Eighth’ and the ’Ninth’ were storming battalions on the Leningrad front. ’Storming battalion’ was the official name for punitive battalions in which officers served as rank-and-file soldiers and were sent as such into battle. If they came back alive they were restored to their previous officer’s rank. The losses of storming battalions regularly amounted to 90 and even 95 per cent of the strength in every engagement.

    As the Red Army went over to the offensive and began to liberate the occupied areas, all the former Soviet officers found in these areas were rounded up, and, like the partisans, were sent to special Narcomvnudel camps. Those whom the N. K. V. D. did not regard as worthy of dying on the gallows were given a preliminary purge, and then sent to the next department of the ’cleansing institution’, to a storming battalion. There they were afforded plenty of opportunity to purge their crime against the Fatherland with their blood.

    Let them fight! There would be time to deal with them properly after the war!

    Those who survived the ordeal by fire were usually sent straight from hospital-freedom from a storming battalion was gained only at the price of blood-to the K. U. K. S. for final retraining. A number of my comrades in the K. U. K. S. had paybooks which after the denotation ’soldier’ or ’infantryman’ gave the rank of ’regimental commissar’ or ’squadron commander’ in brackets.

    Yes, there was some very interesting human material in our K. U. K. S.! In reality it was a permanent reserve for the Leningrad front. The officers being retrained were not allowed to lounge about, they had to play at soldiers in deadly earnest. The former commandeer of a machine-gun company had to learn how to take to pieces and reassemble a machine-gun of the Maxim pattern, while the commander of a rifleman’s battalion was instructed in the workings of the unsurpassable ’1891 muster’ rifle.

    There was a large percentage of Ukrainians in the K. U. K. S. When the Red Army retreated from the Ukraine many soldiers who came from that area simply threw their arms into the nearest ditch and ’went home’. But when the Red Army began to drive the Germans out again these ’sons of the soil’ were hastily rounded up, weapons were thrust into their hands, and they were sent, just as they were, even without uniforms, into the front line. The banks of the Dnieper were strewn with corpses in civilian clothing.

    Ordinary soldiers were simply returned to active service, usually without any preliminary purge by the N. K. V. D. Personal accounts between State and individual could be settled later; at that moment there was more need of cannon fodder for the army than labor power for the concentration camps.

    Though the feeling never came into the open, there was constant tension between the Ukrainians and the Russians in our K. U. K. S. The Ukrainians usually kept their mouths shut, like younger brothers with bad consciences. The Russians only let fall a good-natured: ‘Ah, you Hohols!’ (Russian term of contempt for Ukrainians - Tr.)

    ‘Ah, those Germans!’ The Ukrainians sighed in reply. ‘They abused our trust, the blighters!’

    One day questionnaires were circulated through the battalions of the K. U. K. S.; the command was attempting to establish which of the members of the course were Crimean Tatars. I remember noting Lieutenant Chaifutinov’s anxious face as he sat filling in the questions inquiring into his family. We had heard rumors that by the Kremlin’s order the entire Tatar population of the Crimean Autonomous Republic was to be deported; several million people were to be transferred to Siberia, and their republic abolished, because of their ’disloyal attitude to the Soviet regime during the German occupation’. This order provoked conversations like the following among members of our course:

    ‘Do you know how the Kalmuks behaved at Stalingrad? The Germans attacked, but they prepared the way. They cut the throats of whole Soviet regiments in the night.’

    ‘I’d like to know why the Don and Kuban cossacks looked on and did nothing,’ someone interjected.

    ‘What else were the cossacks to do?’ remarked a third. ‘You won’t find a single real cossack in the cossack forces today.’

    These officers saw nothing surprising in the fact that the Kalmuks had exterminated their regiments, they were only amazed that the cossacks had stood by idly. For in the past the Don and Kuban cossack districts had been famous as centers of opposition to the Soviet regime. The artificially created famine disaster of 1983 had been forced through in those districts with more than the usual brutality. Down to 1936 the cossacks had been the only national group not called up into the regular army. And so it seemed incredible that the cossacks, who had been renowned throughout history for their love of freedom, had not risen against the Soviets.

    Among the participants in the course were many former political officers of the Red Army. A number of men in this category had lost their heads already in the Narcomvnudel special camps, and those few who survived both these camps and the storming battalions must have had an unusually tenacious grip on life. And hardly had they arrived at the K. U. K. S., when they began with true communist wolfishness to clutch at their former jobs as shepherds of the human herds. Despite all the sifting and purging they had experienced through the N. K. V. D. even in the K. U. K. S. they managed some-how to get into positions as commanders of sub-divisions of our course. The other officers took every opportunity to address them as ’Comrade Political Director’ or ’Comrade Commissar’, though these ranks had been abolished in the army for some time.

    Despite, or even because of the fact that the ’curiosity shop’ was such a haphazard collection of widely varied types, there was always much coming and going. Almost every day mysterious commissions visited us in quest of various kinds of ’commodities’. For instance, one commission came in search of partisans for Yugoslavia. The conditions were: 25, 000 rubles in cash, a month’s leave, then a parachute drop into that country. Our men needed no special training for such activities. There was a queue of candidates; the majority being former partisans who could not endure army discipline.

    Then came a general search for men with Polish surnames, as recruits for the Polish ’National’ Army. Then there was a call for candidates to the Red Army Intelligence School. Conditions: nobody accepted under the rank of major, and graduation from high school. Yet even these strict standards could be met over and over again.

    These ’trading activities’ were due to the great shortage of special cadres, which were particularly lacking in the army. And the K. U. K. S. contained a mass of fresh, still unsorted human material, which had not been available until recently, because it had been isolated in partisan bands or in the occupied areas.

    The majority of my K. U. K. S. comrades were men almost literally from the other world. One youngster had fled right across Europe from a German prisoner-of-war camp in France. When he reached the Russian area under German occupation he was captured a second time, put into a concentration camp, and then escaped again. Twice he had been set up against a wall and had fallen seriously wounded, getting away by worming his way out from under his comrades’ corpses in the mass grave. He had had two years as a partisan in the swamps and forests around Leningrad. And as a reward for his love of the fatherland he had been ’purged’ in a Narcomvnudel camp, had experienced bloodbaths in a storming battalion, and at last had found the quiet haven of the K. U. K. S.

    Practically every member of the course had had a similar past. They were the few survivors. Naturally, they were not very fond of telling their life-stories. In such company I was a real greenhorn, as innocent as a newborn babe. I had been sent to the K. U. K. S. after serving in the 96th Special Regiment of Reserve Officers. I had been wounded in the fight for Novgorod, and had spent three months in hospital.

    It was during my stay in hospital, which was the former Leningrad Palace of Engineers, that the entire city was staggered by unexpected news. By order of the Leningrad City Soviet all the important, historical streets and squares were to have their former, pre-revolutionary names restored to them. Thus the Prospect of October 25th was renamed once more the Nevsky Prospect; the Field of Mars was relieved of its tongue-twisting revolutionary name and became again the Field of Mars. The changes left us gaping. If things moved at this rate even the collective farms would be abolished...

    The staff of the Leningrad front had its headquarters in the horseshoe-shaped former General Staff building, opposite the Winter Palace. The way to the Personnel Department lay through the famous and historic Arches of the General Staff. It was through these Arches that the revolutionary sailors and red guards of Petrograd had stormed the Winter Palace in 1917.

    On the broad windowsills of the reception room I found several officers sitting, dangling their legs.

    ‘Do you want this place too. Captain?’ one of them, asked me. When I nodded he asked me the unexpected question: ‘Can you speak any foreign language?’

    ‘Why, what’s going on here?’ I asked in turn.

    ‘At the moment it’s an examination in foreign languages,’ a lieutenant explained. ‘It’s something to do with selection for some special school, or possibly a college,’ another added. ‘The first requisite is knowledge of some foreign language, and graduation in secondary education. Obviously it’s something important. It’s even said to involve return to Moscow...’ he said in a nostalgic tone, and clicked his tongue hopelessly.

    An officer, very red and sweating, shot through the door. ‘Oh, hell!... What’s the German for ’wall’? I knew ’window’, I knew ’table’, but I simply couldn’t remember ’wall’. Damn it all! Listen, boys! Mug up all the names of things you find in a room. He points with his finger and asks their names.’

    Of the officers in that reception room, two knew Finnish, one Rumanian, and the others had school knowledge of German and English. I knew well enough what ’school knowledge’ meant. But the less chance a man has, the greater becomes his desire to reach the mysterious spot where this linguistic knowledge is required. Everything in any way associated with the thought of ’abroad’ automatically stimulated one’s curiosity and imagination.

    I couldn’t help smirking. So here we wouldn’t be concerned with the five parts of the breech of an 1891 rifle! I stretched myself comfortably on a distant bench and attempted to continue my rudely interrupted sleep. When my name was called I went in, clicked my heels with all the precision laid down by Hitler’s army regulations and reported in German in such a thunderous voice that the major sitting at the desk started back in alarm. He stared at me in astonishment; possibly he was wondering whether he should ask me the German for ’table’ or ’window’. Then he asked me a question in Russian. I answered in German. He spoke again in Russian, I once more answered in German. At last he had to laugh. As he invited me to sit down he asked:

    ‘Where have you picked it up, Captain?’

    I took out the documents relating to my civilian life before call-up - it was a miracle that I still had them safely - and laid them on the table.

    ‘Ah, this is wonderful!’ he remarked. ‘I really took you for a German at first. I’ll present you to the colonel at once.’

    He showed me into the next room and introduced me to the head of the Personnel Department. ‘Comrade Colonel,’ he said, ‘I think we’ve got a genuine candidate this time! You needn’t worry about his language; he really put the wind up me. I thought he must be a diversionist.’ He laid my papers on the desk and withdrew.

    The colonel took his advice, and did not bother about language tests. He started at once on the moral aspect. The moral and political reliability of an officer is the most important factor, and he is subjected to strict tests in this respect.

    ‘You see, Captain Klimov,’ the colonel began, ‘we’re thinking of sending you to a responsible and privileged higher school of the Red Army.’ He spoke in tones of great solemnity. ‘You will understand me better if I describe the position to you. Moscow demands a fixed quota of candidates from us every month. We send them to Moscow, and there all those who fail to pass are sent back to us. We send all failures to a punitive company,’ he remarked casually, giving me a meaning look. ‘Every day Moscow bombards us with the demand: ’send us men’. But we haven’t any.

    That’s one aspect of the problem. Now for the second. You’re in the K. U. K. S., and there are a lot of men with doubtful pasts in the K. U. K. S. I don’t ask you your record. But one thing is sure: you’ve got to be spotlessly clean! Otherwise you’ll find yourself in a different place from the one we propose to send you to. And we’ve got to send you! Get that?’

    I liked the colonel’s unusual frankness. I assured him that I was quite immaculate.

    ‘I don’t care a damn whether you’re immaculate or not,’ he answered. ‘You’ve got some extraordinary fellows in your K. U. K. S. Only yesterday one of your former colonels swore to me that he was a lieutenant of infantry. We wanted to send him to the intelligence corps school, but he dug his feet in like a mule and said he couldn’t write.’

    I was not in the least surprised. Men who had held responsible posts and had passed through the usual preliminaries to K. U. K. S. lost all desire for rank and responsibility and had only one wish-a quiet life.

    ‘You may try to think up something on those lines,’ the colonel went on. ‘So I repeat, this is a serious matter. If we consider it necessary to send you we shall send you! And no monkey tricks or we’ll report you as refusing to perform military service. You know what that means! Field court-martial!’ he explained weightily. He knew well enough that members of K. U. K. S. courses and former storming battalion men were not to be intimidated with threats of punitive companies. Only a court-martial, with certain death to follow, made any impression on such cases.

    He gave me a critical glance and picked up the telephone to get contact with the staff of my K. U. K. S.

    ‘We’re sending your Klimov away. Get his documents ready. He must leave for Moscow by the twelve noon train,’ he told the chief of staff. ‘And one other thing: why do you let your men go around looking like tramps? Fit him out at once. He mustn’t bring shame on our front when he arrives in Moscow.’

    A few minutes later, in an adjoining room, I was handed a sealed and stamped packet which contained my personal documents and traveling passes for Moscow.

    Back in the reception room, an excited crowd of candidates surrounded me. ‘Well, how did it go? Sunk? Were the questions lousy?’

    I shrugged my shoulders and showed my order for Moscow. ‘So it really is Moscow!’ they exclaimed. ‘Well, good luck!’ and they shook my hands.

    Out of the cool twilight of the archways, I stepped into the sunlit Winter Palace Square. I simply couldn’t believe that I wasn’t dreaming! In three hours I would be on the train to Moscow! Such luck, such incredible luck, made me feel queer. I knew of lots of officers, men whose homes were in Leningrad, who had served on the Leningrad front for three years without a single leave in the city. Even in the K. U. K. S. officers who came from Leningrad were not allowed local leave. When we went to the town-baths or on sightseeing tours we were marched in formation. As for Muscovites, even such a short and official visit to their home city was an unrealizable dream. Was it really possible that I was going home?

    I looked about me. Yes, this was Leningrad, but in my pocket was a voucher opening my way to Moscow. Standing in the middle of the empty Winter Palace Square, I took it out and read it. I deliberately refused to give way to the patrols in green caps who were to be seen everywhere on the sidewalks and at the street-crossings. Leningrad was in the frontier zone, and the patrols of the Narcomvnudel frontier regiments were particularly strong in the city. The greencaps were the bitterest enemies of all men in uniform. It was not so long since I myself had spent two days and nights in a cold cell at their headquarters, without food and without cigarettes, until an officer armed with a machine-pistol had come from K. U. K. S. to take me back. My crime had been that I had left the baths and gone out into the street. While our command was having a steam bath I had a quick wash and slipped out into the fresh spring air. Right outside the door I had been picked up as a deserter by the greencaps. But today I could cock a snook at them. Today I was going to Moscow.

    In the K. U. K. S. staff headquarters a princely reception was awaiting me. In half an hour I was completely refitted from head to foot; new cap, new uniform, even a new pack, filled with cans and cigarettes. Punctually at midday I presented my traveling voucher at the October railway station ticket office.

    ‘Fifty-six rubles,’ the booking clerk said. I felt hurriedly in my pockets. Hell, of course I needed money! The one thing I lacked. During my soldiering I had quite forgotten what it was. My pay was sent home automatically. A hopeless situation? Not at all! Under socialism everything is very simple, life is absurdly easy. I darted out into the station square, tore open my pack, and whistled. Hardly had I got the pack open when customers came running up. Five minutes later lighter by a few cans of food, but with my pockets full of rubles, I was back at the ticket office. And ten minutes later the train was carrying me to Moscow.

    Through the carriage window I gazed at the straw-thatched roofs of villages, at poverty-stricken fields and glittering lakes, bombed-out stations. And yet I felt very light-hearted. Despite all the German resistance, our army was advancing. The scales of history were sinking slowly but surely in our favor.

    It was not much more than a month since the K. U. K. S. had buzzed like an excited swarm of bees: the Allies had landed at last on the Normandy coast. For several days we had lived in the fear that the landing troops might be thrown back into the sea, or that it was only another diplomatic, not a military, maneuver. I had no connection with the men in the Kremlin and had no idea what they thought about it. But we in the Red Army had read all the Soviet papers with their continual appeals for help, and even their frequent charges that the Allies were pursuing a policy of deliberate inactivity.

    We who were serving in the immediate vicinity of the front knew only too well what sacrifices were called for in an offensive, what sacrifices lay behind the laconic report of the Information Bureau: ’On the Narva front, no change.’ We knew that whole divisions were being slaughtered to the last man in fruitless attempts to break through the Narva front. The Estonian detachments fighting with the German Army held those positions on the frontier of their native land, and they held out to their last breath; they were even more obdurate than the Germans. But the Information Bureau reported: ’No change’. The only important things were visible results, not human lives. And that is the case wherever war is waged.

    But now we felt grateful to our Allies, not only for their mountains of canned foods, soldiers’ greatcoats, and even buttons, but for the blood they were shedding in the common cause. An iron grip had closed round Germany’s throat. Even though life was hard, though hungry women and children held out their hands, begging, at every railway station, despite everything we were going forward to victory. We believed in victory, and even more strongly in something different that would come after the victory.

    The story goes that when he heard the Allies had landed in France Stalin stamped his foot with rage. I don’t know whether the story is true, but I know we soldiers were filled with joy. The politicians share out Europe, we soldiers shared out our bread and our blood.

    So now I was returning to Moscow. My thoughts wandered back to the day I had left it. It seemed ages and ages ago. After a fine day in the country, Genia and I were returning in the cool autumn evening by the suburban electric train to Moscow. I took the city military command’s order that I was to re-register out of my pocket and re-marked: ‘I’ll go along and get them to stamp my exemption to-morrow morning, and then I’ll come along to you. And we’ll see about it....’

    ‘But supposing they keep you there!’ Her voice quivered with agitation, her black eyes looked at me anxiously. I was terribly grateful for those words and that look.

    ‘Don’t talk rubbish! It isn’t the first time!’ I answered.

    Next morning I went in my padded military jacket, in my blue trousers thrust into my military boots, and my extraordinary headgear, to report to the Military Commissariat. By wartime standards I was dressed like a gentleman. It was common form to be dressed like that in wartime Moscow, and it saved you a lot of hostile scowls. In my pocket I had Conan Doyle’s The Sign of Four, which I read in the Underground to practice my English.

    After handing in my papers at the Second Department of the Military Commissariat I slipped into a corner and took out my book to pass the time. The room was crowded with an extraordinary collection of men: chalk-white faces, unshaven cheeks, and shabby clothes much too light for the time of year. Two militiamen were leaning lazily against the door. I read while I waited for my exemption paper to be handed back, stamped: ’re-registered’.

    After some time the head of the department came out with a list. He read out a number of names, including mine. I had no idea what the list was for. The moment he left the room the militiamen gave the order: ‘Fall in the street’.

    We were all, including myself, with my index finger still between two pages of my book, driven out into the yard. What joke was this? They couldn’t do this to me! I’d got exemption! I tried to turn off to the left, and found myself looking into the muzzle of a revolver. To the right: another revolver.

    ‘No protests!’ the militiamen shouted. ‘So long as you’re in our charge you’re prisoners. When we’ve handed you over at the assembly point you’ll be free again....’

    Thus I marched through Moscow, guarded by militiamen with revolvers at the ready.

    A mistake, you think? Nothing of the sort. There was a terrible shortage of reserves for the front. Yet the needs of the rear were just as great. The rear issued exemptions from military service. But the front carried off the men, together with their exemptions. Behind it all was the ’Plan’.

    According to the Plan the Military Commissariat had to send fifty men to the assembly point that day. What else could they do but rake them in wherever they could? So they hauled the short-term prisoners out of the prisons-most of them were in for turning up late or slacking at work-took them under escort to the Military Commissariat and then to the assembly point. And if they were still short of men for the Plan, they threw in a few ’exempted’ men.

    And that was how an exempted scientific worker in the Molotov Energetics Institute, which had been awarded the Order of Lenin, became a soldier. Neither Lenin nor Molotov made any difference. This was more exciting than Conan Doyle. The one pity was that I had no chance to say goodbye to Genia.

    I soon learned to march as bravely as the rest. We were dispatched to the front, and I bawled out the Russian folk-song at the top of my voice:

    ‘Nightingale, nightingale, little bird, why don’t you sing me a cheerful song....’

    All the songs of the pre-war period, about the ’Leader’, the ’proletariat’, and similar eyewash, had been swept out of the army as though by the mighty incantation of a magician. Instead, the genuine Russian marching songs conquered the soldiers’ hearts. Even quite unmusical fellows bawled them out, simply because they were now again allowed to sing about neighing steeds, old mothers, and young beauties. The magician in the Kremlin realized that such things were closer to the soldiers’ hearts than Karl Marx’s beard.

    Now I was returning to Moscow. Only yesterday I had not dared even to dream of such a thing. I recalled when I had last thought of Moscow. One sunny spring day, as I wandered through a lonely glade in the dense forest of the Karelian Peninsula, I had come upon a deep shell crater overgrown with young green. At the bottom, greenish bog-water shimmered like transparent glass. Forest water, as clear as crystal, which we often scooped up in our helmets, to drink. But there, head in the water, his arms flung out in a last spasm, lay the body of an enemy soldier.

    As I descended, digging my heels into the soil, clumps of earth rolled down into the pool. Little ripples wrinkled the surface and set the dead man’s hair in gentle movement with their mournful caresses. Oppressed by this close union of life and death, I squatted down. But at last my curiosity overcame my respect for death. I carefully opened the man’s breast pocket and took out a packet of papers.

    The usual military documents, with the eagle astride the swastika, letters from home, and the photo of an attractive, fair-haired girl in summer dress. The photo was carefully wrapped in paper. On its back was written: ’To my beloved from his beloved’, the date, and the name of a town far away in the south of the Reich. I looked at the dead man’s hair in the green water, then again at the face of the girl on the bank of the Rhine. Where she was the orchards were now in full bloom and the vines were showing green on the slopes. One warm spring night this girl had gently caressed the hair of her beloved; now it was being caressed by the cold bog-water of a forest somewhere in Russia.

    I took out my notebook and, sitting on the edge of the crater, wrote a melancholy note to Genia: ’Perhaps tomorrow I too will be lying somewhere with my face turned upward, and nobody will tenderly caress me, not even the green water of a bomb crater.’ Women like a touch of the romantic. And I, too, am not exactly made of iron.

    At that time, when I had no hope of seeing Genia again for a long time, I had written simply, as all soldiers write to their sweet-hearts. Letters are almost the soldier’s only joy and comfort.

    Stepping out of the Komsomolsk railway station in Moscow, I plunged into the bustle of the Underground, whistling a front-line song as I went. I had given a whole eternity to the State. It could not be regarded as a great crime that I now wished to devote a few minutes to myself. Besides, Genia would never have forgiven me if I had preferred any military unit whatever to her.

    I found her door locked, pushed a little note through the crack, threw my pack over my shoulder again, and gave myself the order: ’Left turn, quick march!’ Having dealt with my personal affairs, I returned to affairs of State.

    Half an hour later I arrived at my service destination. As I walked down a long corridor I was amazed. True, there were many men in uniform scurrying around like ants disturbed from their ant-hill, but the place reminded me more of a university during finals than an army unit.

    Some men put their books down open on windowsills to enter into an excited argument, others hurriedly repeated their lessons, wrote notes, and hurriedly took them off somewhere. Nobody taking any notice of distinctions of rank, or shoulder-tabs, nobody was thinking of saluting. They all had other cares. Most of them wore expressions very different from those of army officers, whose faces, as well as their souls, are imprinted with the stamp of barrack drill.

    Close by me two officers were conversing in some incomprehensible language. I noted shoulder-tabs of all kinds, from air force to infantry. And even the black coats of the navy. But most astonishing of all was the large number of women and girls in uniform. Hitherto only a few women had been accepted for propaganda purposes in certain military schools. Here was a very different situation.

    I felt a little awkward, and decided to try to get my bearings. At one of the windows I noticed a first lieutenant in a sand-colored greatcoat, and riding breeches of similar material. He must be from Leningrad! I was wearing exactly the same sort of uniform, and I had never come across it outside the Leningrad sector.

    When the Americans were preparing for the landing in North Africa they ordered an enormous number of cool, silky, sand-coloured uniforms for their soldiers. Later, they found they had such a superfluity of this ’African’ clothing that in their friendship for their Russian allies they transferred it to us. So our resourceful supreme command presented this tropical attire to the very coldest, namely the Leningrad, sector of the front. And thenceforth we had no difficulty in picking out our colleagues from that front on any occasion.

    ‘Tell me, lieutenant,’ I addressed the officer in the sand-colored uniform. ‘Are you from Leningrad too?’

    Yes, the Karelian sector," he answered very readily. Apparently in this hubbub he felt as lost as I did, and was glad to meet a friendly colleague.

    ‘Well, how are things?’

    ‘So far, not bad. I think I’ve fallen on my feet,’ he answered. But despite the confident answer there was a hint of disillusionment in his tone.

    ‘But what is this show: a boarding house for respectable girls?’ I asked him. ‘I’ve only just arrived, and I don’t get it at all.’

    ‘The devil himself wouldn’t get it! For instance, I’ve been assigned to Hungary. The devil can take the whole of Hungary!’ The disillusionment in his voice was now more pronounced. I grew more and more puzzled. ‘Now if I could get into the English Department,’ he sighed. ‘But that’s hopeless, unless you’ve got connections. You have to be a general’s son at the least. See them swarming around? And every one of them with a letter of recommendation in his pocket!’

    He pointed to a door. On it was a notice: ’Head of the Training Department,’ and before it was crowded a group of officers in elegant boots of the finest leather and in extra-smart uniforms. They certainly didn’t look like front-line officers.

    ‘Then what’s the best way of tackling the situation?’ I asked. ‘What languages do you know?’

    ‘A little German, a little English, a certain amount of Russian...’ “Quit fooling and tell them you know only English. The English Department is the best of the lot,” the future Hungarian advised me.

    From various conversations I began to realize that this mysterious educational institution was concerned with training personnel for abroad. None of the novices appeared to know its name. But after I had had a talk with a flying officer, a student at the air force college, who-apparently through influential connections-was attempting to get transferred from the third course of the college to the first course of this mysterious school, I felt convinced that the place must offer considerable advantages.

    During the next few days I filled in a sheaf of questionnaires which attempted to establish all my past: whether I had any relations or acquaintances abroad; whether I had any relations ’in areas temporarily occupied by the Hitlerite land-robbers’; whether I had ever belonged to or had any sympathies with groups hostile to the Party or was planning to have such sympathies; whether I had ever had any doubts of the correctness of the Party line. The questions which showed interest in the negative aspects of my life far exceeded those that were concerned with my positive qualities. I had already brought all these questionnaires with me in a sealed envelope from Leningrad; now I had to fill them in all over again.

    I remember a scandal that occurred over a questionnaire, which one of my colleagues of student days had filled in for the Special Department of his Institute. He gave his year of birth correctly as 1918. The next question, ’What were you doing when the revolution broke out in 1917?’ he answered with the precise statement: ’I was in the underground movement.’ Because of this answer he was summoned again and again to the Narcomvnudel for interrogation.

    I spent several days being examined in German and English. Those who failed in the language tests were excluded from further tests and were returned to their previous units. However, the favorites of patronage were an exception: they were all assigned to the first course, and were not subjected to such strict requirements. All others were thoroughly sifted out; if they had sound knowledge they were assigned to one of the higher courses, otherwise they were returned to their units.

    After the questionnaires and the language tests came examinations in Marxism-Leninism. In my twenty-six years of life I had passed all the half dozen normal and three State examinations in this branch of knowledge. These were followed by quite insignificant tests in philosophy and dialectical materialism, in general and military history, the Russian language, and economic geography.

    All this procedure left me pretty indifferent. There was no knowing when the war would end, but one thing was certain: it had already passed its critical phase and was coming to its close. My one idea was to get out of uniform as soon as possible after it was over. Against that, this educational establishment might prolong my time of service in the army, if not extend it into eternity. For the majority of the youth, this school was a means of learning a profession, which would enable them to earn their living after the war. I was less interested in that aspect. But the army was the army; here orders were supreme, and one could only obey them.

    It was a fierily hot summer. Entire caravans of barges laden with timber were being hauled along the River Moskva. All through the war Moscow had been heated exclusively with wood, even the locomotives were burning wood instead of coal. The city was uncommonly still and peaceful. The only variety was provided by the patrols of the town command, which checked your papers at every step. They treated me with particular distrust: I had a front-line officer’s tabs on my shoulders, but I sauntered about like an idler.

    All my private plans had collapsed like a house of cards on my being drafted into the army. When I returned to Moscow I had unconsciously assumed that now life would return to its old courses. But life doesn’t stand still, and I, too, had changed, after my experiences of front-line life. And now, during my aimless wanderings around the battlemented walls of the Kremlin, I felt only a vague yearning and an empty void. Just one thing seemed to be clear: the war must be brought to an end. For so long as this war lasted there would be room neither for private life nor for personal interests.

    After I had passed the questionnaires and the tests I was summoned to the head of the Educational Department, Colonel Gorokhov. Behind a large desk sat a little man with the blue tabs of a cavalry officer and a cranium that was as bald as a billiard ball. In his sly, foxy face twinkled colorless, watery eyes.

    ‘Sit down, Comrade Captain,’ he said courteously, pointing to a chair on my side of his desk.

    This was a very different reception from normal army discipline. It was much more like the atmosphere of university lecture hall and absentminded professors. The colonel ran his thin fingers through the numerous documents devoted to my moral and political standing, the attestations of my participation in battles, my questionnaires and test reports.

    ‘So you’re an engineer! Well, well!’ he observed in a friendly tone. ‘Speaking quite generally, we don’t give a warm welcome to engineers. We have a few here already. Too self-opinionated and not sufficiently disciplined. What is your view of your future career?’

    ‘As the interests of the State require,’ I answered prudently, but without the least hesitation. I wasn’t to be caught by such questions.

    ‘Do you know what sort of educational establishment this is?’ he asked.

    When I answered vaguely he began to tell me slowly, with many pauses: ‘It is the Military-Diplomatic College of the General Staff of the Workers’ and Peasants’ Red Army. You must be aware of the fact that, according to the law, men with military high school training, in other words men who have graduated from the military colleges, are obliged to give life-service in the army. The State spends an enormous amount on your education, and so it cannot allow the men to do, as they like afterwards. The State has poured out quite a considerable sum on you personally.’ He glanced at my diploma testifying that I was a graduate of the Industrial Institute.

    ‘I should feel very sorry to sacrifice more time and money on you’ he continued with the air of an economical housewife. ‘And so I must make it perfectly clear that if you are accepted in the college you must throw overboard all your civilian stuff and forget all about demobilization. There are some that think that when the war’s over they can slip away out of sight. Forget it! You are of interest to us in so far as, judging from your documents and tests, you have a solid groundwork of knowledge, such as we need. You will give us less trouble to train than others will. For that reason, and solely for that reason, we are interested in your case.’

    After this introduction he proceeded to details. ‘What made you take up foreign languages after you had graduated from the Industrial Institute?’

    ‘I considered a knowledge of foreign languages was essential for an engineer.’

    ‘Good! But what the devil made you’-he took another glance at my papers-"graduate from the First Moscow Institute for Foreign Languages, and the Pedagogical Department at that? Didn’t you like being an engineer?"

    The colonel was well posted in all the subtleties of the changes of interests and professions which so frequently occur in present-day Soviet society. Owing to the comparative ease with which one could get higher technical education in pre-war days, the students at the technical high schools included quite a large percentage who were completely unsuitable. As soon as they started practical work they found it unsatisfactory both morally and economically, so they packed their diplomas away and went off to seek a more lucrative or less responsible profession.

    For engineers were frequently imprisoned for the most trivial of technical mistakes, and they received relatively low pay. Also, many women with high school education preferred to get married and stay at home rather than follow their profession, provided their husband’s salary was large enough. If not, they, too, went in search of a new profession. And so people traveled with their diplomas from one end of the country to the other. The State took steps to stop this: it tied the young specialist down to a definite works or factory for five years, and if he broke his contract arbitrarily he was imprisoned.

    ‘How did you come to know foreign languages at all?’ the colonel continued. ‘You must have had a governess, surely?’

    This was as good as a Narcomvnudel interrogation! In my childhood, to have a governess signified that you belonged to the people of the ’old days’. But now the word ’governess’ no longer had this compromising connotation: in the Moscow parks swarms of children from the Kremlin’s upper circles were to be seen accompanied by governess who talked to them in French or English. After they had overthrown and libeled their predecessors the new ’upper ten’ had quickly adopted their habits.

    ‘I learned languages parallel with my other subjects. I took my finals in languages and the State examination as an internal student at the Moscow Institute at the one time,’ I answered.

    ‘Aha! So you studied at two institutes simultaneously. You must be very studious!’ the colonel deduced, and stroked his baldhead thoughtfully, as though some new idea had occurred to him.

    I simply don’t know what made me decide to study foreign languages. Every student has some bee in his bonnet. I happened to discover that in the Moscow city library there was a mass of unsorted and uncatalogued works in foreign languages. There was nobody to put them in order and submit them to the censorship. Yet until they had been censored they could not be used. I quite quickly obtained permission to work on these materials, and a completely new world, closed to all others, was opened to me.

    My linguistic knowledge was far from brilliant, but in Soviet conditions even restricted knowledge of foreign languages was exceptional. A Soviet citizen has such a small chance of making practical use of such knowledge that it doesn’t occur to anybody to waste time studying languages. ’It might easily bring you to the notice of the Narcomvnudel’, was the way people reasoned.

    ‘Well, now to business.’ The colonel tapped his pencil on my papers. ‘We can pack whole street-cars with German linguists. And we’ve got more than we need of English. But as I see you’re studious and you’re not a child, I’ll make you a much better proposal.’ He paused significantly, carefully watching my reaction. ‘I’ll assign you to an exceptionally important department. In addition I guarantee that after you’ve passed out you’ll work in San Francisco or Washington. What do you say to that?’

    I didn’t bat an eyelid. What was he after? Neither English nor German.... Work in Washington.... I know: as a liftboy in some embassy! I had heard rumors of such things happening.

    ‘I’ll assign you to the Eastern Faculty,’ he added in a condescending tone. I went hot and cold. ‘The Japanese Department,’ he said in a tone of finality. ‘And you’ll find more use for your English there than anywhere else.’

    I shivered a little across the shoulders, and felt thoroughly uncomfortable. ‘Comrade Colonel, isn’t there something just a little less complicated?’ I said feebly. ‘I’ve only just recovered from a head wound....’

    ‘This isn’t a shop. The choice is limited.’ His face changed completely, it went cold and hard. He was obviously regretting the time he had wasted on me. ‘Two alternatives: either the Japanese Department or we send you back to your unit. That’s settled. I give you two hours to think it over.’

    The colonel in Leningrad had threatened me with a court-martial if I was sent back. And here I was faced with lifelong forced labor on the Japanese language. ’It strikes me, my dear Klimov, you’re in a jam!’ I thought.

    When I left the room I was surrounded by a lively group of my new acquaintances, all anxious to know the result of so protracted an interview.

    ‘Well, how did it go? Where are you assigned to: the Western Department?’ they clamored.

    ‘The geisha girls!’ I answered dejectedly.

    For a moment they stared at me in silence, then there was a roar of laughter. They thought it a good joke; but I didn’t see it.

    ‘Do you know how many signs they have got to their alphabet?’ one man asked sympathetically. ‘Sixty-four thousand. An educated Jap knows about half of them.’

    ‘There have been three cases of suicide here during the last year,’ another told me cheerfully. ‘And all three were in the Japanese Department.’

    One of them took my arm. ‘Come and I’ll show you the Japanese,’ he said.

    When he opened the door of the department I saw a disheveled creature sitting with his legs tucked under him on a bed; he was wearing pants and horned spectacles. He took no notice of us whatever, but went on with his occupation, muttering some exorcism and simultaneously describing mysterious figures in the air with his finger. I saw several other similar individuals in the room. They were all in various stages of Buddhistic trance; their naked skin showed through their undergarments.

    ‘These are your future colleagues,’ my companion informed me cheerfully. ‘Here is the source of all wisdom. And every one of them is an epileptic, so beware!’

    A swarthy-skinned, lean and lanky lieutenant-the only man in the room still wearing epaulettes-was sitting at a desk, describing artistic figures on paper. He had begun at the bottom right-hand corner and was continuing his course upward, from right to left. Outside the window was the hot Moscow summer; hopeful youngsters were swarming in the corridors, but these poor wretches were stuck here with the droning flies on the wall and were harassing them-selves stupid in their endeavor to split the granite of eastern wisdom.

    During the next few days I wandered about the college like a deceived lover. I had been promised a fabulous beauty, but behind the veil I had seen a toad. I made the firm decision to drop Japanese at the first opportunity. But as I saw no possibility of doing so at the moment I began to settle down in the college.

    It had only recently returned from evacuation, and had been given temporary accommodation in several four-storied buildings standing on Tagan Square. The various faculties were scattered all over the environs of Moscow. Our building was in a quiet side-street high above the granite embankment of the River Moskva. The windows looking out over the river afforded a view of the Stone Bridge and the Kremlin walls on the farther side.

    Of an evening we frequently enjoyed the cheerful and fascinating sight of the victory salutes thundering over the city. The picture of the city lit up by the fire was one of exceptional beauty. The batteries were grouped round the Kremlin in concentric rings. It was said that Stalin often went up one of the Kremlin belfries to enjoy the sight. Our Military-Diplomatic College had been founded in the war years, when changed international relations necessitated the extension of military-diplomatic ties with countries abroad. By the repeated changes in the college curriculum it was possible to trace the course of Soviet foreign policy for several years ahead.

    The college was based on the pattern of the High School for Diplomacy, the Military Intelligence High School, the Institute for Eastern Culture, and several other higher military and civilian educational institutions. To give an idea of the difficulties attending the selection of candidates, one need merely mention that the High School for Diplomacy only accepted men with completed secondary education and who in addition had at least five years’ Party membership.

    The Eastern Faculty of the college covered not only Japanese and Chinese, but Arabic, Turkish, Persian, Indian, and Afghan Departments. In addition to English, German, and French, the Western Faculty had Norwegian, Swedish, Finnish, Dutch, Italian, and other departments. There was also a Naval Faculty, which had departments for all the various naval powers. The Air Force Faculty had been temporarily transformed into a Faculty for Parachute Groups, with special emphasis on countries with which Soviet forces might shortly be making contact. As the college itself had been founded only recently, the students attending the first course were numbered in thousands, those in the second course in hundreds, and the third course students numbered only a few dozen. The last, the fourth course, was only in process of organization.

    In the case of the Eastern Faculty there was an additional fifth course. For entry to the higher courses the requirements were extremely high, while the number of candidates was very small, and so suitable men had to be sought all over the Soviet Union. Foreigners were not allowed to attend the college, but on the other hand Russian citizens with knowledge of foreign languages were a rarity. Approximately half of the students in the first course were the children of generals or high officials in the Party or State service; it was practically impossible for a man of ’ordinary’ origin to get accepted in that course. However, ’Heroes of the Soviet Union’, young officers who had particularly distinguished themselves in the war, and celebrities generally were the exception to this rule.

    All the college knew the young Tadjik girl named Mamlakat. During the ’thirties her picture had been distributed all over the Soviet Union. In distant Tadjikistan the little Mamlakat had achieved a record in cotton picking. About that time a conference of Stakhanovite workers on collective farms was being held in Moscow, and so Mamlakat was brought to the city and decorated with the Order of Lenin at the conference. Stalin personally gave her a gold wristwatch and was photographed in a fatherly pose with her.

    Since then years had passed. Mamlakat had long since stopped picking cotton, but she still sunned herself in her fame and the favor of her leader. There were smirks as the college students told the details of her career. On returning to the luxurious apartment of the Hotel Moskva after the conference, she had been so excited over her fame and Stalin’s gift that she jumped into her bath without stopping to take off the watch. The watch stopped, and she put the whole hotel in turmoil with her wild wailing.

    Now she was twenty years old. Since that time she had graced four different institutes in succession with her presence, attacking each in Stakhanovite tempo, and now she had entered the haven of our college. She found it necessary to change her subjects and place of study after each examination. But if Lenin Orders and Stalin watches cannot affect cerebral activity, at least they open many doors to their possessors. It was rumored that Mamlakat was again on the point of changing the scene of her operations. The college students included a number of such parasites living on past glories.

    Somewhere on the outskirts of Moscow a second educational institution existed which had tasks similar to those of our college, but where the students were all foreigners, being trained on the recommendation and instigation of the officially dissolved, but in fact highly active, Cornintern. They formed a reservoir for Soviet foreign agents. They had no diplomatic passes at their disposition, but their labors were more important and in any case far more active than those of the official diplomats.

    In addition, many well-known foreign communists, such as Rakosi, Dimitrov, and Anna Pauker, took training courses at the Sun Yat Sen University or at the Lenin Political Academy. You don’t know everything! Our college wasn’t talked about much, for that matter, though its objects were quite legal, namely, the training of personnel for Soviet military missions abroad. An interesting and quite safe job. If you did happen to come to grief, you were only sent back home. What happened when you got home was another matter.

    Strange to say, Jews were rigorously excluded from our college. Here for the first time I found official confirmation of certain rumors, which had been persistently circulating in the country. On the nationalities question the Kremlin had taken a largely unexpected course. Until recently the Jews had played, and they still do play, an important part in Soviet diplomacy and the foreign service generally. Yet now the doors of a diplomatic college were closed to them. Perhaps Stalin could not forgive the fact that in the Moscow trials of 1935-38 a large number of the accused was Jews.

    I could not help recalling certain incidents that had occurred comparatively recently. During the retreat of 1941, Jews were not evacuated from the abandoned areas, but were left quite deliberately to be exterminated by the Germans. The people of Moscow well remember the autumn days of 1941. Hardly any of the Moscow Jews, apart from the Party and government officials, obtained per-mission to leave the city. When the Germans captured the approaches to Moscow on October 16, thousands of people sought salvation in panicky flight. The majority was Jews, for the ordinary Muscovites had neither the possibility nor the desire to flee. Stalin sent Narcomvnudel forces to block the Moscow-Gorky main road, and gave them orders to shoot at sight anybody who tried to flee without an evacuation pass. This order was published only after the Narcomvnudel forces had been posted, and the result was hecatombs of Jewish bodies on both sides of the Moscow high road.

    During the war years the unity of the peoples of the Soviet Union was put to a severe test. The national minorities had not justified the Kremlin’s hopes. In the army a new, incomprehensible insult came into use: ’Yaldash’. In the language of the Asia Minor peoples the word means ’Comrade’. Introduced to them during the revolutionary period as an official form of address, it was now transformed into a term of contempt.

    Another Asiatic word, which enriched the Soviet army vocabulary during the war, was ’Belmeydy’. In the early days the national minorities went over to the Germans en masse, practiced self-mutilation, and later resorted to the passive ’Belmeydy’, ’I don’t understand’. With true Asiatic impassivity the Turkmen and Tadjiks called up for the army answered every question with the brief ’Belmeydy’. And if they were ordered ’left turn’ they unhesitatingly turned right.

    General Gundorov, the President of the Pan-Slav Committee, was responsible for putting into circulation the term ’Slavonic Brothers’. And after that, whenever some filthy trick, some act of looting or some senseless stupidity was observed and discussed in the army, the remark was made: ’That’s the Slavonic Brothers!’ This was the ordinary soldiers’ own way of criticizing certain things that were encouraged by the higher authorities, things which unleashed the dark instincts of the less responsible sections of the army. When each of these ’campaigns’ had served its turn the same higher authorities threw the whole blame on to those who had carried it through, issuing an indignant order and having the scapegoats shot.

    The derisive term ’Slavonic Brothers’ was often applied to the Polish and Baltic formations of the Red Army. The Red Army men spoke of the Estonians and other Balts who fought on the German side with more respect. The Soviet soldiers had no idea what sort of ’autonomy’ the Germans contemplated conferring on the Balts, but they knew quite well what sort of ’independence’ these peoples had received from the Soviet regime in 1940. The Russian soldiers had been thoroughly trained in the spirit of abstract internationalism, but during the war they had had an opportunity to view events from the national aspect, and they appreciated even their enemies’ fight for national freedom.

    ‘They hold on, the devils!’ they frequently remarked with more respect than anger in their tones.

    Some months after the war had begun, during the construction of the second ring of landing grounds around the city of Gorky, I came across thousands of foreigners engaged in excavating and leveling the sites. Their dress at once revealed them as foreigners. Their faces were sullen. They were former citizens of the Estonian, Lithuanian, and Latvian Soviet Republics, who had worked hand in hand with the new Soviet rulers. They had become militiamen and Party and State officials of the new republics. When they fled before the Nazi forces into the homeland of the world proletariat, spades were thrust into their hands, so that they could learn what it meant to be proletarians. Later still they were transferred to the Narcomvnudel’s forced-labor camps. And when in due course it became necessary to organize national army units, they were sent into the Estonian and other national brigades, where the majority of them finished their days. Such is the career of the petty opportunists.

    August passed into September, and we began regular instruction. I still could not reconcile myself to being condemned to a diplomatic career in Japan. When I talked it over with acquaintances they laughed as though they thought it a good joke.

    One day, as I was hurrying across the college yard, I collided with a woman in military uniform. A military man’s first glance is at the tabs. Astonished to see a woman with the high rank of major, I looked at her face.

    ‘Olga Ivanovna!’ I exclaimed joyfully, surprised at this unexpected meeting.

    Olga Ivanovna Moskalskaya was a doctor of philology, and had been professor and dean of the German Faculty in the First Pedagogical Institute for Foreign Languages. I had met her there in the days of peace, and she had been pleasantly touched by my interest in foreign languages. She was a woman of great culture and unusual personal charm.

    ‘Comrade Klimov!’ she exclaimed, just as astonished as I. She gave me a swift look up and down.

    ‘In uniform? What are you doing here?’

    ‘Oh, don’t ask, Olga Ivanovna!’ I replied, rather crestfallen.

    ‘But all the same... Have you taken up German again?’

    ‘No, Olga Ivanovna; even worse... Japanese!’ I answered gloomily.

    ‘What? Japanese? Impossible! You’re joking!’

    ‘It’s no joke, I can tell you.’

    ‘I see!’ She shook her head. ‘Come along to my room and we’ll have a chat.’

    On the door of her room was the inscription: ’Head of the Western Faculty’, and her name. So she held an important position in the college.

    ‘What idiot has put you in the Japanese Department?’ she asked. I saw at once that she was well acquainted with conditions in the college.

    ‘It wasn’t an idiot, it was Colonel Gorokhov,’ I answered.

    ‘Would you agree to being transferred to the German Department?’ she asked in a curt, businesslike tone. When I said yes, she added: ‘I’m just engaged in making a selection of candidates for the last course, and I’m racking my brains to know where to get the people from. If you don’t object I shall ask the general this very day to have you transferred. What do you think?’

    ‘Only for God’s sake don’t let Colonel Gorokhov think it’s my personal wish... Otherwise I don’t know what will happen,’ I replied as I gratefully shook her hand.

    ‘That’s my headache, not yours. See you again soon!’ she laughed as I left her room.

    Next day the head of the Japanese preparatory course sent for me. As though he were seeing me for the first time in his life he asked distrustfully:

    ‘So you’re Klimov?’

    ‘Yes, Comrade Major,’ I answered.

    ‘I’ve received an order from the general to transfer a certain Klimov’ - he contemplated the document - ‘to... the fourth course of the Western Faculty.’

    He gave first me, then the paper, a skeptical look.

    That look was quite understandable. Conditions’ in the college were decidedly abnormal. The students of the preparatory course lived in a state of bliss. Those assigned to the first course, especially those concerned with the ’leading’ nationalities, were inflated with conceit. Those attending the second course were regarded as made for life. Of the members of the third course it was secretly whispered that they must have pulled unusually effective strings. As for the fourth and last course, little was known about it, but it was regarded as the dwelling-place of the gods.

    ‘Do you know anything about this?’ he went on to ask suspiciously.

    ‘Oh no. Comrade Major,’ I replied.

    ‘Very good! Here’s the order-as we haven’t any other Captain Klimov at the moment-and you can go off to the West. But I think there must be some mistake, and we’ll be seeing each other again soon,’ he added.

    ‘Very good, Comrade Major!’ I clicked my heels.

    So now I was in the final course of the German Department. Fortune had smiled on me after all.

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide


  • Content warning: not nice with animals

    “The #Convair #B-58 originally went into service in 1960 with standard ejection seats, but the possibility of ejecting at supersonic speeds and at extreme high altitude meant the crewman stood little chance of surviving these extreme conditions. [...] The first live, inflight supersonic test of the escape capsule took place on March 21, 1962, but the body inside wasn’t a member of the Air Force… it was a female #bear name Yogi!”

    http://airpigz.com/blog/2010/4/2/b-58-proves-supersonic-ejection-to-be-bear-able-in-1962.html

    Don’t miss the first comment :-)

    #supersonic_flight #plane_ejection


  • Government Vilifies NSA Whistleblower Reality Winner

    http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/43656-ahead-of-trial-government-vilifies-nsa-contractor-and-whistleblower

    As whistleblower Reality Winner nears trial, prosecutors for the United States government have focused on framing Winner as “anti-American,” denying her bail and due process, and depriving her defense attorneys of adequate access to resources.

    Winner, an Air Force veteran working for an intelligence contractor in Augusta, Georgia, printed out and mailed a classified NSA document to The Intercept in May 2017. The document reported that Russian hackers conducted cyberattacks against a United States voting software supplier and sent phishing emails to more than 100 election officials leading up to the November 2016 election, though the data used to develop this analysis was not included in the report.

    “What’s been going on is unfortunately typical of what happens when you overcharge someone who, by all appearances, is a whistleblower, with charges like the Espionage Act,” said Jesselyn Radack, head of the Whistleblower and Source Protection Program (WHISPeR) at ExposeFacts, in an interview with Truthout. She pointed to the situation as an example of the “criminalization of whistleblowing.” Winner has no public interest defense available, and the use of the Espionage Act ensures many of the legal proceedings will take place in secret.

    #Jesselyn_Radack


  • The following video shows a U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone destroying a Russian-made T-72 main battle tank in Syria in what U.S. officials have defined a “defensive strike against pro-Syrian government forces”. The second one in less than a week.

    This Video Shows U.S. MQ-9 Reaper Drone Destroying a Russian-made T-72 Tank in Syria.
    https://www.military.com/daily-news/2018/02/13/us-mq-9-reaper-takes-out-russian-t-72-tank-syria.html

    A U.S. MQ-9 Reaper drone took out a Soviet-made T-72 tank in eastern Syria on Saturday in a “self-defense” strike after pro-regime forces fired on U.S. advisers and allied Syrian fighters.

    Lt. Gen. Jeffrey Harrigian, head of Air Forces Central Command, acknowledged Tuesday that the battlespace in Syria is becoming increasingly contested as more operators move into the area, making response decisions ever more complicated.

    “... We rely upon our folks who are on the ground to make that decision, primarily the ground force commander,” Harrigian told reporters from the Combined Air Operations Center at Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar, during a video teleconference briefing.

    “What happened in that particular scenario is the tank that fired was within an effective range to target our SDF and advisers on the ground, which clearly provides [the ground commander] the ability to defend himself. And he made that decision, appropriately so, and that was the result,” he said.


  • Syria Does Not Fear War With Israel: The Rules Of Engagement Have Changed – Elijah J. Magnier | ايليا ج مغناير
    https://elijahjm.wordpress.com/2018/02/11/syria-does-not-fear-war-with-israel-the-rules-of-engagement-have

    It is not in the interests of Russia to see war break out in Syria where its forces are present on the ground and in the Mediterranean. Russia considers it has the right to intervene because its official presence on Syrian territory is at the request of and in agreement with the Damascus government. In its role as a superpower, it is in its interest to stop the tension on the Syrian border and show it has the power to impose peace on would-be belligerents.

    It is also in Moscow’s interests to push Syria to react to Israel’s violations, even at the cost of downing an Israeli jet- especially when Russia accuses Washington of supplying the Faylaq al-Sham militants (al-Qaeda’s allies in northern Syria city of Idlib and its surroundings) with the anti-aircraft missiles which downed the Russian jet over Idlib and to the murder of its pilot who refused to surrender to the militants and jihadists.

    All of this took place one day after the liberation of the entire area from the “Islamic State” (ISIS) group in rural Aleppo, Homs and Idlib, with over 1200 square kilometres returned to government control. This freed over fifteen thousand officers and soldiers from the Syrian army and special units which were engaged there to move to another front, the one against Israel if necessary, with al-Qaeda as the only remaining threat to the Syrian state.

    This shows that the government of Damascus – which lived in a state of war for more than six years – is ready to fight its battle with Israel and begin now. The Lebanese Second War in 2006 proved that air force power does not give superiority and does not finish off the opponent, Hezbollah, whose militants continued firing missiles and rockets consistently throughout the 33 days of war. The thousands of missiles delivered to Syria from Russia and Iran in the last years represent a major threat to Israel in the event of war, invalidating its air superiority.


  • The Future the US Military is Constructing: a Giant, Armed Nervous System - Defense One
    http://www.defenseone.com/technology/2017/09/future-us-military-constructing-giant-armed-nervous-system/141303

    Service chiefs are converging on a single strategy for military dominance: connect everything to everything.

    Leaders of the Air Force, Navy, Army and Marines are converging on a vision of the future military: connecting every asset on the global battlefield.

    That means everything from F-35 jets overhead to the destroyers on the sea to the armor of the tanks crawling over the land to the multiplying devices in every troops’ pockets. Every weapon, vehicle, and device connected, sharing data, constantly aware of the presence and state of every other node in a truly global network. The effect: an unimaginably large cephapoloidal nervous system armed with the world’s most sophisticated weaponry.

    #armée #etats-unis


  • Watchdog: Troops say they were told to ignore Afghan child sex abuse | TheHill
    http://thehill.com/policy/defense/360725-watchdog-pentagon-had-no-policy-against-reporting-afghan-child-sex-a

    Controversy erupted last year after news reports alleged a Pentagon policy kept U.S. troops from reporting when Afghan police and militia officials sexually assaulted children in a practice known as “bacha bazi” - or “boy play.” U.S. troops were allegedly punished when they did report the abuse.

    The Pentagon repeatedly denied any such policy existed. But lawmakers were outraged and asked the inspector general to investigate.

    Though the Pentagon did not have a policy against reporting child sex assault, some services’ cultural awareness training did identify child sex abuse as a culturally accepted practice in Afghanistan, according to the report.

    Army and Air Force training do not discuss pedophilia in Afghanistan, but Navy and Marines training does. The Navy training “advises readers to control and overcome any frustration caused by cultural differences that they may experience during their deployments,” while the Marines one “tells Marines to be mentally prepared to encounter this attitude, and to ’move on,’” according to the report.

    #etats-unis


  • America’s Mass Shooting Problem Is a Domestic Violence Problem
    https://www.villagevoice.com/2017/11/08/americas-mass-shooting-problem-is-a-domestic-violence-problem

    Devin P. Kelley, the 26-year-old man who killed 26 people in a Texas church on Sunday, had a long and documented history of intimate violence. In 2012, Kelley was charged with assault and eventually received a “bad conduct” discharge from the Air Force after he kicked, beat, and choked his first wife. The charges against him included allegations he had pointed a loaded gun at his wife multiple times. Kelley also fractured his toddler stepson’s skull by hitting him with what was described in Air Force records as “a force likely to produce death or grievous bodily harm.”

    Over the course of the next two years, Kelley was investigated for violence against other women, including, according to a New York Times report, charges that he sexually assaulted and raped someone. He also brutally attacked his dog, hitting the animal repeatedly in the head.

    Kelley is emblematic of a strikingly consistent pattern: Most mass killers have histories of domestic violence that went unaddressed. He joins a long list, including Omar Mateen, the Orlando Pulse nightclub killer; Tamerlan Tsarnaev, accused in the bombing of the Boston Marathon; Adam Lanza, who killed his mother before walking into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and killing 26 people; Mohamed Lahouaiej-Bouhlel, who plowed a van through a crowd in Nice, France; and Khalid Masood, who did the same in Westminster, London.