position:chief of staff

  • Pushing for an Israeli victory is the only way to end the conflict with the Palestinians

    Il faut lire ce point de vue d’un néoconservateur américain car il reflète une partie de la pensée de la droite pro-israélienne

    Lieberman and Bennett failed to impose a new paradigm on how to deal with Hamas, but more and more people in Israel are recognizing that compromises and concessions have only led to more violence

    Daniel Pipes SendSend me email alerts
    Dec 02, 2018 4:04 PM

    From a practical political point of view, Avigdor Lieberman, Naftali Bennett, and their idea to take a tougher stand toward Hamas just went down to defeat, if not humiliation. 
    That’s because Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu once again showed his political skills; the first is now ex-defense minister, the second failed to become defense minister.
    >> ‘Get used to the rockets’: What Netanyahu should tell Israelis living near Gaza | Opinion
    From a longer-term point of view, however, the duo raised an issue that for decades had not been part of the Israeli political discourse but, due to their efforts, promises to be an important factor in the future: that would be the concept of victory, of an Israeli victory over Hamas and, by extension, over the Palestinian Authority and Palestinians in general.
    Victory – defined as imposing one’s will on the enemy so he gives up his war goals - has been the war goal of philosophers, strategists, and generals through human history. Aristotle wrote that “Victory is the end of generalship.” Karl von Clausewitz, the Prussian theorist, concurred: “The aim of war should be the defeat of the enemy.” Gen. James Mattis, the U.S. secretary of defense, finds that “No war is over until the enemy says it’s over.” 
    Palestinians routinely speak of achieving victory over Israel, even when this is fantastical: to cite one example, PA leader Mahmoud Abbas called his Hamas counterpart, Ismail Haniyeh, after eight days of violence with Israel that left Gaza badly battered in November 2012 to “congratulate him on the victory and extend condolences to the families of martyrs.”

    Contrarily, in Israel, the notion of victory has been sidelined since at least the Oslo Accords of 1993, after which its leaders instead focused on such concepts as compromise, conciliation, confidence-building, flexibility, goodwill, mediation, and restraint. Prime Minister Ehud Olmert immemorially articulated this attitude in 2007 when he stated that "Peace is achieved through concessions.”
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    >> Israel is incomparably stronger than Hamas – but it will never win: Interview with Hamas leader in Gaza
    his perverse understanding of how wars end led Israel to make extraordinary blunders in the 15 years after Oslo, for which it was punished by unremitting campaigns of delegitimization and violence, symbolized, respectively, by the Durban conference of 2001  and the Passover Massacre of 2002. 
    Such nonsense ended during Netanyahu’s near-decade-long term as prime minister, but it has not yet been replaced by a sturdy vision of victory. Rather, Netanyahu has put out brush fires as they arose in Sinai, Gaza, the West Bank, the Golan Heights, Syria, and Lebanon. While agreeing with the concept of an Israeli victory when personally briefed, he has not spoken publicly about it.
    Meanwhile, other leading figures in Israel have adopted this outlook. Former deputy chief of staff Uzi Dayan called on the army “to return the path of victory.” Former education and interior minister Gideon Sa’ar has stated that “The ‘victory paradigm,’ like Jabotinsky’s ‘Iron Wall’ concept, assumes that an agreement may be possible in the future, but only after a clear and decisive Israeli victory ... The transition to the ‘victory paradigm’ is contingent upon abandoning the Oslo concept.”
    In this context, the statements by Lieberman and Bennett point to a change in thinking. Lieberman quit his position as defense minister out of frustration that a barrage by Hamas of 460 rockets and missiles against Israel was met with a ceasefire; he called instead for “a state of despair” to be imposed on the enemies of Israel. Complaining that “Israel stopped winning,” Bennett demanded that the IDF “start winning again,” and added that “When Israel wants to win, we can win.” On rescinding his demand for the defense portfolio, Bennett emphasized that he stands by Netanyahu “in the monumental task of ensuring that Israel is victorious again.”
    >> Netanyahu’s vision for the Middle East has come true | Analysis
    Opponents of this paradigm then amusingly testified to the power of this idea of victory. Ma’ariv columnist Revital Amiran wrote that the victory the Israeli public most wants lies in such arenas as larger allocations for the elderly and unbearable traffic jams. Meretz leader Tamar Zandberg, replied to Bennett that for her, a victorious Israel means winning Emmy and Oscar nominations, guaranteeing equal health services, and spending more on education.
    That victory and defeat have newly become a topic for debate in Israel constitutes a major development. Thus does the push for an Israeli victory move forward.
    Daniel Pipes is president of the Middle East Forum think tank, which promotes Israel Victory, a project to steer U.S. policy toward backing an Israeli victory to resolve the conflict with the Palestinians. Follow him on Twitter @DanielPipes

  • Brazil new President will open Amazon indigenous reserves to mining and farming

    Indigenous People Bolsonaro has vowed that no more indigenous reserves will be demarcated and existing reserves will be opened up to mining, raising the alarm among indigenous leaders. “We are in a state of alert,” said Beto Marubo, an indigenous leader from the Javari Valley reserve.

    Dinamam Tuxá, the executive coordinator of the Indigenous People of Brazil Liaison, said indigenous people did not want mining and farming on their reserves, which are some of the best protected areas in the Amazon. “He does not respect the indigenous peoples’ traditions” he said.

    The Amazon and the environment Bolsonaro campaigned on a pledge to combine Brazil’s environment ministry with the agriculture ministry – under control of allies from the agribusiness lobby. He has attacked environmental agencies for running a “fines industry” and argued for simplifying environmental licences for development projects. His chief of staff, Onyx Lorenzoni, and other allies have challenged global warming science.

    “He intends that Amazon stays Brazilian and the source of our progress and our riches,” said Ribeiro Souto in an interview. Ferreira has also said Bolsonaro wants to restart discussions over controversial hydroelectric dams in the Amazon, which were stalled over environmental concerns.

    Bolsonaro’s announcement last week that he would no longer seek to withdraw Brazil from the Paris climate agreement has done little to assuage environmentalists’ fears.

    #réserves #Amazonie #Brésil #extractivisme #mines #agriculture #forêt #déforestation (probablement pour amener ENFIN la #modernité et le #progrès, n’est-ce pas ?) #aires_protégées #peuples_autochtones #barrages_hydroélectriques

  • In nearing deal with Israel on Gaza, Hamas wins achievements through military resistance

    Netanyahu, who has no clear goal on Gaza, prefers to be weak on terror and not find himself in an endless war in the Strip

    Amos Harel
    Aug 15, 2018


    The two sides clashing in the Gaza Strip, Israel and Hamas, seemed to be closer on Tuesday evening than anytime during the past few months to “the small arrangement” – a full cease-fire that includes a halt to all acts of violence, alongside the first easing of the blockade on Gaza.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    If the efforts to broker the deal by the United Nations and Egyptian intelligence work out, and optimism in Israeli defense circles could be heard for the first time on the matter Tuesday evening, then it is possible that quiet could return to the border between Israel and Gaza for at least a few months.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has examined the possibility of calling early elections over the past few days, because of the coalition crisis over the law on drafting the ultra-Orthodox, along with other considerations. A stable cease-fire in Gaza would allow Netanyahu to conduct the election campaign from a position of relative stability, without having to continually fight back against the accusations that he has abandoned the residents of the south to rockets and incendiary kites.
    >> Hamas is exploiting Netanyahu’s unwillingness to go to war | Analysis

    Minister of Defense Lieberman, Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Eisenkot at the graduation ceremony for officers’ course at Training Base 1.Ariel Hermoni / Ministry of Defense
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    The negative side of the understandings with Hamas for Netanyahu is that he is in practice negotiating with Hamas. His denials haven’t convinced anyone. Netanyahu knows exactly to whom the mediators are delivering his answers. It has happened in the past too, under Ehud Olmert’s government after Operation Cast Lead, and on Netanyahu’s watch too, after both Pillar of Defense and Protective Edge. But it seems that this time it is even clearer and more unforgiving.
    It will also be a victory from Hamas’ point of view. The organization began escalating the tensions along the border with mass protests on March 30, from a position of deep distress. The understandings are expected to ease the Israeli pressure on the Gaza Strip and give Hamas breathing room. At the same time, the understandings promise Hamas another achievement: being identified as an important and legitimate partner for regional agreements. And Hamas achieved all this through military resistance, in complete opposition to the line taken by its rival Palestinian camp, Fatah and the Palestinian Authority.

    The step that is now coming together was woven by the United Nations special envoy for the Middle East peace process, Nickolay Mladenov, with the active help of Egyptian intelligence. The latest round of violence, which came last week, sped up the renewal of contacts and may have even advanced the willingness of the two sides to reach an agreement.
    It seems that Netanyahu has chosen the least bad option. It is very possible he will spare the lives of dozens of Israeli soldiers and civilians, who could very well have died in a wide-scale military conflict in Gaza in the next few months. Because Netanyahu never set a clear and attainable goal for himself for an attack on Gaza, he is willing to endure criticism from both the left and right on his demonstration of weakness in the face of terrorism, and not find himself in the middle of a war whose end, the how and why of it, would be a riddle to him.

  • Israeli Druze commander quits army over nation-state law in open letter to Netanyahu

    In a Facebook post, Capt. Amir Jmall calls on leaders of his community to work toward putting an end to the compulsory conscription of Israeli Druze

    Yaniv Kubovich
    Jul 30, 2018 5:36 PM


    In the letter, Jmall also called on leaders of his community to work toward putting an end to the compulsory conscription of Israel’s Druze. The Facebook post has since been removed.
    “This morning, when I woke up to drive to the [army] base, I asked myself, why? Why do I have to serve the State of Israel, a state that my two brothers, my father and I have served with dedication, a sense of mission and a love of the homeland, and, in the end, what do we get? To be second-class citizens,” Jmall wrote.
    >> ’When we’re in uniform they treat us well’: Israel’s Druze no longer feel like blood brothers
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    "Continue serving the country? I do not want to continue and I am sure that hundreds more people will stop serving and will be discharged from the army following your decision, Netanyahu, that of you and your government,” he continued.
    "After many thoughts ran through my head, I decided to let go and to discontinue serving the country, a country that has a government that takes and does not give back.”
    In conclusion, Jmall wrote: “I ask everyone who is against the nation-state law to share and share my proposal to community leaders to stop the conscription law for members of the Druze community.”
    The Basic Law: Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, also known as the nation-state law, approved by the Knesset on July 19, affirmed that only Jews have the right to self-determination in Israel. It also downgraded Arabic to a language with “special status,” among several other controversial measures that affect the Israeli Druze.
    The nation-state law is designed to alter the application of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty in court rulings, and permits judges to give priority to Israel’s Jewish character in their rulings.

    Last week, Druze lawmakers were the first to file a High Court of Justice petition against the legislation. A hundred Druze Israel Defense Forces reserve officers added their voices to that effort on Wednesday, prompting Education Minister Naftali Bennett to speak out in support of “our blood brothers” on Twitter.
    Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon echoed similar sentiments on Thursday, telling Israeli Army Radio, “The enactment of the nation-state law was done hastily,” and adding: “We were wrong and we need to fix it.”
    On Saturday, Israeli Arab lawmaker Zouheir Bahloul (Zionist Union) announced his intention to resign from the Knesset in protest of the law. "The law oppresses me and oppresses the population that sent me to the Knesset,’’ he said.

    • Haaretz, 1er août
      Nation-state Law Backlash: Druze Leaders Say Netanyahu’s Offer May Set ’Historical Precedent’


      Representatives of the Druze community said Thursday night that Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s proposal to pass a law to strengthen the status of the Druze and Circassian communities is “a window of opportunity to set a historical precedent for the advancement of the Druze community and its status in the State of Israel.”
      Representatives, headed by Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, will continue talks with Netanyahu’s team, which has been appointed to make an agreement on both sides.
      Netanyahu’s proposed law follows the protest sparked by the nation-state law. The plan outlines a Basic Law and a regular law that will recognize the contribution of minorities who defend the country by “enshrining eligibility for the benefits of minority members of all religions and communities who serve in the security forces, for the purpose of closing gaps and promoting social equality.”
      Benjamin Netanyahu and the Druze representatives, August 1, 2018.
      Benjamin Netanyahu and the Druze representatives, August 1, 2018.
      >> Israeli Druze in Golan welcome end of Syrian war but fear future in Jewish nation-state
      Another demonstration against the nation-state law is slated for Saturday evening in Tel Aviv.
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      According to the plan submitted by the prime minister’s representatives, “the law will recognize the contribution of the Druze community to the security of the state, and will include support for community institutions (religion, education and culture), will strengthen Druze residential settlements, and establish new towns if needed. It will also preserve and cultivate Druze heritage.”
      Tourism Minister Yariv Levin (Likud) congratulated “the agreement we have reached with the Druze leadership. Recognizing the rights of those who serve in the security forces is an achievement.” Tamar Zandberg (Meretz) said in response: “The Prime Minister ranks Israel’s citizens, and he divides and rules the minorities from whom he has stolen equality in his Basic Law. He got scared after the fact. Netanyahu’s government has torn apart the Declaration of Independence and the values of equality on which the state was founded. Now they’re making laws in honor of the Druze community, as if equality is a prize and not a right that all of us have.”
      The proposal drew mixed reactions from the Druze community, MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), one of the two Druze MKs who petitioned the Supreme Court against the nation-state law, congratulated the plan. MK Saleh Saad (Zionist Union) said he will continue with the petition and said: “I am sad that my friends have succumbed to pressures and withdrew from the petition.”
      The negotiating team of the Druze community, which includes their spiritual leader, Sheikh Muwafak Tarif, former security officials and civil servants, has had strong disagreements over the proposal. One of the team members told Haaretz that the representatives who have security backgrounds tend to accept the spirit of the plan, while others – including local council heads – oppose it.
      The source added that some of the representatives accused the prime minister of trying to implement a policy of “divide and conquer.” They said that they would settle only for annulling the nation-state law or adding to it the value of equality. The source added that the Prime Minister’s Office is concerned about the protest rally scheduled for Saturday night, and therefore is exerting heavy pressure on the representatives of the community to accept the plan and cancel the rally.

      >> ’When we’re in uniform they treat us well’: Israel’s Druze no longer feel like blood brothers
      The plan was drafted by a team formed by the prime minister on the issue of the Druze, headed by the acting Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Bureau, Yoav Horowitz, and including Sheikh Tarif, ministers Ayoub Kara and Yariv Levin, MK Hamad Amar (Yisrael Beiteinu), former MK Shakib Shenan, heads of the Druze local authorities and the forum of reservist senior officers.
      The prime minister’s office called the plan “historic” in a press release, saying it “represents a revolution in the legal status of minority group members who serve in the security forces, and members of the Druze community in particular.” Sheikh Tarif welcomed the work of the team and thanked the prime minister for his quick and serious activity. The plan will be presented to the Druze community’s dignitaries.
      The plan offers to enshrine a Basic Law - Israeli constitutional equivalent - for the status of the Druze and Circassian communities, “paying respect to the contribution of the Druze community to the State of Israel in building the land, strengthening security and shaping the face of Israeli society as an egalitarian and diverse society.”
      The plan also suggests enshrining in law that members of minority groups, from all religions and ethnic groups will be eligible for benefits if they serve in the security forces. The law will also recognize their contribution if they serve.
      >> Analysis: Druze nation-state crisis: Israeli army chief forced to put out fire Netanyahu started
      Several Druze officers have left the Israeli military in recent days over the nation-state law.
      The Basic Law on Israel as the Nation-State of the Jewish People, also known as the nation-state law, approved by the Knesset on July 19, affirmed that only Jews have the right to self-determination in Israel. It also downgraded Arabic to a language with “special status,” among several other controversial measures that affect the Israeli Druze.
      The nation-state law is designed to alter the application of the Basic Law on Human Dignity and Liberty in court rulings, and permits judges to give priority to Israel’s Jewish character in their rulings.
      Earlier this month, Druze lawmakers were the first to file a High Court of Justice petition against the legislation. A hundred Druze Israel Defense Forces reserve officers added their voices to that effort on Wednesday, prompting Education Minister Naftali Bennett to speak out in support of “our blood brothers” on Twitter.
      Finance Minister Moshe Kahlon echoed similar sentiments, telling Israeli Army Radio, “The enactment of the nation-state law was done hastily,” and adding: “We were wrong and we need to fix it.”
      The acting Chief of Staff of the Prime Minister’s Bureau announced the formation of a ministerial committee to deal with the issue of the Druze community, to be headed by the prime minister, which will work to promote the plan and to supervise its implementation - among other things.
      Details of the plan will be formulated and worded within 45 days, in the context of a joint team of the cabinet and representatives of the community, all subject to the instructions of the law and the approval of the attorney general. Legislative activities will begin immediately with the convening of the coming winter session of the Knesset and will be concluded within 45 days from the start of the session.
      Jonathan Lis

    • Rare manifestation de la communauté druze contre une loi controversée définissant Israël

      Une foule immense de Druzes israéliens et leurs sympathisants a manifesté samedi à Tel-Aviv contre une nouvelle loi controversée qui, disent-ils, fait d’eux des citoyens de seconde classe. Selon les médias israéliens, quelque 50 000 personnes ont pris part à la manifestation.
      Arborant des drapeaux druzes et israéliens, les protestataires ont défilé dans le centre de Tel-Aviv an scandant « égalité ». « Malgré notre loyauté illimitée à l’Etat, celui-ci ne nous considère pas comme des citoyens égaux », a affirmé le chef spirituel de la communauté druze, cheikh Mouafak Tarif dans un discours.

  • The Rise and Fall of the Latin American Left | The Nation

    Conservatives now control Latin America’s leading economies, but the region’s leftists can still look to Uruguay for direction.
    By Omar G. Encarnación, May 9, 2018

    Last December’s election of Sebastián Piñera, of the National Renewal party, to the Chilean presidency was doubly significant for Latin American politics. Coming on the heels of the rise of right-wing governments in Argentina in 2015 and Brazil in 2016, Piñera’s victory signaled an unmistakable right-wing turn for the region. For the first time since the 1980s, when much of South America was governed by military dictatorship, the continent’s three leading economies are in the hands of right-wing leaders.

    Piñera’s election also dealt a blow to the resurrection of the Latin American left in the post–Cold War era. In the mid-2000s, at the peak of the so-called Pink Tide (a phrase meant to suggest the surge of leftist, noncommunist governments), Venezuela, Argentina, Brazil, Chile, Uruguay, Paraguay, Ecuador, and Bolivia, or three-quarters of South America’s population (some 350 million people), were under left-wing rule. By the time the Pink Tide reached the mini-state of Mexico City, in 2006, and Nicaragua, a year later (culminating in the election of Daniel Ortega as president there), it was a region-wide phenomenon.

    It’s no mystery why the Pink Tide ran out of steam; even before the Chilean election, Mexican political scientist Jorge Castañeda had already declared it dead in The New York Times. Left-wing fatigue is an obvious factor. It has been two decades since the late Hugo Chávez launched the Pink Tide by toppling the political establishment in the 1998 Venezuelan presidential election. His Bolivarian revolution lives on in the hands of his handpicked successor, Nicolás Maduro, but few Latin American governments regard Venezuela’s ravaged economy and diminished democratic institutions as an inspiring model. In Brazil, the Workers’ Party, or PT, was in power for 14 years, from 2002 through 2016, first under its founder, Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva, between 2003 and 2011, and then under his successor and protégée, Dilma Rousseff, from 2011 to 2016. The husband-and-wife team of Néstor Kirchner and Cristina Fernández de Kirchner of the Peronist Party governed Argentina from 2003 to 2015. Socialist Michelle Bachelet had two nonconsecutive terms in office in Chile, from 2006 to 2010 and from 2014 to 2018.

    Economic turmoil and discontent is another culprit. As fate would have it, the Pink Tide coincided with one of the biggest economic expansions in Latin American history. Its engine was one of the largest commodities booms in modern times. Once the boom ended, in 2012—largely a consequence of a slowdown in China’s economy—economic growth in Latin America screeched to a halt. According to the International Monetary Fund, since 2012 every major Latin American economy has underperformed relative to the previous 10 years, with some economies, including that of Brazil, the region’s powerhouse, experiencing their worst recession in decades. The downturn reined in public spending and sent the masses into the streets, making it very difficult for governments to hang on to power.

    Meanwhile, as the commodity boom filled states’ coffers, leftist politicians became enmeshed in the same sorts of corrupt practices as their conservative predecessors. In April, Lula began serving a 12-year prison sentence for having accepted bribes in exchange for government contracts while in office. His prosecution, which in principle guarantees that he will not be a candidate in this year’s presidential race, was the high point of Operation Car Wash, the biggest anti-corruption dragnet in Brazilian history. Just after leaving office, in 2015, Cristina Fernández de Kirchner was indicted for fraud for conspiring with her former public-works secretary, José López, to steal millions of federal dollars intended for roadwork in Argentina. The “nuns and guns” scandal riveted the country, with the arrest of a gun-toting López as he hurled bags stuffed with millions of dollars over the walls of a Catholic convent in a suburb of Buenos Aires. In Chile, Bachelet left office under a cloud of suspicion. Her family, and by extension Bachelet herself, is accused of illegal real-estate transactions that netted millions of dollars.

    All this said, largely overlooked in obituaries of the Pink Tide is the right-wing backlash that it provoked. This backlash aimed to reverse the shift in power brought on by the Pink Tide—a shift away from the power brokers that have historically controlled Latin America, such as the military, the Catholic Church, and the oligarchy, and toward those sectors of society that have been marginalized: women, the poor, sexual minorities, and indigenous peoples. Rousseff’s impeachment in 2016 perfectly exemplifies the retaliation organized by the country’s traditional elites. Engineered by members of the Brazilian Congress, a body that is only 11 percent female and has deep ties to industrial barons, rural oligarchs, and powerful evangelical pastors, the impeachment process was nothing short of a patriarchal coup.

    In a 2017 interview, Rousseff made note of the “very misogynist element in the coup against me.… They accused me of being overly tough and harsh, while a man would have been considered firm, strong. Or they would say I was too emotional and fragile, when a man would have been considered sensitive.” In support of her case, Rousseff pointed out that previous Brazilian presidents committed the same “crime” she was accused of (fudging the national budget to hide deficits at reelection time), without any political consequence. As if to underscore the misogyny, Rousseff’s successor, Michel Temer, came into office with an all-male cabinet.

    In assessing the impact of the Pink Tide, there is a tendency to bemoan its failure to generate an alternative to neoliberalism. After all, the Pink Tide rose out of the discontent generated by the economic policies championed by the United States and international financial institutions during the 1990s, such as privatizations of state enterprises, austerity measures, and ending economic protectionism. Yet capitalism never retreated in most of Latin America, and US economic influence remains for the most part unabated. The only significant dent on the neoliberal international order made by the Pink Tide came in 2005, when a massive wave of political protests derailed the George W. Bush administration’s plan for a Free Trade Area of the Americas, or FTAA. If enacted, this new trade pact would have extended the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA) to all countries in the Americas save for Cuba, or 34 nations in total.

    But one shouldn’t look at the legacy of the Pink Tide only through the lens of what might have been with respect to replacing neoliberalism and defeating US imperialism. For one thing, a good share of the Pink Tide was never anti-neoliberal or anti-imperialist. Left-wing rule in Argentina, Brazil, Uruguay, and Chile (what Castañeda called the “good left”) had more in common with the social-democratic governments of Western Europe, with its blend of free-market economics and commitment to the welfare state, than with Cuba’s Communist regime.

    Indeed, only in the radical fringe of the Pink Tide, especially the triumvirate of Chávez of Venezuela, Evo Morales of Bolivia, and Rafael Correa of Ecuador (the “bad left,” according to Castañeda), was the main thrust of governance anti-neoliberal and anti-imperialist. Taking Cuba as a model, these self-termed revolutionaries nationalized large sectors of the economy, reinvigorated the role of the state in redistributing wealth, promoted social services to the poor, and created interstate institutions, such as the Bolivarian Alliance for the Peoples of Our America, or ALBA, to promote inter-American collaboration and to challenge US hegemony.

    Second, the focus on neoliberalism and US imperialism obscures the Pink Tide’s biggest accomplishments. To be sure, the picture is far from being uniformly pretty, especially when it comes to democracy. The strong strand of populism that runs through the Pink Tide accounts for why some of its leaders have been so willing to break democratic norms. Claiming to be looking after the little guy, the likes of Chávez and Maduro have circumvented term limits and curtailed the independence of the courts and the press. But there is little doubt that the Pink Tide made Latin America more inclusive, equitable, and democratic, by, among other things, ushering in an unprecedented era of social progressivism.

    Because of the Pink Tide, women in power are no longer a novelty in Latin American politics; in 2014, female presidents ruled in Argentina, Brazil, and Chile. Their policies leave little doubt about the transformative nature of their leadership. In 2010, Fernández boldly took on the Argentine Catholic Church (then headed by present-day Pope Francis) to enact Latin America’s first ever same-sex marriage law; this was five years before same-sex marriage became the law of the land in the United States. A gender-identity law, one of the world’s most liberal, followed. It allows individuals to change their sex assigned at birth without permission from either a doctor or a judge. Yet another law banned the use of “conversion therapy” to cure same-sex attraction. Argentina’s gay-rights advances were quickly emulated by neighboring Uruguay and Brazil, kick-starting a “gay-rights revolution” in Latin America.

    Rousseff, who famously referred to herself with the gender-specific title of a presidenta, instead of the gender-neutral “president,” did much to advance the status of women in Brazilian society. She appointed women to the three most powerful cabinet positions, including chief of staff, and named the first female head of Petrobras, Brazil’s largest business corporation; during her tenure in office, a woman became chief justice of the Federal Supreme Court. Brutally tortured by the military during the 1970s, as a university student, Rousseff put human rights at the center of Brazilian politics by enacting a law that created Brazil’s first ever truth commission to investigate the abuses by the military between 1964 and 1985. She also signed laws that opened the Brazilian Army to women and that set into motion the corruption campaign that is currently roiling the Brazilian political class. These laws earned Rousseff the enmity of the military and conservatives.

    Bachelet, the last woman standing, made news when she entered office, in 2006, by naming the same number of men and women to her cabinet. After being term-limited, she became the first head of the newly established UN Women (formally known as the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women), before returning to Chile to win a second term at the presidency in 2014. During her second term, she created the Ministry of Gender Equality to address gender disparities and discrimination, and passed a law that legalized abortion in cases of rape, when there is a threat to the life of the mother, or when the fetus has a terminal condition. Less known is Bachelet’s advocacy for the environment. She weaned Chile off its dependence on hydrocarbons by building a vast network of solar- and wind-powered grids that made electricity cheaper and cleaner. She also created a vast system of national parks to protect much of the country’s forestland and coastline from development.

    Latin America’s socioeconomic transformation under the Pink Tide is no less impressive. Just before the economic downturn of 2012, Latin America came tantalizingly close to becoming a middle-class region. According to the World Bank, from 2002 to 2012, the middle class in Latin America grew every year by at least 1 percent to reach 35 percent of the population by 2013. This means that during that time frame, some 10 million Latin Americans joined the middle class every year. A consequence of this dramatic expansion of the middle class is a significant shrinking of the poor. Between 2000 and 2014, the percentage of Latin Americans living in poverty (under $4 per day) shrank from 45 to 25 percent.

    Economic growth alone does not explain this extraordinary expansion of the Latin American middle class and the massive reduction in poverty: Deliberate efforts by the government to redistribute wealth were also a key factor. Among these, none has garnered more praise than those implemented by the Lula administration, especially Bolsa Família, or Family Purse. The program channeled direct cash payments to poor families, as long as they agreed to keep their children in school and to attend regular health checkups. By 2013, the program had reached some 12 million households (50 million people), helping cut extreme poverty in Brazil from 9.7 to 4.3 percent of the population.

    Last but not least are the political achievements of the Pink Tide. It made Latin America the epicenter of left-wing politics in the Global South; it also did much to normalize democratic politics in the region. With its revolutionary movements crushed by military dictatorship, it is not surprising that the Latin American left was left for dead after the end of the Cold War. But since embracing democracy, the left in Latin America has moderated its tactics and beliefs while remaining committed to the idea that deliberate state action powered by the popular will is critical to correcting injustice and alleviating human suffering. Its achievements are a welcome antidote to the cynicism about democratic politics afflicting the American left.

    How the epoch-making legacy of the Pink Tide will fare in the hands of incoming right-wing governments is an open question. Some of the early signs are not encouraging. The Temer administration in Brazil has shown a decidedly retro-macho attitude, as suggested by its abolishment of the Ministry of Women, Racial Equality, and Human Rights (its functions were collapsed into the Ministry of Justice) and its close ties to a politically powerful evangelical movement with a penchant for homophobia. In Argentina, President Mauricio Macri has launched a “Trumpian” assault on undocumented immigrants from Bolivia, Paraguay, and Peru, blaming them for bringing crime and drugs into the country. Some political observers expect that Piñera will abridge or overturn Chile’s new abortion law.

    But there is reason for optimism. Temer and Macri have been slow to dismantle anti-poverty programs, realizing that doing so would be political suicide. This is hardly surprising, given the success of those programs. Right-wing governments have even seen fit to create anti-poverty programs of their own, such as Mexico’s Prospera. Moreover, unlike with prior ascents by the right in Latin America, the left is not being vanished to the political wilderness. Left-wing parties remain a formidable force in the legislatures of most major Latin American countries. This year alone, voters in Brazil, Mexico, and Colombia will have presidential elections, raising the prospect that a new Pink Tide might be rising. Should this new tide come in, the Latin American left would do well to reform its act and show what it has learned from its mistakes.

    Latin American leftists need not look far to find a model to emulate: Uruguay. It exemplifies the best of the Pink Tide without its excesses. Frente Amplio, or Broad Front, a coalition of left-wing parties in power since 2005, has put the country at the vanguard of social change by legalizing abortion, same-sex marriage, and, most famously, recreational marijuana. For these reasons alone, in 2013 The Economist chose “liberal and fun-loving” Uruguay for its first ever “country of the year” award.

    Less known accomplishments include being one of only two countries in Latin America that enjoy the status of “high income” (alongside Chile), reducing poverty from around 40 percent to less than 12 percent from 2005 to 2014, and steering clear of corruption scandals. According to Transparency International, Uruguay is the least corrupt country in Latin America, and ranks among the world’s 25 least corrupt nations. The country also scored a near perfect 100 in Freedom House’s 2018 ranking of civil and political freedoms, virtually tied with Canada, and far ahead of the United States and neighboring Argentina and Brazil. The payoff for this much virtue is hard to ignore. Among Latin American nations, no other country shows more satisfaction with its democracy.

    Omar G. EncarnaciónOmar G. Encarnación is a professor of political studies at Bard College and author of Out in the Periphery: Latin America’s Gay Rights Revolution.

    #politique #amérique_latine #impérialisme

  • Anonymous snipers and a lethal verdict

    We may never know the name of the soldier who killed Razan al-Najjar. But we do know the names of those who gave the order enabling him to kill her

    Amira Hass Jun 05, 2018


    We know her name: Razan al-Najjar. But what’s his? What’s the name of the soldier who killed her, with direct fire to the chest last Friday? We don’t know, and we probably won’t ever know.
    In contrast to the Palestinians suspected of killing Israelis, the Israeli who killed Najjar is protected from exposure to the cameras and an in-depth breakdown of his family history, including his relatives’ participation in routine attacks on Palestinians as part of their military service or their political affiliation.
    Demanding Israeli microphones will not be pushed into his face with probing questions: Didn’t you see she was wearing a paramedic’s white robe when you aimed at her chest?
    Didn’t you see her hair covered with a head scarf? Do your rules of engagement require you to shoot at paramedics, men and women as well, and at a distance of about 100 meters (some 330 feet) from the border fence? Did you shoot at her legs (why?) and miss because you’re useless? Are you sorry? Do you sleep well at night? Did you tell your girlfriend it was you who killed a young woman the same age as her? Was Najjar your first?
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    The anonymity of our soldiers picking off and killing Palestinians is an inseparable part of the culture of Israeli impunity. We are above it all. Immune from everything. Allowing an anonymous soldier to kill a young paramedic with a bullet that hit her in the chest, exiting from her back, and continuing on with our lives.
    >> ’We die anyway, so let it be in front of the cameras’: Conversations with Gazans
    There are lots of pictures of Najjar on the internet: She stood out as one of the few women among the first aid teams operating at the “March of Return” protest sites since March 30.
    After two years’ training, she volunteered for the Palestinian Medical Relief Society. She happily gave interviews, including to The New York Times’ correspondent in Gaza, speaking about the ability of women to act under difficult conditions no less so than men – and even better than them. She knew how dangerous her job was. A paramedic was killed by Israel Defense Forces fire on May 14, dozens of others were injured and suffocated as they ran to rescue the wounded.
    Najjar, 21 at the time of her death, was from the village of Khuza’a, east of Khan Yunis. In interviews, she was not asked about the wars and Israeli military attacks during her childhood and later. It is hard to find their scars in her pleasant face seen on screen. In every interview, she is seen wrapped in a head scarf of a different color – and each time it is wrapped around her head stylishly, meticulously, showing an investment of time and thought. The color reveals a love for life, despite all she had gone through.
    We do not know the name of the soldier, but we do know who is in the chain of command that ordered and enabled him to kill a 21-year-old paramedic: Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, both of whom approved the wording of the rules of engagement, as the High Court justices were told before they denied petitions against the shooting at protesters along the border fence.
    Despite all the testimony about civilian fatalities and horrifying injuries, the justices chose to believe what they were told in the name of the military by Avi Milikovsky, a lawyer from the State Prosecutor’s Office: The use of potentially lethal force is taken only as a last resort, in a proportionate manner and to the minimal extent required.
    Please explain how this tallies with the death of Najjar, who was treating a man injured directly by a tear-gas canister. An eyewitness told The New York Times that while the injured man was being taken to an ambulance, her colleagues were treating her because she was suffering the effects of the tear gas. Then shots were heard and Najjar fell.
    High Court Justices Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel presented the army with an exemption from investigation and an exemption from criticism on a silver platter. In doing so, they joined the chain of command that ordered our anonymous soldier to fire at the chest of the paramedic and kill her.

  • Anonymous #Snipers and a Lethal Verdict

    We do not know the name of the soldier, but we do know who is in the chain of command that ordered and enabled him to kill a 21-year-old paramedic: Southern Command chief Maj. Gen. Eyal Zamir. IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot. Military Advocate General Brig. Gen. Sharon Afek and Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, both of whom approved the wording of the rules of engagement, as the High Court justices were told before they denied petitions against the shooting at protesters along the border fence.

    Despite all the testimony about civilian fatalities and horrifying injuries, the justices chose to believe what they were told in the name of the military by Avi Milikovsky, a lawyer from the State Prosecutor’s Office: The use of potentially lethal force is taken only as a last resort, in a proportionate manner and to the minimal extent required.

    Please explain how this tallies with the death of Najjar, who was treating a man injured directly by a tear-gas canister. An eyewitness told The New York Times that while the injured man was being taken to an ambulance, her colleagues were treating her because she was suffering the effects of the tear gas. Then shots were heard and Najjar fell.

    High Court Justices Esther Hayut, Hanan Melcer and Neal Hendel presented the army with an exemption from investigation and an exemption from criticism on a silver platter. In doing so, they joined the chain of command that ordered our anonymous soldier to fire at the chest of the paramedic and kill her.

    #Israel #crimes#villa_dans_la_jungle#assassins #meurtres #impunité#nos_valeurs

  • Russia says only Syrian army should be on country’s southern border with Israel

    Israel believes Russia may agree to withdrawing Iranian forces and allied Shi’ite militias from Israel-Syria border

    Noa Landau and Reuters May 28, 2018


    Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday that only Syrian government troops should have a presence on the country’s southern border which is close to Jordan and Israel, the RIA news agency reported.
    Lavrov was cited as making the comments at a joint news conference in Moscow with Jose Condungua Pacheco, his counterpart from Mozambique.
    Meanwhile, Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman will leave on Wednesday for a short visit to Russia. He is scheduled to meet with his counterpart, Russia’s Defense Minister Sergei Shvigo, the ministry said in a statement on Monday. Lieberman is expected to discuss with his hosts the recent events in the Middle East, primarily the tension between Israel and Iran over the Iranian military presence in Syria.
    Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu spoke at the Knesset Monday, saying that “there is no room for any Iranian military presence in any part of Syria.”
    Lieberman said that “these things, of course, reflect not only our position, I can safely say that they reflect the positions of others in the Middle East and beyond the Middle East.”
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    On Sunday, Haaretz reported that Israeli political and military officials believe Russia is willing to discuss a significant distancing of Iranian forces and allied Shi’ite militias from the Israel-Syria border, according to Israeli officials.
    The change in Russia’s position has become clearer since Israel’s May 10 military clash with Iran in Syria and amid Moscow’s concerns that further Israeli moves would threaten the stability of Syrian President Bashar Assad’s regime.
    Russia recently renewed efforts to try to get the United States involved in agreements that would stabilize Syria. The Russians might be willing to remove the Iranians from the Israeli border, though not necessarily remove the forces linked to them from the whole country.
    Last November, Russia and the United States, in coordination with Jordan, forged an agreement to decrease the possibility of friction in southern Syria, after the Assad regime defeated rebel groups in the center of the country. Israel sought to keep the Iranians and Shi’ite militias at least 60 kilometers (37 miles) from the Israeli border in the Golan Heights, east of the Damascus-Daraa road (or, according to another version, east of the Damascus-Suwayda road, about 70 kilometers from the border).

    FILE – Iran’s Army Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. Mohammad Bagheri, left, in Aleppo, Syria, in photo provided October 20, 2017/AP
    According to Israeli intelligence, in Syria there are now around 2,000 Iranian officers and advisers, members of the Revolutionary Guards, around 9,000 Shi’ite militiamen from Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq, and around 7,000 Hezbollah fighters. Israel believes that the Americans are now in a good position to reach a more effective arrangement in Syria in coordination with the Russians under the slogan “Without Iran and without ISIS.”
    The United States warned Syria on Friday it would take “firm and appropriate measures” in response to ceasefire violations, saying it was concerned about reports of an impending military operation in a de-escalation zone in the country’s southwest.
    Washington also cautioned Assad against broadening the conflict.
    “As a guarantor of this de-escalation area with Russia and Jordan, the United States will take firm and appropriate measures in response to Assad regime violations,” State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert said in a statement late on Friday.
    A war monitor, the Britain-based Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, reported on Wednesday that Syrian government forces fresh from their victory this week against an Islamic State pocket in south Damascus were moving into the southern province of Deraa.
    Syrian state-run media have reported that government aircraft have dropped leaflets on rebel-held areas in Deraa urging fighters to disarm.
    The U.S. warning comes weeks after a similar attack on a de-escalation zone in northeastern Syria held by U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces. U.S. ground and air forces repelled the more than four-hour attack, killing perhaps as many as 300 pro-Assad militia members, many of them Russian mercenaries.
    Backed by Russian warplanes, ground forces from Iran and allied militia, including Lebanon’s Hezbollah, have helped Assad drive rebels from Syria’s biggest cities, putting him in an unassailable military position.

  • Rudy Giuliani won deal for OxyContin maker to continue sales of drug behind opioid deaths | US news | The Guardian

    The US government missed the opportunity to curb sales of the drug that kickstarted the opioid epidemic when it secured the only criminal conviction against the maker of OxyContin a decade ago.

    Purdue Pharma hired Rudolph Giuliani, the former New York mayor and now Donald Trump’s lawyer, to head off a federal investigation in the mid-2000s into the company’s marketing of the powerful prescription painkiller at the centre of an epidemic estimated to have claimed at least 300,000 lives.
    The Sackler family made billions from OxyContin. Why do top US colleges take money tainted by the opioid crisis?
    Read more

    While Giuliani was not able to prevent the criminal conviction over Purdue’s fraudulent claims for OxyContin’s safety and effectiveness, he was able to reach a deal to avoid a bar on Purdue doing business with the federal government which would have killed a large part of the multibillion-dollar market for the drug.

    The former New York mayor also secured an agreement that greatly restricted further prosecution of the pharmaceutical company and kept its senior executives out of prison.

    OxyContin became the go-to drug for people looking for an instant high by snorting or injecting.

    “This was the magic pill, right? This was a long-acting pill that the addicts wouldn’t like and you couldn’t get dependent on, and that is the magic bullet. The reality is it just wasn’t true,” said Brownlee. “It was highly deceptive and then they trained their sales force to go out and to push that deception on physicians.”

    Investigators waded through several million of Purdue’s internal memos, marketing documents and notes from sales representatives. Brownlee’s office discovered training videos in which reps acted out selling the drug using the false claims. “This was pushed by the company to be marketed in an illegal way, pushed from the highest levels of the company, that in my view made them a criminal enterprise that needed to be dealt with,” said Brownlee.

    The US attorney had six meetings with Giuliani. They moved from how to interpret the evidence and questions around discovery to negotiations over the final settlement.

    But Giuliani and his team seemed to be also working their Washington contacts. The Purdue lawyers complained to the office of the then deputy attorney general, James Comey, whose tenure as head of the FBI lay ahead of him, that Brownlee was exceeding his legal authority in pursuit of documents from the company.

    “The defence lawyers contacted Mr Comey unbeknownst to us and said those guys down there are crazy,” said Brownlee. The US attorney went to Washington to explain to Comey in person. Purdue was not instantly recognizable as a pharmaceutical company to most people in DC. The name was easily mistaken for Perdue Farms, a regional chicken producer well known for its television ads featuring the owner, Frank Perdue. “Mr Comey said, why are you prosecuting the chicken guy?” said Brownlee.

    Once that misunderstanding was cleared up, Comey signed off on Brownlee’s actions and Purdue was forced to hand over the documents. Brownlee set the drug maker a deadline in October 2006 to agree to the plea deal or face a trial. Hours before it expired, the federal prosecutor received a call at home from a senior justice department official, Michael Elston, chief of staff to the new deputy attorney general, Paul McNulty.

    Elston asked why the case was being pushed along so rapidly and pressed for a delay. The prosecutor again saw the influence of Purdue’s lawyers at work and cut the call short.

    Brownlee said he did not want to be responsible for taking OxyContin off the market and so agreed with Giuliani to target the prosecution at the parent company, Purdue Frederick. That left Purdue Pharma, cleaved out as a separate painkiller manufacturer in 1991, to continue selling the painkiller without restriction even though opioid deaths were escalating.

    “I didn’t feel as a lawyer I could be in a position to bar anyone from getting OxyContin. Faced with that decision, I was just simply not prepared to take it off the market. I didn’t feel like that was my role. My role was to address prior criminal conduct. Hold them accountable. Fine them. Make sure the public knew what they did. ” said Brownlee.

    Brownlee said he expected federal regulators, particularly the Food and Drug Administration, and other agencies to use the criminal conviction to look more closely at Purdue and its drug. But there was no follow-up and OxyContin went on being widely prescribed .

    #Opioides #Purdue_Pharma

  • 60 dead in Gaza and the end of Israeli conscience - Opinion - Israel News | Haaretz.com
    On the night of the Palestinians’ slaughter, Zion exulted an embassy and a Eurovision. It’s difficult to think of a more atrocious moral eclipse
    Gideon Levy May 17, 2018 12:16 AM

    A Palestinian protester reacts to teargas fired by Israeli troops during a protest at the Gaza Strip’s border with Israel, east of Khan Younis on May 15, 2018. Credit : Adel Hana/AP

    When will the moment come in which the mass killing of Palestinians matters anything to the right? When will the moment come in which the massacre of civilians shocks at least the left-center? If 60 people slain don’t do it, perhaps 600? Will 6,000 jolt them?

    When will the moment come in which a pinch of human feeling arises, if only for a moment, toward the Palestinians? Sympathy? At what moment will someone call a halt, and suggest compassion, without being branded an eccentric or an Israel hater?

    When will there be a moment in which someone admits that the slaughterer has, after all, some responsibility for the slaughter, not only the slaughtered, who are of course responsible for their own slaughter?

    Sixty people killed didn’t matter to anyone – perhaps 600 would? How about 6,000? Will Israel find all the excuses and justifications then also? Will the blame be laid on the slain people and their “dispatchers” even then, and not a word of criticism, mea culpa, sorrow, pity or guilt will be heard?

    On Monday, when the death count spiked alarmingly, Jerusalem celebrated the embassy and Tel Aviv rejoiced over Eurovision, it seemed that such a moment will never come again. The Israeli brain has been washed irrevocably, the heart sealed for good. The life of a Palestinian is no longer deemed to be worth anything.

    If 60 stray dogs were shot to death in one day by IDF soldiers, the whole country would raise an outcry. The dog slaughterers would be put on trial, the nation of Israel would have devoted prayers to the victims, a Yizkor service would be said for the dogs slaughtered by Israel.

    But on the night of the Palestinians’ slaughter, Zion rejoiced and was jubilant: We have an embassy and a Eurovision. It’s difficult to think of a more atrocious moral eclipse. Neither is it difficult to imagine the reverse scenario: 60 Israelis are killed in one day and the crowds celebrate the embassy in Ramallah and rejoice over a concert in El Bireh to cheer the winning of the Arab “A Star is Born,” while television hosts and interviewees giggle during the live broadcasts. Oh, those Palestinian animals, oh, the monsters.

    On the eve of this black Monday I found myself sitting in one of the television studios beside a giggling right-winger. Giggling isn’t the right term, he was bursting with laughter. It made him laugh so hard, the mass killing, and he found it even funnier that someone was appalled by it. Israel Hayom opened with the “Shehecheyanu” blessing in its main headline about another matter, unaware of the dark irony. Yedioth Ahronoth held a learned discussion over whether Hamas leaders should be eliminated now or not, who’s in favor of the murder and who’s against it. Imagine a discussion in a Palestinian newspaper: for and against murdering Gadi Eizenkot.

    The truth is that Israel is well prepared to massacre hundreds and thousands, and to expel tens of thousands. Nothing will stop it. This is the end of conscience, the show of morality is over. The last few days’ events have proved it decisively. The tracks have been laid, the infrastructure for the horror has been cast. Dozens of years of brainwashing, demonization and dehumanization have borne fruit. The alliance between the politicians and the media to suppress reality and deny it has succeeded. Israel is set to commit horrors. Nobody will stand in its way any longer. Not from within or from without.

    Apart from the usual lip service, the Trump-era world won’t lift a finger, even when Gaza becomes, heaven forbid, Rwanda. Even then our observers and analysts will recite that the IDF has accomplished its goals, that the IDF displayed restraint, that it’s the most moral and “what would you suggest doing instead?”

    The chief of staff would be crowned man of the year, the moderate, good man, the opposition would tweet their applause. In the town square the “leftist” singer’s victory will be celebrated, nobody would even think of canceling the party going on, or at least set aside a moment for the dead.

    We’re already there. That moment is here. Rwanda is coming to Gaza and Israel is celebrating. Two million human beings we’ve imprisoned already, and their fate matters to no one. The pictures that occasionally flicker of children without electricity and parents without water, of crippled people being shot to death and of leg amputees, all children of refugees from the 1948 disaster we landed on their heads.

    What has that to do with us? It’s Hamas’ fault. Sixty individuals killed in one day, and not a shred of sorrow has been sighted in Israel. From now on, it never will be.

  • Despite Iran’s threats, Israeli army pushes aggressive line against Tehran in Syria

    IDF believes Iran won’t strike back before Trump’s deadline on nuclear deal, elections in Lebanon

    Amos Harel May 04, 2018

    Both the government and the military are sticking to an aggressive policy on Iran, arguing that Israel must continue to act in any way possible to stop Iran’s military consolidation in Syria.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Even after the two latest airstrikes attributed to Israel in Syria, on April 9 and April 29, and despite Iran’s threats of revenge, there has been no sign of any change in Israeli policy.
    The person spearheading this activist policy in the north is Israel Defense Forces Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot, whose position is backed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman. Reportedly, no cabinet minister has voiced opposition to the IDF’s stance, despite the risks it entails.
    According to the defense establishment’s analysis, Iran continues to send advanced weapons systems to Syria. But these arms are no longer necessarily slated to be passed on to Hezbollah in Lebanon. Instead, they are being used to bolster Iran’s military deployment in Syria, and may even be meant to prepare an Iranian military response against Israel.

    For now, however, Tehran seems to be debating over the nature of its promised retaliation against Israel, and even more, over its timing.
    One theory being advanced is that Tehran may be reluctant to respond prior to Lebanon’s parliamentary elections this coming Sunday and U.S. President Donald Trump’s expected announcement on May 12 as to whether his country is quitting the nuclear agreement with Iran. Israel’s announcement of the theft of Iran’s nuclear archive by Mossad agents is likely to increase Iranian leaders’ embarrassment.

  • Eyeless in Gaza
    by Uri Avnery | April 16, 2018

    Write down: I, Uri Avnery, soldier number 44410 of the Israel army, hereby dissociate myself from the army sharpshooters who murder unarmed demonstrators along the Gaza Strip, and from their commanders, who give them the orders, up to the commander in chief.

    We don’t belong to the same army, or to the same state. We hardly belong to the same human race.

    Is my government committing “war crimes” along the border of the Gaza Strip?

    I don’t know. I am not a jurist.

    It seems that officials of the International Criminal Court believe that the acts of our soldiers do constitute war crimes. They demand an international investigation.

    To prevent that, our army command proposes an Israeli military investigation. That is manifestly ridiculous – an army investigating itself about acts committed on direct orders of the Chief of Staff. (...)

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 18

    The Wings of a Slave
    At the beginning of 1947, Mikoyan, member of the Politburo and plenipotentiary extraordinary of the Soviet Council of Ministers for the economic assimilation of the occupied areas and the satellite countries, made an exhaustive inspection tour of the Soviet zone. Afterwards he had a long conference with Marshal Sokolovsky and his deputy for economic questions, Comrade Koval.

    This conference discussed the results of the economic reorganization of the Soviet zone. The land reform, which had been accomplished shortly after the capitulation, had not achieved any decisive economic effect. This fact did not disturb or even surprise either Mikoyan or Marshal Sokolovsky. With its aid certain necessary tactical results had been achieved; in particular, a basis had been laid for an offensive against the peasants, as well as the prerequisites for the final collectivization of agriculture.

    In the industrial sphere, after the mass dismantling process and the socialization of the small enterprises as landeseigener Betrieb (district-owned works), the S. M. A.’s biggest measure was the practical unification of all the Soviet zone basic industry in an enormous industrial concern known as ’Soviet Joint Stock Companies’. This measure, which had been dictated by Moscow, came under special consideration at the Mikoyan-Sokolovsky conference.

    Late in the summer of 1946, Comrade Koval, the commander-in-chief’s deputy for economic questions, had returned from a visit to Moscow, bringing with him new secret instructions. Shortly after, mysterious documents began to circulate between the Administration for Industry, the Administration for Reparations, and Koval’s office.

    These documents were referred to in whispers as ’List of or ’List of 235’. The figure changed continually; it indicated the list of enterprises, which it was proposed to transform into Soviet Joint Stock Companies. The lists were sent to Moscow for confirmation, and they returned in the form of appendices to an official decree concerning the organization of an ’Administration for Soviet Joint Stock Companies in Germany’.

    This administration, which took over the former Askania Company’s building in Berlin-Weissensee for its headquarters, controlled thirteen Soviet joint stock companies in the more important industrial spheres, and these thirteen included some 250 of the larger industrial works in the Soviet zone. By the statutes of the new concern 51 per cent of the shares of the works thus included were to be Soviet-owned. Thus practically the entire industry in the Soviet zone came into Soviet hands, not only by right of conquest and for the duration of the occupation, but also for all future time.

    At the 1945 Potsdam Conference, in which Stalin had taken an active part, great attention had been paid to the question of de-cartellizing German economy, and it had been decided to liquidate the big German industrial concerns, which were regarded not only as an important economic factor, but also as a political factor frequently aggressive in its nature. As a result, one of the first items on the agenda of the Allied Control Commission was this question of the liquidation of the German concerns, and in his time General Shabalin was active in pressing for the matter to be tackled.

    But now, again on orders from Moscow, the largest industrial concern not only of Germany, but perhaps of the whole world was founded. Its economic and also political importance surpasses anything of the kind existing hitherto in Germany or in Europe. And this super-concern is no longer in German but in Soviet hands. In the present struggle for Germany and Europe the S. A. G. (Sowjet Aktienge-sellschaften) will be a strong weapon in Kremlin hands.

    All the economic measures taken by the S. M. A. in Germany, like the Kremlin’s economic policy generally pursue far-reaching political aims. The object of this transformation of the Soviet zone is to fetter it with powerful economic chains. It provides a necessary economic basis for a further political advance.

    Mikoyan was not the only member of the Politburo to visit: Germany about this time. Beria, the Soviet Minister for Home Affairs, made a similar tour of inspection through the lands of Eastern Europe and eastern Germany. He, too, had a long conference with Sokolovsky and the head of the S. M. A. Administration for Internal Affairs, Colonel-General Serov. This conference discussed measures to strengthen the internal political front. The sequence of events was logical enough: the master for extermination affairs followed the master for economic exploitation.

    One of the results of Beria’s visit to Karlshorst was a further purge of the S. M. A. personnel. A growing number of the officers who had been with the S. M. A. from the beginning were recalled to the Soviet Union. Their place was taken by new men from Moscow; they were recognizable at first glance as the purest of Party-men. The change of personnel in Karlshorst was in full accord with the Kremlin’s post-war policy, which was directed towards placing all the key-points in Party hands. Once more one could not help being struck by the difference between ’nominal Party-men’ and ’pure Party-men’. Almost every Soviet officer was a Party-member, but the Party was far from regarding them all as ’pure Party-men’.

    More than eighteen months had passed since Karlshorst had been transformed into the Berlin Kremlin. Since then both the world and Karlshorst had been subjected to many changes. Many of these changes had been the result of Karlshorst’s own activities as an advanced post of Soviet foreign policy. Parallel with this there had been a change in the international atmosphere, and the people in Karlshorst had been the first to become conscious of it.

    We were left with only the memory of the time when Russians had been welcomed everywhere as liberators and allies. The Kremlin’s post-war policy had left not a trace of the sympathy which Russian soldiers had won in the world. The Russian people’s heroism and self-sacrifice in the fight for their native country had assured the Soviet Union a leading place among the world powers, and had led to unexpected results.

    The Kremlin had decided to exploit this situation for the aims of their foreign policy. Instead of the breathing space, which the Russian people had hoped for and expected, they now had to carry all the burdens involved in the Kremlin’s risky political game. Menacing clouds were again beginning to gather on the horizon. It was the people in the Karlshorst outpost who saw those clouds most clearly. We were not fond of talking about the danger of a new war, but we thought of it, and our hearts sank.

    As events developed, we were more and more forced to think about this danger. It seemed stupid and unnatural, but the facts spoke for themselves. Many people tried to convince themselves that the Allies’ post-war dissensions were simply in the nature of disputes over the division of the spoils. But that was a poor pretext. We Soviet officers were too well grounded in the Marxist-Leninist theory of world revolution to believe it.

    We, the Soviet men who stood on the bounds of the two worlds, and who had lived through all the development of relations between the Allies since the capitulation, we who had been personally convinced that the West was genuinely striving, and still is striving, for peace, and who had seen the sabotage of every attempt to achieve friendly cooperation with the Soviets - we knew a great deal that our people at home did not and could not know.

    We well remembered the first few months after Germany’s capitulation. The Western Allies demobilized their armies as swiftly as transport conditions allowed. Meanwhile the Soviet command as swiftly brought up its shattered divisions to fighting strength, completing their complement of men and officers, and supplying new tanks and aeroplanes. We racked our brains over the question: what for?

    Perhaps it was necessary to have an armed fist when negotiating at the diplomatic table? Subsequent events showed what it was all for. The Kremlin regarded the will to peace as a mark of weakness, and democracy’s demobilization as providing an opportunity for further aggression. What else could the democracies do but re-arm? That meant a new armaments race instead of Russia’s peaceful economic restoration; it meant all that we had known so well before the war. And where would it all lead to?

    When political passions begin to play on national sentiments - something the Kremlin particularly desires - when the armaments race is at its height, it will be difficult to determine who began it all and who is to blame. And then, quite naturally, each side will accuse the other.

    But this time, we members of the Soviet occupation forces know one thing perfectly: no matter what comes, all the blame for the consequences will lie solely and simply on the shoulders of the men in the Kremlin. This time we know who started to play with the gunpowder barrel. This time we have no doubt of the prime and original cause of the new war danger.


    The more the atmosphere darkened, the more monotonous grew life in Karlshorst. The days dragged past, gray and boring. On one of these gray days I went to do my usual twenty-four-hour tour of duty on the staff, which I had to perform once a month.

    The officer on duty in the S. M. A. staff headquarters had to spend the daytime in the commander-in-chief’s waiting room, and during this time he acted as assistant adjutant to the marshal. During the night he was alone on duty in the marshal’s office, and acted as adjutant.

    At six o’clock in the evening I took my place as usual in the waiting room. Marshal Sokolovsky was in Potsdam, so the place was empty. The adjutant left at half-past seven, leaving me in charge, alone. To inform myself on current matters I glanced through the files on the desk and all the documents. The time passed imperceptibly, my only interruption being telephone calls.

    At midnight, in accordance with regulations, I took the marshal’s seat at the desk in his room, in order to be ready if direct calls came through. It was quite common for the Kremlin to ring up in the middle of the night, and then the telephonogram had to be taken down and passed on to its destination.

    As I sat at the desk I began to order the papers littered over it. Among them was a duplicated Information Bulletin. This bulletin was intended only for the higher staff, and was a top-secret document, with every copy numbered. I began to look through it.

    The contents were very illuminating: they were a detailed collection of all the things that the Soviet press carefully ignores or even flatly denies. If a Soviet citizen dared to speak of such things aloud, he would be accused of being a counter-revolutionary, with all its con-sequences. But this was an official information bulletin for the use of the S. M. A. commander.

    It is a serious mistake to attempt to justify the Soviet leaders’ conduct by arguing that they are not acquainted with a particular problem, or lack information on it. At one time peasant representatives made a habit of traveling from remote villages on a pilgrimage to the Kremlin gates. They naively thought that behind the Kremlin walls Stalin did not see what was happening all around him, that they had only to tell him the truth and everything would be altered. The peasants’ representatives sacrificed their lives, and everything continued as before. The Soviet leaders are fully informed, and are entirely responsible for anything that occurs.

    In the middle of the night I resolved to ring up Genia. I made contact with the Moscow exchange, and waited a long time for an answer. At last a sleepy voice sounded: ‘Well?’

    ‘Genia,’ I said, ‘this is Berlin speaking. What’s the news in Moscow?’

    ‘Ah, so it’s you!’ I heard a distant sigh. ‘I thought you’d dropped out completely.’

    ‘Oh no... not completely. What’s the news?’ “Nothing. Life’s a bore...” ‘How’s your father?’ “Gone off again.” ‘Where to this time?’

    ‘He sent me a silk gown recently. So I expect it’s somewhere there... But how are things with you?’

    ‘I’m sitting in the marshal’s chair.’ “Are you intending to come to Moscow soon?” ‘When I’m sent.’

    ‘I’m so bored here alone,’ she said. ‘Do come soon!’

    We had a long talk, and dreamed of our future meeting, thought of all we would do, discussed plans for the future. It was a dream to which we resorted in order to avoid the present. At that moment I regretted that I was not in Moscow, and sincerely wanted to go back.

    The sleepless night passed. The day arrived, and with it generals from the provinces fussed around, German representatives of the new democracy lurked timidly in corners. Just before six o’clock in the evening, when my turn of duty ended, an engineer named Sykov came in to talk over a proposed hunting expedition with me. We were interrupted by the telephone. I picked up the receiver and replied with the usual formula: ‘Officer on duty in the staff.’ It was Koval, the commander’s deputy on economic questions, and my immediate superior.

    ‘Comrade Klimov?’


    ‘Come and see me for a moment.’

    ’He asked for me personally,’ I thought as I went to his room. ’What’s the hurry?’

    He greeted me with the question: ‘I suppose you don’t happen to know what this is all about?’ He held out a sheet of paper bearing an order from the S. M. A. staff headquarters. I took it and read:

    ’The directing engineer, G. P. Klimov, being a highly qualified specialist in Soviet economy, is to be demobilized from the Soviet Army and freed from duty in the Soviet Military Administration to return to the Soviet Union for further utilization in accordance with his special qualifications.’

    For a moment I could not grasp its import. It left me with a decidedly unpleasant feeling. There was something not quite in order here. A certain formal courtesy was always observed towards responsible personnel; in such cases there was a preliminary personal talk.

    ‘You haven’t yourself applied to be transferred to Moscow?’ Koval asked.

    ‘No,’ I answered, still rather preoccupied.

    ‘It’s signed by the chief of staff, and there was no prior agreement with me.’ Koval shrugged his shoulders.

    Five minutes later I walked into the office of the head of the Personnel Department. I had had frequent opportunities to meet Colonel Utkin, so he knew me personally. Without waiting for my question, he said:

    ‘Well, may I congratulate you? You’re going home...’

    ‘Comrade Colonel, what’s at the back of it?’ I asked.

    I was interested to discover what was at the bottom of the unexpected order. Workers in Karlshorst were not recalled to Moscow without good reason. As a rule, when members of the S. M. A. applied to be returned home the staff turned down the request.

    ‘I’m disturbed not so much by what the order says, as by its form,’ I continued. ‘What does it mean?’

    Utkin was silent for a moment or two, then he said with some reluctance: ‘The Political Administration is involved. Between ourselves, I’m surprised you’ve held out here so long as you’re a non-Party man.’

    I shook hands with him gratefully. As I turned to leave he advised me: ‘Bear in mind that after your frontier pass has been issued you must leave in three days. If there’s any necessity, hang out the transfer of your work.’

    I left his room with a feeling of relief. Now everything was clear. As I went along the dimly lighted corridor I was gradually possessed by strange feeling; I felt that my body was receiving an influx of strength; my soul was mastered by an inexplicable feeling of freedom. I had had exactly that same feeling when I first heard of the outbreak of war. And I had had it when I first put on my military uniform. It was the presentiment of great changes to come. It was the breath of the unknown in my face.

    Now, as I walked along the corridors of the S. M. A. headquarters I again felt the breath of this unknown. It slightly intoxicated me

    I went home through the empty streets of Karlshorst. Behind the fences the trees were swinging their bare branches. The harsh German winter was in possession - darkness and stillness. A passer-by saluted me - I answered automatically. I was in no hurry. My step was slow and thoughtful. It was as though I were not taking the well-known road home, but standing at the beginning of a long road. I looked about me, I took in deep breaths of air, and I felt the ground beneath my feet as I had not felt it for a long time. Strange, inexplicable feelings swept over me.

    Hardly had I shut the door of my apartment when Sykov came in. By my face he saw at once that something had happened. ‘Where are you being sent to?’ he asked. ‘Moscow,’ I answered briefly. ‘What for?’

    Without taking off my greatcoat I went to my desk and silently drummed on it with my fingers. ‘But why?’ he asked again.

    ‘I haven’t provided myself with the red book soon enough,’ I answered reluctantly.

    He stared at me commiserately. Then he put his hand in a pocket, took out a long piece of red cardboard and turned it over in his fingers.

    ‘What would it have cost you?’ he asked, gazing at his Party-ticket. ‘You shout your ’Hail!’ once a week at the Party meeting, and afterward you can go to the toilet and rinse your mouth.’

    His words made an unpleasant impression on me. I instinctively reflected that that piece of cardboard must still be warm with the warmth of his body. As though he had guessed my thoughts, he went on: ‘I myself remained at the candidate stage for six years. Until I couldn’t keep it up any longer.’

    His presence and his remarks began to irritate me. I wanted to be left to myself. He invited me to go with him to the club. I refused.

    ‘I’m going to have a game of billiards,’ he remarked as he went to the door. ‘A cannon off two cushions, and no ideology about it.’

    I remained standing by my desk. I was still wearing my greatcoat. The coat round my shoulders strengthened my feeling that I was on my way. I tried sitting down, but jumped up again at once. I couldn’t sit quietly. Something was burning inside me. I wandered about the room with my hands in my pockets.

    I switched on the radio. The cheerful music plucked at my nerves, and I switched it off. The telephone bell rang. I did not bother to answer it. The German maid had prepared my supper; it was waiting on the table for me. I didn’t even look at it, but paced from corner to corner, my head sunk on my chest.

    The order had burst the dam, which had long been holding me back. I felt that inside me everything was shattered, everything was in turmoil. And at the same time something was slowly crawling towards me from afar. Something inexorable and joyless.

    Today I must cast up accounts.

    Today only one thing was clear: I did not believe in that which I had at the back of me. But if I returned to Moscow - I must at once join the Party, a Party - in which I did not believe. There was no other way. I would have to do it in order to save my life, to have the right to exist. All my life thenceforth I would lie and pretend, simply for the sake of the bare possibility of existence. Of that I had no doubt. I had examples before my eyes. Andrei Kovtun, a man in a blind alley. Mikhail Belyavsky, a man beyond the pale. Major Dubov, a man in a vacuum. But wasn’t I a man in a vacuum too? How long could that continue?

    I would have a home, and wait for the nocturnal knock at the door. I would get married, only to distrust my own wife. I would have children, who might at any time betray me or become orphans ashamed of their father.

    At these thoughts the blood rushed to my head. My collar choked me. A hot wave of fury rose in my throat. I felt so hot that my greatcoat seemed too heavy for me. At the moment I still had my greatcoat round my shoulders and a weapon in my hand. I didn’t want to part from that coat, or from that weapon. Why not?

    If I returned, sooner or later I would go under. Why? I had no belief in the future. But what had I had in the past? I tried to recall that past. When I first saw the light of this world the flames of revolution were playing in my eyes. I grew up to be a restless wolf-cub, and those flames continually flickered in my eyes. I was a wolf-cub of the Stalin generation; I fought with teeth and claws for my life and thrust my way forward. Now the Stalin wolf-cub was at the height of his powers, surveying the point he had reached.

    Today I had to confess to myself: all my life I had forced myself to believe in something I could not believe in, even from the day of my birth. All my life I had only sought a compromise with life. And if any one of my contemporaries were to say that he believed, I would call him a liar, a coward. Did such men, as Sykov really believe?

    I strode about my room, my eyes on my boots. They had trodden the earth from Moscow to Berlin. I remembered the flaming and smoking years of the war, the fiery font in which my feeling of responsibility to my native land was awakened. Once more I saw the Red Square and the walls of the Kremlin lit up with the fiery salutes of victory. Days of pride and glory, when one cried aloud with excess of emotion. In my ears sounded once more the words that had throbbed in my breast: ’Among the first of the first, among the finest of the finest you are marching today across the Red Square.’

    Now I was marching from one corner of my room to the other, like a caged wolf. Yes, the war had knocked us off our balance. Blinded by the struggle for our native land, we forgot a great deal in those days. At that time it could not be otherwise, there was no other way.

    Those who took another way.... With a bitter pang I recalled the early days of the war. I am deeply grateful to Fate that I was saved the necessity of making a very difficult decision. By the time it came to my turn to put on the soldier’s greatcoat I knew clearly that the way of the Russians was not with the Germans. And I fought to the end. I fought for something in which I did not believe. I fought, consoling myself with hopes.

    Now I no longer had those hopes. Now I felt that we had gone wrong, we had not accomplished our task, but had trusted to promises. That was why I did not want to take off the greatcoat. It wasn’t too late yet!

    Now menacing clouds were again gathering on the horizon. If I returned to Moscow, I would once more be confronted with the same bitter decision as in June 1941. Once more I would have to defend something I had no wish to defend.

    Still more, now I was convinced that the men in the Kremlin were leading my country along a road to perdition. Nobody was threatening us. On the contrary, we were threatening the entire world. That was an unnecessary and dangerous game. If we won, what good would it do us? If we were defeated, who would bear the guilt, and who would pay the Kremlin’s accounts? Every one of us!

    I had passed through days of anxiety for my country, through battles and through victory. And in addition I had seen with my own eyes all the bitterness of defeat. Germany in the dust was a good example of that. Germany was writhing in the convulsions of hunger and shame - but where were the guilty ones? Were only leaders guilty, or the entire nation?

    If the war broke out, it would be too late then. War has its own laws. Those whom the Kremlin had turned into enemies would regard us as enemies. They did not want war, but if war was inevitable they would wage it to defend their own interests. So what was left for us to do: be again a chip in the hands of criminal gamesters?

    Hour after hour I walked about my room, with my greatcoat round my shoulders. It was long past midnight, but I had no thought of sleep. There was a void behind me and a void before me. I had only one conscious and definite realization: I could not go back. One thought hammered continually in my head: what was I to do?

    Not until early in the morning did I feel tired. Then I lay down on my bed without undressing. And I fell asleep with my greatcoat drawn over my head.


    During the next few days I began to hand over my work, bit by bit. Following Colonel Utkin’s advice I deliberately dragged out the process. Without yet knowing why, I sought to gain time. And continually I was oppressed with the same tormenting thoughts and the one inexorable question: what was I to do?

    On one of these days I stepped out of the Underground station on Kurfurstendamm, in the British sector. I was wearing civilian clothes; my boots squelched in the damp ooze of melting snow. The familiar streets seemed strange and unfriendly. I walked along aimlessly, running my eyes over the nameplates at the entrances to the houses. My finger played with the trigger of the pistol in my coat pocket.

    Finally I made my choice of nameplate and went into the house. It had been a luxurious place - it still had a broad marble staircase. Now the stairs were unlit, a chilly wind blew through the unglazed windows. After some difficulty I found the door I was seeking, and rang the bell. A girl with a coat flung round her shoulders opened to me.

    ‘Can I see Herr Diels?’ I asked.

    ‘What about?’ she asked pleasantly. ‘A private matter,’ I curtly answered.

    She showed me in and asked me to wait a moment. I sat in the lawyer’s cold, dark reception room, while the girl disappeared. A few moments later she returned and said: ‘The Herr Doctor will see you.’

    I entered an enormous, unheated office. An elderly gentleman in gold-rimmed spectacles rose from his desk to meet me. ‘What can I do for you?’ he asked, offering me a seat. He rubbed his frozen hands, probably expecting some ordinary case of divorce.

    ‘My request is rather unusual, Doctor,’ I said. For the first lime in my intercourse with Germans I felt a little awkward.

    ‘Oh, you needn’t feel any constraint with me,’ he said with a professional smile.

    ‘I am a Russian officer,’ I said slowly, instinctively lowering my voice.

    The lawyer smiled genially, to indicate that he felt highly honored by my visit. ‘Only the other day another Soviet officer called on me with a German girl,’ he said, obviously seeking to encourage me.

    I hardly listened to his explanation of why the other Russian officer had visited him. I was thinking with chagrin: ’I’ve made a bad start...’ But it was too late to retreat, and I decided to speak out.

    ‘You see, I’m being demobilized and sent back to Russia. I shan’t burden you with explanations as to the why and wherefore. To put it briefly, I want to go to Western Germany.’

    The smile vanished from his face. For a moment or two he did not know what to say. Then he prudently asked: ‘Ah... and what can I do about that?’

    ‘I must get into contact with the Allies,’ I said. ‘I wish to ask for political asylum. I can’t do that myself. If I’m seen with any Allied official or if I’m observed coming out of an Allied office... that’s too great a risk for me to run. So I’d like to ask you to help me.’

    The silence lasted some minutes. Then I noticed that Herr Diels was behaving in a queer manner. He fidgeted restlessly on his chair, searched for something in his pocket, turned over the papers on his desk.

    ‘Yes, yes... I understand,’ he murmured. ‘I, too, am a victim of the Nazi regime.’

    He took out a letter-case and hurriedly ran through innumerable letters. At last he found what he was seeking, and with a trembling hand held out a paper to me. It had been carefully reinforced at the folds and obviously was in frequent use.

    ‘You see, I’ve even got a certificate testifying to that fact,’ he said.

    I glanced through the document. It stated that the possessor was a victim of Nazism, and almost a communist. I again had the unpleasant feeling that I had come to the wrong address. I realized that the lawyer was afraid of something and was trying to secure himself.

    ‘Herr Doctor, to be frank I’d rather deal with the most rabid of Nazis at this moment,’ I said as I handed back his document.

    ‘Who recommended you to come to me?’ he asked irresolutely.

    ‘No one. I took a chance. I have to act in the knowledge that I cannot trust anybody in my immediate surroundings. I hoped you’d be in a position to help me. But if you can’t for any reason, at any rate there’s no reason why you should do me any harm.’

    Herr Diels sat sunken in thought. Finally he appeared to come to some decision. He turned to me again. ‘But tell me, what surety can I have that you...’ He concentratedly turned the pencil over and over in his hand and avoided looking me in the face. Then, as though making up his mind, he raised his eyes and said a little hesitantly: ‘... that you’re not an agent of that... of the G. P. U?’

    The former name of that well-known organization jarred in my ears. Apparently the Germans didn’t know its present name yet. Despite the seriousness of my position, his question made me smile. The very thing I feared in others I was myself suspected of. I simply shrugged my shoulders and said: ‘I haven’t had an opportunity to think that one out as yet, Herr Doctor. All I’m concerned with at the moment is with saving my own head from that... G. P. U.’

    He sat very still, thinking aloud: ‘You speak German well... too well... And besides, this is all so abnormal...’ He stared at me fixedly, as though trying to read my thoughts, and said: ‘Good! I’m an old man and I have experience of men. I believe you’re speaking the truth. Where do you want to go?’

    ‘To the American zone.’

    ‘But why the American zone?’ He raised his eyebrows in astonishment.

    ‘Herr Doctor, when a man takes such a step from political considerations it’s natural for him to seek refuge with the strongest enemies of the people he’s escaping from.’

    ‘Yes, but this is the British sector. I have no contact with the Americans.’

    I realized that this was tantamount to a refusal, and I made one last attempt:

    ‘Perhaps you could recommend me to one of your colleagues who has got contact with the Americans?’

    ‘Oh yes, I can do that,’ he answered, reaching for his telephone book. He turned up a name in the book, then rose heavily from his desk and went to the door, remarking: ‘Excuse me a moment. I’ll write out the address for you.’

    He went into the reception room. I heard him speaking to his secretary. Then he exchanged a few words with another visitor. The telephone bell rang more than once. Somebody came and went.

    The minutes dragged past. It was very cold in that unheated room and I began to shiver. I felt a perfectly stupid feeling of utter dependence on the decency of someone who was a complete stranger. I settled deeper in the armchair, drew my coat closer round me and put my right hand in my pocket. I slipped back the safety catch of my pistol, and turned the barrel to cover the door. If a Soviet military patrol came in I would open fire without taking my hand out of my pocket.

    At last the lawyer came back, and held out a slip of paper to me. On it was an address, typewritten. I could not help wondering: ’Is that from prudence, or simply the German habit of always using the typewriter?’

    Suppressing a sigh of relief, I left the house. The streetcars and automobiles were noisy in the gray dusk of the winter evening. People were hurrying along on their way home; each one had somewhere to go. I felt a wretched feeling of loneliness. I drew my cap down over my eyes and plunged into the Underground.

    After a long journey and long wandering through unknown streets at night I found the address Herr Diels had given me: a villa on the outskirts of the city. Dr. von Scheer occupied quite a high position, and it was not easy for me to get a personal interview with him. When at last I was alone with him in his study and explained the reason for my visit he at once got down to business. He took a photocopy of a document from his desk drawer, and showed it to me. It stated that he had official relations with the Soviet central commandatura. I was confronted with all the familiar seals and signatures. I pulled such a face that he could not help smiling.

    ‘What surety have I that you’re not an agent of this... well, you know!’ he asked. He winked and gave me a friendly slap on the knee.

    I could only shrug my shoulders.

    Dr. von Scheer proved to be a businesslike man. After a brief talk he agreed to have a chat with some Americans he knew, and asked me to call again in two days’ time. I went home wondering whether he was at that moment telephoning to the Soviet commandatura to inform them of my visit.

    Two days later I went to keep the appointment. I had very mixed feelings: hopes of success, and expectations of an ambush. He curtly informed me that his talks had been fruitless. The Americans didn’t wish to have anything to do with the matter. Evidently for the same reason: ’What surety have we...?’

    I thanked the doctor for his kindness, groped my way down the steps of his house, and strode through the darkness of Berlin. I could not use my automobile with its Soviet registration number, and I had to go home by streetcar. So once more I stood on the rear platform, surrounded by bustling people on their way home from work.

    At one of the stops close to the Control Commission a Soviet officer got on, and stood beside me. He was an elderly, benevolent-looking man, with a document-case. Evidently he had been detained in the Control Commission and so had missed the service omnibuses. At the sight of the familiar uniform I felt a touch of anxiety.

    Suddenly he turned to me and asked me some question in German. I answered in German. As I did so I felt a clutching at my heart. Here was the beginning of it all! I no longer trusted anybody; I did not even dare to admit that I was a Russian.

    As I changed from one streetcar to another I noticed a German policeman not far off. With no clear idea of what I had in mind I went up to him and asked where I could find the American consulate. He evidently guessed I was not a German, and shone his lantern over me from head to foot.

    In post-war Germany foreigners who were not wearing Allied uniform or did not possess an allied passport were beyond the legal pale. I had often seen such people wandering aimlessly about Berlin. The policeman evidently took me for one of these, and stared at me suspiciously. He was used to such individuals avoiding the police like the plague. ‘We don’t give such information,’ he answered at last, and shone the lantern at me again, evidently half minded to ask me for my documents. It was well that he didn’t, for I would have been in an awkward predicament: German police were under orders to salute Soviet officers.

    The policeman walked away. I had a feeling of breathlessness in my chest. This incident marked the beginning of the road I had decided to follow. Where I was going I would have neither a pistol nor a valid document assuring me a place in life.

    As I opened the door of my Karlshorst apartment I heard the telephone ringing. I did not bother to answer. I didn’t want to see or speak to anybody. I felt that I must have time to think over all that had happened, and to consider the future.

    Once more I began my restless wandering from corner to corner. So my attempts to make contact with the Allies had been futile. It wasn’t so simple as I had thought. It had had one result: now I saw clearly that I had got to act at my own risk.

    In thus attempting to make contact with the Allies I had been concerned not so much with the formal aspect of the matter, as with its principle. I knew there was a secret agreement between the American military governor and the Soviet command, under which both parties bound themselves to hand over deserters. The British had been more far-sighted; they hadn’t made such an agreement. But this foresight was not much of a guarantee to a man who was familiar with the ways of the military secret service. Although I had been demobilized, and so could not be regarded as a deserter, I had nothing to show that I was a political émigré.

    The Soviet military authorities had ways of dealing with the situation in which I was placed. They simply made serious criminal charges against any Soviet citizen who attempted to flee, and demanded his extradition on the ground that it was international practice to hand over criminals. Close acquaintance with Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov, the S. M. A. chief military prosecutor, had enabled me to know a great deal about such matters.

    This explains why I attempted to make contact with the West before going over. It was a point that would occur to anyone. But this was only a superficial aspect of the problem, which confronted me. There was another, deeper aspect, which had not occurred to me until now.

    As I walked from corner to corner, reviewing my conduct during the past two or three days, what I had done began to seem an unpardonable stupidity. I simply must not lose all sense of reality. The powerful thought of my break with the past had dominated my mind too much. I had cut myself loose from my past life, and now I was like a blind kitten in a new world. My rejection of half the world had engendered the erroneous idea that the other half was immaculate. I must look the facts soberly in the face.

    I regarded myself as an engineer, and I had forgotten that I was an officer on the Soviet General Staff, one who had been trained in the highest of Kremlin schools. Even at this stage I could still make a triumphal return to Moscow, and travel abroad a month or so later to take a post in a military attaché’s office, to command a whole staff of secret agents, buying and selling those with whom I had just been seeking refuge. And I, who trusted nobody, was demanding trust in myself. Who would believe me, when I myself didn’t know what was going on within me? I was conscious of only one thing: a spring had snapped, and the former mechanism was useless. Had I any right to expect trust? I, an erring Stalin wolf-cub?

    As I strode about my room I heard the words: ‘An unforgivable stupidity, Comrade Klimov!’ I started as I realized that I was talking aloud.

    To think of making contact with the Allies! It was just as well that nothing had come of it! I should know, better than most, the generally accepted rules of the secret war. The other side welcomed only those who had gained its confidence. I knew exactly how that confidence was to be won. A man was of interest to them so long as he brought some benefit. If he were regarded as stupid enough, he was used for propaganda purposes, and finally was flung on the rubbish heap. At times refugees are exchanged against agents who have been caught. It is all done quietly and without fuss. Was that the road I wanted to take?

    ‘You haven’t learnt my teaching well, Comrade Klimov!’ I heard General Biyasi’s voice in my ears.

    I knew that the Soviet intelligence service often sends agents to the West in the guise of refugees. They are covered so well that they remain undiscovered for years. The West is fully aware of this trick. It is true that a Soviet instruction had laid down that, as a rule, people of Russian nationality were not recommended for such activities. On the one hand, Russians arouse suspicion at once; on the other hand, the Soviet regime trusts its own people least of all. But that was a detail the West did not know.

    My inward break with the world of lies had quickened a terrible longing for the truth. I sought trust. But what did I need their trust for? I wanted only one thing: to be left in peace. I had no idea what I should do next. All I had achieved so far was renunciation of the past. In my soul there was now a vacuum. I must have a breathing space in which to find new sense in life. I was slowly but surely coming to the decision that I must disappear, must lose my identity - until I had found a new identity.

    I had drawn a line beneath the past. But I had not thought of the future. My first attempt to make contact with the other world had compelled me to think of it. Now I tried to systematize all the possibilities open to me.

    As I was demobilized, I was freed from my oath, and by the rules of international etiquette I was free to go where I liked. I wanted to renounce my Soviet passport and become a stateless political émigré. Let me say that I would never advise any of my comrades to take such a step. If you wish to become a political émigré, you must renounce your Soviet passport, but not your country.

    That means that you renounce all legal support from a powerful state. You stand naked and disarmed in this imperfect world, which reckons only with him, who is strong, whether his strength consists in firearms, or money, or tanks. Today the Kremlin has raised the entire world against it. Concealing their distrust and fear, the people of the outside world will smile hypocritically and shake the hands of those who possess Soviet passports, but will vent their impotent feelings on you, the political émigré, because you haven’t one. That is one aspect political emigration.

    Life in a strange land is not easy. I have seen living examples In Berlin I frequently came across certain people who deserved the (utmost commiseration. They spoke Russian, but they were afraid to talk to me. Sometimes they minded my car while I was at the theater and were grateful when I gave them a packet of cigarettes. That is another aspect of political emigration.

    Until long after midnight I wandered about my room. The house was as still as the grave; Karlshorst was asleep. All around me was the infinite sea of an alien world. I felt its cold, indifferent breath. At last I lay down on my bed without undressing, thrust my pistol under the pillow, and fell asleep.


    Several more days passed. All this time I was living a double life. I spent the first part of the day in Karlshorst, handing over my work, putting my papers in order ready for the return to Moscow, receiving the congratulations and good wishes of my acquaintances. I had to give the impression that I was glad to be going home. I exchanged addresses, I promised to write from Moscow. During the second part of the day I wandered about wintry Berlin, visiting my German friends and cautiously sounding the ground. I must find out the road by which people went to the West.

    Day after day went by without result. The normal period of preparation for departure to Moscow was three days. I had already taken two weeks.

    As time passed it became increasingly difficult for me to play this double game. With every day my stay in Karlshorst grew more dangerous. I must reckon with the possibility of a showdown, and take pre-cautionary measures. Like many of the Soviet officers in Germany, I had quite a collection of trophy weapons. Now I thought of them, and took out a German automatic pistol from behind the cupboard. After loading it I hung it on the hat-rack at the door, and covered it with my greatcoat. Then I put several spare clips and a box of cartridges close at hand. This, in case there was an attempt to arrest me in my rooms. Next I loaded my large-caliber parabellum, my officer’s pistol, which I had kept from the front-line days.

    Next day I drove out of Berlin, stopped my car in a dense wood, and began to test my weapons methodically, as though engaging in firing practice. The brief bursts of the automatic shattered the frosty silence of the winter evening. The heavy bullets of the parabellum tore into the young pines. There must be no letdown! Anything you like, except being left helpless. I did not think much - I feared only one thing: a letdown.

    Each night, after my long and fruitless wanderings about Berlin, I would return home tired and depressed. I was sunk in apathy. Evidently there was nothing else for it but to go off on my own to the West, and hope to be lost in the flood of German refugees.

    I sat down at my desk. I had no desire for food or drink. But I terribly longed to have some living creature with whom I could share my thoughts. I felt utterly weary and exhausted. Suddenly I remembered that I had not cleaned my weapons after my drive to the woods. To escape from my thoughts I began to oil the pistol. That gave me some measure of relief.

    The night peered in at the window. My room was half in darkness. My only light was the desk-lamp, burning brightly beneath its shade. In the yellow light the oily pistol gleamed coldly. I stared without thinking at the lifeless metal. That gleam drew me, held my eyes.

    I tried to tear my gaze away, and looked about me. I caught sight of a dark, hunched figure standing on one corner of my desk. Just where light and darkness met a black monkey was crouching. Crouching and gazing at me.

    This large bronze statuette had been given me by one of my acquaintances. On a square pedestal of black marble were scattered rolls of parchment, books, retorts, the material symbols of human intellect. Over them crouched a repulsive black ape, squatting with an important air. It held a human skull in its hairy paws, and was staring at it with doltish curiosity. The sculptor had conveyed in bronze all the vanity of human wishes. I set the statuette on my desk, and took little notice of it as a rule.

    But now as I looked at the figure it seemed to stir. I felt mad with myself: was I beginning to suffer from hallucinations? I tried to think of other things, of the past. Once more I recalled the years of war, the Red Square, the Kremlin. Once more the intoxicated cry of inflamed emotion roared in my ears: ‘First of the first, among the finest of the finest.’

    ‘Tomorrow you will be last among the last, defeated among the defeated,’ I heard a voice.

    Now I tried to think of the future. But before me opened a gray void. I saw that I had to renounce all my past life; I must lose my identity and vanish into the nothingness.

    Into the nothingness.... Perhaps there was an even simpler way of doing that. I looked at the shining barrel of my pistol, reached for it, and played automatically with the safety catch.... It was so simple....

    The emptiness of these days I was passing through pressed me down. All my life I had done my duty, even when I had doubted that it was my duty. I had regarded duty as being the result of faith in the infallibility of the fundamental principle, and had searched obstinately for that central core of rational existence. Today I was convinced that the principle was false. So what?

    Yet again my thoughts turned back to the past: I thought of the impatience with which I had looked to the end of the war, of the passion with which I had dreamed of peaceful life. And now, just when I could return to that peaceful life, just when my dreams would come true, I was throwing it all behind me and going off in the opposite direction. Why? I felt instinctively that the reason sprang out of the danger of a new war. I felt that otherwise I would have returned home despite everything and would have continued to share my joys and sorrows with my country. The possibility of a new war aroused deep and conflicting feelings in me. But where was the connection?

    There are feelings buried so deep in the heart that one cannot trust oneself to speak them out. I had the fate of Germany before my eyes. Now I felt convinced that a similar fate awaited my own country. I knew the criminals who were leading my country to perdition, and I did not wish to share in their crime. I was going out today in order to fight them tomorrow. I didn’t want to admit to these thoughts: they seemed like treachery. And yet to betray a traitor is to be faithful to the fundamental principle. To kill a killer is a praiseworthy deed.

    I lit another cigarette from the dying butt and flung myself back in my chair. I felt an unpleasant, bitter taste in the mouth. In the chilly silence the words beat through my head monotonously:

    ’It is not enough to love your country and freedom, you have to fight for them. Now you see no other possibility of fighting than to go over to the other camp and fight from there. That is your way back to your fatherland.’


    On the seventeenth day I was issued my frontier pass. It was valid for three days, and before the end of the third day I must cross the Soviet frontier at Brest-Litovsk. Whatever happened, I could not remain more than another three days in Karlshorst.

    The dusk was settling in Berlin when, after another day of fruitless wandering, I decided to call on a German acquaintance, the director of a factory, which I had visited from time to time on official business. During these visits I had had many quite frank political conversations with him. That evening, too, we quickly turned to discussion of the future of Germany. I gave expression to my view that the Germans were too optimistic about it.

    ‘You underestimate the internal danger,’ I said. ‘You’re blindly waiting for the end of the occupation. But even if the Soviet forces are withdrawn from Germany, there will be very little change in the situation. Before that time comes Germany will have been bound hand and foot, she will have been sold wholesale and on a long-term lease!’

    ‘By whom?’ the director asked.

    ‘That’s what the Socialist Unity Party (S. E. D.) and the People’s Police are for.’

    I knew he had recently joined the S. E. D., and so my words could not be very pleasant for him to hear. He looked at me sidelong, was silent for a moment, then said slowly: ‘Many of the members of the S. E. D. and the People’s Police have different thoughts from what the occupation authorities would desire.’

    ‘So much the worse, if they think one thing and do another.’

    ‘At present we have no other way out. But when the decisive moment comes, believe me, the S. E. D. and the People’s Police will not do as Moscow hopes.’

    ‘I wish you success!’ I smiled.

    After a momentary silence the director turned the conversation into another channel:

    ‘Well, and how are things going with you?’

    Weary and cold, I only waved my hand hopelessly and sighed:

    ‘I’m going back to Moscow....’

    He evidently caught the disillusionment in my tone, and stared at me in astonishment. ‘Aren’t you glad to be going back home? In your place I...’

    ‘I’m quite prepared to change places with you,’ I retorted.

    He threw me another swift glance and interpreted my words to his own satisfaction. ‘So you like Germany more than Russia?’ he asked.

    ‘I could do, if I were not a Soviet officer,’ I replied evasively.

    ‘The victors are envious of the vanquished!’ He shook his head thoughtfully. He rose and began to walk about the room.

    Suddenly he halted in front of me and asked:

    ‘Then why don’t you remain here?’

    ‘Where’s here?’ I asked indifferently.

    ‘Why, go to one of the other zones!’ he exclaimed. He made a vague gesture, surprised that I had not myself thought of such a simple idea.

    ‘But is that so simple?’ I asked, pricking up my mental ears, but remaining outwardly unconcerned.

    For some time he said nothing. Then, apparently coming to a decision, he turned and said in a rather lower voice: ‘If you wish to remain in Germany there’s nothing simpler than to get across the green frontier.’ (’Green frontier’ - a common phrase for crossing frontiers illegally. - Tr )

    I listened still more closely, and asked:

    ‘Maybe, but what is the American attitude to you if you do?’

    He made a contemptuous gesture. ‘Oh, spit on the swines! They’re no better than....’ He bit his lip.

    I smiled involuntarily. I had the impression that this director, this member of the Socialist Unity Party, was prepared to go to any lengths to reduce the Soviet Army by just one fighting unit! I knew him well; I had no reason to suspect that he was acting as a provocateur. I sat silent. If he was so anxious to win me, let him talk a little more!

    ‘I have many acquaintances in Thuringia,’ he went on. ‘If you like, I can give you letters of recommendation to people of trust. They’ll willingly help you to get to the other side.’ “But how about documents?”

    He shrugged his shoulders: ‘Today every third man in Germany has false papers.’

    ‘Where can you get hold of them?’

    ‘I know a man who’ll be very glad to help you in that direction.’ He smiled a little smile, and added: ‘And by the way, he’s an officer in the People’s Police.’

    Now I decided to show my hand. I changed my tone; my words sounded strong, almost harsh. ‘Herr Director, you must pardon my reserve. The question we’re discussing has been decided long since. If I hadn’t met you I’d have had no other choice but to make my own way to the West.’

    He was silent for a moment; then he said:

    ‘Even when I had only business relations with you I noticed that you were different from the others. They have only one word: ’Hand over! Hand over!’’ (He used the Russian word: ’Davai! Davai!’)

    We got down to discussion of the details. He promised to provide me with documents in case I found it necessary to remain in Berlin and against the possibility of my being stopped on the road. After we had arranged to meet next day, I left his house and went into the street. It was still as dark and as bitterly cold as two hours before. But now I did not feel the cold; the air seemed to have a vital freshness to it.

    Next day I met him again. With true German reliability he set a German identity card on the desk in front of me. At the window a young, fair-haired German with a military carriage was standing. The director introduced us to each other. Two men in civilian dress shook each other’s hands, and clicked their heels from sheer habit. We filled in the identity card. A bitter smile crossed my face as I read my new name: my German sheepdog had had the same name. For the first time in my life I had my fingerprints taken. A German police seal was stamped over my photograph. I had a feeling that after stamping it the German looked at me with different eyes.

    The officer of the People’s Police went so far in his kindness as to say he would himself accompany me to the frontier. He had already obtained a few days’ leave, and would take the opportunity to visit relations in Thuringia.

    To provide against all contingencies I decided to take with me one of my old official authorizations for a visit to Thuringia, stating that I was traveling on a special commission for Marshal Sokolovsky. If the German police checked my papers on the road they would see Soviet documents and these had the same effect on them as a snake on a rabbit. If a Soviet patrol made a check, in the car would be a man who had lost his identity.

    We arranged that the police officer was to drive to a street just outside Karlshorst at one o’clock the next afternoon, and then would ring me up.

    As I was saying goodbye to the director, he asked me:

    ‘But tell me! Why, in reality, have you, a Soviet officer, decided to turn your back on the Soviet Union?’

    ‘On the same ground that you, a member of the S. E. D., have decided to help this Soviet officer,’ I replied, warmly shaking his hand.


    Next day I sprang out of bed before daylight had fully come. I felt an unusual influx of strength and energy. Today, whatever happened, I had got to leave Karlshorst. Twenty days had passed since I had been given the fateful order. My frontier pass expired today, and before its close I must be in Brest-Litovsk. If I were found in Karlshorst, I would have great difficulty in explaining my presence. Every unnecessary minute that I remained here increased the danger.

    I had ordered a ticket and reserved a seat in the Moscow train. Be-fore I left Berlin I would call on the military commandant at the Schlesische station and register my departure. Now I must leave my apartment in a state indicating that I had gone back to Moscow. I made my final preparations. Lighting the stove, I destroyed the contents of my desk. An inexplicable feeling of freedom possessed me. Packets of documents, authorizations bearing the S. M. A. seal, flew into the stove. Photographs of myself were melted in flame: myself against the ruined Reichstag, among the marble statues of the Siegesallee, in the Tiergarten, with Marshal Zhukov and General Eisenhower on the Tempelhof airfield.

    Letters from dear and loved friends were consumed to ash. My last spiritual bonds with the past went up in smoke. I was seized with a passion for destruction. The feeling that I was cutting myself off from all my past life, together with the absolute emptiness of the future, left only one gnawing desire alive within me: to destroy everything with my own hands. It did not even occur to me that these documents and papers might be of use to me some time or other, that it might be better to put them somewhere in safe keeping. I was quite indifferent to what might happen to me in the future. Today I was a man who had lost his identity, a man without a past, without a name, without a native land.

    I sat down at my desk and wrote letters, which I intended to post in the Karlshorst post-box. In all probability I would never have another opportunity of writing to these people. Every letter consisted of only one brief sentence: ’Today I am traveling to Moscow’, together with a last greeting, and my signature. In all my personal letters my signature always clearly revealed the mood in which I had written. Today the signature was clear, firm, and sure, like a judicial sentence. It would tell the recipients everything.

    My mind went over all the possibilities of a failure in my plans, and all that must be done in each instance. I had enough weapons and cartridges. The one thing I knew for certain was that I would not be taken alive.

    I shaved and dressed with unusual care; I even scented my handkerchief. At that moment I realized why sailors have the custom of putting on their best underwear and uniform when going into battle. The long days of inner conflict, of tormenting search for a way out, the consciousness of continual danger, had left their traces. Now I felt that my nerves were strained to breaking point. I knew that sooner or later there would come a reaction, a discharge î tension. I must get to the frontier and across, and then I could lie down and close my eyes. There I would be indifferent to the entire world. One way or another, at that point I would be only a corpse, living or dead.

    I looked at the clock, and suddenly had the alarming thought; supposing my guide should change his mind, or was afraid to drive right up to the Berlin Kremlin? Then there would be nothing for it but to go out, thrust my hands in my pockets, and make my way westward with the aid of a map. But again I thought that it would all be settled today, and that comforted me.

    With my greatcoat flung round my shoulders I began to wander once more from corner to corner. The room was cold and empty. My footfalls sounded very loud on the bare floor. The clock struck twelve. Still another hour. I was emptied of all thought. I only waited for that ring.

    There was a sharp ring at the doorbell; the sound cut through the tense silence. I stood listening. For days I had not answered any telephone calls and had not opened the door to callers. The bell rang again: long, insistently. I put my right hand in my coat pocket and listened. The bell rang still more imperatively. With a deliberately unhurried step, my hand still in my pocket, I went to open it. I opened it with my left hand.

    In the gray twilight of the wintry day I saw a man in M. V. D. uniform. I stared at him with unseeing eyes, and felt my pistol barrel slowly lifting the lining of my pocket. The man stood silent and motionless. I made an effort and looked into his face. Then I realized that he was Andrei Kovtun. He did not enter as was his usual habit, but stood stock-still, as though he could not make up his mind.

    ‘May I come in?’ he said at last.

    I did not answer. How had he known that I was still here? What had he come for? I did not want anybody to see my apartment at this moment; there was much in it that contradicted the impression of a man about to leave for Moscow. I looked at him again. All his face expressed an unusual, mute question.

    ‘Come in!’ I said curtly. I placed myself so that he could go only to my study. He went ahead of me and tried not to look about him. His step was listless and irresolute. I glanced out at the staircase, then closed the door. My heavy pistol knocked against my thigh, so I shifted it to my tunic pocket.

    He dropped heavily into his usual chair. I had no idea what to say to him, and switched on the electric fire, simply for the sake of doing something. As I did so I glanced through the window, and noticed that his car was empty.

    ‘So you’re off?’ he said in a peculiar tone.




    ‘And so you didn’t want to say goodbye to me?’

    There was a painful silence. He did not expect any answer. He leaned his head against the back of his chair, stared up at the ceiling, then closed his eyes. He sat in his greatcoat and cap, not even drawing off his gloves. Only now did it occur to me that we hadn’t shaken hands.

    I glanced at the clock, at the telephone, then again at Andrei. I had not seen him often since our journey to Moscow. I had the impression that he was avoiding me. Now I realized how much he had changed since that time. His face was haggard, aged; the shining skin was drawn tightly across his forehead. His features were set in the expression common to people incurably ill. All his bearing expressed hopeless weariness.

    The minutes passed. He sat without stirring, his eyes closed. I stared through the window into the street, and aimlessly tapped my foot on the floor.

    ‘Am I in your way?’ he asked quietly. For the first time I caught a tone of uncertainty, almost helplessness, in his voice. I felt a wave of pity for him. He was only the empty husk of a man. But I did not trust him; his M. V. D. uniform forbade that. I glanced out into the street again. If they were to come for me now, Andrei would get my first bullet.

    At that moment the doorbell sounded again. A short, uncertain ring. Only a stranger would ring like that. I went out and opened the door. Two small, mute figures were standing outside. I saw their white, childish faces, their hands blue with the cold. Refugee children.

    ‘Khlepa!’ - the Russian word for bread sounded queerly distorted in the mouths of these German children. ‘Khlepa!’ The word was quietly repeated. In their eyes was neither entreaty nor expectation, only childish helplessness. I felt a lump in my throat. These wretched figures seemed like a spectral premonition of that which awaited me.

    Without speaking I beckoned to them to enter, found my old military kitbag in the kitchen, and filled it with everything I could. They had difficulty in dragging it to the door. I saw them out.

    As I closed the door I heard a vague muttering behind me: ‘That wasn’t just chance.... That’s a sign....’ I stared at Andrei in amazement. He drooped his head, avoiding my gaze, and whispered:

    ‘God sent them.’

    He dropped back into his chair. The clock said half-past twelve.

    I realized that I had not had anything to eat all the morning. I must have strength for whatever lay ahead. I cut some bread and butter, and forced myself to eat. I put a second plate in front of Andrei. As I leaned over the table I saw that his eyes were fixed on my coat. The greatcoat had swung open, and the butt of my pistol was poking out from my tunic pocket. I felt my mouth go dry.

    Before returning to the U. S. S. R. Soviet officers had to hand over all their weapons. Any attempt to smuggle a weapon across the frontier was sternly punished. A major in the State Security Service would know that best of all. I drew my greatcoat round me as casually as possible and gave him a sidelong look. There was no astonishment in his eyes; his face was quite tranquil. The hands of the clock crept nearer to the appointed hour.

    ‘In all probability we shall never see each other again.’ Andrei broke the oppressive silence. His words were not said in a questioning tone, but rather as an answer to his own thought. ‘... And you didn’t want to say goodbye,’ he added sorrowfully.

    I was silent; I pretended I had not heard his remark.

    ‘All my life I’ve never trusted you.’ His words came slowly and quietly. ‘When I did begin to believe in you, you did not believe or trust me....’

    His words cut me to the heart, but I could not say anything in answer. I knew only one thing: in a moment the telephone would be ringing, and if anybody got in my way I would shoot.

    Again I caught myself wondering: how had he known I was still here, and that I was going today? During these latter days there had been many possibilities... Perhaps he had learnt the news in the course of his official duties? Perhaps in his pocket he had an order for my arrest? I forced that thought away from me, and got up and walked about the room.

    Andrei’s voice, the voice of a major in the State Security Service, came as an answer to my thoughts:

    ‘Don’t be angry at my coming here...’

    The clock ticked like falling drops of water.

    Quietly, almost inaudibly, he went on:

    ‘If I hadn’t come, others would have...’

    I wandered about the room, glancing from time to time at the clock.

    ‘Perhaps you’d like to borrow my car?’ he asked.

    ‘No, thanks...’

    ‘So you’re going, and I remain.’ He spoke again. ‘I can be of more use if I remain at my post... If you ever think of me, Grisha, then remember... I do what I can.’

    Once more the silence filled the chilly room-broken only by the clock ticking.

    ‘Won’t you give me something as a keepsake?’ He spoke again. His voice sounded strangely unsure, almost unhappy.

    I looked round my empty room. My gaze rested on the black monkey crouching on the desk. I stared at it fixedly, as though expecting it to move.

    ‘Take that.’ I nodded at the bronze statuette.

    ‘A black ape is sitting on the world,’ he muttered. ‘And a man strives after the good, the pure... and then you see that it’s all filth...’

    The telephone bell rang out like a pistol shot. Unhurriedly I picked up the receiver. I heard the words in German:

    ‘The car is here.’

    ‘Very good!’ I answered, also in German.

    ‘Well... now I’ve got to go.’ I turned to Andrei.

    He rose heavily from his chair and went with a wooden step to the door. I followed him. With a forced movement, as though he was mortally weary, he drew his greatcoat down. The collar caught in the gold epaulette of his tunic. He stared at his shoulder, then pulled on his greatcoat so violently that the epaulette was ripped away.

    ‘The wings... of a slave!’ the words sounded heavy and slow in the silence. They were uttered with such a depth of bitterness that involuntarily I shivered.

    ‘I wish you a good journey!’ he said, and held out his hand. I took his hand and shook it. He stared into my eyes, tried to say some-thing, but only gave me another firm handshake and went down the stairs. I gazed after him, but he did not turn round.

    I stood listening until the sound of his car died away. Several minutes had passed. It was time I was going.

    I had already handed in the keys of my apartment, and now I had only to shut the door. For a moment I hesitated on the threshold, then slammed the door hard behind me. The lock clicked home. Now there was no way back.

    I turned and walked out of the house: to face the future.

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 16

    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.


    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.


    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.


    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.

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  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 13

    Between Two Worlds

    Before the war I came across a book by Paul de Cruis: Is Life Worth Living? The book was a real find for the Soviet State Publishing Company; it was in complete accord with the Politburo course of that time, with its attack on the ’rotten democracies’. And so the book was translated and published in huge editions.

    The Russian edition had a foreword by the author; it was so amazing that I read it aloud to a friend: “’I cannot pass myself off as a proletarian; rather am I a bourgeois of the bourgeois, enervated and corrupted by the blessings of my social state.

    With a partridge wing in one hand and a glass of Burgundy in the other, I find it difficult to reflect on the social ulcers and painful problems of modern society. Nonetheless I am enthusiastic for the great Soviet experiment, I raise my right fist’ - holding the partridge wing or the Burgundy? - ’and cry: ‘Red Front!’’

    At this point my friend had had enough, and, swearing violently, he flung the book away. Both of us bitterly regretted that we hadn’t got the simple-minded Frenchman in the room with us. It may be there are people who get pleasure out of watching a dissected rabbit, but the rabbit itself hardly shares the pleasure.

    Paul de Cruis truthfully and honestly analyzed the defects of modem American society; he was indignant at the fact that American unemployed workers were living in extremely wretched conditions, and that their food consisted chiefly of fried potatoes and horribly salted pork. And their children received only a liter of ordinary milk a day, as an act of charity. And he exclaimed: ‘Is their life worth living?’

    Naturally, standards of good and bad are always relative. And possibly he was justified in concluding that in comparison with American living conditions generally such a state of affairs was very bad.

    But a Soviet reader reading those words might well ask: ‘And what is the state of the Soviet workers, who work themselves to death to earn a wage - not unemployment pay - which only very rarely assures them such a treat as pork, whether salted or unsalted? And what of their children, who even in the best years, received less milk than an American unemployed worker’s child? What answer could be given to the question: ’Was it worth while for these children to be born?’’

    After the war I recalled Paul de Cruis’ book, and especially his question: ’Is life worth living?’ For now some of us have had an opportunity to see the children of the democratic world, and that in conquered Germany, in conditions that were, generally speaking, worse than those applying in other democratic countries. Now we have had a chance to draw comparisons.

    In Germany the difference between the children of the two systems was painfully obvious. At first we noticed only the superficial differences; but when we had lived in Berlin for some time we saw another, much more profound difference. Soviet children seem like little soulless automata, with all their childish joy and lack of restraint suppressed.

    That is the result of many years of replacing the family by the State. Soviet children grow up in an atmosphere of mistrust, suspicion, and segregation. We in Berlin found it much more difficult to strike up a conversation with the child of a Soviet officer who was quite well known to us than with any German street urchin in the Berlin streets.

    The German children born in the Hitler epoch, and those who have grown up in the years following the capitulation, could hardly be exemplary in their characters. So we found it all the more depressing to note these vast internal and external differences between the children of the two systems.

    Here is a significant detail. The Germans are not in the habit of having their mother-in-law in the young married couple’s home; it is regarded as a family disaster. The German mothers-in-law themselves take the attitude that when they have disposed of their daughters they can ’enjoy life’; they ride cycles, visit the pictures, and live their own lives.

    In a Soviet family the exact opposite is the case. It is a bit of luck for the wife, and even more for the children, if her mother-in-law is living with them. Soviet children usually grow up in their grandmother’s care.

    Whereas the German woman of forty or more often begins a ’second youth’ when her daughter gets married, the Russian woman of over forty no longer has any personal life, she devotes herself wholly and entirely to her ’second family’, to her grandchildren. Only then is there any surety that the children will be brought up in a normal manner.

    Generalizing on this difference, one can say that the German woman belongs to the family, the Soviet woman to the State. A Soviet woman can become an engine driver, a miner, or a stonemason. In addition, she has the honorable right of voting for Stalin, and of being her husband’s hostage if the M. V. D. is interested in him. Only one small right is denied her: the right to be a happy mother.

    For a long time there were two conflicting theories as to the formation of the child character, and Soviet pedagogues were divided into two camps. The heredity theory maintained that the chief part in the development of human characteristics was played by the inherited genes; this theory came to be widely accepted by pedagogues after the emergence of a separate science of genetics. The second, environment, theory declared that the infant mind was a tabula rasa, on which environment wrote the laws of human development.

    This made the child’s characteristics exclusively dependent on the influences of its milieu. In due course the Politburo issued a specific instruction that the environmental theory was to be accepted as the basis of Soviet pedagogy. The totalitarian State fights wholeheartedly for the souls as well as the bodies of its citizens; it cannot stand any rivals in the formation of the citizen - not even genes. Soviet pedagogy now declares in so many words that the Soviet child is a hundred-per-cent product of its communist environment.

    During the period before this approach was finally established the Politburo based its system of Soviet education on a tenden-tious curriculum and the political organization of the youth in the Pioneers and the Young Communist League; in these organizations the children began when quite young to render their service to the State. The years passed, and after much experimentation the authorities went over from the ’method of conviction’ to the ’method of compulsion’.

    In 1940 a ’Committee for the Problem of Labor Reserves’ was set up as a subsidiary of the Council of People’s Commissars, and trades and technical schools attached to the factories and works were organized. The pupils for these educational institutions were compulsorily recruited at the age of fourteen, under the pretext of mobilizing labor reserves.

    In 1948 a State decree established the Suvorov and Nakhimov Cadet Schools. The task of these schools - there are some forty of them - is to prepare children of eight years and upward for a military career by a barrack style of education and training.

    I once had the opportunity to visit the Suvorov Cadet School at Kalinin. It was not far from Moscow, and consequently was the most privileged of all these schools, there being no Suvorov school in Moscow itself. At Kalinin I met a number of lads who were the grandsons of Politburo members.

    Petka Ordjonokidze, the grandson of Sergo Ordjonokidze, at one time People’s Commissar for Heavy Industry, was sitting in his underwear on his bed, for his uniform trousers were being repaired, and service regulations prescribed only one pair per child. In this respect, to have a highly influential and famous grandfather was of no advantage whatever. The teacher, a captain, complained of his delicate position in regard to Mikoyan’s youngest scion, who kept the whole establishment supplied with cigarettes, which he smuggled into the school.

    He could hardly be punished with the cells, for his grandfather was still alive and had a very good seat in the Politburo. Some of these lads of twelve or thirteen years old were wearing service decorations, which they had won as partisans. Seen close up, all this doesn’t look too bad: the Suvorov schools are privileged institutions in which the children are clothed, fed, and educated at the State expense.

    There are candidates and to spare for all vacancies, so it isn’t easy for the ordinary child to get to these schools. In that at Kalinin about half the pupils consisted of relations of generals and other members of the Soviet aristocracy.

    On leaving these schools the pupils may not enter any other than an officers’ training college. Their fate, their future career, are decided when they are eight years old. The classless society divides its children at an early age into strictly delimited castes: the privileged caste of the military and the caste of the proletarians, whose job is to do productive work, to multiply up to the approved limits, and to die for the glory of the leader.

    In 1946 an urgent conference was called by the head of the S. M. A. Political Administration to discuss the question of improving educational work in the Russian school at Karlshorst. Certain unhealthy trends had been noted among the scholars in the higher forms. A month or so before, a scholar in the ninth form had shot his father and his father’s young mistress.

    The father was a Party member, a lieutenant-general, and an official in the S. M. A. legal department. Apparently he had taken a fancy to wartime habits, and had been untroubled by the circumstance that he had been living with his paramour under the very eyes of his grown-up son and daughter, whose mother had remained in Russia.

    After fruitless talks, pleadings, and quarrels with his father, the son, a seventeen-year-old member of the Young Communist League, had decided to appeal to the advice and assistance of the Party organization. He had put in an official report to the head of the Political Department.

    When a Party man is accused of moral or criminal misconduct the Party organs usually act on the principle of not washing dirty linen in public. So the Political Department tried to hush up the affair, and only passed on the report to the father. The result could have been anticipated. The father was furious, and took active steps against his son. It ended by the son snatching up his father’s pistol and shooting him.

    Hardly had the commotion died down after this tragic incident when the Karlshorst commandant, Colonel Maximov, had to entrust a rather unusual task to a company of the commandatura guard. A mysterious band of robbers was operating in the wooded sand dunes and wilderness around Karlshorst, and filling the entire district with alarm and terror.

    The company sent to deal with it was strictly enjoined not to shoot without special orders from the officer in command, but to take the robbers alive. For they were scholars from higher forms of the Karlshorst school, and were led by the son of one of the S. M. A. generals. They were very well armed, with their father’s pistols, and some of them even with machine pistols.

    The district was combed thoroughly, the robbers’ headquarters were found in the cellar of a ruined house, and it was formally besieged. Only after long negotiations conducted through emissaries did the head of the band declare himself ready to capitulate. It is striking that the first of his conditions for surrender was that they were not to be sent back to the Soviet Union as a punishment. The officer in command of the company had to send a courier to the S. M. A. staff to obtain the necessary agreement to the condition. The stipulation greatly disturbed the S. M. A. Political Department.

    It was discovered that the results achieved in the higher forms of the Karlshorst school were not up to the standard of corresponding forms in the U. S. S. R., and on the other hand there was a considerable increase in truancy. The only improvement shown was in regard to German conversation, and this did not please the school authorities at all, as it showed that the pupils were in contact with the German world around them. That might have unpleasant consequences for the school staff.

    The commandatura patrols regularly hauled scholars out of the darkness of the Berlin cinemas in school hours. A search of the desks of older scholars led to the discovery of hand-written copies of banned Yesenin poems and amoral couplets by Konstantin Semionov, which soldiers had passed from hand to hand during the war. Worst of all, the S. M. A. hospital notified the chief of staff that several cases of venereal disease had occurred among the senior scholars. A sixteen-year-old girl was brought to the hospital suffering from a serious hemorrhage as the result of a clumsy attempt at abortion. Another girl lay between life and death for several months after she had made an attempt to gas herself because of an unhappy love affair.

    All these things had led to the Political Department calling an urgent conference, which decided that radical measures must be taken to improve the communist education of the Soviet children and youths in Germany. It was agreed that the most effective step towards effecting such an improvement was the approved panacea for all diseases: additional lessons on the ’Short Course of History of the C. P. S. U.’ and on the childhood and youth of the leaders of the world proletariat, Lenin and his true friend, collaborator and pupil, Joseph Stalin. It was also decided incidentally to send the incorrigible sinners home to the Soviet Union, a punishment which hitherto had been applied only to the adult members of the Karlshorst Soviet colony.


    ‘Well, did you like it?’

    ‘Oh yes. An outstanding piece of work.’

    ‘Unquestionably. A real chef-d’oeuvre.’

    The solid stream of human beings carried us in the darkness out of the cinema of the officers’ club in Karlshorst. The crowd expressed their opinions about the film as they poured out.

    That morning Nadia, the secretary to the Party Organizer in the Administration for Industry, had rather startled us by her obliging conduct. She had gone from room to room, handing each of us a cinema ticket, and even asking affably how many we would like. Normally it wasn’t so easy to get hold of tickets; if you wanted to go you had to apply to Nadia very early.

    ‘Ah, Nadia, my dear! And what is showing today?’ I asked, rather touched by her amiability.

    ‘A very good one, Gregory Petrovich. The Vow. How many tickets would you like?’

    ‘Ah! The Vow,’ I murmured respectfully. ‘In that case let me have two.’

    The Soviet press had devoted a great deal of space to this film, extolling it to the skies as a new masterpiece of cinematic art. Although, generally speaking, I am skeptical of proclaimed masterpieces, I decided to go. It was so remarkably publicized that it would have been quite dangerous not to.

    Within five minutes of its beginning Captain Bagdassarian and I were watching the clock rather than the screen. It would have been an act of madness to leave, and yet to sit and watch the film...

    ’Let’s act as though we were going to the toilet, and then slip out,” Bagdassarian whispered.

    ‘You’d better sit still and see it, out of scientific interest!’ I advised him.

    Even in the pre-war Soviet films Stalin had begun to acquire a stature equal to Lenin’s. But in The Vow Lenin served only as a decorative motif. When they heard that Lenin was seriously ill the peasants from the entire neighboring district went on pilgrimage to the village of Gorky, where Lenin was living. But now it appeared that they had gone to Gorky only to plead, with tears in their eyes, for Stalin to be their leader. They swore their troth and fidelity to him for thousands of feet.

    I swore too. I swore that never in all my life, not even in pre-war days, had I seen such stupid, coarse, and unashamed botching. No wonder that our officers’ club had stopped showing foreign films for some months past.

    ‘Show a film like that abroad,’ Bagdassarian said as we went home, ‘and they’ll believe that all Russians are a lot of fools.’

    ‘They’ve got plenty of rotten films of their own.’ I tried to appease him.

    The few foreign films, which had been shown from time to time in the Soviet Union, were real masterpieces of the international cinema. Of course such films were shown only when they corresponded with higher interests and in conformity with the sinuosities of Soviet foreign policy.

    The result was that Soviet citizens came to have an exaggeratedly enthusiastic opinion of foreign cinema art. In Berlin we had extensive opportunities to see the achievements of various countries in this sphere. We often laughed till we cried at some heartrending American picture, with more shooting than dialogue, with blood streaming off the screen right into the hall, and it was quite impossible to tell who was killing whom, and why. It is a striking fact that, if one may dogmatize on the tastes of the ’common people’ at all, the ordinary Russian soldiers never got any enjoyment out of such films.

    It may seem strange, but we liked German films most of all. Whether in music, literature, or cinematic art-all of them spiritual revelations of national life - the German soul is more intelligible than any other to the Russians is. It has the same sentimentality, the same touch of sadness, the same quest for the fundamental bases of phenomena. It is significant that Dostoyevsky has enjoyed even greater popularity among the Germans than among Russians themselves, and that Faust is the crowning achievement of the Russian theater.

    We Russians often had interesting discussions about German films and plays. The Soviet viewer is struck by the unusual attention given to details, to facts, and to the actors themselves. These films provided plenty of matter for argument. The Vow provided no matter for argument.

    ‘Their art is passive, ours is active. Their art exhibits, ours commands,’ Bagdassarian remarked. ‘Have you seen Judgement of the Nations’!’

    ‘Yes. It’s a powerful piece of work.’

    ‘I saw it recently in the American sector. They’ve given it quite different montage treatment, and call it Nuremberg. It’s the same theme, yet it makes no impact whatever.’

    We arrived at Bagdassarian’s apartment. Still under the influence of the film we had just seen, we sat discussing the possibilities of propaganda through art.

    ‘It’ll take the Americans another hundred years to learn how to make black white,’ he said as he took off his greatcoat.

    ‘If they have to, they’ll soon learn,’ I answered.

    ‘It can’t be done in a day. The masses have to be educated over many years.’

    ‘Why are you so anxious about the Americans?’ I asked.

    ‘Only from the aspect of absolute justice.’

    ‘Who’s interested in justice? Might is right. Justice is a fairy-tale for the simple-minded.’

    ‘I award you full marks in Dialectical Materialism,’ the captain sarcastically observed. ‘But, you know, during the war things were grand!’ He sighed. ‘D’you remember the films the Americans sent us?’

    ‘Yes, they were pretty good. Only it was rather amusing to see how little they know about our life. In Polar Star the collective farmers had more and better food than Sokolovsky gets.’

    ‘Yes, and they danced round dances in the meadows, just like in the good old days.’ He laughed aloud.

    In 1943 and later, American films on Russian subjects were shown in the Soviet Union. We particularly remembered Polar Star. Although it was very naive, and showed complete ignorance of the Soviet reality, it revealed genuine sympathy for the Russians.

    After a performance one often heard the Russian audience remark: ‘Fine fellows, the Americans’; although the film represented only Russian characters. The Russians took this kindly presentation of themselves as evidence of the American people’s sympathy for them.

    ‘That film had a number of expert advisers with Russian names,’ I said. ‘I don’t suppose they’d seen Russia for thirty years or more. The American technique is good, but they haven’t any ideology. Probably they don’t even know what it is.’

    ‘Stalin’s making hell hot for them, but all they do is gape,’ Bagdassarian meditated. ‘They don’t know what to do. Now they’re beginning to sneer at Russian Ivan: he’s pockmarked, he squints, and his teeth are crooked. The fools! The last thirty years of Russian history are still a white patch to them, yet it’s an inexhaustible well. They’ve only got to strip Stalin naked and the entire world would spit in disgust. And we Soviet people wouldn’t object. But when they start to sneer at Russian Ivan...’

    He sniffed, annoyed to think that the Americans couldn’t tumble to anything so simple.

    We were often amazed to see how little the outside world knew of the true position in Soviet Russia. The thirty years’ activity of the State lie-factory, and the hermetical closure of Russia to free information, had done their work.

    The world is told, as though it was a little child that the capitalist system is doomed to go under. But on that question Soviet people have no hard-and-fast standpoint. History is continually developing, and requiring new forms in its development. But even so, for us the historical inevitability of communism, the thesis that ’all roads lead to communism’, is the one constant factor in an equation which has many unknown and negative factors. For us Soviet people this equation has already acquired an irrational quality.

    We are united not by the intrinsic unity of a State conception, but by the extrinsic forms of material dependence, personal interests, or a career. And all these are dominated by fear. For some this fear is direct, physical, perceptible; for others it is an unavoidable consequence if they behave or even think otherwise than as the totalitarian machine demands.

    Later, in the West, I had an opportunity to see the American film The Iron Curtain, which dealt with the break-up of Soviet atomic espionage in Canada. I had already read various criticisms of this film, as well as the angry outbursts of the communist press, and I was interested to see how the Americans had handled this pregnant theme. It left two impressions.

    On the one hand, a feeling of satisfaction: the types were well chosen; the life of the official Soviet representatives abroad and the role of the local Communist Party were presented quite accurately. Once more I lived through my years in the Berlin Kremlin. No Russian would have any criticism to make of this presentation. It was not surprising that the foreign communist parties were furious with the film, for in this game they play the dirtiest role. Something, which for the staff of the military attaché’s department is a service duty, is treachery to their country when performed by the communist hirelings.

    On the other hand, the film left me with a vague feeling of annoyance. The Americans hadn’t exploited all the possibilities. The Soviet peoples are accustomed to films with the focus on politics, in which the audience is led to draw the requisite conclusions. In this respect The Iron Curtain scenario was obviously weak.

    In Berlin we Soviet officers were able to compare two worlds. It was interesting to set the impression made by real life against the fictions that the Soviet State creates and maintains. The direct creators of this fiction are the toilers with the pen, the ’engineers of human souls’, as they been have called in the Soviet Union.

    Of course we were chiefly interested in the writers who dealt with the problem of Soviet Russia. They can be divided into three main categories: the Soviet writers, who are slaves of the ’social command’; the foreign writers who have turned their backs on Stalinism; and, finally, those problematic foreigners who even today are still anxious to find pearls in the dungheap.

    Let us consider them as a Soviet man sees them.

    One day I found a French novel on Belyavsky’s desk. I picked it up to read the name of the author, and was astonished: it was Ilia Ehrenburg.

    ‘But haven’t you read it in Russian already?’ I asked him.

    ‘It hasn’t been published in Russian.’

    ‘What do you mean?’

    ‘It’s quite simple.’

    He was right. Soviet experts on literature maintain that the finest journalists of the time are Egon Erwin Kisch, Mikhail Koltsov, and Ilia Ehrenburg. There is no disputing that they are all brilliant writers. Koltsov’s literary career came to an abrupt end in 1937, through the intervention of the N. K. V. D. It is said that he is now writing his memoirs in a Siberian concentration camp. For many years Ehrenburg was classified as a ’fellow-traveler’.

    With a Soviet passport in his pocket, he wisely preferred to live abroad, at a respectable distance from the Kremlin. This assured him some independence. His books were published in big editions in Soviet Russia, after they had been thoroughly edited. It was not surprising that I had found a book by him which was in French and unknown in the U. S. S. R. Only the Hitlerite invasion of France drove him back to his native land.

    First and foremost, Ehrenburg is a cosmopolitan. Many people think of him as a communist. True, he subtly and intelligently criticized the defects of Europe and the democratic world. But one doesn’t need to be a communist to do that-many non-communist writers do the same. After he had rid his system of his rabid, guttersnipe denunciations of the Nazi invaders he began to compose mellifluous articles about beautiful, violated France, the steadfast British lion, and democratic America.

    During the war we were glad to read these articles; but it seemed like a bad joke when we saw his signature beneath them. Today, obedient to his masters, he is thundering away at the American ’imperialists’. Ehrenburg, who once enjoyed some independence, has been completely caught in the Kremlin toils.

    His career and fate are very typical of Soviet writers generally. They have only two alternatives: either to write what the Politburo prescribes, or to be condemned to literary extinction. If Leo Tolstoy, Alexander Pushkin or Lermontov had lived in the age of Stalin, their names would never have been added to the Pantheon of human culture. When I was a student books such as Kazakov’s Nine Points, Lebedenko’s Iron Division, and Soboliev’s General Overhaul were passed from hand to hand.

    These names are not well known to the public generally, the books were printed in very small editions and it was difficult to get hold of copies. It is characteristic that they all dealt with the 1917-21 period, when the masses were still inspired with enthusiasm and hope. Their consciences did not allow these writers to write about later times; faced with the alternative of lying or being silent, they preferred silence.

    One cannot condemn the Soviet writers. Man is flesh and blood, and flesh and blood are weaker than lead and barbed wire. In addition there is the great temptation not only to avoid creative and physical death, but also to enjoy all the advantages of a privileged position. Some people may think it strange that there are millionaires in the land of communism. Genuine millionaires with an account in the State bank and owning property valued at more than a million rubles. Alexei Tolstoy, the author of Peter I and scenarios for Ivan the Terrible, was an example of the Soviet millionaire. Who can throw the first stone at a man faced with such alternatives?

    As for the foreign writers, they are simply not to be trusted! Not even the dead. At one time John Reed was in charge of the American section of the Comintern. True, he lived in Moscow, but that was in the order of things. He conscientiously wrote a solid book on the Russian revolution: Ten Days that Shook the World. Lunacharsky, the then People’s Commissar for Education, and Lenin’s wife, Krupskaya, wrote introductions to the book in which they con-firmed that it was a perfectly truthful description of the October Revolution. John Reed departed from this life not very long after he had written the book, and his mortal remains were interred in the Kremlin wall: the highest distinction for outstanding communists.

    Then there was trouble! Reed had not foreseen that in Stalinist Russia history would be stood on its head. In all his story of the revolution he had devoted only two lines to Stalin, and those only in passing, whereas he had extolled to the skies Trotsky and the other creators of the revolution, all those who after Lenin’s death began to pass out with colds in the head and similar ailments.

    So John Reed’s remains had to be removed from the Kremlin wall.

    One can think of dozens of world-famous writers who in their quest for new ways for man waxed enthusiastic over communism. As soon as they came to know the Soviet reality they were permanently cured of their enthusiasm. I need mention only one of the latest of these. Theodor Plievier, author of the book Stalingrad, a German writer and communist who had spent many years in Moscow, fled from the Soviet zone into western Germany.

    In an interview given to the press he explained that there was not a trace of communism left in Stalinist Russia, that all communistic ideas were strangled and all the socialistic institutions had been turned into instruments of the Kremlin’s totalitarian regime. He discovered this quite soon after his arrival in Moscow, but he had to keep quiet and reconcile himself to the situation, since he was to all intents and purposes a prisoner.

    It is difficult to convict the Kremlin propagandists of pure lying. There is a refined art of lying, consisting in the one-sided ventilation of a question. In this field the Kremlin jugglers and commercial travelers have achieved a very high level of artistry: they pass over one side in complete silence, or even furiously revile it, while exalting the other side to the skies.

    In Berlin we often got hold of amusing little books written by foreign authors and published by foreign publishers, extolling Stalin and his regime. It is noteworthy that these books are either not translated into Russian at all, or they are published only in very small editions, and it is virtually impossible to buy copies. They are intended purely for external consumption. The Kremlin prefers that the Russians should not see such books: the lies are too obvious.

    Not far from the Brandenburg Gate there is a bookshop, ’Das Internationale Buch’. It is a Soviet shop selling literature in foreign languages and intended for foreign readers. We often visited it. Of course we didn’t buy Lenin’s works but ordinary gramophone records. Things that can’t be bought at any price in Moscow are offered in abundance to foreigners.

    Propaganda: only a Soviet man has any idea what that is! It is said of a famous drink that two parts of the price are for the mixture and three for the advertising, and many consumers are convinced that there is nothing in the world more tasty, healthy, and costly. Such is the power of advertising.

    Among the Soviet people communism is in a somewhat similar case. They are continually being told that communism is the finest of all systems, an achievement that is unsurpassable. The mixture is rather more complicated than that of any drink. It is injected into the Soviet man - day in and day out, from the moment of his birth. What advertising does in the Western World, propaganda takes care of in the U. S. S. R. The people are hungry, naked, thrust down to the level of speechless robots, and meanwhile they are assured that the complete opposite is the case. Most astonishing of all, they believe it, or try to. That makes life easier.

    The Kremlin knows what enormous power propaganda has over human souls; it knows the danger that threatens it if the mirage is dispelled. Under the Nazis during the war the Germans were for-bidden to listen to enemy broadcasts, but they were not deprived of their receiving sets. But the Kremlin did otherwise: in the U. S. S. R. all receiving sets were confiscated on the very first day of the war. The Kremlin knew its weak spot only too well. If its thirty years of propaganda are undermined, the ephemeral spiritual unity of the Kremlin and the people will vanish like mist.

    ‘The Press is our Party’s strongest weapon,’ Stalin has said. In other words, the Kremlin’s strongest weapon is propaganda. Propaganda welds the internal forces and disintegrates the external ones. So much the better for Stalin that his opponents haven’t any real idea of the accuracy and significance of his words.

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  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 08

    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 07

    In The Control Commission

    One afternoon General Shabalin sent for me. When I reported he handed me an invitation from American headquarters, asking him and his coworkers to take part in a conference at Frankfurt-on-Main to discuss the liquidation of the I.G. Farben Industry. “Take my car,” he said, “and drive to Zehlendorf. Hand in the list of our delegation, and find out when the plane leaves. If there isn’t a plane, obtain passes for us to use our cars for the journey.”

    It was five-fifteen when I arrived outside the American headquarters. ’Well, now I shall have to wait an hour for an interview,’ I pondered. ’And I’ve got to see Eisenhower’s economic adviser, but I haven’t any letter of introduction, only my personal documents.’

    I stopped the car at the gate and took out my documents. The American guard, in white helmet, white canvas belt, and white gaiters, raised his white-gloved hand in salute and seemed to be completely uninterested in my documents. To give some excuse for stopping the car, I asked him some meaningless question. Without speaking, he pointed to a board with an arrow and the one word: ’Information’. I drove past the Information Bureau slowly, and glanced back casually to see whether anybody was watching me. ’I’ll find what I want, myself; it’s a good opportunity to have a look round without trouble. I’ll see what sort of fellows these Americans are. They may not pull me up at once. And if necessary I’ll simply say I took the wrong way.’

    I strictly ordered Misha to remain in the car and not stir a step. Who knows whether he might be kidnapped, and then I’d lose my head!

    I went along a corridor. All the doors were wide open, the rooms were empty. Here and there German women cleaners were sweeping the floors. On each door was an ordinary tablet: ’Major So-and-so’ or ’Colonel So-and-so’, and the name of the department. What on earth did it all means? Not a sign of security precautions. We Soviet authorities did not hang out name-boards on the doors to inform our internal and external enemies who was inside.

    I felt a little uncomfortable, almost queer, with anxiety. As though I had got into a secret department by accident and was afraid of being caught. In search of the right room I looked at one nameplate after another and felt as though I was a spy going through the card index of an enemy General Staff. And I was in full Soviet uniform, too!

    One of our officers had once told me there was no point in visiting an American office after five p. m. “After that they’re all out with German girls,” he explained, and I couldn’t be sure whether his words expressed contempt or simply envy of American methods. “They think anyone who sits in an office after office-hours doesn’t know how to work or arrange his time.”

    ’He was right,’ I thought now. ’The Americans obviously don’t intend to work themselves to death. General Shabalin’s working day really begins at seven in the evening. I suppose I must apply to “Information” after all.’

    In the Information Bureau I found two negroes extended in easy chairs, their feet on the desk. They were chewing gum. I had some difficulty in getting them to understand that I wanted to speak to General Clay. Without stopping his chewing one of them called something incomprehensible through a small window into the next room. Even if I had been President Truman, Marshal Stalin, or a horned devil, I doubt whether he would have removed his feet from the desk or shifted the gum from his right to his left cheek. And yet ’Information’ functioned perfectly: a sergeant behind the window said something into a telephone, and a few minutes later an American lieutenant arrived and courteously asked me to follow him.

    In General Clay’s outer office a woman secretary was turning over the pages of a glossy magazine. ’She’ll probably put her feet on the typewriter too,’ I thought, and prudently sat down at a safe distance. While I was wondering whether to remain silent or enter into conversation with the ’Allies’, a long-nosed little soldier burst through the door leading to the general’s room. He tore through the outer office and snatched his cap down from a nail, saying a few hurried words to the secretary.

    ’The general must be a bit of a martinet, if his men rush about like that,’ I thought.

    At that moment the soldier held out his hand to me and let loose a flood of words which overwhelmed my weak knowledge of English. “General Clay,” the secretary said in an explanatory tone behind my back. Before I could recover my wits the general had vanished again. He wasn’t a general; he was an atom bomb! All I had under-stood was ’Okay’; and that the necessary order had already been issued. And in addition, that here it wasn’t at all easy to tell the difference between a general and a GI The privates stretched themselves out with their feet on the desk while the generals tore around like messenger boys.

    Another officer appeared at the same door, and invited me into his room. This time I prudently glanced at his tabs. Another general! Without offering me a chair, but not sitting down himself, the general listened to me with cool efficiency. Then he nodded and went out.

    I looked round the room. A modest writing desk. Modest inkstands. A thick wad of newspapers. A number of pencils. Nothing unnecessary. A room to work in, not to catch flies in. When a writing desk adequate for General Shabalin’s rank was required, all Karlshorst and all the booty warehouses were turned upside down. The inkstands were obtained specially from Dresden for him.

    A little later the American general returned and told me, apparently on the basis of a telephone conversation, when the aeroplane would be ready. I had plenty of opportunities to see later on that where we Soviet authorities would demand a ’document’ signed by three generals and duly stamped, the Americans found a telephone conversation sufficient.

    I did not have to present the list of the Soviet delegation at all. Here everything was done without resort to a liaison service and without any counter-check by the Ministry of Internal Affairs! The general handed me a packet of materials on the I.G. Farben Industry, so that we could familiarize ourselves with the tasks of the conference.

    Next morning the Soviet delegation, consisting of General Shabalin, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov, Major Kuznetsov, two interpreters, and myself went to the Tempelhof landing ground. There the sergeant on duty explained that he had been fully informed concerning us, and spent a little time in phoning to various offices. Then he asked us to wait, as our plane would be starting rather later than arranged. I had the feeling that the Americans were holding up our departure for some reason. Machines rolled slowly on to the tarmac in the distance, but not one of them showed the least intention of taking us with it. The general swore, and, as he did not know whom to vent his anger upon, he turned to me. “What did they really say to you yesterday? Why didn’t you get it in writing?”

    “I was quite clearly informed,” I answered; “this morning at ten, the Tempelhof airground. A special machine would be waiting for us, and the airport commandant was notified.”

    The general clasped his hands behind his back, drew his head down between his shoulders, and marched up and down the concrete road outside the building without deigning to give us another glance.

    To pass the time. Major Kuznetsov and I began to make a closer inspection of the landing ground. Not far away an American soldier in overalls was hanging about, giving us inquisitively friendly glances, and obviously seeking an excuse to speak to us. Now a blunt-nosed Douglas rolled up to the start. During the war these transport machines had reached the Soviet Union in wholesale quantities as part of the lend-lease deliveries; every Russian knew them. The American soldier smiled, pointed to the machine, and said:"S-47."

    I looked to where he was pointing, and corrected him: “Douglas.” He shook his head and said: “No... no. S-47. Sikorsky... Russian constructor....”

    ’Was it really one of Igor Sikorsky’s designs?’ I wondered. Sikorsky had been the pioneer of Russian aviation in the first world war, and the constructor of the first multi-engine machine, Ilya Mourometz. I knew that, like Boris Seversky, he was working in the field of American aviation, but I had not known that the Douglas was his job. It was interesting that Pravda hadn’t taken the opportunity to make a big song of it.

    The soldier pointed his finger first at the clock, then into the sky. With his hand he imitated a plane landing, and explained as he pointed to the ground: “General Eisenhower.”

    ’Well, if General Eisenhower’s arriving,’ I thought, ’that probably explains why we couldn’t start.’

    While we were talking to the soldier a machine grounded just behind us, and a group of cheerful old gentlemen poured out of it. Like a horde of children just out of school they surrounded General Shabalin and began to shake his hand so heartily that you would have thought it was the one thing they had flown from America for. The general was carried away by their exuberance and shook their hands in turn. Later it transpired that they had mistaken Shabalin for General Zhukov. Meanwhile, Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov had found out somewhere that these gay old boys were American senators, who were on their way to Moscow. He whispered this news into the general’s ear, but it was too late. Shabalin had already exchanged cordial handshakes with these sworn enemies of the communist order.

    All around them, camera shutters were clicking. The senators seemed to get a great kick out of posing with General Shabalin, holding his hands. The general had little wish to be photographed in such compromising company, but he had to put a good face on it. He was quite convinced that all these photos would find their way into the archives of some foreign secret service, and thence into the archives of the Narcomvnudel. And then the fat would be in the fire.

    Major Kuznetsov asked Lieutenant-Colonel Orlov incredulously: “But are they really senators?”

    “Yes, and the very worst of them all, the Senate Political Commission,” Orlov replied.

    “But they don’t look at all like capitalists.” Kuznetsov still felt dubious.

    “Yes, they look quite harmless; but they’ve got millions in their pockets. They’re cold-blooded sharks,” Orlov retorted. Evidently he regarded it as a mortal sin to have money in one’s pocket. But then, he was a dyed-in-the-wool party man.

    “So they’re the lords of America, and they behave like that. Now if one of our ministers....” Kuznetsov’s reflections were interrupted by the arrival of a column of closed cars, which drove straight on to the landing ground. A group of Soviet officers stepped out. The gold braid on their caps and the red piping on their coats showed that they were generals.

    “Now we’re in for a parade!” Kuznetsov muttered. “That’s Marshal Zhukov and all his staff. We’d better take cover in the bushes.”

    General Shabalin seemed to be of the same opinion. He had not been invited to this meeting, and to be an uninvited guest of Marshal Zhukov was rather a ticklish matter. But his general’s uniform made it impossible for him to hide behind others’ backs.

    In this hour of need the lively old gentlemen from America came to the rescue. With unreserved ’Hellos’, friendly handshakes and back-slayings, an unstained, friendly atmosphere was created. “I like these senators!” Kuznetsov enthused. “They slap hands together like a lot of horse-dealers at a market. Great old boys!” He licked his lips as though he had just drunk to brotherhood with the American senators.

    Marshal Zhukov, a medium-sized, thickset man with a prominent chin, always dressed and behaved with unusual simplicity. He took hardly any notice of the bustle all around him, but seemed to be waiting for the moment when they would come at last to business. Unlike many other generals who owed their career to the war, by all his bearing he clearly showed that he was only a soldier. It was characteristic of the man that, without any encouragement from official Kremlin propaganda, he had become known all over Russia as the second Kutuzov, as the savior of the fatherland in the second great patriotic war.

    The airground grew more and more animated. Forces of military police in parade uniforms marched on. The servicing personnel hurried to and from. A guard of honor took up its position not far from us.

    A four-engine machine landed quietly. The swarm of autograph hunters suffered disillusionment: double rows of guards swiftly and thoroughly cut them off from the landing spot.

    Major Kuznetzov looked at the guards and remarked: “Clean work! Look at those cutthroats. They must have been taken into the army straight from gangsterdom.”

    The first line of military police was certainly an impressive lot. They looked pretty sinister, even though they were clean-shaven. The second line might well have been pugilists and cowboys, mounted not on horses but on motorcycles that made more noise than aeroplanes.

    Meanwhile the guard of honor had begun to perform some extraordinary exercise. The men raised their arms shoulder-high and spread out as though about to do Swedish gymnastics. Decidedly inept and un-military by our standards. “It reminds me of operetta,” Kuznetsov said to the lieutenant-general. “What are they doing that for?”

    Orlov waved his hand contemptuously. “Like senators, like soldiers! They’re chocolate soldiers. Give them black bread to eat and they’d be ill.”

    “Are you so fond of black bread then?” Kuznetsov sneered. “Or are you simply concerned for well-being of your fellowmen, as usual?”

    Orlov ignored the questions. He was attached to our delegation as a legal expert. Also, he was public prosecutor to the military court, and knew well enough what might be the consequences of talking too frankly.

    General Eisenhower stepped out of the plane, wearing a soldier’s greatcoat, the usual broad grin on his face. He greeted Marshal Zhukov. Then he signed a few autographs, asked where they could have breakfast, and took Zhukov off with him.

    Hardly had the distinguished guests departed when the dispatcher announced that our plane was ready to start. Now we knew why we had had to wait so long.

    A man in the uniform of an American brigadier-general addressed General Shabalin in the purest of Russian. Apparently he had learnt that we were flying to Frankfurt, and now he offered us his services. He spoke better Russian than we did, if I may put it so. He had left Russia thirty or more years before, and spoke the kind of Russian common in the old aristocratic circles. Our speech had been modified by the new conditions, it was contaminated with jargon and included a mess of new words.

    I had no idea why Eisenhower and Zhukov were flying to Russia. The Soviet papers carried no official communiqué on the subject. A week later, as I was making my usual report to General Shabalin, he asked me: “Do you know why Eisenhower flew to Moscow?”

    “Probably to be a guest of honor at the recent parade,” I answered.

    “We know how to be hospitable,” the general said. “They entertained him with such excellent vodka that he sang songs all night. Arm in arm with Budionny. They always bring out Budionny as an ornament on such occasions.” Apparently that was all the general knew about Eisenhower’s visit to Moscow; but he put his finger to his lips, then wagged it admonitorily.

    Such small incidents clearly revealed the true position of the man who was deputy head of the S. M. A. He was really nothing but an errand-boy, and only by accident knew what was happening ’above’.

    An American officer stepped into Major Kuznetsov’s room. He thrust his cap in the hip pocket of his trousers, then swung his hand up to his uncovered head in salute. After which he introduced himself in the purest of Russian: “John Yablokov, captain of the American Army.”

    Kuznetsov was a very intelligent man, but he was also a humorist and a bit of a wag. He replied to the American with: “Greetings, Ivan Ivanovich! How do you do!”

    The American Ivan Ivanovich seemed to be no greenhorn, and he did not allow the major’s sneering smile to put him out. In fact, it transpired later that John Yablokov was one of those men who are the life and soul of the party. Either to please us or to show that, although American, he was a progressive; he rejoiced our ears with a flood of Russian oaths that would have brought down the Empire State Building. But that was later. At the moment Captain Yablokov had arrived on an official visit to invite General Shabalin to the first organizational conference of the Control Commission Economic Directorate. The general twisted the invitation and the agenda paper (both were in English) between his fingers. Trying not to reveal that English was all Greek to him, he asked: “Well, what’s the news your way?”

    A second American officer who had accompanied Captain Yablokov answered also in Russian: “Our chief, General Draper, has the honor to invite you to a...” He did not seem very well acquainted with the terminology of Red conferences, and was forced to fall back on the wording of the invitation: “... to a meeting, General.”

    Now the general was seated comfortably in the saddle. He did not know English, but he knew the Stalinist terminology thoroughly. He gave the American the sort of look he had given subordinate Party officials in his capacity as secretary of the Sverdlovsk District Party Committee, and explained in a hortatory tone: “We have to work, not attend meetings.”

    That was a standing Stalinist phrase, which all party officials used as a lash. But at this juncture it sounded rather rude. However, the general held to the principle that too much butter can’t spoil any bread, and that Stalin’s words can never be repeated enough.

    I sat in a corner and enjoyed myself immensely. The general would be starting to give the Americans a lecture on party training next. As was his habit in intercourse with foreigners, he observed the unwritten law never to trust one interpreter and always to apply the method of cross-examination, especially when the interpreter belonged to the other camp. While the Americans did their best to explain what they meant by a ’meeting’, I, too, attempted to help. The general never liked being prompted, but he always snorted afterwards: “Why didn’t you say so before?” So I tactfully observed: “It’s not really important, Comrade General. Let them hold their meeting and we’ll work.”

    After we had settled a number of minor questions the Americans went back to their Chevrolet and drove home. Major Kuznetsov remarked: “But they could talk excellent Russian. The one with the little mustache looked like Douglas Fairbanks.” The general pulled him up: “You can see at once what sort of birds they are. That fellow strikes me as Chinese. They’re spies.”

    The general appeared to fathom the true nature of his future colleagues extraordinarily well! A few days later, during a talk, Captain Yablokov informed me quite frankly that he had formerly worked in the American secret service in China. He did not appear to think he was in any way betraying service secrets. If a Soviet officer had mentioned such a fact he would have been committing a serious breach of his duty.

    Some days later we drove to the first meeting of the Control Commission; we went with the firm intention of working and not holding meetings. The Allied Control Commission had taken over the former Palace of Justice in Elshoizstrasse. The conference hall was almost empty; the delegations were only just beginning to assemble. I felt genuinely afraid that I would be exposed to ridicule: we had no interpreter with us, and I didn’t know English too well. When I mentioned this to the general he told me curtly: “You should know!” Another Party slogan, but it didn’t make things any easier for me. Until the meeting was officially opened we relied on German, for all the Allies without exception could speak German more or less well.

    When the general noticed that I was talking to French and English colleagues he barked at me as he passed: “You wait, Major, I’ll cure you of your mock modesty! You and your ’don’t know English’! Now you’re talking away, even to the French, nineteen to the dozen, but you never told me you knew French.” It was hopeless to think of explaining. And the general would probably stick me in a comer to exercise control over the French interpreters too, as he had done with the Americans.

    That, too, was due to the general’s Party experience. It is a common thing in the Soviet Union for specialists and experts to dodge responsible posts. Gifted engineers, or former directors of large trusts and combines, get appointments as ’technical managers’ to some small factory or a cooperative of war-wounded, which employs only five or six workmen. In such positions they are less exposed to the risk of being flung behind the bars as ’saboteurs’, and so they keep quiet about their abilities and their diplomas. The Party officials are aware of this trick, and do their utmost to round up the ’pretenders’. And so even if you try to escape responsibility you’re in the wrong: you’re a ’passive saboteur’.

    I breathed a sigh of relief when I discovered that the American and British delegations had first-class Russian interpreters.

    Another difficult problem for me was my uniform. I looked as though I had covered the entire journey from Stalingrad to Berlin crawling on my belly. My uniform had been washed in all the rivers of Russia and Eastern Europe, the color had faded from it completely; in addition, I was wearing ordinary military boots. Before we drove to the conference General Shabalin gave me a critical look up and down and snarled: “Haven’t you got any shabbier-clothes you can wear?” He knew quite well that I had left my good uniforms in Moscow as an iron reserve.

    Many of us took the view that, after all, the army wasn’t a puppet-show, and in any case children were running about naked at home. One man had a little sister, another a young nephew. Warm clothes or breeches could be made for them out of a uniform, and the kids would be hugely delighted: “Uncle Gregory has fought in this uniform,” the child would say, pointing proudly to the holes left by the pins of orders. I, too, had left several complete outfits in Moscow. In any case I would be getting the so-called ’Foreign Equipment’ when I reached Berlin. Only I had overlooked the possibility that I would have to take part in meetings of the Control Commission before the new equipment arrived.

    As our Administration for Economy developed its organization and activities, more and more men arrived from Moscow to work with us. Usually, deputies of the People’s Commissars for the corresponding Moscow commissariats were appointed heads of the S. M. A. departments, which in practice were functioning as the ministries of the Soviet zone. One and all, these men were old Party officials, specialists in the running of Soviet economic affairs. When they took over their new posts one could hardly avoid laughing: they were pure crusaders of communism.

    In due course we were rejoiced at the sight of the newly appointed head of the Industrial Department, Alexandrov, and his deputy, Smirnov. They both wore squeaking, highlegged boots of Stalin pattern, which its creator had himself long since discarded. Above the boots they had riding breeches of heavy overcoating material, and to crown this rigout they had dark blue military tunics dating from the period of revolutionary communism. At one time such attire was very fashionable among Party officials, from the local chairmen of Machinery-Tractor Stations right up to People’s Commissars, for it was symbolical not only of outward, but of inward devotion to the leader. For a long time now the People’s Commissars had been wearing ordinary European clothes, and one came across antiquated garb chiefly in remote collective farms. I can imagine what sort of impression these scarecrows made on the Germans; they were exact copies of the Hitlerite caricatures of bolsheviks.

    It was not long before these over-zealous Party crusaders them-selves felt that their historical costumes were hardly suited to the changed conditions, and gradually began to adapt themselves to their surroundings. Later still, all the civilian personnel of the S. M. A. were dressed in accordance with the latest European fashions, and even with a touch of elegance. All the leading officials, especially those occupied in the Control Commission, received coupons en-titling them to ’foreign equipment’ corresponding with their position.

    I stood at a window, talking to the head of the French delegation, General Sergent. Our conversation was on quite unimportant subjects, and I prudently tried to keep it concentrated on the weather. Prudence was always advisable; this Frenchman might be a communist at heart, or in all innocence he might repeat our conversation to someone, and in the end it would find its way... I knew too well from my own experience how thoroughly our secret service was informed of all that went on among the Allies.

    When we Soviet officers working in the Control Commission discussed our impressions some time later I realized why we were all cautioned against talking with foreigners. A captain remarked: “All these stories about spies are only in order to make us keep our mouths shut. It’s to prevent our giving away other secrets.” He said no more; we didn’t talk about those secrets even to each other.

    The Control Commission session began punctually at ten o’clock. After settling the details of the agenda relating to the work of the Economic Directorate, the times of meeting, and the rotation of chairmanship, we turned to drawing up the agenda for the next meeting. The head of the American delegation, which was chairman at this first meeting, proposed that the first item on the agenda should be: ’Working out of basic policy for the economic demilitarization of Germany.’

    The Potsdam Conference had ended the previous week; at the conference it had been decided to demilitarize Germany economically, so that restoration of German military power would be impossible, and to draw up a peacetime economic potential for the country. The decision was remitted to the Allied Control Commission to be put into effect.

    The interpreters now translated the chairman’s phrase into Russian as: ’Working out the policy of economic demobilization.’ Another of those borderline cases in linguistics! The English formula had used the word ’policy’. The interpreters translated this literally into the Russian word ’politik1, although the English word had a much wider meaning, and the Russian phrase for ’guiding principles’ would have been a more satisfactory translation.

    At the word ’politick’ General Shabalin sprang up as though stung. “What ’politick’? All the political questions were settled at the Potsdam Conference!”

    The American chairman. General Draper, agreed: “Quite correct, they were. Our task is simply to translate the decision into action, and so we have to lay down the guiding policy...”

    The interpreters, both American and English, again translated with one accord: “... ’Politick’.”

    General Shabalin stuck to his guns: “There must be nothing about politics. That’s all settled. Please don’t try to exert pressure on me.”

    “But it’s got nothing to do with politics,” the interpreters tried to reassure him. “The word is ’policy’.”

    “I see no difference,” the general objected. “I have no intention of revising the Potsdam Conference. We’re here to work, not to hold meetings.”

    That was the beginning of the first hour-long battle round the oval table. Solely and simply over the awkward word ’policy’, which General Shabalin was not prepared to see in the agenda or in the minutes of the meeting.

    It was often said in the economic spheres of the S. M. A. headquarters that the Kremlin regarded the decisions of the Potsdam Conference as a great victory for Soviet diplomacy. The Moscow instructions emphasized this aspect at every opportunity. At the Potsdam Conference the Soviet diplomats won concessions from the Western Allies to an extent that the diplomats themselves had not expected. Perhaps this was due to the intoxication of victory and an honorable desire to recompense Russia for her heroic exertions and incredible sacrifices. And perhaps it was due to the circumstance that two new Allied representatives took part in the conference, and that President Truman and Mr. Attlee had not yet got to the bottom of the methods of Soviet diplomacy.

    The Potsdam Agreement practically gave the Soviet Union the right of disposal of Germany. Its terms were expressed in very subtle language, and they were open to various constructions later on, whenever it seemed desirable. The task of the S. M. A. now was to extract full value from the advantages won by Soviet diplomacy. “Nothing of politick!” General Shabalin defended himself like a bear threatened with a javelin. And in all probability he was thinking: ’Do you want to send me to Siberia?’ Once more the old reaction of even the highest of Soviet officials, not to do anything on their own responsibility and risk. One reason why all decisions is made from above.

    Subsequently I myself saw that the American or the British delegation could change its decisions in the actual course of negotiations. But the Soviet delegation always came and went with previously formulated decisions, or else with red questionmarks on the appropriate document, which the general kept in a red document-case always under his hand. At the Control Council he acted more like a messenger than an active partner. A question that arose in the course of discussion was never decided the same day, it was only discussed.

    Then the general would return to his office and make direct telephonic contact that night with Moscow. Usually Mikoyan, a member of the Politburo and plenipotentiary extraordinary for Germany under the Ministerial Council of the U. S. S. R., was at the Moscow end of the line. He was in effect the Kremlin’s viceroy for Germany. And during those telephone conversations the decisions were taken, or rather the orders were issued, on which the Allied delegations later broke their teeth.

    Even at that first meeting with the Allies one could not help noticing a great difference between them and us. They welcomed us as joint victors and sincere allies in war and peace. Each of their delegations approached questions from the national aspect. And they considered that there could be no conflict of national interests or antagonisms among us victor powers, neither then nor in the immediate future. They assumed that this was a simple fact that must be as clear to us as it was to them.

    We, on the other hand, regarded the ’Allies’ as the opposing party, as enemies with whom we had to sit at the one table only for tactical reasons. We decided questions from the ideological aspect. The Allies believed that Marx and Lenin were dead. But now the shades of these two men stood behind us in the Control Commission conference hall. The Allies could not understand that? So much the worse for them!

    Generally speaking, the members of the delegations not only represented their state interests, but were also unusually typical representatives of their respective nations. Of course this doesn’t mean that Dimitry Shabalin smoked the coarse Russian Mahorka tobacco or that William Draper chewed gum. Not, at any rate, during the sessions.

    The American delegation was headed by the American director in the Economic Directorate, General William Draper: a thin, athletic figure, with angular, swarthy features-a lively and energetic man. When he laughed, he revealed the spotless white of strong, wolfish teeth beneath his black mustache. Better not put your finger between those teeth! He set the tone at the sessions, even when he was not in the chair. He had an abundance of the healthy energy peculiar to young, self-confident nations. I don’t know how many millions General Draper really had in his pocket, I know only that General Shabalin remarked more than once: “Ah! A millionaire! A shark!” It would have been interesting to know what he based his remark on: his communist beliefs or the reports of our secret service.

    The head of the British delegation and the British director of the Economic Directorate were Sir Percy Mills. A typical Briton. He gave off the smell of fog and Trafalgar Square. He wore a military uniform of thick cloth, with no insignia of rank. From the way everybody deferred to his opinion it was obvious that he was a recognized authority in the economic field. According to General Shabalin he was a director of the large British firm of Metro-Vickers. He was painfully clean-shaven; if he ever thought it necessary to smile, only the folds around his mouth came into action, while his eyes remained fixed on his documents and his ears listened closely to his numerous advisers.

    In the person of Sir Percy Mills, Great Britain worked hard, but always paid attention to the voice of its young ally and victorious rival, America.

    At the conference table of the Control Commission the historical changes that had occurred in the world influence of the various great powers were very perceptible. Great Britain had played out her role, and now, with a pride born of self-confidence, was surrendering her place to the younger and stronger. As befitted a gentleman!

    France was the reflection of all the greatness to be found in European culture. But only the reflection. Her representatives were the successors to Bonaparte and Voltaire, the contemporaries of Pierre Petain and Jean-Paul Sartre. Existentialism. How to keep one’s head above water. The French director of the Economic Directorate, General Sergent, had nothing better to do than to maneuver as tactfully as possible, and not agree too completely with the West, nor be too much in opposition to the East.

    The great Eastern Ally was represented by General Shabalin, a man who had a mortal terror of the word ’politick’, and by Major Klimov, who simultaneously performed the duties of secretary, interpreter, and general adviser. The Soviet side could have been represented just as successfully by one man to act as a postman. However, in those days I still naively believed that something was really being decided in those meetings. And, although we were armed to the teeth with communist theory, I felt really uncomfortable when I noted the large size of the other delegations and the sort of men who composed them.

    ’Nothing new in the West.’ The Allies, as one man, clung to the word ’policy’, while for three hours General Shabalin repeated: “Nothing of politick... At the Potsdam Conference....” In confirmation of his views he took a newspaper from his document-case and pointed to a passage underlined in red. Then his fellow-members in the commission also brought out newspapers and began to compare the texts. Truly, it was very interesting to take part in one session of the Control Commission; it was more interesting than the operetta. But to take part in them week after week was dangerous: one might easily have a nervous breakdown. Half a day spent in fighting over one word in the agenda for the next meeting!

    The members of the other delegations looked more and more frequently at their watches. The Western European stomach is used to punctuality. At last even General Shabalin lost his patience and he officially demanded: “What is it you really want to do to me: violate me? Yes?” The interpreters wondered whether they had heard aright, and asked irresolutely, not knowing whether to regard his remark as a joke: “Are we to translate that literally?”

    “Of course, literally,” the general obstinately replied.

    Sir Percy Mills tried to indicate that he found it highly amusing, and twisted his lips into a smile. The chairman for the session, General Draper, rose and said: “I propose that we adjourn the meeting. Let’s go and have some eats.” It was difficult to tell whether he really was hungry or whether he was fed up with Soviet diplomacy. Everybody breathed more easily, and the sitting ended.

    We departed as victors. We had won a whole week. The same night General Shabalin would be able to ask Comrade Mikoyan whether the word ’politick’ could be included on the agenda or not.

    While we were holding our meeting, the Special Committee for Dismantling, and the Reparations Department, with General Zorin at its head, was hard at work. The Allies would be faced with an accomplished fact. Okay! In the last resort each defends his own interests.

    The Control Commission gave me my first opportunity to get to know our Western Allies personally. During the war I had come across, or rather seen, many Americans and British in Gorky, and later in Moscow. But I had then had no official excuse for personal contact with them, and without the special permission of the Commissariat for Internal Affairs even the most harmless acquaintance, even a conversation with a foreigner, is sheer lunacy in the Soviet True, there is no open interdiction, but every Soviet citizen knows exactly what unfortunate consequences are entailed by such thoughtless behavior. Give a foreigner a light for his cigarette in the street and you are hauled immediately before the Ministry for Internal Affairs and subjected to strict interrogation. That, at the best. At the worst, one disappears into a Minvnudel camp, for ’spying’, and thus one helps to fill out the labor reserve.

    To stop all contact between Soviet people and foreigners, the Kremlin spreads the story that all foreigners are spies. So anybody who has any contact with a foreigner is also a spy. It’s as simple as that.

    One of the Soviet government’s greatest achievements has been to raise lawlessness to a law, with all the paralyzing fear of ’authority’ that follows from it. Every individual lives in a state of anxiety. The Kremlin exploits this mood as a highly effective means of training and guiding the masses. Not even the members of the Politburo are free from it.

    Once, after one of the usual fruitless debates in the Control Commission, Sir Percy Mills proposed that we adjourn, and then invited the members of the other delegations to lunch with him.

    General Shabalin went and rode with his British colleague. I had received no instructions whatever so I got into the general’s seat in our car and ordered Misha to drive immediately behind the one in which our chief was traveling. I entered Sir Percy’s house with decidedly mixed feelings. All the guests left their hats and document-cases on a small table or on the hallstand. The maid-servant took my cap from me, and held out her hand to take my document-case. I was at a loss to know what to do; it was the general’s red case that I was carrying. It had nothing of importance in it: just the minutes of the last sitting, which on this occasion had been sent to us by the British. I couldn’t leave the case in the car, but to leave it on the hall table with the others would have been a crime against the State. Yet to take it with me looked rather silly.

    General Shabalin himself rescued me from my awkward situation. He came across to me and said quietly:

    “What are you doing here. Major? Go and wait for me in the car.”

    I felt relieved, went out, got into our car, and lit a cigarette. A few minutes later a British captain, Sir Percy Mills’ adjutant, came to the door and invited me in again. I tried to get out of it by saying I wasn’t hungry, but he stared at me in such bewilderment that there was nothing to be done but follow him. As I entered the hall where the guests were waiting the general gave me a sidelong look, but said nothing. Later it transpired that our host had asked his permission to send the adjutant for me. The British are justly famous as the most tactful people in the world.

    I gave the document-case to the general. Of all the idiotic possibilities that seemed the most harmless. Let him feel a fool!

    I stood at a great Venetian window looking out on to the garden, and talked to Brigadier Bader. The brigadier was a real colonial wolf. Sandy, sunbleached hair and eyebrows, gray, lively eyes behind bleached eyelashes, a complexion dry with the tropical sun. According to General Shabalin’s amiable description he was nothing less than one of the cleverest of international spies. And now I had the honor of chatting with this distinguished person. We talked in a mixture of English and German.

    “How do you like being in Germany?” he asked.

    “Oh, not bad!” I answered.

    “Everything’s kaput,” he went on.

    “Oh yes, ganz kaput,” I agreed.

    After disposing of German problems we turned to others. The summer of 1945 was unusually hot, and I asked:

    “After the English climate, don’t you find it very hot here?”

    “Oh no, I’m used to the heat,” he smiled. “I’ve spent many years in the colonies, in Africa and India.”

    I carefully avoided addressing my companion directly. What form of address was I to use? ’Herr’? That was rather awkward. To our ears ’mister’ sounds contemptuous. ’Comrade’? No, for the time being I kept off that word.

    Just then I noticed General Shabalin’s eyes fixed on me. In all probability my chief was afraid the brigadier was already enrolling me as his agent. At that very moment a maid came up to us with a tray. Bader took one of the small glasses of colorless fluid, raised it to eye-level, and invited me to help myself. I put the glass to my lips, then set it down on the windowsill. While the brigadier had his eyes turned away for a second I threw the whisky out of the window. Stupid, I know, but it was the only thing to be done. And the worst of it was that the general would never believe I had performed such a patriotic act. Whether flung down my throat or out of the window, that whisky would be put to the debit side of my personal account.

    An air of open cordiality and hospitality reigned in the room where we were waiting for Sir Percy Mills to take us to lunch. This inter-national assembly felt no constraint in face of that variety of uniforms and babel of tongues. Only the Soviet delegate Kurmashev, head of the S. M. A. Fuel and Power Department, sat alone in his easy chair, one leg crossed over the other, and apparently suffering torments. He felt more uncomfortable than a missionary among cannibals; he wiped the sweat from his forehead and looked again and again at the clock. When we were invited to the dining room he clearly heaved a sigh of relief. I am sure he would have been only too glad to talk to his neighbor, even if he had had to resort to sign language; he would have been delighted to laugh and toss off a couple of whiskies. But he was not a man like other men. He was the representative, and the slave, of communist philosophy.

    At table General Shabalin sat on the right hand of his host, who conversed with him through an interpreter. His uniform gave him confidence and certainly more sureness than was possessed by Kurmashev, who was a civilian. But in his civilian clothes Kurmashev tried to show that he was completely indifferent to all that went on around him, and tackled his food with the utmost ferocity. It was no easy task to fill your mouth so full that you couldn’t talk with your neighbors.

    My chief smiled formally and forced out a laugh at Sir Percy’s jokes. But for his part he made no attempt to keep the conversation going. No wonder the British think it difficult to talk to Russians not only at the conference, but even at the dining table. At one time we contemptuously called the English narrow-minded; now the boot is on the other foot.

    I was sitting at the far end of the table, between Brigadier Bader and the British adjutant. As I chanced to look up from my plate I met General Shabalin’s eyes gazing at me keenly. The longer the lunch continued the more the general eased his bolshevik armor plate, and finally he went so far as to propose a toast to our host. But meanwhile he gave me frequent interrogative glances.

    Of course I knew the general was in duty bound to keep an eye on me. But I noticed that he was not so much watching me as attempting to decide whether I was watching him. He was firmly convinced that I had been set to watch over him. Kurmashev was afraid of the general, the general was on his guard against me, and I distrusted myself. The higher one climbs in the Soviet hierarchy, the more one is gripped by this constant fear and distrust.

    And the one who suffers most of all from this remarkable system is its creator. When one observed how Soviet higher officials suffered from fear and distrusts one lost all desire to make a Soviet career. General Shabalin had been unquestionably a much happier man when he was minding sheep or tilling the soil.

    After lunch we all gathered again in the hall. Brigadier Bader offered me a thick cigar with a gold band, and wrapped in cellophane. I turned it over curiously in my fingers. A real Havana! Hitherto I had known them only from caricatures, in which millionaires always had them stuck between their teeth. With the air of an experienced cigar-smoker I tried to bite off the tip, but that damned cigar was tough. I got a mouthful of bitter leaf, and to make matters worse I couldn’t spit it out.

    “How did you like the food?” the brigadier asked genially.

    “Oh, very good!” I answered as genially, carefully blowing the bluish smoke through my nose.

    At that moment General Shabalin beckoned to me. I asked the brigadier’s pardon, prudently stuck the cigar in a flowerpot, and followed my chief. We went out into the garden, as though we wanted a breath of fresh air.

    “What have you been talking about with that...?” the general muttered, avoiding mention of any name.

    “About the weather, Comrade General.”

    “Hm... hm....” Shabalin rubbed his nose with the knuckle of his forefinger, a trick of his during conversations of a semi-official nature. Then he unexpectedly changed his tone:

    “I think there’s nothing more for you to do here. Take a day off. Have my car and go for a drive through Berlin. Take a look at the girls....”

    He made a very frivolous remark, and smiled forcibly. I listened closely as I walked with him about the garden. What did all this condescension and thought for me mean?

    “Call up Kuznetsov this evening and tell him I shall go straight home,” was the general’s final word as he went up the verandah steps.

    So he had no intention of returning to the office today. There all the ordinary routine was waiting for him, to keep him as a rule till three in the morning. That was not compulsory, it was his duty as a bolshevik. He must be around in case the ’master’ called him up in the middle of the night. But now, after a very good lunch and a few glasses of wine, he felt the need to be a man like other men for a few hours at least. The comfort of the villa and the open cordiality of the company had had its effect even on the old Party wolf. Just for once he felt impelled to throw off the mask of an iron bolshevik, to laugh aloud and smack his colleagues on the shoulders, to be a man, not a Party ticket. And he thought of me as the eye and ear of the Party. So he was dismissing me on the pretext of being kind to me.

    I returned to the house, picked up my cap as unobtrusively as possible, and went out. Misha was dozing at the wheel.

    “Ah, Comrade Major!” He gave a deep sigh as I opened the door. “After a lunch like that, what man wouldn’t like to stretch himself out on the grass and sleep for an hour or two!”

    “Why, have you had some lunch too?” I asked in surprise.

    “What do you think! I’ve eaten like a prince.”


    “Why, here. A special table was laid for us. Like in the fairy story. And do you know what, Comrade Major?” He looked sidelong at me, with all the air of a conspirator. “Even our general doesn’t have such good grub as I’ve had today.”

    After seeing Sir Percy Mills’ house, I could not help comparing it with General Shabalin’s flat. In the Control Commission the habit developed for the directors to take turns in inviting their colleagues home. The first time it was Shabalin’s turn to issue the invitations he ignored the habit, as though he had forgotten it. The real reason was that he had no place to which he could invite the foreigners.

    Of course he could have requisitioned and furnished a house in conformity with his rank. But he could not bring himself to do this on his own responsibility, while the head of the Administrative Department, General Devidov, simply would not do it for him, since under the army regulations such luxury was incompatible with the position of Soviet generals. The authorities had got to the point of providing special ’foreign equipment’, but nobody had yet thought of suitable residences. Shabalin had exchanged his small house for a five-roomed apartment in the house where most of the workers in the Administration for Economy were accommodated. Nikolai, his orderly, and Misha, the chauffeur, had collected furniture and all sorts of lumber from all over the district for the apartment, but it looked more like a thieves’ kitchen than a general’s home. It was impossible to receive foreign guests there: even Shabalin was conscious of that.

    Once more, the contradiction between bolshevik theory and bolshevik practice. The Kremlin aristocracy had long since discarded the proletarian morals they still preached, and lived in a luxury that not every capitalist could afford. They could do so without embarrassment because their personal lives were secured from the people’s eyes by several walls. The smaller leaders tended to follow the same course. The Party aristocracy, men like Shabalin, lived a double life; in words they were ideal bolsheviks, but in reality they trampled on the ideals they themselves preached. It was not easy to reconcile these two things. It all had to be done secretly, prudently, one had continually to be on guard. Here in Germany there was no Kremlin and no area forbidden to the public, here everything was comparatively open. And supposing the lords of the Kremlin started to shout!

    At first General Shabalin had taken his meals in the canteen of the Soviet Military Council-in other words, in the generals’ casino. But now Dusia, his illegal maidservant, was taking the car to the canteen three times a day and bringing the food home. Yet even in such circumstances the general could not invite any guests to his apartment, and visitors, especially foreigners, were not allowed in the canteen.

    Even here, in occupied Germany, where we were not restricted by problems of living space or rationing, and where we could literally pick up everything we liked, even here we kept to our Soviet way of life.

    A little later the S. M. A. staff accommodated itself to circumstances and solved the problem in the old Potiomkin fashion. (Prince Gregory Potiomkin, favorite of Empress Catharine, who organized show-places and even ’model villages’ to impress the Empress. - Tr.). A special club was set up, in which the leading officials of the S. M. A. could hold receptions for their western colleagues. In each separate case an exact list of the proposed guests had to be sent in advance to the S. M. A. liaison service, to be carefully checked by the Narcomvnudel, and to be countersigned by the S. M. A. chief of staff". Of course such a simple form of invitation as that of Sir Percy Mills-"come and have lunch with me, gentlemen", and including even the chauffeurs-was quite impossible in such circumstances.

    During those early meetings with the Western Allies I was seriously afraid that I would be asked too many questions that I could not, or rather that I dared not, answer. But the longer I worked in the Control Commission the less was I able to understand their behavior. The representatives of the democratic world not only made no attempt to ask us political questions, as I had thought was simply bound to happen when representatives of completely opposed state systems came together, but they displayed a perfectly in-comprehensible indifference to the subject.

    At first I thought this was out of tactfulness. But then I felt sure it must be due to something else. The average western man was far less interested in politics and all that goes with it than the average Soviet man. The men of the West were much more interested in the number of bottles of champagne that had been drunk at a diplomatic reception in the Kremlin, and in the evening gown Madame Molotov had worn on the occasion. This was in the best case, but usually they confined their interests to sport and the beautiful girls on the covers of magazines. To any man living in normal conditions this seemed perfectly natural. If the Soviet men could have chosen they would have done the same.

    At that stage the West had no idea of the extraordinary dichotomy of Soviet existence. In thirty years we have changed fundamentally, to a certain extent we are Sovietized. But while becoming Sovietized we have simultaneously become immunized against communism. The West has no suspicion of this. It is with good reason that the Politburo has begun to underpin the Soviet edifice with the old national foundations, which proved themselves so well during the war. After the war the process of giving the rotting state organism a blood transfusion was continued. The method will doubtless meet with success for a time; it will confuse some and arouse illusory hopes in others. But the Kremlin’s plans will not be modified to any extent.

    A small but characteristic example: in occupied Germany all the Russian soldiers and officers suddenly began to use the word ’Rossiia’-’Russia’. The movement was quite spontaneous. Some-times out of habit one would let ’U. S. S. R.’ slip out; but it was corrected to ’Rossiia’ at once. We ourselves were surprised at this fact, but it was so. Yet for twenty-five years anyone who used the word ’Rossiia’ was liable to be accused of chauvinism, and quite possibly to be charged under the corresponding article of the Narcomvnudel code. One could not help noticing this seemingly small detail when one found the word ’Rossiia’ coming to every soldier’s lips.

    Unconsciously he was emphasizing the difference between the concepts ’Soviet’ and ’Russian’. As though in spite, the foreign press confused these concepts. What we ourselves couldn’t stand they called ’Russian’; all that was dear and precious to us they described as ’Soviet’. The Soviet people neither wish to nor do they need to teach foreigners their political ABC. Why risk one’s head simply to satisfy a stranger’s idle curiosity?

    How constrained Soviet people feel in intercourse with ’foreigners’ is shown by the following incident.

    One day, during an interval in the sittings of the Control Commission, several members of various delegations were discussing what they would like to do on the following Sunday. Kozlov, the chairman of the Soviet delegation in the Industrial Committee, let slip the unwise admission that he was going hunting with a group of colleagues. Kozlov’s foreign colleagues were enthusiastic at the idea of spending a Sunday all together, and said they would gladly join the party. Kozlov had to behave as though he were delighted beyond measure.

    On the Sunday the hunters set out in several cars. During the journey the Soviet members of the party racked their brains over the problem of how to give their Allies the slip. But the need to show some courtesy, plus the excellence of the western cars, gave Kozlov no chance of getting away from his unwanted friends. At the rendezvous the Allies got out and lay about on the grass, with the idea of having a little snack and a little chat. To avoid this, Kozlov and the other Russians slipped off through the bushes, and wandered about the forest all day, cursing Fate for pushing such politically unreliable companions on to them.

    In order to secure himself against the possibility of being reprimanded, Kozlov spent all the following week cursing and swearing to other members of the Administration for Economy about his bad luck, and carefully emphasizing his own ’vigilant* conduct. We could not enter freely into intercourse with the West. But what was the West doing to obtain information on Soviet problems?

    I had several opportunities of observing how the West obtained knowledge of Soviet Russia from ’reliable and competent’ sources. Those sources were usually journalists. The American and British journalists went to great trouble to get together with their Soviet colleagues, for they were convinced that these colleagues could and would answer their questions exhaustively and truthfully. Naive fellows! One can no more expect truth from a Soviet journalist than chastity from a prostitute.

    The American journalists in Berlin tried hard to get together with their Soviet brothers, free of constraint. But the Soviet journalists did their best to avoid any such meeting. Finally it had to be arranged: they had to invite the foreigners to their Press Club. It was at least a step forward that the Americans took the opportunity to ask questions which even the very adroit Soviet journalists could not easily answer. All they could do was keep their mouths shut. It was also very good that the Americans gradually realized the true meaning of ’Narcomvnudel’; they thought their Soviet colleagues were victims of the Narcomvnudel and were ringed about with spies, and that a dictaphone was built into every desk. Of course it would have been even more sound to assume that their hosts were themselves Narcomvnudel agents. My experiences in the college had taught me that all the Soviet Union’s foreign correspondents were coworkers of that organization.

    The Americans took their Soviet colleagues’ silent reserve as indicating their anxiety. This was pretty near, but not quite, the truth. Once the Americans even raised the subject of the ’Soul of the Soviet Man’, but they made the mistake of discussing the soul as such. The Soviet soul is a function of the Soviet reality; it cannot be analyzed in isolation from its milieu.

    Our work in the Control Commission was very instructive. From the very first sittings I realized that the widely held view that a diplomat’s life is easy and carefree was false. In reality it is a devilishly hard, or rather a tedious, occupation. One needs to have the hide of a hippopotamus, the sensitiveness of an antelope, nerves of manila rope and the endurance of a hunter. An English saying has it that it is the highest achievement of good manners to be bored to death without showing it. Now General Shabalin gave his colleagues extensive opportunities to demonstrate the truth of this remark. It was astonishing to see how earnestly earnest people could struggle for hours and days on end with an insoluble problem before they would admit that it was insoluble!

    In selecting their diplomats the British act on the principle that the least suitable of all candidates is one who is energetic and stupid; one who is energetic and clever is not very suitable, and the most suitable of all is a man who is clever and passive. The British prefer to be slow in drawing the right conclusion, and they fear nothing more than precipitate unsound decisions.

    This same rule applies to Soviet diplomats, only in reverse. The ideal Soviet diplomat must be exceptionally energetic and exception-ally stupid. He needs no intelligence, as he may not take any independent decisions in any case. On the other hand, energy is a quality needed by every commercial traveler, whether it is razor blades he is trying to sell, or his master’s policy. General Shabalin was an out-standing example of this type of Soviet diplomat. For that matter, all Soviet diplomats are distinguished by their enormous activity. The Kremlin can be charged with anything rather than passivity.

    Our first encounters in the Control Commission were quite educative. Despite my skeptical attitude to the policy of the western powers, I could not help reaching the conviction that they were genuinely anxious to work together with us for the solution of post-war problems. The creation of the United Nations Organization testified to the western democracies’ desire to secure peace to the world.

    Outwardly, we, too, gave out that we were interested in the same thing and wanted to take the same road. But the very first practical measures proposed indicated that the opposite was the truth. Our readiness for collaboration on the problem of world peace was nothing but a tactical maneuver with the object of maintaining the democratic mask, winning time for the reorganization of our forces, and exploiting the democratic platforms in order to sabotage world public opinion. The very first sittings of the Control Commission opened my eyes to all this.

    I recalled Anna Petrovna’s remark, which had so astounded me, when I was in Moscow. From her words I could only deduce that the Kremlin was thinking of active operations for the Soviet fighting forces in the post-war period. Yet it seemed absurd to think of any kind of war plans when we had only just ended terrible battles, and all the world wished for nothing more urgently and passionately than peace. Now, after those first sittings of the Control Commission it was clear, to me at least, who was neither diplomat nor politician, which the Kremlin had not the slightest desire to collaborate with the democratic West.

    The representatives of the western democracies racked their brains to find an explanation for their eastern ally’s extraordinary conduct. They sought persistently for a modus vivendi with the Kremlin. They sought a key to the enigma of the soul of the East, they turned over the pages of the historical tomes; but it never occurred to them to study the million-copy editions of Lenin’s and Stalin’s works. They attached too much importance to the dissolution of the Comintern. They are not acquainted with the winged words by which the Soviet leaders justify their every deviation from the Party general line: “A temporary deviation is completely justified if it is necessary for reorganization and the accumulation of new strength for the next advance.” The inflexible general line can wind like an adder.

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

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 06

    Occupation Authorities at Work

    “Go and wait for me in the auto,” the general told me when I reported to him one day. He had a habit of not revealing where we were going. We might be visiting the Control Commission, or we might be going to the flying-ground to fly to Moscow or Paris. Either he considered that his subordinates should guess his thoughts, or he kept the route secret, in the manner of prominent personages, to prevent attempts on his life.

    His secrecy did not prevent his grumbling at his fellow travelers for not making preparations for the journey and arming themselves with the requisite materials, or even for traveling with him at all. Before the war he had been the first secretary of the Party District Committee in Sverdlovsk. During the war he was a member of the War Council and commander of the rear behind the Volkhov front-line army group; he was the Party’s eyes and ears in the army organization. These Party generals never directly intervened in the planning or execution of military operations, but no order was valid until they had countersigned it.

    I found Major Kuznetsov sitting in the auto. “Where are we going?” I asked.

    “Somewhere or other,” the adjutant replied unconcernedly. He was used to the general’s ways and did not worry his head about the object of the journey.

    We took the autobahn and drove to Dresden, where we drew up outside the Luisenhof. Innumerable red-pennoned automobiles surrounded it. On the steps of the hotel a group of generals was standing among them the double hero of the Soviet Union, Colonel-General of the Tank Army and military governor of Saxony, Bogdanov. These generals were the various military commanders of Saxony, and they had been summoned to Dresden to report to the high command of the S. M. A. Dresden and Berlin. The S. M. A. had received a mass of complaints and accusations concerning the activities of the local commandaturas. The various military commanders had received no instructions whatever after the capitulation and each was pursuing whatever policy he thought fit. The majority of them were half-educated men who had come to the forefront during the war, and they were completely unfitted for the tasks arising from peacetime occupation.

    Before General Shabalin went off with General Bogdanov to have a consultation prior to the conference he whispered something into his adjutant’s ear. Major Kuznetsov turned away and took me with him. “Come and help me look for an automobile,” he said.

    “What sort of automobile?” I asked in surprise.

    “One for the general,” he said briefly. “You’ll see how it’s done.”

    With the air of people objectively interested in car models we walked along the row of cars in which the commandants of the Saxony towns had come to the conference. As soon as a commander took over a city after the capitulation, thus becoming its absolute ruler, his first concern had been to requisition the finest car available. So now we were attending an exhibition of the finest models of the German automobile industry, from the rather conservative Maybach to the most modern creations of Mercedes-Benz. The new owners were already gone to the hotel, leaving the drivers, ordinary soldiers, in the cars.

    Major Kuznetsov made a leisurely examination of the various cars, kicking the tires with his toe, testing the springs, and even looking at the speedometers to see what mileage had been covered. Finally his choice fell on a Horch cabriolet.

    “Whose car is this?” he asked the soldier lolling comfortably behind the wheel.

    “Lieutenant-Colonel Zakharov’s,” the soldier answered in a tone suggesting that the name was world-famous.

    “Not a bad little bus,” Kuznetsov decided. He ran his fingers over the buttons of the instrument panel, took another look at the car, and said: “Tell your lieutenant-colonel he’s to send this car to Karlshorst, for General Shabalin.”

    The man gave the major a sidelong glance, but only asked distrustfully: “And who is General Shabalin?”

    “After the conference your lieutenant-colonel will know exactly who he is,” Kuznetsov answered. “And report to him that he’s to punish you for not saluting General Shabalin’s adjutant.”

    Looting activities were organized strictly in relation to rank and merit. The ordinary soldiers acquired watches and other small items. Junior officers picked up accordions; senior officers... The classification was complicated, but it was closely observed. If fate put a lieutenant in the way of acquiring a double-barreled sporting gun of the Derringer mark, it was no use his hoping to keep it. It was better for him to relinquish it voluntarily rather than have it taken from him. Sooner or later it would find its way into a major’s possession. But it would not remain with him long, unless it was well concealed. This general principle was applied with particular severity to cars. You couldn’t hide a car.

    The Saxony commandants had lost their sense of proportion through their exercise of local plenipotentiary powers and had committed a tactical error in bringing such a large number of attractive cars to their superiors’ notice. They paid for this by losing half the cars that were parked outside the hotel. When a second conference was held some months later many of the commandants arrived almost in carts. Of course they had got hold of quite good cars again by then, but they had left them behind.

    Some three hundred officers, ranking from major upward, were assembled for the conference. They included several generals, the commandants of Dresden, Leipzig and other large cities, who also were to take part in the exchange of experiences. The heads of the Dresden S. M. A. were seated at the presidium table, which was covered with red cloth. General Shabalin sat with them as the representative of the S. M. A. supreme authorities at Karlshorst.

    General Bogdanov opened the conference by stating that certain things had come to the ears of the S. M. A. which suggested that the commandaturas had a warped idea of their tasks. He called on the officers present to ’exchange their experiences’ and to submit the defects in the commandaturas’ work to pitiless criticism. He gave it to be understood that the S. M. A. was much better informed than they realized. So it would be better to discuss these defects themselves rather than wait for the S. M. A. to attack. In other words, if any one of them felt guilty he should expose as many of his neighbors’ sins as possible in order to obscure his own.

    A lieutenant-colonel was the first to speak: “Of course there are certain defects in the work of the commandaturas, but they’re chiefly due to the lack of control from above. The military commandaturas are left to their own devices, and that leads to....” The officer who had undertaken the task of self-castigation began very uncertainly and looked round at his comrades as though seeking their support. But they all had their eyes fixed attentively on their toecaps. General Bogdanov tapped his pencil expectantly on the table. The lieutenant-colonel went on: “Many commandants are losing sight of their duty; some of them have been demoralized and bourgeoisified. So far as they’re concerned the moral cleanliness of the Soviet officers is... er... er...” He felt that he had flown too high, and resolved to bring the question down to earth. “Take Major So-and-so, head of the commandatura in the town of X, for example....”

    “No pseudonyms, please,” General Bogdanov interrupted. “We’re all friends here.”

    “Well then, take Major Astafiev, for example,” the lieutenant-colonel corrected himself. “Since his appointment as commandant of the town of X it’s notorious that he’s gone to pieces. A little way outside the town there’s a castle, formerly belonging to a prince, which he’s made his residence. And there he lives in a style that not even the tsarist courtiers and boyars knew. He keeps more servants in the castle today than its former owners had. Every morning, when Major Astafiev deigns to open his eyes, he hasn’t got the least idea where he is until lie’s drunk half a bucket of pickled-cucumber liquor to clear his head after the previous night’s drinking bout. And then, as befits a real gentleman, the major sticks out his dainty feet and one German woman draws the stocking on to his left foot and another German woman draws on the right. A third stands ready with his silk dressing gown. And he can’t even put on his trousers without help from abroad.”

    There was a ripple of laughter in the hall. The gallant major’s style of living obviously impressed the conference.

    “But these are only the flowers; the fruits are still to come,” the lieutenant-colonel exclaimed. "Major Astafiev has reduced cohabitation with German women to a system. He has a special commando squad whose one task is to scour the district to get hold of women for him. They’re locked up for days in the commandatura cellars before they arrive at the major’s bed.

    “Recently, after one of his regular orgies, the major felt quite a longing for some fish soup. Without thinking twice about it he ordered the sluices of the castle lake to be opened so that the fish could be caught for him. He had a few small fishes for his supper, but many hundredweight of fish perished. Surely, comrades and officers, such behavior must arouse your indignation?”

    His words provoked amusement rather than indignation. Each of the officers recalled similar incidents within his own experience, and shared his impressions with his neighbors.

    “Major Astafiev’s case,” the speaker ended, “is of interest simply because it is typical. The situation is fundamentally the same in commandatura after commandatura. It is our duty to show up and brand such shameful activities, to call the fools to order and make them realize the existence of proletarian legality.”

    The look of amusement vanished from the other officers’ faces; their eyes again studied their boots. With the mention of responsibility and legality the affair had taken an unpleasant turn. The Soviet officers were well acquainted with Soviet law. It is based on the principle of the psychological education of the collective, and so it often resorts to the use of ’scapegoats’ who have to atone for the collective sins. In such cases the law is applied with unusual severity, as a deterrent.

    Soviet law turns a blind eye to peccadilloes. A man is not run in for simply knocking out someone’s tooth or breaking a window. There are more important matters to be attended to; for instance, a man can be given ten years for gleaning socialist ears of corn from the fields, or five years for stealing a piece of socialist sugar in a factory. Teeth and windowpanes are still private property, and so do not merit the protection of socialistic law. The result is that all feeling for legality is lost, and if this process goes too far, steps are taken to find a ’scapegoat’. It is highly unpleasant to be a scapegoat. One can get away with a great deal, only to find one is in danger of death for some really trifling offense. If the higher authorities of the S. M. A. had decided to put salutary measures into force under the pretext of harmless self-criticism, the situation must be pretty bad. And then some of the town commandants would be going before a military tribunal. Who would be the scapegoat? There was a distinct feeling of strain and nervousness in the hall.

    General Bogdanov’s calculation was sound. The lieutenant-colonel’s opening speech, which quite possibly had been arranged in the S. M. A., was followed by a succession of recriminations. The commandants devotedly flung muck at one another, while the secretaries took down every word in shorthand. Finally it came to the generals’ turn; the commandants of Dresden and Leipzig added their say. It was a rare sight to see a general standing like a schoolchild in the center of the hall and making confession of his sins. And if he referred to his general’s epaulettes and tried to justify his conduct a voice shot at him derisively from the presidium: “No mock modesty, General. We’re all friends here.”

    It revealed the mentality of a mass trained in absolute obedience. If the order comes from above to confess their sins, they all confess. Those who cannot boast of past sins confess their future ones. The commandants expose their ’deficiencies’ and swear to be good children in future, and pay attention to papa. For the papa in the Kremlin is always right.

    Someone in the hall rose and addressed the presidium: “May I ask a question, Comrade General? It isn’t quite to the point, but I’d like to have advice.”

    “Well, out with it. What’s troubling you?” Bogdanov said in a friendly tone.

    “My commandatura is right on the Czech frontier,” the speaker began. “Every day a horde of naked people are driven over the frontier into my area. I’ve put them all into cellars for the time being, we can’t have them running about the streets like that, and I’ve nothing I can dress them in.”

    “How do you mean, ’naked’?” General Bogdanov asked.

    “Just naked,” the commandant replied. “Like newborn babes. It’s shameful to see them.”

    “I don’t understand. Where do these naked people come from?”

    “They’re Sudeten Germans from Czechoslovakia. The Czechs first strip them, and then send them across the frontier to me. They tell them: ’You came here naked, and you can go back naked.’ They’re being transferred to Germany under the Potsdam Agreement. It’s a joke for the Czechs, but it’s a headache for me. What am I to dress them in, when my own men are going about in rags?”

    “There’s a bank in my town,” another commandant added his bit. “The bank director and I have inspected the private safes in the strongroom. They contain a large quantity of gold and diamonds, a real mountain of valuables. I’ve ordered it all to be sealed up. But what am I to do with it?”

    It was characteristic that not one of the commandants complained of difficulties with the German population. They had no diversionist activities to report, or unrest. Their own men gave them much more trouble.

    “The occupation machinery must be in control of the tasks set by our occupation policy,” General Bogdanov told the assembly. “We must maintain the prestige of our army and our country in the eyes of the people of the occupied country. The commandaturas are the lowest link in our contacts with the German population.”

    After the conference there was a banquet for all who had been present. Major Kuznetsov, an officer of the S. M. A. Dresden, and I had a table in a window niche. The commandants had recovered a little from the unpleasant experiences of the conference and were trying to restore their lost self-confidence by relating their heroic deeds of wartime. In this they had much assistance from the unlimited amount of drink available. The officer of the Dresden S. M. A. looked round the hall and remarked to me:

    “This reminds me of the Moscow Underground. The Under-ground’s wonderful, but the people using it don’t match it. Marble all round you, and hunger clothed in rags.”

    I asked Major Kuznetsov, whom because of his position, as adjutant was familiar with the general procedure: “What do you think will happen to Major Astafiev and the others who have been censured?”

    “Nothing!” he answered with a smile. “In the worst case, they’ll be transferred to other commandaturas. Even professional rogues are needed. Besides, these dolts are genuinely devoted to the Party, and to such men much is forgiven.”

    I was surprised to hear the major and the other officer expressing their opinions so frankly. But the frankness was due to the remark-able atmosphere that prevailed in the Party and all over the Soviet Union after the war. Everybody had the feeling that they had won their freedom, they had come out victorious. The feeling was general, but it was strengthened in those who had contacts with the west and could observe the striking contrasts between the two worlds.

    During our stay in Dresden General Shabalin was a guest of General Dubrovsky, head of the Administration for Economy of S. M. A. Saxony. Dubrovsky’s villa had formerly been the residence of some big German businessman. It had a beautiful garden, and after the conference Major Kuznetsov and I walked about the garden for a time. While we were out there Misha, the general’s chauffeur, brought us an order that we were to go at once to General Dubrovsky’s room.

    There we found a rather different kind of meeting in progress. The two Soviet generals were sitting on one side of the desk, and opposite them were the German city fathers, the head of the German administration for Saxony, and the burgomaster of Dresden. The burgomaster spoke perfect Russian, and until recently he had been a lieutenant-colonel in the Red Army. They were discussing Saxony’s economic tasks under the occupation regime. This subject was disposed of with amazing ease. The burgomaster was not only an obedient executive, but also a valuable adviser as to local conditions. We made no orders or demands; the burgomaster recommended efficacious measures, and we confirmed them.

    Only once did the burgomaster clearly reveal any consciousness of his German origin. When the great shortage of pitprops came up for discussion General Shabalin proposed:

    “There’s plenty of forest around here, cut it down.”

    The burgomaster, the former lieutenant-colonel in the Red Army, clapped his hands in horror. “If we cut down the forests, in five years our nourishing land of Saxony will be a desert!” he exclaimed. A compromise decision was come to, to look for other resources, and meanwhile to exploit the local forests.

    The head of the German Saxony administration was only a figurehead; a member of some democratic party, he was a feeble creature, ready to sign any document without looking at it. At his back was our man, a German who yesterday had been wearing Soviet uniform, but today a hundred per cent German, a burgomaster. He shrank from no effort to extract as large an amount of reparations as possible. The ’class-enemy’ had been displaced overnight, the other members of the population were paralyzed with terror, and our people worked under the guise of a ’new democracy’.

    Next day we drove to Halle, the capital of the province of Saxony. Here Shabalin met his old friend General Kotikov, head of the S. M. A. Administration for Economy at Halle. Later, General Kotikov acquired wider fame as the Soviet commandant of Berlin. He was a very pleasant man, and a hospitable host.

    At Halle there were similar conferences to those at Dresden. First an intermezzo with the town commandants, and then General Shabalin checked up on the work of the new democracy. The local German leader had lived for fifteen years in Pokrovsky Street, in Moscow, so he and I were almost neighbors. He was even more assiduous in his task than his colleague at Dresden. General Shabalin had to dampen his ardor as he presented a long list of measures to be taken in the direction of socialization.

    “Not so fast!” Shabalin said. “You must take the special features of the German economy and the transition stage into account. Put your proposals before General Kotikov for consideration.”

    On our way back to Berlin there was an unforeseen delay: one of our rear tires burst. Our driver had neither a spare cover nor a spare inner tube, and not even repair materials. The general raged. Whatever happened he wanted to be in Berlin before nightfall. Apparently he had no great trust in the efficiency of the city commandatura.

    Kuznetsov and I exchanged glances: we would have to do some-thing to get hold of a tier, for in his fear Misha had lost all the powers of invention for which Soviet drivers are renowned. There was only one possibility: we would have to ’organize’ a tier from a passing auto. Nowadays that was an everyday incident on the German country roads. We blocked the road according to all the rules of the military art, held up cars and submitted them to a thorough inspection. We found not one tier to fit our ’Admiral’s’ wheel. To the amazement of the people we held up, they were allowed to continue their journey. Our control post must have been an imposing sight: the general himself stood at our side, displaying his badges of rank.

    After some time a remarkable procession of automobiles came slowly along: several covered lorries, painted in rainbow colors, and plastered with garish playbills. A traveling circus. Only a blackhaired Carmen was lacking to complete the scene. A jeep closed the picturesque column with an American captain at the wheel.

    I tried to discover who was in charge of this show. But while I was wondering what language I would need to use in order to make myself understood, a modern Carmen jumped out of the jeep and addressed us in the genuine washerwoman’s lingo of the Berlin district of Wedding. For a moment Major Kuznetsov and I forgot what we had halted all these lorries for. That flower from Wedding was devilishly beautiful! No wonder the American captain was risking the dangerous journey along the roads of the Soviet zone. For such a woman one would forget all Eisenhower’s and Zhukov’s regulations taken together. We tore ourselves with difficulty from the enchanting view and began to examine the tiers. Finally we came to the jeep.

    “What about the jeep? Will its wheels fit?” Kuznetsov asked Misha.

    “The holes fit. We’ll limp a bit, but they’ll get us home.”

    So the problem was solved. Soon we would have a supplementary delivery on lend-lease account. In any case the jeep had a spare wheel: an unnecessary luxury.

    I told Carmen what we wanted, and pointed to the jeep’s spare wheel. The general mentally recalled the Potsdam agreement and the technique of intimidation. “Ask the American if he has a pass for the Soviet zone. And what he’s driving in these parts for?”

    But both the artist and her patron were glad to get away so cheaply without any psychological pressure: a car wheel in exchange for violating the Potsdam Agreement and a journey through the Soviet zone! I made a note of the captain’s Berlin address, so that we could return the expropriated wheel to its owner. Later I told Misha more than once to do so, but I fear the wheel got transformed into a bottle of vodka and found its way into his stomach. If the American captain should ever chance to read these lines, I express my thanks to him again and my apologies for the incident.

    Night was falling as we approached Berlin. The general grew fidgety and told Misha he was not to drive through the American sector on any account. He was to find a road through Rudow.

    That was easier said than done. Whichever way we turned, we found ourselves on roads running through the American sector, and so in the end we had to pass through it. The general flatly refused to take the normal route along the Potsdamerstrasse, and ordered Misha to wind his way through the southern suburbs until we reached the Soviet sector. Misha only shook his head. To have to travel through Berlin at night in the summer of 1945, and through unknown suburbs, was a difficult task.

    The general was pulling the wool over our eyes. He could not have been seriously afraid of an attempt on our lives or some under-hand design. There was no ban on Allies traveling through one anther’s Berlin sectors at that time. We had no secret documents with us. So, obviously, even on this occasion he was putting across some ideological bluff. Our auto crept slowly through the back streets. From time to time our headlamp picked out the figure of an American sentry. Or rather, figures, for they were always in pairs!

    The gallant soldier blinked angrily in the powerful beam, but his lady-friend quickly got over her alarm and smiled. Needless to say, they had no suspicion that a Soviet general was gazing at them from the darkness of the car. Shabalin snorted; it was all further evidence of the moral degeneration of the American army.

    After long wanderings among the ruins and allotments of the Berlin suburbs, in the light of our headlamp we saw a yellow arrow with the inscription: Karlshorst.

    The first post-war conference of the Big Three was held in Potsdam from 17 July to 2 August; it has gone down in history as the Potsdam Conference.

    In thinking of the Big Three at the Potsdam Conference one is inevitably struck by a gap: the familiar name of President Roosevelt was missing. He had died only a few days before the victory to which he had devoted so much strength and energy. One may find some consolation in the circumstance that he did not have to witness the crumbling of his illusions, on which he had based all his plans for a new ordering of the post-war world.

    During the conference Stalin went with the supreme representatives of the Western Allies on a car-tour of Berlin. One consequence of this trip was an order to the experts of the S. M. A. Air Administration to make a report to Stalin himself on the details of the Allied attacks on the city. The ruins of Berlin spoke more clearly than the newspaper reports and the statistics of bomb tonnage. As one drove through Berlin and saw the endless ruins, one might have thought that someone had shattered the enormous city with an equally enormous hammer. A comparison of the effects of the German air attacks on Moscow with the state of Berlin after the Allied attacks was provocative of thought. It was no casual interest that prompted Stalin to call for a special report.

    While the Big Three were negotiating, the S. M. A. was going on with its work. One of the first Soviet measures to have a radical influence on the internal structure of German economy was Marshal Zhukov’s Order No. 124. In this he decreed the confiscation of the vast wealth of former National Socialists and further, apparently quite incidentally, issued directions that preparations were to be made for the State to take over basic industries and for a plan of land reform to be drawn up. The German authorities were not yet used to Soviet methods, and could not read between the lines.

    Order No. 124 contained no precise figures. It was packed with demagogic phrases and it conferred comprehensive powers on the German authorities. The German ’people’, in the persons of their ’finest representatives’, were themselves to draft the plan and present it to the S. M. A. for consideration and confirmation. Simultaneously with the issue of Order No. 124, General Shabalin was given secret instructions on how it was to be put into force. These instructions laid down the precise nature of the reforms whose formulation was ostensibly to be left to the German autonomous authorities.

    I had more than one opportunity to see how the process of creating a land reform was carried through in General Shabalin’s private office. A solid-looking Maybach auto drove up to the entrance of the Administration, and a colorless individual in civilian clothes got out irresolutely. He was the Landrat, by favor of the S. M. A. the head of a district administration, and one of the ’finest representatives’ of the German people. In the general’s waiting room he stood in a cringing attitude, his coat over his arm, a shabby document-case gripped under his elbow, his hat pressed against his belly as though to defend him against a blow. With an ingratiating smile he cautiously lowered himself into a chair and waited patiently for an audience.

    At last he was summoned into the general’s room. An interpreter explained to Shabalin the Germans’ plan for land reform in the federal State of Saxony.

    “What do they propose as the upper limits of land-holdings this time?” the general asked.

    “One hundred to two hundred morgens, according to the individual case, Comrade General,” the interpreter answered after a glance at the land-reform draft in his hand.

    “Idiots! The third draft and still no good whatever! Tell him we can’t agree to it.”

    The interpreter translated. The Landrat kneaded his document-case helplessly between his hands, and began to explain that the proposed draft had been drawn up to secure the greatest possible economic advantages from the land, in view of the conditions of the State. He tried to explain the specific conditions of Saxony’s agriculture, and said that under the hard conditions imposed by nature it was absolutely vital to observe a close constructive relationship between cattle-breeding, forestry, and agriculture. Then he dealt with the peculiar features of the thorough mechanization of German agriculture; mechanization based on small farm conditions. He expressed a genuine desire to find the best solution to the problem raised by Order No. 124.

    Even when it was not absolutely necessary that I should attend, I always tried to be present at discussions of this kind. On closer inspection, Germany’s apparently planless economy proved to be organically so interlocked that it afforded a very interesting study for a Soviet expert. It was an exceptionally precise and complicated piece of mechanism, in which there was very restricted scope for experiment. Frequently I saw the German experts throw up their hands in despair when the general gave them advice or submitted demands which would have perfectly fitted Soviet conditions in new planning or reconstruction. They exclaimed with one voice: “That’s equal to suicide.”

    And so it happened this time. The general played with his pencil, puffed thoughtfully at his cigarette, blew out the smoke in rings. He did not even ask for the German’s arguments to be translated to him. He regarded it all as empty noise. When he considered he had given enough time to the matter he knitted his brows and turned to the interpreter:

    “Tell him the plan has got to be revised. We must look after the interests of the German peasantry, not those of the large landlords.”

    The general was a classic example of the Soviet official, who, being only an automatic executive organ, is incapable of considering argument put forward by the other side or of subjecting an issue to independent criticism. Yet he was deciding the whole economic future of the Soviet zone.

    The German rose to his feet in consternation. All his arguments had been useless. The draft of the land reform would be subjected to many further revisions, until the ’independent’ German proposal corresponded in every detail with the secret instructions, which the general kept in his safe.

    The land reform was not so much an economic as a political measure. Its object was the destruction of one of the strongest groups in German society, above all economically, and to create a new group in sympathy with the new regime. In the next phase, i. e., after the consolidation of the new regime, the first group would be physically destroyed, while the second would make acquaintance with the formula so well known in the Soviet Union: ’The land to you, the fruits to us.’

    I often felt sympathy for the Germans I met in General Shabalin’s office. The majority was communists. In one way or another they had fought the Hitler regime, and many of them had suffered for their convictions. After the German collapse they welcomed us joyfully, some regarding us as their liberators, others as their ideological allies. Many came to see us because they wanted to work for the benefit of a future Germany. It goes without saying that among them were the inevitable opportunists.

    Before any German was entrusted with any responsible position the S. M. A. subjected him to a thorough test of his political reliability. As they regarded us as their ideological allies, they did not hesitate to express their views frankly. And then one saw all too clearly what a great conflict there was between the convictions and desires many of them possessed and the instructions they received from the S. M. A. The S. M. A. wanted silent executives, not equal partners. The time was bound to come when these men would be faced with a choice: either to carry out orders without protest and become obedient tools, or clear out and make room for others.

    We had other visitors to the administration besides the German official authorities. The Scientific and Technical Department had some particularly interesting callers. Before the war the head of the department, Colonel Kondakov, had been head of the Department for Higher Military-Educational Institutions, a sub-section of the All-Union Committee for Higher School Affairs. He was an elderly and very cultivated man who knew his job and had much human understanding.

    One day Kondakov came up to me in the corridor. He had a look of despair on his face. “Gregory Petrovich,” he said to me, “be a good sort and give me a hand.”

    “Why, what’s wrong, Comrade Colonel?” I asked.

    “Some German in my room’s reducing me to despair. He’s invented some devilish device and is offering it to us. He won’t tell us the details, and we can’t make any sense of what he’s saying.”

    In the colonel’s room I found a fair-haired German; he introduced first himself then his young, doll-like wife to me.

    “Well, what is it you’ve got?” I asked.

    “First of all, Major, I must draw your attention to the fact that I am greatly interested in offering my invention to the great Soviet Union, where it will be used for the benefit of the toilers...”

    “Good, but what is it?” I interrupted as he paused for breath.

    “I don’t want my invention to fall into the hands of the Americans, though I know they’d pay me more. I don’t like the imperialists. I’m a convinced communist and...”

    “All right! We’ll take that for granted,” I interrupted again. “What exactly is your invention?”

    After an hour I was still no more able to make any sense of his remarks than the colonel had been. He had invented some very mysterious motor with an incredible performance and many other attractive features. He gave us to understand that it would bring about a revolution in warfare, and assured us he had kept it secret for years at the risk of his life, because he didn’t want the ’fascists’ to use it to the detriment of humanity. He asked to be given the opportunity to carry on his work and prepare models. The trouble was that all his calculations; plans and models had been destroyed during the American bombing attacks. In exchange for our assistance he bound himself to place the patent at the service of the Soviet government.

    I asked him to supply me with a list of the things he needed for his work. As though that was all he had been waiting for, he opened his case and handed me a statement which included all the desires of the heart: money, means of existence, even cigarettes, but none of the things which were necessary to an inventor of such a machine. He asked for a period of six months in which to carry it all through.

    I felt a strong desire to kick him out, and was sure he was trying the same trick on all the four occupation authorities. The colonel decided to give him a chance to justify his claims. But he muttered to himself: “You wait! If you’re trying to make a fool of me you’ll find yourself in a cell.”

    Such characters were regular visitors to all our departments. But it goes without saying that the Scientific and Technical Department was chiefly occupied with more important work. The people it was interested in did not come to the S. M. A. of their own accord. Usually they had to be sought for and brought in.

    The Scientific and Technical Department was really only a collecting and clearing point for the similarly named department attached to the Narcomvnudel. Colonel Kondakov sifted the incoming material, assessed its value, and passed it on to the cognate department of the Narcomvnudel in Potsdam, where highly qualified Soviet experts in all branches of science and technique were installed. From which one can assume that Moscow had more faith in the Narcomvnudel than in the S. M. A.

    The chief task of the S. M. A. Department was to search for brains. Moscow had a high estimation of German brains. So, for that matter, had the Western Allies, and consequently from the very first day of the occupation bitter struggle went on between the western and eastern allies. At the capitulation, Thuringia and a large part of Saxony were in the hands of the Americans. Two months later, in accordance with agreements, this area was handed over to the Soviet occupying authorities.

    During his inspection tours General Shabalin asked the military governors how far the S. M. A. order to seek out and register German experts had been carried through. He was astonished and indignant at the rapid and thorough work, which the ’damned Allies’ had put in. During their brief stay in Thuringia and Saxony the Americans had mopped up all the cream of the German scientific and technical spheres. Outstanding scientists, valuable research laboratories, technical archives, were all carried off.

    Scientists who received instructions to be evacuated could take with them not only all the material they needed for their work, but whole establishments together with their scientific collaborators, as they thought fit. In this province the Soviet authorities found only comparatively unimportant lecturers and assistants. The Zeiss works at Jena were regarded as particularly valuable booty. But from Jena, too, the Americans had been able to withdraw all the leading technical staff. Zeiss could manage to carry on with the staff that remained, but it could not advance. The same applied to the research institutes in Dresden and Leipzig.

    Another circumstance of great importance was the fact that the majority of the leading German scientists had fled westward while the Red Army was advancing. And so the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute, one of the greatest scientific institutions in the world, and of especial interest to Moscow, proved to be as useful to us as the ruins of the Coliseum.

    To put up a good show to Moscow, the S. M. A. did its best to represent that the third-rate scientists who fell into their hands were men of the utmost importance. Assistants in Messerschmitt’s laboratory were declared to be his closest collaborators. The usual methods of Soviet leadership: the plan descended from above, and sand was flung up from below.

    On the plea that it was a necessary step to secure the peace, the S. M. A. sought all over Germany for military experts. Its representatives hunted assiduously for constructors of V2’s, jet-planes, and heavy tanks. And swarms of petty swindlers haunted the S. M. A. offices, offering their services in the perfection of deadly weapons.

    Colonel Kondakov’s assistant in the Scientific and Technical Department was a Major Popov. One day he and I were discussing the latest technical achievements of the air-arm, with particular reference to the Luftwaffe and the American Flying Fortresses, the B-29’s. “We’ve got them now,” he said casually. “You remember the papers reporting in 1943 that several Flying Fortresses went off their course after a bombing attack on Japan, and were interned in the Soviet Union?”

    “Yes, I remember,” I answered.

    “That was a really delicate affair,” he commented. “And rather different from how the papers reported it. When the Forts were discovered over our territory a squadron of especially fast Soviet fighters was sent up after them. They overtook the Americans and signaled to them to land. The Americans had been ordered that they were not to land in any unknown area with Flying Fortresses. The Forts were the latest achievement of American aviation technique, and they were a dead secret. In the event of a forced landing being necessary, the crews had orders to take to their parachutes and blow up their machines in mid-air.

    So the Forts continued to fly over the Siberian taiga without taking notice of our pursuit. The Soviet fighters fired a warning salvo with their rocket-guns, broke up the bomber formation and forced one to land on the landing ground at Khabarovsk. The crew was given a right hearty reception. But despite all attempts to persuade them, the Americans refused to leave their machine until an American consul had arrived.

    A consul wasn’t to be found all that easily, but in the presence of the crew the whole machine was sealed up, from nose to tail. Our people solemnly stuck the seal in the American commander’s pocket, and assured them that everything was in order, they could spend a couple of hours quietly in the Intourist hotel until the consul arrived. But while Intourist was entertaining the crew with all the pleasures of earth the cables between Moscow and Khabarovsk hummed with secret requests and answering secret orders. Planes loaded with the finest Soviet experts were hurriedly dispatched from Moscow.

    The Americans were persuaded, and where necessary forced, to spend the night in the hotel and meanwhile a feverish activity set in on the landing ground. The seals were removed, and the Soviet engineers, technicians, and constructors swarmed over the machine by the light of searchlights. I was one of the technicians sent to carry out the Kremlin’s order ’to commit everything to paper’. We spent several days studying the bomber, while the American crew were kept interned.”

    The fact that a B-29 had landed in the Far East of Soviet Russia was reported at the time by Tass, and one could take it for granted that everything went as Major Popov declared. But, after discussing the difficulties of the job and the services he personally had rendered, he gave the story a more romantic ending:

    "One of the members of the crew, who suspected that there was something wrong somewhere, managed to get out of the hotel at night and make his way to the landing ground. There he saw what was happening to the ’sealed’ machine. He returned and told his comrades. They had a short-wave transmitter which was to be used in emergencies, and they at once sent a code message to American headquarters. Meanwhile Washington and Moscow were engaged in a lively exchange of notes over the interned aircraft.

    By the time the crew’s report reached Washington the Soviet technical brigade had done its job. The crew was escorted to the landing ground, and the commander was solemnly invited to convince himself that the seals had not been broken. Stalin sent an extremely cordial cable to President Roosevelt, informing him personally of the machine’s release. A few minutes before the B-29 was due to leave, Stalin received a cable from the President: ’Accept the B-29 as a present from me.’

    "When the Soviet pilots took over the gift in order to fly it to Moscow, they came up against unexpected difficulties. It was far from easy to get the gigantic craft airborne. So one of our best test pilots for heavy machines was specially sent from Moscow. After studying it for two weeks he managed to get it up and flew it safely to Moscow. For which he was awarded the title of ’???? of the Soviet Union’.

    “Several of the Central Construction Bureaus attached to the People’s Commissariat for Aviation In Industry were assigned the task of preparing the manufacture of this type of machine. The first test machines were ready by the last year of the war. A little later a number of aviation works in the Urals began serial production. Tupolev and the gifted designer Petliakov were entrusted with the creation of the Soviet ’Flying Fortresses’.”

    As time passed more people arrived to work in the S. M. A. On entering General Shabalin’s outer office one day I saw a young woman leaning back in an armchair. She had one leg crossed over the other, a cigarette in one hand, and was conversing gaily with Major Kuznetsov. She left brilliant crimson traces of lipstick on her cigarette when she took it out of her mouth. She threw me a swift, appraising glance, then turned back to the major. There was something distinctive about her behavior, the exaggeratedly slovenly attitude, the way she took deep draws at her cigarette, the twist of her carmined lips. She was waiting to see the general. When she had gone in I asked Kuznetsov:

    “Who is that beauty?”

    “She’s been an interpreter to one of the dismantling generals. Now he’s gone back to Moscow and the chief of staff has recommended her to our boss. Apparently she’s to be his interpreter.”

    And so Lisa Stenina became General Shabalin’s interpreter, his private interpreter, as she always emphasized. She spoke German perfectly, was well educated, well read, and clever. And she had several other unusual qualities.

    She used make-up far too much. Although she looked at least twenty-five, she maintained that she was not more than seventeen. And although all her documents referred to her as Elizaveta Yefimovna, she always introduced herself as Elizaveta Pavlovna. Yefimovna was plebeian, but Pavlovna sounded like a Pushkin heroine.

    Lisa was not in the army, but she always wore an officer’s coat with lieutenant’s insignia over her silk dress, declaring she had nothing else to wear. Of course, that was sheer imagination: she wore the coat only for show. She had an unbridled tongue. And she was fond of discussing very delicate political questions. But above all she liked to impress. At every opportunity she mentioned that her sister was married to General Rudenko. If her audience failed to show any sign of interest, she added that General Rudenko was head of the Soviet Purchasing Commission in America. And if that didn’t do the trick, she confided that he wasn’t simply our trade representative in America, he was head of Soviet intelligence there.

    Once she was absent from the office a whole day without permission. She turned up in the interpreters’ room late in the evening, but in a shocking state: terribly scratched, her clothes torn, her head bound up.

    I was informed by phone of her arrival ten minutes before the close of office hours. I went to find out what had happened.

    “Where have you been?” I asked her anxiously.

    “A colonel invited me to go for a ride and took me into the forest. Well, and then....”

    “And then I suppose you made a fool of him,” I surmised.

    “Where’s your cap?” someone asked.

    “Lost,” she answered, to convey all the seriousness of the situation from which she had emerged victorious.

    “And have you lost nothing else, my dear Lisa?” I asked, in an assumed anxious tone. She gave me a devastating look.

    “Now what are we to do with you?” I asked commiseratingly. “As you’re a lieutenant, you should be put under arrest for arbitrary absence from duty. What will the general say?”

    “That’s my concern; you needn’t worry about that, Comrade Major.”

    “Poor Lisa!” I sighed.

    A day or two later Major Kuznetsov remarked to me casually: “I hear you’re always teasing Lisa. You want to be careful with her.”

    “But why?”

    “Take my advice. Even the general’s afraid of her. Give it a moment’s thought. She hasn’t been assigned to the general by chance. Understand?” He lowered his tone. “I tell you as a friend: don’t play with fire.”

    Later on I learned rather more about Lisa Stenina and her past.

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

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 03

    The Song of the Victor

    The music flowed in caressing waves through the twilit hall, under the great crystal chandeliers, between the lofty marble columns. The air was heavy with the warmth of human bodies, the titillating scent of subtle perfume, all the characteristic respiration of the life of a great city. I thrust my fingers behind my belt and looked about me eagerly.

    I could hardly believe that only yesterday I had felt the Berlin sidewalks still shaking with explosions, that around me men in field-gray coats had been falling, never to rise again. I had the feeling that my uniform was still impregnated with the pungent stench of the Reich capital, the smell of burning, of powdered mortar and rubble, of gunpowder.

    From the platform came the familiar words of soldiers’ song- simple, moving, and intimate. Where had I heard that song last? Of course, it had been a favorite of the tank-driver, Sergeant Petrenko. A young, dashing fellow, he often sang it to the sounds of an accordion he had knocked off. He was a great lad, was Petrenko. He didn’t quite get to Berlin: he was burned alive in his tank somewhere among the sand dunes of Brandenburg.

    Lieutenant Belyavsky was sitting next to me. We had met in the college, and he had mentioned that he had tickets for a concert to be given by artists, every one of them decorated with the order: Meritorious Artist of the Soviet Union. “Come along with me,” he said. “You need a little cheering up.”

    He slapped me on my back. And that was how, the day after my return to Moscow, I found myself sitting in the Pillared Hall of the House of the Trade Unions. During an interval we went to the foyer. For two months I had been in the most exposed section of the front-reason enough for watching Moscow life with hungry eyes. Even after a brief absence one notices many things which the regular inhabitants don’t see at all.

    The great majority of this audience consisted of officers working in the defense ministry or members of the Moscow garrison, students at military colleges, and front-line officers in Moscow for short leave and seizing the opportunity to attend a concert again. Practically all the male members of the audience were wearing military uniforms; any man in civilian dress was regarded either as a hopeless cripple or as a doubtful sort of individual. There were many war-wounded, also in uniform, but without shoulder-tabs. And a large number of the audience, civilians included, were wearing orders or ribbons.

    The authority of the military profession grew enormously during the war. Before 1939 officers were shown little consideration, they were regarded as drones and parasites. But in the war years the officer corps was enlarged by a mass of reserve officers. The army became an inseparable part of every family; people began to regard military service as a necessary and honorable obligation. The external and internal reforms in the army and all over the country forced everybody to revise their ideas of the military class.

    The front-line officer was of all men the most respected. Before the war the civilians had looked down with some condescension on the military, but now the situation was diametrically opposite. The men in dark blue worsted civvies were inferior beings. The majority of them looked pale and worried; the feverish strain of unremitting labor had left its mark on them. The women, too, had the same gray look of chronic under-nourishment, everyday anxieties and need, in their faces and clothes. Their features were indifferent, pasty, and weary. Even the youngsters had lost the unconstrained, invincible, carefree air of pre-war days. The general war-weariness was much more perceptible at home than at the front.

    The so-called ’Narcomatics’, the higher officials of the People’s Commissariats were in a class by themselves; they were well dressed, well fed, and repellently self-satisfied. One could recognize them at once in the street by their light-brown leather coats, which they had all started wearing as one man on one day. The Americans had sent these leather jackets over in 1943 as part of lend-Iease deliveries, together with hundreds of thousands of brand-new lorries. The jackets had been intended as service clothing for the drivers of the lorries.

    The lorries were sent to the front, but the leather jackets remained in Moscow as official equipment for the higher functionaries of the commissariats. They were a quite unnecessary luxury for the men at the front, and ever since the early days of the revolution Soviet functionaries have had a childish weakness for any kind of leather garment. In Moscow it was rumored that the Americans were greatly astonished to find high Soviet officials decked out in chauffeurs’ uniforms. Perhaps they thought it indicated the proletarian modesty of the Soviet bosses.

    After Belyavsky and I had wandered about aimlessly for some time among the brilliant orders and pale, hungry faces in the foyer, we came to the glass showcase of the buffet. Behind the glass were marvelous delicacies, the sort of thing one found in Moscow only in the best of the pre-war years. But the prices! It was painful to see men gathering round the case as though it were a museum-piece, then turning away with hungry looks and empty hands.

    “I’m glad we haven’t any ladies with us,” Belyavsky remarked with stoic calm. “Why the devil do they put such things on show? I’d rather not have my imagination stimulated like that!”

    The second part of the concert consisted of a performance by the State jazz orchestra, directed by the ’Meritorious Artist of the R. S. F. S. R.’, Leonid Utiessov. Utiessov was the most popular jazz-band leader in the Soviet Union: he was assigned the ticklish task of adapting western European jazz music to the frequently changing demands of the ’social command’. His repertoire consisted of foxtrots on the motifs of Stakhanovite songs, and blaring, anti-imperialistic marches. But now, with the help of trombones and saxophones, he was celebrating the demise of fascist Germany.

    Utiessov, a tubby man, showed off quite unconcernedly on the platform. He was wearing the artist’s traditional uniform: evening dress complete with boiled shirt. In his buttonhole he had the Order of the Red Banner ribbon. He waved his arms in a fever of patriotic exaltation, squeezing the last drops of the ’Waves of Leningrad’ out of the perspiring band.

    Utiessov had achieved a great public success with his ’confidential talks’ from the platform. “My father lives in luxury. I myself earn twenty thousand rubles.... My daughter brings home a little more, some five thousand.... And, of course, her husband -he’s an engineer - he helps a little too.... He contributes a full six hundred rubles a month.” This talk received wild applause, but of course he had to withdraw it quite quickly. Rumor has it that in the end he was snapped up by the Narcomvnudel.

    Suddenly silence fell. The orchestra came to an unexpected stop, there were excited whispers, a feeling of uneasiness spread through the audience. From the back of the hall spotlights were switched on, focusing into a ring of light on the platform. Utiessov stood in the spotlight, a sheet of paper in his hand, a strand of hair hanging over his sweating face.

    “Comrades... friends!” he shouted.

    The entire hall held its breath expectantly. Speaking slowly, brokenly, he cried to the silent, excited audience:

    “An order of the day... of the... Supreme Command.... This day, 2 May 1945, the troops of the First Ukrainian Army and the troops...”

    His voice billowed from the platform, but I did not see where it was coming from. It beat in my own breast, it rose in my own throat, it might have been my own voice. So this was victory! In very truth, in the rumbling, stony gorges of the Berlin streets, in the turret of a staff tank, in the everyday existence of a soldier, all the pathos of struggle and victory was much more simple and plain than it was here, in this Pillared Hall of Moscow. There it was only the accomplishment of a military task. Here it was the climax of years of straining expectation, a moment of boundless joy and unrestrained pride.

    The people of the home front were sick with a chronic psychosis. They were filled with an unshakable conviction that the day of victory, the day marking the end of the war, would be like a fairy story, would not only bring deliverance from all the fevered night-mares of wartime, but would bring something bigger and better than had existed before the war. This mass psychosis which marked the final phase of the war was visible in the eyes of every man and every woman. Clenching their teeth, they advanced to the victory like a runner making his final spurt: a last dash to breast the tape and then drop exhausted. Then all would be well. Then there would be a pleas-ant rest, the well-earned reward for all the arduous labor, the sweat and the blood.

    I closed my eyes so as not to see the man on the platform. The voice swelled in the silence grew even stronger, rose in a triumphant shout: “Today, after bitter and bloody struggles, our troops have conquered the heart of Hitler-Germany, the city of Berlin.”

    The entire hall rose as one man. The thunder of the applause shook the marble columns. These walls had surely never heard anything like it before. We clapped till our hands smarted, and we looked one another in the eyes. During the ordinary applause of official ceremonies Soviet people avoid one another’s eyes. But today we had nothing to be ashamed of; today we could give free rein to our true feelings.

    I looked around. This was no highly organized ovation in honor of the Party and government leaders, when each participant would watch out of the corner of his eye to see whether his neighbor was clapping hard enough, and secretly waited for the chairman of the Presidium, the conductor of this show, to stop clapping, thus officially bringing the ovation to an end. This was a genuinely spontaneous demonstration. For the first time in my life I did not feel ashamed of clapping; I was taking part in an honest and passion-ate expression of feeling. The Russian people were thanking the Russian soldiers for fighting so hard and well, for shedding their blood.

    From a long distance the words reached my ears: “To celebrate the victory over Berlin I order, today, 2 May 1945, at 22 hours Moscow time, a salute of twenty guns from two hundred and twenty cannon, in the city of Moscow, and in the heroic cities of Stalingrad, Lenin-grad, and Odessa.”

    We left the hall and went out into Sverdlov Square. The crimson of the sunset had not yet faded on the horizon. The sky was bright over the victorious city sunk in the dusk. The house roofs emerged in marvelous silhouettes against the darkening azure. The May evenings in Moscow are wonderful at any time. But in the light of victory salutes, under the nimbus of military glory, they are fabulous.

    Somewhere far to the west another city, a vanquished city, was lying in total darkness; its inhabitants had no feeling of joy that day. The ruins that once had been habitations were still smoking; bodies were still lying in the street, the bodies of men who yesterday had had no thought of death. The survivors huddled trembling in their locked rooms, without light or heat, starting fearfully at every sound outside the door. For them the future was heavy with the chill of the grave. Yet they hardly even thought of the future. They were still unable to measure all the depth of the abyss into which human arrogance had plunged them.

    The fire of the last salute died away. In the ensuing stillness the closing words of the order of the day rang in my ears: “Glory and honor to the heroes who have fallen in the struggle for the freedom and independence of our native land.”

    ’May the blood you have shed not have flowed in vain,’ I mentally added.

    Everybody in Moscow knows the monument to Minin and Pozharsky. The bronze figures of these Russian patriots have stood on the Red Square, close to the Kremlin wall, for many years. (Two heroes of the ’Troubles Times’ at the beginning of the seventeenth century, who organized and led the force that freed Moscow from Polish troops, 1612 - Tr.). The dreary rains of autumn wash them, the harsh December winds comb their beards with prickly snow, and the spring sun caresses them. The years pass over them like clouds across the sky. Tsars and dictators come and go behind the walls of the Kremlin, but Minin and Pozharsky stand inviolably in their place.

    Surreptitiously crossing themselves, the old women of Moscow whisper the story from mouth to mouth that sometimes the bronze giants let their eyelids droop and close their cold eyes in order not to see what is happening all around them.

    Yet once, just once in all the long years, they expanded their lungs to the full, they drew themselves up to their full height, looked each other joyfully in the eyes, embraced and kissed each other fraternally. The old women swear that on this occasion the cold bronze shed hot tears. And why shouldn’t they, these men of the Russian soil? I can well believe it, and every Russian who was in Moscow on that sunny morning of 9 May 1945, will confirm it.

    For some days rumors had been running through Moscow that the Western Allies and representatives of the German Supreme Command were engaged in secret negotiations. Nobody knew anything exactly, but the uneasiness increased, the atmosphere of strained expectation came to a climax.

    The true circumstances of the capitulation were not made known in the Soviet Union. It took place at the staff headquarters of General Eisenhower, a small schoolhouse close to Rheims, in France, on 7 May 1945, at 14. 41 hours Central European time. On the German side it was signed by Colonel-General Jodl, chief of the German General Staff, on the Allied side by General Elsenhower’s Chief of Staff, Lieutenant-General W. Bedell Smith, and on the Soviet side by General Sussloparov.

    The final capitulation document was signed on 8 May at 12. 01 hours Central European time in the Berlin suburb of Karlshorst, and was officially announced at once. In the Soviet Union Stalin himself announced the news of the capitulation in a broadcast on the night of 8 /9 May.

    On the morning of May 9, as I lay in bed, I was struck by an earthquake. Someone was shaking me madly by the shoulder. Even before he spoke I read the news in Belyavsky’s dilated, jubilant eyes. I dressed feverishly, buttoned up my tunic with trembling fingers. He urged me to hurry still more, and I did; though I didn’t really know why. I still had my boots to polish; on such a day they must be as dazzling as the sun. And I must put on a clean collar, and polish my buttons with the sleeve of my greatcoat.

    Never before had I felt such an urge to make a military uniform absolutely brilliant. I automatically slipped the strap of my swordbelt under my greatcoat epaulettes, though swordbelts were worn over the greatcoat only on parade and during guard duty. There wasn’t to be a parade today! But let anyone try pulling me up today for violating the regulations! We dashed downstairs. We longed to be among the people, in the midst of the joy, the triumph, and the jubilation.

    The college was buzzing like a disturbed beehive. All the students fell in the yard, by faculties, to hear the order of the day issued by the commander-in-chief. The sun shone in the sky. And the orders sparkled on the officers’ breasts. Trumpets blared. Two adjutants with drawn swords marched in front of the crimson silk flapping in the wind, its golden tassels swinging; the standard-bearer and the adjutants were all ’Heroes of the Soviet Union’. The Head of the college read out Stalin’s order of the day, which marked the end of the Russian people’s heroic four-year struggle against Hitler-Germany.

    Then the head of the Western Faculty, Colonel Jachno, spoke to us. But his remarks seemed feeble and hackneyed. They could not express all the greatness of this moment that we had waited for so long, that we had paid so dearly for. We all wanted to get out into the streets, among the people, where the joy of victory was unconstrained, exuberant. Without waiting for breakfast a number of us hastened to the city center.

    On the way we turned into an ’Americana’ to drink a glass of beer at the bar. Only recently had it become possible to buy beer again in Moscow, at sixteen rubles a glass. One day’s officer’s pay for a pint of beer! Several of us hadn’t enough money in our pockets to pay for a glass; our comrades helped us out.

    “You’re better off at the front than at home,” one of us remarked. “You have got something to drink, at least, at the front.”

    “Don’t worry! Soon we’ll have everything!” another assured him.

    “We’ve already got beer. Before many months have passed we shall be living like in a fairy-tale. We haven’t fought for nothing. You wait, you’ll soon see!”

    His tones expressed an unshakable belief in the miracle that would shortly occur; you would have thought he already knew a present was waiting for him, only it mustn’t be mentioned at the moment. If any of us had expressed any doubt, he would have called him a traitor to his face. He wouldn’t have known why or how it was treachery, but he would have been perfectly sure the man was a traitor.

    We didn’t talk much about such things, and the papers, too, did not write about them in so many words, though they made obvious hints. This mysterious and intangible something was in the air, we drew it in greedily into our lungs, and it intoxicated us. The name of that intoxicating feeling was hope. We were hoping for something. And that something was so drastic was perceived as so unattainable, that we could not bring ourselves to speak about it or even hardly to think of it.

    What were we hoping for? The past would not return and the dead would not live again. Perhaps we were glad that we would be re-turning to the peaceful existence of the pre-war years? Hardly! Our great joy that day arose from the fact that we stood at a frontier, a frontier that marked the end of the darkest period of our life, and the beginning of a new, still unknown period. And every one of us was hoping that this new period would fulfill the promise of the rainbow after the storm, would be bright, sunny, and happy. If anybody had asked us what we really expected, the majority would have expressed our common feeling very simply: “To hell with all that was before the war!” And every one of us knew exactly what had been before the war.

    I have witnessed many Moscow celebrations and parades. The strongest impression one got from them was that the people would much rather have really made merry and enjoyed themselves than be forced to demonstrate their merriment and joy. They were simply puppet shows, and one could not rid oneself of a loathsome feeling of hypocrisy. Most of the people tried to avoid thinking that the main reason for their presence at the celebration was the haunting desire not to be put on the list, not to give offense by being absent.

    That day the feeling was quite different. There was no organized demonstration, nor was it necessary. The streets of Moscow were packed with people, everywhere: on the sidewalks, in the roads, at the windows, on the roofs. In the center the streets were so crowded that wheeled traffic came to a standstill. All the population of Moscow had taken to its feet.

    As we walked along, a group of girls in bright spring clothes came towards us, happy and excited. They had flowers in their hands. In wartime Moscow flowers had been as rare as they are at the North Pole. Measured by European standards, they were more precious than a bunch of black orchids, or roses in January. Just in front of us several flying officers were talking together animatedly; they were obviously members of the Moscow garrison. One of them was in civilian clothes; his right sleeve was empty.

    The left breast of his jacket was studded with orders and above the breast pocket shone two five-cornered gold stars: the stars of a ’Hero of the Soviet Union’. One of the girls, her eyes glittering like stars, rushed up to the airmen as though she had been looking for them for a long time. She kissed one, two, all the whole lot of them. She kissed them heartily, and they seemed embarrassed. But why? Proud and happy, in the sight of all Moscow, she was kissing the men who had risked their lives to defend the Moscow sky.

    She thrust her flowers into the wounded man’s hand, and he awkwardly pressed them to his chest. The tender petals caressed the cold metal of the orders. The girl was particularly warm in her embrace of him, and did not want to release him. They said not a word to each other. Their feelings, ardent human feelings, were more eloquent than words.

    We saw an old woman in a white kerchief, peering about her uncertainly, as though looking for someone in this seething torrent of human beings. Obviously she was not accustomed to the bustle of the city. Just a homely, Russian mother. We had come across thousands of such mothers as we entered the villages evacuated by the re-treating Germans. And hardly had we taken one step across the thresholds of their cottages when we were calling them ’mother’. Without a word they thrust a hunk of bread into our greatcoat pockets and surreptitiously signed the cross over us as we turned away

    Two elderly soldiers in ragged front-line uniforms were leaning against a house-wall. Their faces were unshaven and bristly; wretched packs hung over their shoulders. You could see they had either come straight from the front or were on their way back to it. But they were in no hurry; today they had no reason to fear the military police patrols.

    They warmed themselves peacefully in the sun and stared blankly at the people, who seemed to have lost their senses. The two men calmly rolled themselves cigarettes from their favorite homegrown tobacco and a strip of newspaper, just as if they were at the front. What more does a soldier need than a piece of bread in his pack, a small packet of tobacco in his pocket, and the sun shining?

    The old woman in the kerchief pushed uncertainly through the crowd, and went up to the two soldiers. She spoke to them in an agitated voice and tried to pull them by the sleeve. The soldiers looked at each other. Of course they must do as she asked: she was a mother.

    How many sons had she given for the sake of this sunny morning? The sons who were to have been her support and comfort in her old age had been taken from her. All through the war she had held on to an expensive bottle of vodka, not exchanging it even for bread. She had suffered hunger and cold, but that bottle of vodka was sacred. Her son Kolya had fallen at Poltava; Peter the sailor had gone down in a sea-fight; her happy-go-lucky Grishka had vanished without trace. But now her heart was no longer suffering in its loneliness. She had gone into the street to find her sons, to invite the first soldiers she met to celebrate the victory with her. Today the bottle of living water would be brought out. These two men should know the heart of an old mother, the mother they had sung so often in their soldiers’ songs.

    Comintern Square. Outside the American embassy, between the Hotel Metropole and the block of the Moscow University, there was the same solid mass of human beings as everywhere else. Women were gazing curiously out of the open Embassy windows; they were wearing clothes so brightly colored that they could never have been mistaken for Moscow inhabitants. Cameras were clicking. The embassy was calm and silent. Old Glory fluttered sluggishly in the gentle breeze.

    The people in the square stared up inquisitively, as though they expected the American ambassador to step on to a balcony and speak to them at any moment. The crowd eddied round the building like water streaming over shallows. But the ambassador had gone to the Kremlin. What had he to do with this gray, impersonal mass? And besides, it’s hardly politic for a diplomat to speak to the people over the heads of their government.

    The consulate automobile made its way slowly through the mass of people. Then an American officer in cream-colored trousers and green tunic attempted to get to the embassy. If he did not know of the Russian habit of tossing people into the air, he must have been rather alarmed when he went flying up. Up he soared into the sky, then dropped gently into many outstretched hands and went up once more. Thus he was carried above the people’s heads, thrown up again and again by dozens of hands, till he reached the embassy. He pulled down his wrinkled tunic and went up the steps, cap in hand, smiling with embarrassment and obviously not knowing whether to say “Okay!” or “Goddamn!”

    The sun shone down graciously on jubilating Moscow. People embraced and kissed one another in the street. Strangers invited one another into their homes. Everything was set on the table, the pockets were unloaded. Life had been difficult, but now it was all over. We had held out and won. Now an end had been put to the bloody battles, to all the difficulties and privations. The leader would thank the people for their faithful service to the fatherland. The leader would not forget!

    The psychiatrists are well acquainted with the phenomena of psychosis. But in its mass aspect it remains unexplained. Yet any one who was in Moscow on 9 May 1945, and who had gone through what every Russian had gone through during the years of the war, knows exactly what mass psychosis is. I have seen and experienced it only once in my life, and I am not likely to experience anything like it again. It was the discharge of a nervous-system accumulator, the discharge of a force that had been accumulating for years. Many did not understand it, but all felt it.

    During the last years of my studies at the Industry Institute, examination time was a difficult period for all the students. Later, at the front, I seldom saw any man really worked up before going into battle. But I do remember that while waiting outside the door of the examination hall the students suffered nervous convulsions. At the front a man can only lose his life. During examinations we risked losing hope. For the soul of man that is a much more important matter. During the actual examination I myself was superficially calm and never felt any great excitement. But after it was over I lay on my bed for days without moving, as though I were paralyzed.

    So was it that day in Moscow. A prolonged and complex psychic process in the soul of the nation was finding vent at last. The outbreak of war had initiated the process. The people regarded it with relief, as an opportunity to free themselves of the hated conditions of the existing regime. The curve of this feeling of relief gradually flattened as the people realized that their hopes had been disappointed. This was followed by a period of comparative stability, when the people were aware of only one thing: the vanity of all hope. Then the process of charging the human accumulators began.

    Simultaneously with the growth of a negative attitude towards the external factor of the war a new hope was sown and began to strike root - the hope that a better future could be achieved by their own power, once the foreign enemy was defeated. At that point the external factor became their enemy. Driven by their hate for the enemy and by their growing hope of a better future after the war, the people went through unimaginable difficulties.

    The Russians smashed the Germans out of their desire for vengeance, vengeance for the unfulfilled hopes, the shattered wishful thinking. But still stronger burned the guiding star of a new hope. They would never have fought in defense of the fatherland they had known before the war. And at first they had no desire to fight, they hoped the Germans would bring them to the Promised Land. But then they turned and fought because they thought they saw the Promised Land on the other side.

    On 9 May 1945 the charge of the people’s psychic accumulator had reached its culminating point, the overcharge was causing sparks to fly. And now came the discharge. No wonder Moscow lived as though governed by electric impulses, no wonder strangers embraced us and kissed us simply because we wore uniform, no wonder men wept openly in the street.

    Outside the History Museum I ran into Lieutenant Valentina Grinchuk. A smile was playing on her face, as though she could not understand this entire bustle and excitement. She had found her way infallibly through the darkness of the forests in her partisan days, but here she was like a little child, lost in the primeval forest of human elements. She did not even notice the admiring looks of the men who turned to stare after her.

    “Well, Valia, congratulations on the victory,” I said, as I had said already a dozen times that day. I looked into her violet-blue eyes, took her by the chin as though she were a child, and raised her head. Those blue eyes shone at me earnestly and a little sadly.

    “Congratulations on victory, Valia.” I bent down and kissed her on the lips. She did not resist; she only looked helplessly with her dilated eyes, staring into the distance. Beneath the hard leather of her belt I felt her delicate, girlish figure.

    (You seem so very tiny today, Valia. What’s up? Why, you have more right to enjoy this day than anyone else. Open your blue eyes still wider, you child with orders on your breast and wounds on your girlish body. Fix this day in your memory for all your life, this day for which you have sacrificed your youth.).

    She and I spent a long time wandering through the city, right along Gorky Street, past the Bolshoi Theatre, along the embankment below the Kremlin wall. One would have liked to absorb all the spirit of the victory-drunk metropolis that day. One would have liked to soar high above the world and thus observe all that was happening below, to memorize for ever this day in all its unique greatness and exaltation. For not to everyone was Fate so kind as to allow them to be in Moscow, to be in the center of those vast events.

    Valia and I walked in silence; each sunk in his or her thoughts. If there can be such a thing as perfect happiness in this world, then I was perfectly happy that day. Humanity’s golden dream of peace all over the world came down to earth, that sunny day of 9 May. The evil forces had been routed. The majestic hymns of the victorious powers were sounding over the world. They proclaimed freedom to the peoples. Freedom from anxiety for their own lives, freedom from the race-hatred of Nazism, from the class-enmity of communism, freedom from fear for one’s freedom. Were not the words of the Atlantic Charter eloquent in their sublimity?

    Our leaders had turned their backs on the doctrine that it was impossible for the capitalist and the communist systems to coexist. With the blood of their soldiers the western democracies had won the indissoluble friendship of the peoples of our lands. The mutual relations of peoples and nations, of states and governments, had been forged in the fires of war. Such historical cataclysms sweep political systems and states from the face of the earth, change the political map of the world. The war, which had now ended, must lead inevitably to a fundamental change in the Soviet system. With good reason had the Party and the government given the people clearly to understand that, during the last years of the war?

    I glanced down at Valia out of the corner of my eye.

    “Why are you so quiet, Valia?” I asked. “What are you dreaming about?”

    “Oh, nothing,” she replied. “I just feel a bit down, somehow. So long as the war was on one simply went on fighting. If you ever stopped to think about it, you only hoped that it might soon be ended. That end seemed so splendid, but now it’s all so ordinary. And this day will pass, and once more....”

    She did not finish her remark, but I knew what she was thinking. I suddenly felt sorry for her. Without doubt she was thinking of the straw-thatched roofs of her forest village, the crane over the well, and the little barefoot girl with water-buckets in her hands. In her own soul she was pondering on the question that now confronted every one of us. She was afraid the hope that had kept us going all through the years of the war might vanish, and that then once more....

    Through the dusk that was falling over the city the aluminum balloons of the barrage swam slowly into the sky. They were rising for the last time, to take part in the last victory salute. Searchlight batteries were posted all round the Kremlin; young girls in field-gray military greatcoats efficiently controlled the mechanism of those gigantic electric eyes. Today their beams would grope across the sky of Moscow for the last time.

    I said goodbye to Valia and joined another group of officers from our college. We made our way slowly to the Red Square. Soon now the guns would be firing their salutes, and the Red Square afforded the best view. No official demonstration had ever drawn such an enormous crowd outside the Kremlin walls. It was impossible to do anything but let the torrent take charge and carry one away as it wished.

    Amid this human ferment the Kremlin stood silent and lifeless, like a legendary castle fallen into an enchanted sleep. The granite block of the Lenin Mausoleum rose above the heads of the crowd. The leaders and minor leaders stand on that platform on days of parades and demonstrations and smile amiably from a safe distance behind the bayonets of the armed Narcomvnudel guards. Now the granite platform was empty. And the bayonets were absent. That day the solely to the people.

    Hundreds of thousands of heads. Since early morning people had filled the Red Square, waiting and staring as though they were expecting something. But the powerful loudspeakers, which were ranged in numerous batteries round the square, were silent. More and more people poured into that vast open space. What was drawing them there?

    The Kremlin remained silent in its sleep. The silvery firs stood on guard along the ancient walls. The pointed pinnacles of the towers pierced the darkened sky. The ruby-red stars gleamed high above, on the invisible points of the towers.

    When I was a child we used to be told that the red five-pointed star was the symbol of communism. The symbol of the blood that had been shed by the proletariat of all five continents. Truly, much blood had flowed on account of those ruby-red stars on the Kremlin.

    The earth began to thunder under our feet. Above the black out-line of the Kremlin the sky turned crimson with gunfire. Lightning from hundreds of cannon illuminated the battlemented walls, the pinnacled towers, the black cube of the mausoleum, the sea of human heads turned upward. Hundreds of lines of fire drilled into the sky above the victorious city, driving away the darkness of the night.

    The fire streamed higher and higher, hung motionless in the zenith for a moment, then burst downward in sparkling, multicolored little stars. The stars shivered sank slowly earthward, then fell faster, ever faster, to die in their flight. Hardly had the last sparkles faded when the air was shattered with the rolling thunder of a salvo. The first salute to final victory! The last seconds of a glorious epoch.

    Open your eyes, open your hearts, and fix those seconds forever. The earth drummed again, the crimson fire of the victory salute lit up the walls of the Kremlin, the sky, and the soul of the people. Once more the fire shot into heaven, once more the little stars shone out like rays of hope, and faded. This was victory captured in a point of light. You saw the victory; you felt its breath on your face.

    The fountain set upon the historic place of execution in the Red Square began to play, to gush in a vehement rainbow. As the fountain sent the water running over the square it splashed in little streams under our boots. The arrows of the searchlights quivered and danced. The ancient cathedral of St. Basil the Blessed was thrown up somberly in the flaming salutes. A boundless sea of men and women surged under the Kremlin walls.

    From the mist of the past another Red Square emerged in my memory.

    The morning of 7 November 1941 was leaden and dull. A flurry of falling snow blurred the face of Moscow. The Kremlin was feeling a draught. The enemy was at the gates! Moscow was threatened! The crenellations and pinnacles of the Kremlin walls showed gloomily in wintry twilight. The cupolas of the Kremlin churches were obscured under palls of snow. Cold and raw was the Red Square that day.

    In full field equipment the troops marched past the granite mausoleum. A man in a soldier’s greatcoat, standing on the platform, stretched out his hand to the troops as if he were a beggar. With outstretched arm the man greeted the divisions that were to march from the Red Square straight to the fight at the gates of Moscow. My ears still hear the words of the marching song of those days:

    “For my Moscow, for the dear city...” We kept our oath of allegiance, leader! Now it is your turn.

    But now, on that day in May, the Kremlin was silent. The crimson stars on its towers glowed like blood. Nobody knew what the men in the Kremlin were thinking. Hand in hand with the people they had won the victory. Would they not be stretching out their hands to the people’s throats again tomorrow?

    Not far from us two elderly workmen were standing, rather unsteady on their feet. They were wearing caps with broken peaks; their white shirts were open at the collar. Because they found it difficult to keep their feet they supported each other. Probably they had been drinking beer on an empty stomach.

    “Come home, Stepan,” said one of them, a man with reddish, tobacco-stained whiskers.

    “Home? I’m not going home,” the other protested.

    “What d’you want to hang about here for? The midnight mass is ended. Come along!”

    “Wait a bit, Ivan... There’s sure to be a decree.”

    “You’ve already got your decree: don’t oversleep your knocking-on time in the morning.”

    “But I tell you there’s sure to be another decree. Do you or don’t you know what a decree is? As soon as twelve strikes a decree will be issued. It will shine out in the sky like a star.... Where’s the star?” He swayed as he stared upward.

    “There’s your star.” His companion pointed to the red star on a Kremlin tower. “Come alone, do!”

    “There’s something wanting;” one of my companions turned to me. “It’s twelve o’clock, but the people are still hanging about, showing no signs of going. They know quite well there’s nothing more to be seen, yet they’re still waiting.”

    “Shall we go?” I asked.

    “No, let’s wait a little longer.” He hesitated. “There may be some-thing yet.”

    We wandered aimlessly about the square for a long time. The people looked at one another, looked about them, and went on waiting for the belated wonder. At last, when the hands on the clock tower above the Spasskaya Gate drew near to one o’clock, they began to stream away to the Underground station. The trains would stop at 1a. m. They must get home, so as not to be late next morning.

    “Pity the day’s gone so quick!” my companion said. “There was obviously something lacking.”

    We took the Underground. Opposite us sat an elderly woman in a threadbare military uniform. She looked as though she had come straight from the front. Her eyes were closed with fatigue, and she swayed to the movement of the train. At the next stop a lieutenant got in. All the seats were already occupied, so he glanced at the epaulettes of the seated military people.

    In Moscow the regulation is strictly observed that the junior in rank gives up his seat to a superior officer. The lieutenant’s eyes rested on the sleeping woman in front-line uniform. He stepped across and ordered her brusquely: “Get up!” She opened her eyes in bewilderment and sprang up automatically. The lieutenant roughly pushed her aside and sat down in her seat.

    “There’s your reward to the victor,” my companion remarked. “Get up and give your place to someone else.”

    May-time in Moscow is rarely accompanied with such filthy weather as we experienced on 24 May 1945. A fine veil of rain had hung about the city since early morning. Vainly did we stare up at the sky in the hope that the clouds were breaking. It was as though the celestial powers were deliberately out to ruin our festive spirit. For it was a day set apart for a great celebration: by special order of the day issued by the commander-in-chief, a great victory parade was to be held in the Red Square. A review of the best of the best.

    The parade had been long and carefully prepared. Soldiers and officers who had distinguished themselves in the war had been recalled to Moscow during April. The choice fell chiefly on those who had most distinctions, orders, and medals to wear on their chests. On arrival in Moscow they were allocated to special units, and were issued with new dress uniforms, such as we had seen hitherto only in pictures. Special training for the parade went on for more than a month. The people of Moscow were lost in conjecture as to why these fine companies and battalions of men hung about with decorations from head to foot were marching in full dress uniform through the Moscow streets while desperate battles were still going on at the front.

    Those of us students who were selected to take part in the parade wore through more than one pair of soles as the result of our daily four-hour exercises on the parade ground. We were drilled very strictly, for military exercises were not regarded as of much importance in the college, and so normally they were neglected. Now we were forced to acquire the infantry knowledge that we lacked. In preparation for the parade we polished our buttons and buckles till they dazzled, and tried on our new uniforms again and again.

    And now this endless steady drizzle was falling. We knew that if the weather were unfavorable the civilian demonstration would not be held only the military parade. Soldiers are used to being wet to the skin.

    In the Red Square, the gigantic crimson banners on the buildings of the All-Union Executive Committee and the History Museum hung in heavy folds. In broad daylight the square looked very different from its aspect at night under the gunfire of the salutes. Sober and plain. As if the road did not end but only had it’s beginning here. A gray road into a gray future.

    Eyes right! There, on the platform of the mausoleum, stood the leader, our sorrow and our glory. In honor of the victory, today he had abandoned the modesty of his usual parade uniform and was decked in the brilliant uniform of a generalissimo. When Joseph Vissarionovich signed the order conferring the rank of generalissimo of the Soviet Union on Comrade Stalin, he must have smiled wryly at the thought of his colleagues, Franco and Chiang Kai-shek.

    The picked regiment of the People’s Commissariat headed the parade for Defense and the Moscow garrison. It was followed by the picked regiment of the First Ukrainian Army, which had always been flung in where the main battle was to be fought, and which had stormed into Berlin.

    The picked regiments of victory and glory marched past: tankmen in blue overalls and leather helmets, cossack cavalry units in long Caucasian cloaks with red and blue hoods; airmen with golden wing-badges. The glorious infantry marched past in an endless gray-green band, men of various complexions, various tongues. Now they all had one thing in common: on the chest of each one burned the tokens of intrepidity and heroism, the orders and medals of the great patriotic war, the proofs of faithful war-service to the fatherland.

    At the head of each picked regiment marched the outstanding generals from the various fronts. Gray-blue uniforms, silver belts and swordbelts, lacquered boots. Gold on their buttons, their caps, their orders. The stars glittered, the medals gleamed. They were transformed, were those once so modest proletarian generals.

    Amplified through batteries of loudspeakers, the greetings of the party and government leaders thundered over the Red Square to the victorious army.

    One after another the captured banners of the German divisions, the standards of the S. S. storm troopers, were thrown down at the foot of the mausoleum. Symbols of departed glory, once proudly fluttering over Europe; they lay in a formless, pitiable heap at the foot of the Kremlin wall.

    Despite the rain, despite our soaked uniforms, we felt light and joyful at heart. This was the last solemn act of the great struggle. We had sacrificed so much for this day: flourishing towns and villages, millions and millions of human lives. The bloody wounds that those in search of ’living-space’ had inflicted on us would be gaping for long yet. For many years to come the husbandman’s plough would go on turning up alien bones from the Russian earth, and for many years to come would the burnt-out hulls of tanks go on rusting in the midst of cornfields.

    But all this lay behind us. We had emerged from the struggle as heroes and victors. Through hard work we would heal the wounds, we would begin a peaceful and happy life. We would begin a new life, and all would be better than before the war. There was much that we forgot in our consciousness of victory, as we looked hopefully to the future.

    An old, sturdy sergeant marched along with a weighty step.

    A real rock of a man. Thick whiskers, like those shown in the picture of the old-time Zaporozhe cossack camp; sunburnt face, heavily lined. Rows of orders and distinctions glittered across his chest.

    All his life he had flourished the hammer and sickle, but he had never been able to endure their representation on a red ground with all the trimmings of communist fripperies. Nonetheless, today he threw out his chest, with its many orders bearing these symbols.

    At the front the sergeant had had less regard for his head than for his luxuriant whiskers. During the years of collectivization he had shortened them considerably, in order not to be taken for a kulak. In those days things had been worse than they ever were at the front. In those days nobody knew whether and when fate would knock at their door. But now a free wind seemed to be blowing. You could even grow your whiskers long again.

    During the war many quite young soldiers and officers had let their beards and whiskers grow. Before the war such liberties had been risky. A small beard was regarded as Trotskyist, a thick beard indicated a kulak, a long beard a priest. Then there were merchants’ beards, archbishops’ beards, and generals’ beards. The position was just as bad in regard to mustaches. A small mustache was regarded as ’white-guard’, a bigger one suggested a Tsarist policeman. Over such superficial social distinctions one might find oneself behind bars! But today the old sergeant didn’t know whether to be more proud of his orders or his whiskers.

    There had been great changes during the war years. Before the war, would anyone have dared even to mention the George Crosses of the Tsarist days? The chevaliers of the Cross of St. George had thrown their medals away, or buried them deep in the earth. But today the old sergeant marched across the Red Square, past the Kremlin walls, with four George Crosses hanging on his chest beside the Soviet orders. After that, let anyone tell me that the Soviet regime had not made any revolution, that the collective farms might not be abolished tomorrow! And weren’t the churches open again, weren’t the bells ringing from their belfries?

    Before the war hundreds of thousands of priests had been liquidated as propagators of ’opium for the people’. Of those few that were left in freedom the Soviet people knew only one thing with certainty: they were agents of the Narcomvnudel. Every week, under cover of darkness, they slipped through the doors of the Narcomvnudel with reports on their flocks.

    But now religious freedom was proclaimed. A clerical training college had been opened in Moscow, and a Special Committee for Religious Affairs had been set up under the Council of People’s Commissars of the U. S. S. R., with Comrade Karpov in charge. The church had been harnessed to the service of the State. It was wiser now, and would obey.

    Only one thing astonished us in all this comedy. The newly opened churches were filled with people. Church weddings had become quite fashionable, especially in the country. Despite everything, it had not been possible to cut religion out of the people’s souls. Even I often felt a hankering to enter the open church doors. But as a student in a Kremlin college I knew certain things only too well. I could not risk the possibility that later the head of the college would hand me a photograph taken of me in the church, with the observation: “You appear to have forgotten that students of the college are strictly forbidden to let themselves be photographed anywhere else but in the college’s special photo-studio.” That was the kind of false step that often served as a ground for expulsion from the college.

    Now, from time to time, church bells, miraculously saved from destruction, sounded over Moscow. Priests were hurriedly brought back from Siberia, straight from forced labor to the altar. Before the calluses had vanished from their hands they were offering up prayers for victory and asking heaven to grant the leader health. The people listened with unconcealed joy to the bells. But nobody had any doubt that the new priests were in close contact with the Narcomvnudel.

    The Narcomvnudel never forgets its old clients. When they have done their eight or ten years in a punitive camp, on their discharge the majority of its prisoners are invited to serve it as informers. “Justify the trust we are putting in you, in giving you back your freedom,” is the way it is put. In reactionary countries, when a prisoner has served his time he is left to his own devices. But we show greater thought for the man. Freedom is granted him as an act of grace, which he must be thankful for, working to justify the ’trust’.

    Innumerable orders glittered on the Red Square. Many new decorations had been created during the war years. Even they had made their evolution backward. The rank-and-file Glory medals instituted in 1944, and the medal for ’Participation in the Great Patriotic War 1941-1945,’ were a direct borrowing from the black and orange ribbons of the Tsarist George Cross.

    New orders, the Ushakov and the Nakhimov, were instituted for admirals and captains in the navy, and medals similarly named for the sailors. The army generals were adorned with Suvorov and Kutuzov orders, the higher officers with the Alexander Nevsky and Bogdan Khmielnitzky orders. But the most widely distributed of all was the Order of the Patriotic War. Not just any war, but the Patriotic War! And for marshals there was a special Victory order, made of gold, platinum, and diamonds, and worth 200, 000 gold rubles.

    Though they remained five-pointed, the stars of these orders were very similar to those issued by Katherine II. And there were Guards regiments again, Guards standards, and Guards distinctions. But in pre-war days? God protects a man from letting the word ’Guards’ slip out!

    The impersonal greeting, ’Good day, Comrade Colonel,’ had been replaced by the official ’Zdravia Zhelayu’ (I wish you health). And the gold epaulettes? In past days the worst charge an investigating officer of the Narcomvnudel could have made against anyone would have been to designate him a ’wearer of gold epaulettes’. The generals, marching along on parade just like the portraits of former Tsarist generals, had mottled silver belts. The ’International’ had been superseded by the new ’Hymn of the Soviet Union’. Even the slogan ’Proletarians of all countries, unite!’ had vanished from the front page of Pravda.

    According to a recent decree of the U. S. S. R. Supreme Soviet, on retirement generals were to receive a piece of land for life tenure, and interest-free loans for the erection of their country houses. There we have the aristocracy of socialism! The only snag to all these blessings was the circumstance that so many of the Soviet generals ended their careers in the Narcomvnudel.

    The people simply went dizzy with all these innovations.

    The victorious army marched in parade step across the Red Square. The drumming of their feet found an echo in my breast. To me, today, the army meant not simply military service: in the army I had first found my fatherland. Before the war I had lived in an illusory world of new concepts: communism, socialism, Soviet farms, collective farms. The papers had given me astronomical figures, fine words and slogans, talk of tractors and factories, new houses and construction works. Nonetheless, like everybody else, in my own life I had experienced inhuman difficulties and privations, though I justified them all by reference to the necessities of ’the great upheaval’.

    But when the war broke out I saw all the wretched impotence of the world in which the Soviet man lived hypnotized by propaganda. Yet as it went on I recognized something greater, I recognized the nation. I felt for the first time that I was a member of the nation, and not merely a unit in a Marxist classification. I was not the only one to realize that: millions shared it. It did not come to us as the result of the new maneuvers of Kremlin policy, suddenly switched over to emphasis on the national, fatherland aspect. That maneuver was rather simply a consequence, a forced way out of the situation that had been created.

    The war stirred the country to its innermost depths, brought to the surface things that hitherto had been concealed in those depths. All the artificial trimmings were pushed into the background, and the true power, man, was restored to the foreground. The man as he really is. In blood and agony is man born; in blood and agony men learn to know one another.

    In the light of real life, among living men, all the theories of dialectical materialism faded and were put in the shade. I realized that all that for which we had made incredible sacrifices over twenty-five years was, if not the product of an experimenter’s delirious fantasy, at any rate only an experiment that called for great improvement. Now as I marched across the Red Square I still saw no way out. But I was thoroughly convinced of the falsity of that which we had lived for in pre-war days.

    The victory parade thundered across the Red square. Dashing soldiers in blue overalls stuck their heads out of the open turrets of the heavy tanks. Proud of their gold epaulettes and their George ribbons, they signaled with their red flags, saluting the Kremlin walls and their leader.

    Generalissimo, today we greet you and congratulate you on the victory! Just as you greet and congratulate us.

    Yet we remind you: do you think of the summer of 1941? Do you remember how you suddenly struck up a new tune? ’Dear brothers and sisters, citizens and citizenesses...’ you said. We could hardly believe our ears. For twenty-five years you had set brother against sister, sister against brother. Until that summer of 1941 the word ’citizen’ was commonly used only by the investigating official sitting behind his desk in the Narcomvnudel, using it as a form of address to an alien, enemy element.

    Where had your communists, your commissars, political functionaries and other ’comrades’ got to then? You were right in calling us ’citizens and citizenesses’. We were not your comrades! When you felt the rope round your neck you called to the people for help. And we came. We died, but we fought. We hungered, but we labored. And we conquered. Yes, we conquered, and not Generalissimo Stalin and his communist party.

    But today, in honor of the victory, I shout a thunderous, triple cheer. And may the walls of the Kremlin tremble!

    Thus victory came. And whenever my thoughts turn to that V-day I recall the thrill in my heart, the feeling that rose in my throat. The victor raised his head and sang his victory-song. And he rejoiced at the road that lay open before him, the road into the future.

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 01

    The Military College


    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

  • Israel Kills Palestinians and Western Liberals Shrug. Their Humanitarianism Is a Sham.

    So, where is the outcry from liberal interventionists across the West? Where is BHL, as Palestinians are being shot and wounded in the hundreds in 2018?

    Where is the call from former U.K. Prime Minister Tony Blair, whose 1999 speech in Chicago defending the concept of a “just war” and a “doctrine of the international community” became a key text for liberal interventionists, for a “no-fly” zone over Gaza? Why does a guest speaker at Ariel Sharon’s funeral have nothing to say about the increasing number of Palestinian funerals?

    Where is the moral outrage from former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Samantha Power, the famously pro-intervention, Pulitzer Prize-winning author of a “A Problem From Hell,” which lamented U.S. inaction in Rwanda, over the sheer number of unarmed Palestinians shot, killed, and injured in recent days? How does she have time to retweet a picture of an elephant and a lion cub, but not to make a statement about the violence in Gaza?

    Where is the demand from Canadian academic-turned-politician Michael Ignatieff, who was once one of the loudest voices in favor of the so-called responsibility to protect doctrine, for peacekeeping troops to be deployed to the Occupied Territories?

    Where are the righteously angry op-eds from Nicholas Kristof of the New York Times, or Richard Cohen of the Washington Post, or David Aaronovitch of The Times of London, demanding concrete action against the human rights abusers of the IDF?

    And where is the appeal from former U.S. Secretary of State and arch-interventionist Madeleine Albright for economic and financial sanctions against the state of Israel? For an arms embargo? For travel bans on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Defense Minister Lieberman, and IDF chief of staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eizenkot?

    Their silence is deafening — and telling. Palestinians, it seems, have been so dehumanized that they don’t deserve a humanitarian intervention

  • Israel’s clash with reality on Gaza -

    The clash in Gaza shows that it’s baseless to distinguish between short-term solutions such as blocking border protests and long-term solutions such as the continued closure of the enclave

    Haaretz Editorial Apr 01, 2018


    The demonstrations organized by Hamas in the Gaza Strip claimed at least 15 Palestinian lives on their first day, in a clash planned to continue for six weeks. The reason for these protests is well-known. As predicted by the army and the security agencies, the harsh conditions in which 2 million Gazans live under an Israeli closure amid a diplomatic solution nowhere in sight have prepared the ground for a mass eruption in which tens of thousands of people took part, people who’ve lost all hope for a better future.
    To really understand Israel and the Palestinians - subscribe to Haaretz
    So far the army has managed to prevent a breach of the border fence and the risk of thousands of Gazans entering Israel, but it would be misleading to picture the events in Gaza as a localized military incident where the winners and losers are measured by the number of deaths and an intact border fence.
    The arena of this campaign isn’t limited to Gaza. On the diplomatic front Israel will now have to deal with international pressure and countries, some of them friendly to Israel, and some that don’t embrace the Israeli script considering Hamas responsible for the civil uprising. The longer the confrontation on the southern border lasts, the greater the chances of East Jerusalem and the West Bank joining in. Jordan, Egypt and other Arab states are concerned that these protests might trickle into their own territory.
    The army may have prepared for every scenario but it’s not authorized to set policy or exceed the principles dictated by the government. These principles and policies have fed the Palestinian protests and are endangering Israel’s security and standing.
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    The confrontation in Gaza shows that it’s groundless to distinguish between short-term solutions such as blocking the border protests and long-term solutions that include a continued closure while waiting for a final diplomatic resolution. The short term dictates the long term and not the other way around, and now it demands the adoption of a new policy.
    The government is pleased that the U.S. administration totally agrees with it to hold the Palestinians responsible for the deadlocked peace process. But the U.S. administration doesn’t have to deal with the tens of thousands of Palestinians at the border fence, the citizens of Israel do. Still, the cabinet prefers to delude people into thinking that a few dozen Israeli snipers near the border will lift the threat.

    “The solution is not a military one,” the military chief of staff repeatedly claims, but it doesn’t seem anyone in the cabinet is listening to him. Reason demands that snipers shouldn’t be the ones to solve a deep-rooted problem, and that fighting over prestige, winners and losers shouldn’t be allowed. The events as well as the apathy shown by the Israeli government demand that Israel’s allies exert their influence to show the government the path it must follow.

  • ’Shoot anyone breaching the fence’: Israeli army gears up for Gaza mass protest -
    Israeli army calling up snipers and extra soldiers to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration ■ Defense officials certain army can prevent Palestinian from crossing Gaza border

    Yaniv Kubovich Mar 29, 2018 10:07 AM


    The defense establishment believes that the army will succeed in preventing Gazans from crossing the border into Israel during the March of Return scheduled for Friday, even if that means Palestinian deaths.
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    Defense officials said Gaza residents do not seem eager to take part in the event, but Hamas is making efforts to bring as many of them as possible to the fence on Friday. As a result, the troops may have to deal with a particularly large demonstration.
    <<This Friday, Israel’s Tear Gas and Tanks Will Confront Palestinian Marchers. But Brute Force Can’t Be Israel’s Only Answer |Opinion

    A Palestinian poster calling for people to join ’The Great March of Return’ on the Gaza-Israel border on Friday, March 30 2018
    Over the last few days the Israel Defense Forces has warned that it would open fire on anyone who tries to breach the border fence and enter Israel.
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    The IDF has brought a brigade, snipers and soldiers from various courses, to help local troops deal with Friday’s demonstration. The snipers have been instructed to shoot demonstrators who breach the fence.
    In a ceremony marking a change of Military Intelligence commanders on Wednesday, Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot said that the situation in Gaza is “highly explosive” and “threatens to damage the sensitive life fabric and safety of the region’s residents.”

    <<Israel’s Defense Minister Says There’s No Humanitarian Crisis in Gaza. Here Are the Facts<<
    Eizenkot visited the Gaza division several times this week to supervise the preparations. On Wednesday he and Shin Bet chief Argaman presented to the cabinet ministers preparations and intelligence evaluations ahead of the events, noting that stopping the Palestinians from crossing the fence and entering Israel was the troops’ main task.
    They also presented a scenario in which a large crowd comes to the tent compound on the other side of the fence. The assessment is that the army will manage to handle the event, though possibly only at the cost of Palestinian fatalities.

    ’Grandfather, we will return soon’ - Palestinian poster ahead of ’The Great Return March’
    On Wednesday, the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories, Major General Yoav Mordechai, warned the Palestinian bus companies slated to carry demonstrators to the fence that their entry permits would be revoked.
    “We contacted more than 20 bus companies in Gaza, who were paid by Hamas to take people to violent demonstrations and warned that we’ll take personal steps against their owners,” he said.
    Preparations for Friday’s event come in the wake of growing tension along the Gaza border and several attempts — some successful — to cross it.
    On Wednesday, the army struck two Hamas observation posts in the northern Gaza Strip after two Palestinians set a fire near the border fence. The suspects did not cross into Israel.
    Also Wednesday, a Palestinian from Gaza was arrested on the Zikim beach in Israel near the Gaza border and taken in for questioning. He was unarmed.
    On Tuesday, three Palestinians, armed with grenades and knives, were found and arrested after infiltrating 20 kilometers into Israeli territory. On Saturday, Israel struck Hamas targets after four Palestinians carrying bottles filled with flammable material approached the fence on foot and managed to cross the border into Israel near Kibbutz Kissufim.
    The army also said it will impose a closure on the West Bank and Gaza crossings for the duration of the Passover holiday. The closure will begin Thursday at midnight and be lifted on Saturday, April 7. The army added that passage will be allowed for humanitarian and medical cases, pending approval by the Coordinator of Government Activities in the Territories.

  • Separating children and parents at the border is cruel and unnecessary

    The Trump administration has shown that it’s willing — eager, actually — to go to great lengths to limit illegal immigration into the United States, from building a multi-billion-dollar border wall with Mexico to escalated roundups that grab those living here without permission even if they have no criminal record and are longtime, productive members of their communities. Now the administration’s cold-hearted approach to enforcement has crossed the line into abject inhumanity: the forced separation of children from parents as they fight for legal permission to remain in the country.

    How widespread is the practice? That’s unclear. The Department of Homeland Security declined comment because it is being sued over the practice. It ignored a request for statistics on how many children it has separated from their parents, an unsurprising lack of transparency from an administration that faces an unprecedented number of lawsuits over its failure to respond to Freedom of Information Act requests for government — read: public — records. But immigrant rights activists say they have noticed a jump, and in December, a coalition of groups filed a complaint with Homeland Security over the practice.
    When parents and children cross the border and tell border patrol agents they would like to apply for asylum, they often are taken into custody while their request is considered. Under the Obama administration, the families were usually released to the care of a relative or organization, or held in a family detention center. But under President Trump, the parents — usually mothers traveling without their spouses — who sneak across the border then turn themselves in are increasing being charged with the misdemeanor crime of entering the country illegally, advocates say. And since that is a criminal charge, not a civil violation of immigration codes, the children are spirited away to a youth detention center with no explanation. Sometimes, parents and children are inexplicably separated even when no charges are lodged. Activists believe the government is splitting families to send a message of deterrence: Dare to seek asylum at the border and we’ll take your child.

    #frontières #unité_familiale #séparation #enfants #enfance #parents #asile #migrations #réfugiés #USA #Etats-Unis #détention_administrative #rétention #dissuasion

    • Familias rotas, familias vaciadas

      Es delgada y pequeña. No rebasa el 1.60. La habitación en la que duerme —en el segundo piso del albergue para veteranos deportados que creó Héctor Barajas— tiene una cama con un oso de peluche que ella misma confeccionó y una mesa para cuatro personas. La sonrisa que a veces asoma en su rostro nunca llega a sus ojos, oscuros y con marcadas ojeras. Se llama Yolanda Varona y tiene prohibido, de por vida, entrar a Estados Unidos, el país donde trabajó 16 años y donde viven sus dos hijos y tres nietos.


    • Taking Migrant Children From Parents Is Illegal, U.N. Tells U.S.

      The Trump administration’s practice of separating children from migrant families entering the United States violates their rights and international law, the United Nations human rights office said on Tuesday, urging an immediate halt to the practice.

      The administration angrily rejected what it called an ignorant attack by the United Nations human rights office and accused the global organization of hypocrisy.

      The human rights office said it appeared that, as The New York Times revealed in April, United States authorities had separated several hundred children, including toddlers, from their parents or others claiming to be their family members, under a policy of criminally prosecuting undocumented people crossing the border.

      That practice “amounts to arbitrary and unlawful interference in family life, and is a serious violation of the rights of the child,” Ravina Shamdasani, a spokeswoman for the Office of the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, based in Geneva, told reporters.

      Last month, the Trump administration announced a “zero tolerance” policy for illegal border crossings, saying that it would significantly increase criminal prosecutions of migrants. Officials acknowledged that putting more adults in jail would mean separating more children from their families.

      “The U.S. should immediately halt this practice of separating families and stop criminalizing what should at most be an administrative offense — that of irregular entry or stay in the U.S.,” Ms. Shamdasani said.

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      The United States ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki R. Haley, clearly showed American irritation with the accusation in a statement released a few hours later.

      “Once again, the United Nations shows its hypocrisy by calling out the United States while it ignores the reprehensible human rights records of several members of its own Human Rights Council,” Ms. Haley said. “While the High Commissioner’s office ignorantly attacks the United States with words, the United States leads the world with its actions, like providing more humanitarian assistance to global conflicts than any other nation.”

      Without addressing the specifics of the accusation, Ms. Haley said: “Neither the United Nations nor anyone else will dictate how the United States upholds its borders.”
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      The administration has characterized its policy as being about illegal immigration, though many of the detained migrants — including those in families that are split apart — enter at official border crossings and request asylum, which is not an illegal entry. It has also said that some adults falsely claim to be the parents of accompanying children, a genuine problem, and that it has to sort out their claims.

      On Twitter, President Trump has appeared to agree that breaking up families was wrong, but blamed Democrats for the approach, saying that their “bad legislation” had caused it. In fact, no law requires separating children from families, and the practice was put in place by his administration just months ago.

      The Times found in April that over six months, about 700 children had been taken from people claiming to be their parents.

      The American Civil Liberties Union says that since then, the pace of separations has accelerated sharply. Lee Gelernt, deputy director of the group’s immigrant rights project, said that in the past five weeks, close to 1,000 children may have been taken from their families.

      Last year, as Homeland Security secretary, John F. Kelly raised the idea of separating children from their families when they entered the country as a way to deter movement across the Mexican border.

      Homeland Security officials have since denied that they separate families as part of a policy of deterrence, but have also faced sharp criticism from President Trump for failing to do more to curb the numbers of migrants crossing the border.

      For the United Nations, it was a matter of great concern that in the United States “migration control appears to have been prioritized over the effective care and protection of migrant children,” Ms. Shamdasani said.

      The United States is the only country in the world that has not ratified the Convention on the Rights of the Child, she noted, but the practice of separating and detaining children breached its obligations under other international human rights conventions it has joined.

      “Children should never be detained for reasons related to their own or their parents’ migration status. Detention is never in the best interests of the child and always constitutes a child rights violation,” she said, calling on the authorities to adopt noncustodial alternatives.

      The A.C.L.U. has filed a class-action lawsuit in federal court in San Diego, calling for a halt to the practice and for reunification of families.


    • U.S. policy of separating refugees from children is illegal, horrific

      Somewhere in #Texas, a 3-year-old is crying into her pillow. She left all her toys behind when she fled Guatemala. And on this day the U.S. government took her mother away.

      When we read about the U.S. administration’s new policy of trying to stop people from crossing its borders by taking away their children, we too had trouble sleeping.


    • What’s Really Happening When Asylum-Seeking Families Are Separated ?

      An expert on helping parents navigate the asylum process describes what she’s seeing on the ground.

      Everyone involved in U.S. immigration along the border has a unique perspective on the new “zero tolerance” policies—most notably, the increasing number of migrant parents who are separated from their children. Some workers are charged with taking the children away from their parents and sending them into the care of Health and Human Services. Some are contracted to find housing for the children and get them food. Some volunteers try to help the kids navigate the system. Some, like Anne Chandler, assist the parents. As executive director of the Houston office of the nonprofit Tahirih Justice Center, which focuses on helping immigrant women and children, she has been traveling to the border and to detention centers, listening to the parents’ stories. We asked her to talk with us about what she has been hearing in recent weeks.

      This interview has been edited for clarity and length.

      Texas Monthly: First, can you give us an overview of your organization?

      Anne Chandler: We run the Children’s Border Project, and we work with hundreds of kids that have been released from ORR [Office of Refugee Resettlement] care. We are not a legal service provider that does work when they’re in the shelters. To date, most of our work with that issue of family separation has been working with the parents in the days when they are being separated: when they’re in the federal courthouse being convicted; partnering with the federal public defenders; and then in the adult detention center, as they have no idea how to communicate or speak to their children or get them back before being deported.

      TM: Can you take me through what you’ve been seeing?

      AC: The short of it is, we will take sample sizes of numbers and individuals we’re seeing that are being prosecuted for criminal entry. The majority of those are free to return to the home country. Vast majority. We can’t quite know exactly because our sample size is between one hundred and two hundred individuals. But 90 percent of those who are being convicted are having their children separated from them. The 10 percent that aren’t are some mothers who are going with their children to the detention centers in Karnes and Dilley. But, for the most part, the ones that I’ve been working with are the ones that are actually being prosecuted for criminal entry, which is a pretty new thing for our country—to take first-time asylum seekers who are here seeking safe refuge, to turn around and charge them with a criminal offense. Those parents are finding themselves in adult detention centers and in a process known as expedited removal, where many are being deported. And their children, on the other hand, are put in a completely different legal structure. They are categorized as unaccompanied children and thus are being put in place in a federal agency not with the Department of Homeland Security but with Health and Human Services. And Health and Human Services has this complicated structure in place where they’re not viewed as a long-term foster care system—that’s for very limited numbers—but their general mandate is to safeguard these children in temporary shelters and then find family members with whom they can be placed. So they start with parents, and then they go to grandparents, and then they go to other immediate family members, and then they go to acquaintances, people who’ve known the children, and they’re in that system, but they can’t be released to their parents because their parents are behind bars. And we may see more parents that get out of jail because they pass a “credible fear” interview, which is the screening done by the asylum office to see who should be deported quickly, within days or weeks of arrival, and who should stay here and have an opportunity to present their asylum case before an immigration judge of the Department of Justice. So we have a lot of individuals who are in that credible fear process right now, but in Houston, once you have a credible fear interview (which will sometimes take two to three weeks to even set up), those results aren’t coming out for four to six weeks. Meanwhile, these parents are just kind of languishing in these detention centers because of the zero-tolerance policy. There’s no individual adjudication of whether the parents should be put on some form of alternative detention program so that they can be in a position to be reunited with their kid.

      TM: So, just so I make sure I understand: the parents come in and say, “We’re persecuted” or give some reason for asylum. They come in. And then their child or children are taken away and they’re in lockup for at least six weeks away from the kids and often don’t know where the kids are. Is that what’s happening under zero tolerance?

      AC: So the idea of zero tolerance under the stated policy is that we don’t care why you’re afraid. We don’t care if it’s religion, political, gangs, anything. For all asylum seekers, you are going to be put in jail, in a detention center, and you’re going to have your children taken away from you. That’s the policy. They’re not 100 percent able to implement that because of a lot of reasons, including just having enough judges on the border. And bed space. There’s a big logistical problem because this is a new policy. So the way they get to that policy of taking the kids away and keeping the adults in detention centers and the kids in a different federal facility is based on the legal rationale that we’re going to convict you, and since we’re going to convict you, you’re going to be in the custody of the U.S. Marshals, and when that happens, we’re taking your kid away. So they’re not able to convict everybody of illegal entry right now just because there aren’t enough judges on the border right now to hear the number of cases that come over, and then they say if you have religious persecution or political persecution or persecution on something that our asylum definition recognizes, you can fight that case behind bars at an immigration detention center. And those cases take two, three, four, five, six months. And what happens to your child isn’t really our concern. That is, you have made the choice to bring your child over illegally. And this is what’s going to happen.

      TM: Even if they crossed at a legal entry point?

      AC: Very few people come to the bridge. Border Patrol is saying the bridge is closed. When I was last out in McAllen, people were stacked on the bridge, sleeping there for three, four, ten nights. They’ve now cleared those individuals from sleeping on the bridge, but there are hundreds of accounts of asylum seekers, when they go to the bridge, who are told, “I’m sorry, we’re full today. We can’t process your case.” So the families go illegally on a raft—I don’t want to say illegally; they cross without a visa on a raft. Many of them then look for Border Patrol to turn themselves in, because they know they’re going to ask for asylum. And under this government theory—you know, in the past, we’ve had international treaties, right? Statutes which codified the right of asylum seekers to ask for asylum. Right? Article 31 of the Refugee Convention clearly says that it is improper for any state to use criminal laws that could deter asylum seekers as long as that asylum seeker is asking for asylum within a reasonable amount of time. But our administration is kind of ignoring this longstanding international and national jurisprudence of basic beliefs to make this distinction that, if you come to a bridge, we’re not going to prosecute you, but if you come over the river and then find immigration or are caught by immigration, we’re prosecuting you.

      TM: So if you cross any other way besides the bridge, we’re prosecuting you. But . . . you can’t cross the bridge.

      AC: That’s right. I’ve talked to tons of people. There are organizations like Al Otro Lado that document border turn-backs. And there’s an effort to accompany asylum seekers so that Customs and Border Patrol can’t say, “We’re closed.” Everybody we’ve talked to who’s been prosecuted or separated has crossed the river without a visa.

      TM: You said you were down there recently?

      AC: Monday, June 4.

      TM: What was happening on the bridge at that point?

      AC: I talked to a lot of people who were there Saturdays and Sundays, a lot of church groups that are going, bringing those individuals umbrellas because they were in the sun. It’s morning shade, and then the sun—you know, it’s like 100 degrees on the cement. It’s really, really hot. So there were groups bringing diapers and water bottles and umbrellas and electric fans, and now everyone’s freaked out because they’re gone! What did they do with them? Did they process them all? Yet we know they’re saying you’re turned back. When I was in McAllen, the individuals that day who visited people on the bridge had been there four days. We’re talking infants; there were people breastfeeding on the bridge.

      TM: Are the infants taken as well?

      AC: Every border zone is different. We definitely saw a pattern in McAllen. We talked to 63 parents who had lost their children that day in the court. Of those, the children seemed to be all five and older. What we know from the shelters and working with people is that, yes, there are kids that are very young, that are breastfeeding babies and under three in the shelters, separated from their parents. But I’m just saying, in my experience, all those kids and all the parents’ stories were five and up.

      TM: Can you talk about how you’ve seen the process change over the past few months?

      AC: The zero-tolerance policy really started with Jeff Sessions’s announcement in May. One could argue that this was the original policy that we started seeing in the executive orders. One was called “border security and immigration enforcement.” And a lot of the principles underlying zero tolerance are found here. The idea is that we’re going to prosecute people.

      TM: And the policy of separating kids from parents went into effect when?

      AC: They would articulate it in various ways with different officials, but as immigration attorneys, starting in October, were like, “Oh my goodness. They are telling us these are all criminal lawbreakers and they’re going to have their children taken away.” We didn’t know what it would mean. And so we saw about six hundred children who were taken away from October to May, then we saw an explosion of the numbers in May. It ramped up. The Office of Refugee Resettlement taking in all these kids says that they are our children, that they are unaccompanied. It’s a fabrication. They’re not unaccompanied children. They are children that came with their parents, and the idea that we’re creating this crisis—it’s a manufactured crisis where we’re going to let children suffer to somehow allow this draconian approach with families seeking shelter and safe refuge.

      TM: So what is the process for separation?

      AC: There is no one process. Judging from the mothers and fathers I’ve spoken to and those my staff has spoken to, there are several different processes. Sometimes they will tell the parent, “We’re taking your child away.” And when the parent asks, “When will we get them back?” they say, “We can’t tell you that.” Sometimes the officers will say, “because you’re going to be prosecuted” or “because you’re not welcome in this country” or “because we’re separating them,” without giving them a clear justification. In other cases, we see no communication that the parent knows that their child is to be taken away. Instead, the officers say, “I’m going to take your child to get bathed.” That’s one we see again and again. “Your child needs to come with me for a bath.” The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.” Sometimes mothers—I was talking to one mother, and she said, “Don’t take my child away,” and the child started screaming and vomiting and crying hysterically, and she asked the officers, “Can I at least have five minutes to console her?” They said no. In another case, the father said, “Can I comfort my child? Can I hold him for a few minutes?” The officer said, “You must let them go, and if you don’t let them go, I will write you up for an altercation, which will mean that you are the one that had the additional charges charged against you.” So, threats. So the father just let the child go. So it’s a lot of variations. But sometimes deceit and sometimes direct, just “I’m taking your child away.” Parents are not getting any information on what their rights are to communicate to get their child before they are deported, what reunification may look like. We spoke to nine parents on this Monday, which was the 11th, and these were adults in detention centers outside of Houston. They had been separated from their child between May 23 and May 25, and as of June 11, not one of them had been able to talk to their child or knew a phone number that functioned from the detention center director. None of them had direct information from immigration on where their child was located. The one number they were given by some government official from the Department of Homeland Security was a 1-800 number. But from the phones inside the detention center, they can’t make those calls. We know there are more parents who are being deported without their child, without any process or information on how to get their child back.

      TM: And so it’s entirely possible that children will be left in the country without any relatives?

      AC: Could be, yeah.

      TM: And if the child is, say, five years old . . .?

      AC: The child is going through deportation proceedings, so the likelihood that that child is going to be deported is pretty high.

      TM: How do they know where to deport the child to, or who the parents are?

      AC: How does that child navigate their deportation case without their parent around?

      TM: Because a five-year-old doesn’t necessarily know his parents’ information.

      AC: In the shelters, they can’t even find the parents because the kids are just crying inconsolably. They often don’t know the full legal name of their parents or their date of birth. They’re not in a position to share a trauma story like what caused the migration. These kids and parents had no idea. None of the parents I talked to were expecting to be separated as they faced the process of asking for asylum.

      TM: I would think that there would be something in place where, when the child is taken, they’d be given a wristband or something with their information on it?

      AC: I think the Department of Homeland Security gives the kids an alien number. They also give the parents an alien number and probably have that information. The issue is that the Department of Homeland Security is not the one caring for the children. Jurisdiction of that child has moved over to Health and Human Services, and the Health and Human Services staff has to figure out, where is this parent? And that’s not easy. Sometimes the parents are deported. Kids are in New York and Miami, and we’ve got parents being sent to Tacoma, Washington, and California. Talk about a mess. And nobody has a right to an attorney here. These kids don’t get a paid advocate or an ad litem or a friend of the court. They don’t get a paid attorney to represent them. Some find that, because there are programs. But it’s not a right. It’s not universal.

      TM: What agency is in charge of physically separating the children and the adults?

      AC: The Department of Homeland Security. We saw the separation take place while they were in the care and custody of Customs and Border Protection. That’s where it was happening, at a center called the Ursula, which the immigrants called La Perrera, because it looked like a dog pound, a dog cage. It’s a chain-link fence area, long running areas that remind Central Americans of the way people treat dogs.

      TM: So the Department of Homeland Security does the separation and then they immediately pass the kids to HHS?

      AC: I don’t have a bird’s-eye view of this, besides interviewing parents. Parents don’t know. All they know is that the kid hasn’t come back to their little room in CBP. Right? We know from talking to advocates and attorneys who have access to the shelters that they think that these kids leave in buses to shelters run by the Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement Department of Unaccompanied Children Services—which, on any given day there’s like three thousand kids in the Harlingen-Brownsville area. We know there are eight, soon to be nine, facilities in Houston. And they’re going to open up this place in Tornillo, along the border by El Paso. And they’re opening up places in Miami. They’re past capacity. This is a cyclical time, where rates of migration increase. So now you’re creating two populations. One is your traditional unaccompanied kids who are just coming because their life is at risk right now in El Salvador and Honduras and parts of Guatemala, and they come with incredible trauma, complex stories, and need a lot of resources, and so they navigate this immigration system. And now we have this new population, which is totally different: the young kids who don’t hold their stories and aren’t here to self-navigate the system and are crying out for their parents. There are attorneys that get money to go in and give rights presentations to let the teenagers know what they can ask for in court, what’s happening with their cases, and now the attorneys are having a hard time doing that because right next to them, in the other room, they’ve got kids crying and wailing, asking for their mom and dad. The attorneys can’t give these kids information. They’re just trying to learn grounding exercises.

      TM: Do you know if siblings are allowed to stay together?

      AC: We don’t know. I dealt with one father who knew that siblings were not at the same location from talking to his family member. He believes they’re separated. But I have no idea. Can’t answer that question.

      TM: Is there another nonprofit similar to yours that handles kids more than adults?

      AC: Yes: in Houston it’s Catholic Charities. We know in Houston they are going to open up shelters specific for the tender-age kids, which is defined as kids under twelve. And that’s going to be by Minute Maid Stadium. And that facility is also going to have some traditional demographic of pregnant teenagers. But it’s going to be a young kid—and young kids are, almost by definition, separated. Kids usually do not migrate on their own at that age.

      TM: That’s usually teens?

      AC: Teens. Population is thirteen to seventeen, with many more fifteen-, sixteen-, and seventeen-year-olds than thirteen- and fourteen-year-olds. They’re riding on top of trains. You know, the journey is very dangerous. Usually that’s the age where the gangs start taking the girls and saying “you’re going to be my sex slave”–type of stuff. I’ve heard that it’s going to be run by a nonprofit. ORR does not hold the shelters directly. They contract with nonprofits whose job it is to provide essential food, mental health care, caseworkers to try to figure out who they’re going to be released to, and all those functions to nonprofits, and I think the nonprofit in charge of this one is Southwest Key.

      TM: So how long do the kids stay in the facility?

      AC: It used to be, on average, thirty days. But that’s going up now. There are many reasons for that: one, these facilities and ORR are not used to working with this demographic of young children. Two, DHS is sharing information with ORR on the background of those families that are taking these children, and we’ve seen raids where they’re going to where the children are and looking for individuals in those households who are undocumented. So there is reticence and fear of getting these children if there’s someone in the household who is not a citizen.

      TM: So if I’m understanding correctly, a relative can say, “Well, I can pick that kid up; that’s my niece.” She comes and picks up the child. And then DHS will follow them home? Is that what you’re saying?

      AC: No. The kid would go to the aunt’s house, but let’s just imagine that she is here on a visa, a student visa, but the aunt falls out of visa status and is undocumented and her information, her address, is at the top of DHS’s files. So we’ve seen this happen a lot: a month or two weeks after kids have been released, DHS goes to those foster homes and arrests people and puts people in jail and deports them.

      TM: And then I guess they start all over again trying to find a home for those kids?

      AC: Right.

      TM: What is explained to the kids about the proceedings, and who explains it to them?

      AC: The Health and Human Services Office of Refugee Resettlement goes through an organization called the Vera Institute of Justice that then contracts with nonprofit organizations who hire attorneys and other specialized bilingual staff to go into these shelters and give what they call legal orientation programs for children, and they do group orientation. Sometimes they speak to the kids individually and try to explain to them, “This is the process here; and you’re going to have to go see an immigration judge; and these are your rights before a judge; you won’t have an attorney for your case, but you can hire one. If you’re afraid to go back to your country, you have to tell the judge.” That type of stuff.

      TM: And if the child is five, and alone, doesn’t have older siblings or cousins—

      AC: Or three or four. They’re young in our Houston detention centers. And that’s where these attorneys are frustrated—they can’t be attorneys. How do they talk and try to console and communicate with a five-year-old who is just focused on “I want my mom or dad,” right?

      TM: Are the kids whose parents are applying for asylum processed differently from kids whose parents are not applying for asylum?

      AC: I don’t know. These are questions we ask DHS, but we don’t know the answers.

      TM: Why don’t you get an answer?

      AC: I don’t know. To me, if you’re going to justify this in some way under the law, the idea that these parents don’t have the ability to obtain very simple answers—what are my rights and when can I be reunited with my kid before I’m deported without them?—is horrible. And has to go far below anything we, as a civil society of law, should find acceptable. The fact that I, as an attorney specializing in this area, cannot go to a detention center and tell a mother or father what the legal procedure is for them to get their child or to reunite with their child, even if they want to go home?

      And my answer is, “I don’t think you can.” In my experience, they’re not releasing these children to the parents as they’re deported. To put a structure like that in place and the chaos in the system for “deterrence” and then carry out so much pain on the backs of some already incredibly traumatized mothers and fathers who have already experienced sometimes just horrific violence is unacceptable.


      Mise en exergue d’un passage :

      The child goes off, and in a half an hour, twenty minutes, the parent inquires, “Where is my five-year-old?” “Where’s my seven-year-old?” “This is a long bath.” And they say, “You won’t be seeing your child again.”

    • Why the US is separating migrant children from their parents

      US Attorney General Jeff Sessions has defended the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border with Mexico, a measure that has faced increasing criticism.

      The “zero-tolerance” policy he announced last month sees adults who try to cross the border, many planning to seek asylum, being placed in custody and facing criminal prosecution for illegal entry.

      As a result, hundreds of minors are now being housed in detention centres, and kept away from their parents.
      What is happening?

      Over a recent six-week period, nearly 2,000 children were separated from their parents after illegally crossing the border, figures released on Friday said.

      Mr Sessions said those entering the US irregularly would be criminally prosecuted, a change to a long-standing policy of charging most of those crossing for the first time with a misdemeanour offence.

      As the adults are being charged with a crime, the children that come with them are being separated and deemed unaccompanied minors.

      Advocates of separations point out that hundreds of children are taken from parents who commit crimes in the US on a daily basis.

      As such, they are placed in custody of the Department of Health and Human Services and sent to a relative, foster home or a shelter - officials at those places are said to be already running out of space to house them.

      In recent days, a former Walmart in Texas has been converted into a detention centre for immigrant children.

      Officials have also announced plans to erect tent cities to hold hundreds more children in the Texas desert where temperatures regularly reach 40C (105F).

      Local lawmaker Jose Rodriguez described the plan as “totally inhumane” and “outrageous”, adding: “It should be condemned by anyone who has a moral sense of responsibility.”

      US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) officials estimate that around 1,500 people are arrested each day for illegally crossing the border.

      In the first two weeks of the “zero-tolerance” new approach, 658 minors - including many babies and toddlers - were separated from the adults that came with them, according to the CBP.

      The practice, however, was apparently happening way before that, with reports saying more than 700 families had been affected between October and April.

      Not only the families crossing irregularly are being targeted, activists who work at the border say, but also those presenting themselves at a port of entry.

      “This is really extreme, it’s nothing like we have seen before,” said Michelle Brané, director of Migrant Rights and Justice at the Women’s Refugee Commission, a New York-based non-governmental organisation that is helping some of these people.

      In many of the cases, the families have already been reunited, after the parent was released from detention. However, there are reports of people being kept apart for weeks and even months.

      Family separations had been reported in previous administrations but campaigners say the numbers then were very small.
      Whose fault is it?

      Mr Trump has blamed Democrats for the policy, saying “we have to break up the families” because of a law that “Democrats gave us”.

      It is unclear what law he is referring to, but no law has been passed by the US Congress that mandates that migrant families be separated.

      Fact-checkers say that the only thing that has changed is the Justice Department’s decision to criminally prosecute parents for a first-time border crossing offence. Because their children are not charged with a crime, they are not permitted to be jailed together.

      Under a 1997 court decision known as the Flores settlement, children who come to the US alone are required to be released to their parents, an adult relative, or other caretaker.

      If those options are all exhausted, then the government must find the “least restrictive” setting for the child “without unnecessary delay”.

      The case initially applied to unaccompanied child arrivals, but a 2016 court decision expanded it to include children brought with their parents.

      According to the New York Times, the government has three options under the Flores settlement - release whole families together, pass a law to allow for families to be detained together, or break up families.

      It is worth noting that Mr Trump’s chief of staff John Kelly - who previously served as the head of Homeland Security - said in 2017 that the White House was considering separating families as a means of deterring parents from trying to cross the border.
      What do the figures show?

      The number of families trying to enter the US overland without documentation is on the rise. For the fourth consecutive month in May, there was an increase in the number of people caught crossing the border irregularly - in comparison with the same month of 2017, the rise was of 160%.

      “The trends are clear: this must end,” Mr Sessions said last month.

      It is not clear, though, if the tougher measures will stop the migrants. Most are fleeing violence and poverty in Central American countries like El Salvador, Guatemala and Honduras and staying, for many, could mean a death sentence.

      Human rights groups, campaigners and Democrats have sharply criticised the separations, warning of the long-term trauma on the children. Meanwhile the UN Human Rights Office called on the US to “immediately halt” them.

      But Mr Sessions has defended the measure, saying the separations were “not our goal” but it was not always possible to keep parents and children together.
      What is the policy in other countries?

      No other country has a policy of separating families who intend to seek asylum, activists say.

      In the European Union, which faced its worst migrant crisis in decades three years ago, most asylum seekers are held in reception centres while their requests are processed - under the bloc’s Dublin Regulation, people must be registered in their first country of arrival.

      Measures may vary in different member states but families are mostly kept together.

      Even in Australia, which has some of the world’s most restrictive policies, including the detention of asylum seekers who arrive by boat in controversial offshore centres, there is no policy to separate parents from their children upon arrival.

      Meanwhile, Canada has a deal with the US that allows it to deny asylum requests from those going north. It has tried to stem the number of migrants crossing outside border posts after a surge of Haitians and Nigerians coming from its neighbour. However, there were no reports of families being forcibly separated.

      “What the US is doing now, there is no equivalent,” said Michael Flynn, executive director of the Geneva-based Global Detention Project, a non-profit group focused on the rights of detained immigrants. “There’s nothing like this anywhere”.

      Republicans in the House of Representatives have unveiled legislation to keep families together but it is unlikely to win the support of its own party or the White House.


    • Les récits de la détresse d’enfants de migrants créent l’émoi aux Etats-Unis

      Plus de 2000 enfants ont été séparés de leurs parents depuis l’entrée en vigueur en avril de la politique de « tolérance zéro » en matière d’immigration illégale aux Etats-Unis. Ces jours, plusieurs témoignages ont ému dans le pays.


    • Etats-Unis : quand la sécurité des frontières rime avec torture d’enfants mineurs

      Au Texas, dans un centre de détention, un enregistrement audio d’enfants migrants âgés entre 4 à 10 ans pleurant et appelant leurs parents alors qu’ils viennent d’être séparés d’eux, vient de faire surface.

      Cet enregistrement a fuité de l’intérieur, remis à l’avocate Jennifer Harbury qui l’a transféré au média d’investigation américain ProPublica. L’enregistrement a été placé sur les images filmées dans ce centre. Il soulève l’indignation des américains et du monde entier. Elles sont une torture pour nous, spectateurs impuissants de la barbarie d’un homme, Donald Trump et de son administration.

      Le rythme des séparations s’est beaucoup accéléré depuis début mai, lorsque le ministre de la Justice Jeff Sessions a annoncé que tous les migrants passant illégalement la frontière seraient arrêtés, qu’ils soient accompagnés de mineurs ou pas. Du 5 mai au 9 juin 2018 quelque 2’342 enfants ont été séparés de leurs parents placés en détention, accusés d’avoir traversé illégalement la frontière. C’est le résultat d’une politique sécuritaire dite de “tolérance zéro” qui criminalise ces entrées même lorsqu’elles sont justifiées par le dépôt d’une demande d’asile aux Etats-Unis. Un protocol empêche la détention d’enfants avec leurs parents. Ils sont alors placés dans des centres fermés qui ressemblent tout autant à des prisons adaptées.


    • Aux États-Unis, le traumatisme durable des enfants migrants

      Trump a beau avoir mis fin à la séparation forcée des familles à la frontière, plus de 2 000 enfants migrants seraient encore éparpillés dans le pays. Le processus de regroupement des familles s’annonce long et douloureux.

      #caricature #dessin_de_presse

  • Report says U.S. officials are concerned that Israel and others attempted to manipulate Kushner

    Israel, China, the UAE and Mexico tried to sway Kushner to promote their interests, a report claims amid news that Trump’s son-in-law and adviser was stripped of his interim security clearance

    Amir Tibon (Washington) Feb 28, 2018

    WASHINGTON– Officials in the U.S. government and intelligence community are concerned that foreign governments, including the Israeli government, were trying to “manipulate” Jared Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser, according to a report published on Tuesday by the Washington Post. The report stated that officials from Israel, China, the UAE and Mexico had all discussed how they can use Kushner’s business interests to influence his foreign policy work in the White House.
    According to the report, Trump’s National Security Adviser, General H.R. McMaster, “learned that Kushner had contacts with foreign officials that he did not coordinate through the National Security Council or officially report.” It also stated that “Officials in the White House were concerned that Kushner was ’naive and being tricked’ in conversations with foreign officials - some of whom said they wanted to deal only with Kushner directly and not more experienced personnel”.
    Top secret downgrade
    The report comes amidst tensions in the White House over the issue of Kushner’s access to top secret intelligence. Politico reported on Tuesday that White House Chief of Staff John Kelly has decided to strip Kushner of his access to certain areas of sensitive intelligence, in light of the fact that Kushner has failed to obtain permanent security clearance from the U.S. intelligence community.
    The Washington Post report concerning foreign governments’ alleged attempt to influence the senior White House aide could be seen as a possible explanation for Kushner’s difficulties in receiving his security clearance.
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    A lawyer representing Kushner said in reply to the report: “We will not respond substantively to unnamed sources peddling second-hand hearsay with rank speculation that continue to leak inaccurate information.”

    A spokesperson for the White said that General McMaster has “the highest regard” for Kushner and that both of them work closely together on foreign policy issues.
    The Israeli Embassy in Washington refused to comment.
    The report did not contain details about the alleged attempts by the foreign governments, including the Israeli government, to “manipulate” Kushner based on his business interests.
    One of Kushner’s main areas of responsibility in the White House is leading the administration’s Middle East peace team, which is working on an Israeli-Palestinian peace plan.