• The Vulnerability Contest

    Traumatized Afghan child soldiers who were forced to fight in Syria struggle to find protection in Europe’s asylum lottery.

    Mosa did not choose to come forward. Word had spread among the thousands of asylum seekers huddled inside Moria that social workers were looking for lone children among the general population. High up on the hillside, in the Afghan area of the chaotic refugee camp on the Greek island of Lesbos, some residents knew someone they suspected was still a minor. They led the aid workers to Mosa.

    The boy, whose broad and beardless face mark him out as a member of the Hazara ethnic group, had little reason to trust strangers. It was hard to persuade him just to sit with them and listen. Like many lone children, Mosa had slipped through the age assessment carried out on first arrival at Moria: He was registered as 27 years old. With the help of a translator, the social worker explained that there was still time to challenge his classification as an adult. But Mosa did not seem to be able to engage with what he was being told. It would take weeks to establish trust and reveal his real age and background.

    Most new arrivals experience shock when their hopes of a new life in Europe collide with Moria, the refugee camp most synonymous with the miserable consequences of Europe’s efforts to contain the flow of refugees and migrants across the Aegean. When it was built, the camp was meant to provide temporary shelter for fewer than 2,000 people. Since the European Union struck a deal in March 2016 with Turkey under which new arrivals are confined to Greece’s islands, Moria’s population has swollen to 9,000. It has become notorious for overcrowding, snowbound tents, freezing winter deaths, violent protests and suicides by adults and children alike.

    While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Stathis Poularakis is a lawyer who previously served for two years on an appeal committee dealing with asylum cases in Greece and has worked extensively on Lesbos. While all asylum systems are subjective, he said that the situation on Greece’s islands has turned the search for protection into a “lottery.”

    Asylum claims on Lesbos can take anywhere between six months and more than two years to be resolved. In the second quarter of 2018, Greece faced nearly four times as many asylum claims per capita as Germany. The E.U. has responded by increasing the presence of the European Asylum Support Office (EASO) and broadening its remit so that EASO officials can conduct asylum interviews. But the promises that EASO will bring Dutch-style efficiency conceal the fact that the vast majority of its hires are not seconded from other member states but drawn from the same pool of Greeks as the national asylum service.

    Asylum caseworkers at Moria face an overwhelming backlog and plummeting morale. A serving EASO official describes extraordinary “pressure to go faster” and said there was “so much subjectivity in the system.” The official also said that it was human nature to reject more claims “when you see every other country is closing its borders.”

    Meanwhile, the only way to escape Moria while your claim is being processed is to be recognized as a “vulnerable” case. Vulnerables get permission to move to the mainland or to more humane accommodation elsewhere on the island. The term is elastic and can apply to lone children and women, families or severely physically or mentally ill people. In all cases the onus is on the asylum seeker ultimately to persuade the asylum service, Greek doctors or the United Nations Refugee Agency that they are especially vulnerable.

    The ensuing scramble to get out of Moria has turned the camp into a vast “vulnerability contest,” said Poularakis. It is a ruthless competition that the most heavily traumatized are often in no condition to understand, let alone win.

    Twice a Refugee

    Mosa arrived at Moria in October 2017 and spent his first night in Europe sleeping rough outside the arrivals tent. While he slept someone stole his phone. When he awoke he was more worried about the lost phone than disputing the decision of the Frontex officer who registered him as an adult. Poularakis said age assessors are on the lookout for adults claiming to be children, but “if you say you’re an adult, no one is going to object.”

    Being a child has never afforded Mosa any protection in the past: He did not understand that his entire future could be at stake. Smugglers often warn refugee children not to reveal their real age, telling them that they will be prevented from traveling further if they do not pretend to be over 18 years old.

    Like many other Hazara of his generation, Mosa was born in Iran, the child of refugees who fled Afghanistan. Sometimes called “the cursed people,” the Hazara are followers of Shia Islam and an ethnic and religious minority in Afghanistan, a country whose wars are usually won by larger ethnic groups and followers of Sunni Islam. Their ancestry, traced by some historians to Genghis Khan, also means they are highly visible and have been targets for persecution by Afghan warlords from 19th-century Pashtun kings to today’s Taliban.

    In recent decades, millions of Hazara have fled Afghanistan, many of them to Iran, where their language, Dari, is a dialect of Persian Farsi, the country’s main language.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    Iran hosts 950,000 Afghan refugees who are registered with the U.N. and another 1.5 million undocumented Afghans. There are no official refugee camps, making displaced Afghans one of the largest urban refugee populations in the world. For those without the money to pay bribes, there is no route to permanent residency or citizenship. Most refugees survive without papers on the outskirts of cities such as the capital, Tehran. Those who received permits, before Iran stopped issuing them altogether in 2007, must renew them annually. The charges are unpredictable and high. Mostly, the Afghan Hazara survive as an underclass, providing cheap labor in workshops and constructions sites. This was how Mosa grew up.

    “We had a life where we went from work to home, which were both underground in a basement,” he said. “There was nothing (for us) like strolling the streets. I was trying not to be seen by anyone. I ran from the police like I would from a street dog.”

    But he could not remain invisible forever and one day in October 2016, on his way home from work, he was detained by police for not having papers.

    Sitting in one of the cantinas opposite the entrance to Moria, Mosa haltingly explained what happened next. How he was threatened with prison in Iran or deportation to Afghanistan, a country in which he has never set foot. How he was told that that the only way out was to agree to fight in Syria – for which they would pay him and reward him with legal residence in Iran.

    “In Iran, you have to pay for papers,” said Mosa. “If you don’t pay, you don’t have papers. I do not know Afghanistan. I did not have a choice.”

    As he talked, Mosa spread out a sheaf of papers from a battered plastic wallet. Along with asylum documents was a small notepad decorated with pink and mauve elephants where he keeps the phone numbers of friends and family. It also contains a passport-sized green booklet with the crest of the Islamic Republic of Iran. It is a temporary residence permit. Inside its shiny cover is the photograph of a scared-looking boy, whom the document claims was born 27 years ago. It is the only I.D. he has ever owned and the date of birth has been faked to hide the fact that the country that issues it has been sending children to war.

    Mosa is not alone among the Hazara boys who have arrived in Greece seeking protection, carrying identification papers with inflated ages. Refugees Deeply has documented the cases of three Hazara child soldiers and corroborated their accounts with testimony from two other underage survivors. Their stories are of childhoods twice denied: once in Syria, where they were forced to fight, and then again after fleeing to Europe, where they are caught up in a system more focused on hard borders than on identifying the most damaged and vulnerable refugees.

    From Teenage Kicks to Adult Nightmares

    Karim’s descent into hell began with a prank. Together with a couple of friends, he recorded an angsty song riffing on growing up as a Hazara teenager in Tehran. Made when he was 16 years old, the song was meant to be funny. His band did not even have a name. The boys uploaded the track on a local file-sharing platform in 2014 and were as surprised as anyone when it was downloaded thousands of times. But after the surprise came a creeping sense of fear. Undocumented Afghan refugee families living in Tehran usually try to avoid drawing attention to themselves. Karim tried to have the song deleted, but after two months there was a knock on the door. It was the police.

    “I asked them how they found me,” he said. “I had no documents but they knew where I lived.”

    Already estranged from his family, the teenager was transported from his life of working in a pharmacy and staying with friends to life in a prison outside the capital. After two weeks inside, he was given three choices: to serve a five-year sentence; to be deported to Afghanistan; or to redeem himself by joining the Fatemiyoun.

    According to Iranian propaganda, the Fatemiyoun are Afghan volunteers deployed to Syria to protect the tomb of Zainab, the granddaughter of the Prophet Mohammad. In reality, the Fatemiyoun Brigade is a unit of Iran’s powerful Revolutionary Guard, drawn overwhelmingly from Hazara communities, and it has fought in Iraq and Yemen, as well as Syria. Some estimates put its full strength at 15,000, which would make it the second-largest foreign force in support of the Assad regime, behind the Lebanese militia group Hezbollah.

    Karim was told he would be paid and given a one-year residence permit during leave back in Iran. Conscripts are promised that if they are “martyred,” their family will receive a pension and permanent status. “I wasn’t going to Afghanistan and I wasn’t going to prison,” said Karim. So he found himself forced to serve in the #Fatemiyoun.

    His first taste of the new life came when he was transferred to a training base outside Tehran, where the recruits, including other children, were given basic weapons training and religious indoctrination. They marched, crawled and prayed under the brigade’s yellow flag with a green arch, crossed by assault rifles and a Koranic phrase: “With the Help of God.”

    “Imagine me at 16,” said Karim. “I have no idea how to kill a bird. They got us to slaughter animals to get us ready. First, they prepare your brain to kill.”

    The 16-year-old’s first deployment was to Mosul in Iraq, where he served four months. When he was given leave back in Iran, Karim was told that to qualify for his residence permit he would need to serve a second term, this time in Syria. They were first sent into the fight against the so-called Islamic State in Raqqa. Because of his age and physique, Karim and some of the other underage soldiers were moved to the medical corps. He said that there were boys as young as 14 and he remembers a 15-year-old who fought using a rocket-propelled grenade launcher.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    “I knew nothing about Syria. I was just trying to survive. They were making us hate ISIS, dehumanizing them. Telling us not to leave one of them alive.” Since media reports revealed the existence of the Fatemiyoun, the brigade has set up a page on Facebook. Among pictures of “proud volunteers,” it shows stories of captured ISIS prisoners being fed and cared for. Karim recalls a different story.

    “One prisoner was killed by being hung by his hair from a tree. They cut off his fingers one by one and cauterized the wounds with gunpowder.”

    The casualties on both sides were overwhelming. At the al-Razi hospital in Aleppo, the young medic saw the morgue overwhelmed with bodies being stored two or three to a compartment. Despite promises to reward the families of martyrs, Karim said many of the bodies were not sent back to Iran.

    Mosa’s basic training passed in a blur. A shy boy whose parents had divorced when he was young and whose father became an opium addict, he had always shrunk from violence. He never wanted to touch the toy guns that other boys played with. Now he was being taught to break down, clean and fire an assault rifle.

    The trainees were taken three times a day to the imam, who preached to them about their holy duty and the iniquities of ISIS, often referred to as Daesh.

    “They told us that Daesh was the same but worse than the Taliban,” said Mosa. “I didn’t listen to them. I didn’t go to Syria by choice. They forced me to. I just needed the paper.”

    Mosa was born in 2001. Before being deployed to Syria, the recruits were given I.D. tags and papers that deliberately overstated their age: In 2017, Human Rights Watch released photographs of the tombstones of eight Afghan children who had died in Syria and whose families identified them as having been under 18 years old. The clerk who filled out Mosa’s forms did not trouble himself with complex math: He just changed 2001 to 1991. Mosa was one of four underage soldiers in his group. The boys were scared – their hands shook so hard they kept dropping their weapons. Two of them were dead within days of reaching the front lines.

    “I didn’t even know where we were exactly, somewhere in the mountains in a foreign country. I was scared all the time. Every time I saw a friend dying in front of my eyes I was thinking I would be next,” said Mosa.

    He has flashbacks of a friend who died next to him after being shot in the face by a sniper. After the incident, he could not sleep for four nights. The worst, he said, were the sudden raids by ISIS when they would capture Fatemiyoun fighters: “God knows what happened to them.”

    Iran does not release figures on the number of Fatemiyoun casualties. In a rare interview earlier this year, a senior officer in the Iranian Revolutionary Guard suggested as many as 1,500 Fatemiyoun had been killed in Syria. In Mashhad, an Iranian city near the border with Afghanistan where the brigade was first recruited, video footage has emerged of families demanding the bodies of their young men believed to have died in Syria. Mosa recalls patrols in Syria where 150 men and boys would go out and only 120 would return.

    Escaping Syria

    Abbas had two weeks left in Syria before going back to Iran on leave. After 10 weeks in what he describes as a “living hell,” he had begun to believe he might make it out alive. It was his second stint in Syria and, still only 17 years old, he had been chosen to be a paramedic, riding in the back of a 2008 Chevrolet truck converted into a makeshift ambulance.

    He remembers thinking that the ambulance and the hospital would have to be better than the bitter cold of the front line. His abiding memory from then was the sound of incoming 120mm shells. “They had a special voice,” Abbas said. “And when you hear it, you must lie down.”

    Following 15 days of nursing training, during which he was taught how to find a vein and administer injections, he was now an ambulance man, collecting the dead and wounded from the battlefields on which the Fatemiyoun were fighting ISIS.

    Abbas grew up in Ghazni in Afghanistan, but his childhood ended when his father died from cancer in 2013. Now the provider for the family, he traveled with smugglers across the border into Iran, to work for a tailor in Tehran who had known his father. He worked without documents and faced the same threats as the undocumented Hazara children born in Iran. Even more dangerous were the few attempts he made to return to Ghazni. The third time he attempted to hop the border he was captured by Iranian police.

    Abbas was packed onto a transport, along with 23 other children, and sent to Ordugah-i Muhaceran, a camplike detention center outside Mashhad. When they got there the Shia Hazara boys were separated from Sunni Pashtuns, Afghanistan’s largest ethnic group, who were pushed back across the border. Abbas was given the same choice as Karim and Mosa before him: Afghanistan or Syria. Many of the other forced recruits Abbas met in training, and later fought alongside in Syria, were addicts with a history of substance abuse.

    Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that Tramadol was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time.

    The Fatemiyoun officers dealt with withdrawal symptoms by handing out Tramadol, an opioid painkiller that is used to treat back pain but sometimes abused as a cheap alternative to methadone. The drug is a slow-release analgesic. Testimony from three Fatemiyoun child soldiers confirmed that it was routinely used by recruits to deaden their senses, leaving them “feeling nothing” even in combat situations but, nonetheless, able to stay awake for days at a time. One of the children reiterated that the painkiller meant he felt nothing. Users describe feeling intensely thirsty but say they avoid drinking water because it triggers serious nausea and vomiting. Tramadol is addictive and prolonged use can lead to insomnia and seizures.

    Life in the ambulance had not met Abbas’ expectations. He was still sent to the front line, only now it was to collect the dead and mutilated. Some soldiers shot themselves in the feet to escape the conflict.

    “We picked up people with no feet and no hands. Some of them were my friends,” Abbas said. “One man was in small, small pieces. We collected body parts I could not recognize and I didn’t know if they were Syrian or Iranian or Afghan. We just put them in bags.”

    Abbas did not make it to the 12th week. One morning, driving along a rubble-strewn road, his ambulance collided with an anti-tank mine. Abbas’ last memory of Syria is seeing the back doors of the vehicle blasted outward as he was thrown onto the road.

    When he awoke he was in a hospital bed in Iran. He would later learn that the Syrian ambulance driver had been killed and that the other Afghan medic in the vehicle had lost both his legs. At the time, his only thought was to escape.

    The Toll on Child Soldiers

    Alice Roorda first came into contact with child soldiers in 2001 in the refugee camps of Sierra Leone in West Africa. A child psychologist, she was sent there by the United Kingdom-based charity War Child. She was one of three psychologists for a camp of more than 5,000 heavily traumatized survivors of one of West Africa’s more brutal conflicts.

    “There was almost nothing we could do,” she admitted.

    The experience, together with later work in Uganda, has given her a deep grounding in the effects of war and post-conflict trauma on children. She said prolonged exposure to conflict zones has physical as well as psychological effects.

    “If you are chronically stressed, as in a war zone, you have consistently high levels of the two basic stress hormones: adrenaline and cortisol.”

    Even after reaching a calmer situation, the “stress baseline” remains high, she said. This impacts everything from the immune system to bowel movements. Veterans often suffer from complications related to the continual engagement of the psoas, or “fear muscle” – the deepest muscles in the body’s core, which connect the spine, through the pelvis, to the femurs.

    “With prolonged stress you start to see the world around you as more dangerous.” The medial prefrontal cortex, the section of the brain that interprets threat levels, is also affected, said Roorda. This part of the brain is sometimes called the “watchtower.”

    “When your watchtower isn’t functioning well you see everything as more dangerous. You are on high alert. This is not a conscious response; it is because the stress is already so close to the surface.”

    Psychological conditions that can be expected to develop include post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD). Left untreated, these stress levels can lead to physical symptoms ranging from chronic fatigue syndrome (CFS or ME) to high blood pressure or irritable bowel syndrome. Also common are heightened sensitivity to noise and insomnia.

    The trauma of war can also leave children frozen at the point when they were traumatized. “Their life is organized as if the trauma is still ongoing,” said Roorda. “It is difficult for them to take care of themselves, to make rational well informed choices, and to trust people.”

    The starting point for any treatment of child soldiers, said Roorda, is a calm environment. They need to release the tension with support groups and physical therapy, she said, and “a normal bedtime.”

    The Dutch psychologist, who is now based in Athens, acknowledged that what she is describing is the exact opposite of the conditions at #Moria.


    Karim is convinced that his facility for English has saved his life. While most Hazara boys arrive in Europe speaking only Farsi, Karim had taught himself some basic English before reaching Greece. As a boy in Tehran he had spent hours every day trying to pick up words and phrases from movies that he watched with subtitles on his phone. His favorite was The Godfather, which he said he must have seen 25 times. He now calls English his “safe zone” and said he prefers it to Farsi.

    When Karim reached Greece in March 2016, new arrivals were not yet confined to the islands. No one asked him if he was a child or an adult. He paid smugglers to help him escape Iran while on leave from Syria and after crossing through Turkey landed on Chios. Within a day and a half, he had passed through the port of Piraeus and reached Greece’s northern border with Macedonia, at Idomeni.

    When he realized the border was closed, he talked to some of the international aid workers who had come to help at the makeshift encampment where tens of thousands of refugees and migrants waited for a border that would not reopen. They ended up hiring him as a translator. Two years on, his English is now much improved and Karim has worked for a string of international NGOs and a branch of the Greek armed forces, where he was helped to successfully apply for asylum.

    The same job has also brought him to Moria. He earns an above-average salary for Greece and at first he said that his work on Lesbos is positive: “I’m not the only one who has a shitty background. It balances my mind to know that I’m not the only one.”

    But then he admits that it is difficult hearing and interpreting versions of his own life story from Afghan asylum seekers every day at work. He has had problems with depression and suffered flashbacks, “even though I’m in a safe country now.”

    Abbas got the help he needed to win the vulnerability contest. After he was initially registered as an adult, his age assessment was overturned and he was transferred from Moria to a shelter for children on Lesbos. He has since been moved again to a shelter in mainland Greece. While he waits to hear the decision on his protection status, Abbas – like other asylum seekers in Greece – receives 150 euros ($170) a month. This amount needs to cover all his expenses, from food and clothing to phone credit. The money is not enough to cover a regular course of the antidepressant Prozac and the sleeping pills he was prescribed by the psychiatrist he was able to see on Lesbos.

    “I save them for when it gets really bad,” he said.

    Since moving to the mainland he has been hospitalized once with convulsions, but his main worry is the pain in his groin. Abbas underwent a hernia operation in Iran, the result of injuries sustained as a child lifting adult bodies into the ambulance. He has been told that he will need to wait for four months to see a doctor in Greece who can tell him if he needs another operation.

    “I would like to go back to school,” he said. But in reality, Abbas knows that he will need to work and there is little future for an Afghan boy who can no longer lift heavy weights.

    Walking into an Afghan restaurant in downtown Athens – near Victoria Square, where the people smugglers do business – Abbas is thrilled to see Farsi singers performing on the television above the door. “I haven’t been in an Afghan restaurant for maybe three years,” he said to explain his excitement. His face brightens again when he catches sight of Ghormeh sabzi, a herb stew popular in Afghanistan and Iran that reminds him of his mother. “I miss being with them,” he said, “being among my family.”

    When the dish arrives he pauses before eating, taking out his phone and carefully photographing the plate from every angle.

    Mosa is about to mark the end of a full year in Moria. He remains in the same drab tent that reminds him every day of Syria. Serious weight loss has made his long limbs – the ones that made it easier for adults to pretend he was not a child – almost comically thin. His skin is laced with scars, but he refuses to go into detail about how he got them. Mosa has now turned 18 and seems to realize that his best chance of getting help may have gone.

    “Those people who don’t have problems, they give them vulnerability (status),” he said with evident anger. “If you tell them the truth, they don’t help you.”

    Then he apologises for the flash of temper. “I get upset and angry and my body shakes,” he said.

    Mosa explained that now when he gets angry he has learned to remove himself: “Sometimes I stuff my ears with toilet paper to make it quiet.”

    It is 10 months since Mosa had his asylum interview. The questions he expected about his time in the Fatemiyoun never came up. Instead, the interviewers asked him why he had not stayed in Turkey after reaching that country, having run away while on leave in Iran.

    The questions they did ask him point to his likely rejection and deportation. Why, he was asked, was his fear of being persecuted in Afghanistan credible? He told them that he has heard from other Afghan boys that police and security services in the capital, Kabul, were arresting ex-combatants from Syria.

    Like teenagers everywhere, many of the younger Fatemiyoun conscripts took selfies in Syria and posted them on Facebook or shared them on WhatsApp. The images, which include uniforms and insignia, can make him a target for Sunni reprisals. These pictures now haunt him as much as the faces of his dead comrades.

    Meanwhile, the fate he suffered two tours in Syria to avoid now seems to be the most that Europe can offer him. Without any of his earlier anger, he said, “I prefer to kill myself here than go to Afghanistan.”

    #enfants-soldats #syrie #réfugiés #asile #migrations #guerre #conflit #réfugiés_afghans #Afghanistan #ISIS #EI #Etat_islamique #trauma #traumatisme #vulnérabilité

    ping @isskein

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 11

    King Atom

    “Siemens in Arnstadt: that’s under your control, isn’t it?”


    “Read this.”

    The head of the Administration for Industry handed me a code telegram struck across diagonally in red to indicate that it was secret. It read: ’Electronic measuring instruments discovered. Object of use unknown. Suspect atom research. Awaiting instructions. Vassiliev.’

    Colonel Vassiliev was the S. M. A. plenipotentiary at the Siemens works in Arnstadt, as well as the director of the scientific research institute for television, which was attached to the works. He was an experienced and reliable man: if he mentioned ’atom research’ he had reason for doing so. I held the telegram in my hand, waiting for Alexandrov to say more.

    “We must send someone there. As the works is under your direction it would be best if you went yourself,” he said.

    “It would be as well to take someone from the Department for Science and Technique with me,” I observed.

    Half an hour later the deputy head of the Department for Science and Technique, Major Popov, and I left Karlshorst for Thuringia. We reached Arnstadt just before midnight, and went straight to Colonel Vassiliev’s house, right opposite the works. He had been phoned that we were coming, and he and his assistant were waiting for us.

    “What have you discovered, Comrade Colonel?” Major Popov asked.

    “Let’s go to the works at once and you’ll see for yourself,” Vassiliev said.

    Accompanied by the commander of the works guard we made our way through the darkness to the far end of the yard, to the warehouse for raw materials and finished production. A guard challenged us outside; and inside, before a sealed door, we found a second armed guard. When the seal was removed we passed into a great warehouse packed with half-assembled electrical equipment: unfinished war production-a scene common to all the German factories immediately after the war.

    Vassiliev halted beside several large, long wooden cases. They contained enormous glass utensils with spherical swellings in their middle; they were packed with great care, and held by special clamps.

    The equipment was similar to the ordinary cathode tubes used in oscillographs, but was much bigger. It was an easy deduction that it was connected with electrical measurement, and the type of insulation used showed that it was intended for high-tension current of enormous voltage, such as is employed in cyclotrons for experiments in atom-splitting. One of the pieces had a special attachment for taking photo of the process. Judging by its construction it was not intended for measuring continuous charge, but a single, sudden, enormous application of current.

    The cases were marked: ’With great care, glass’, but we vainly looked for any indication of where they had come from or whom they were consigned to. They bore only indecipherable rows of numbers and letters.

    “How did they get here?” I asked Vassiliev. “They couldn’t have been produced in this works.”

    He only shrugged his shoulders.

    Next morning we opened an official inquiry. All the people who might be expected to have some knowledge of the mysterious cases were summoned one by one to Vassiliev’s office. The warehouse men knew nothing, for the cases had not been opened on delivery to the warehouse, and had lain until Vassiliev had discovered them. The technical staff said the instruments had not been produced in Arnstadt, but had probably come with other material from the Telefunken and Siemens chief works in Berlin. We felt convinced that they did not even know precisely what instruments they were being asked about.

    We decided to send a wire direct to Karlshorst, asking for the help of experts from the Special Group. The Special Group is the highest Soviet organization for scientific research in Germany, and is attached to the M. V. D. Department for Science and Technique in Potsdam. They have full powers to make direct contact at once, if necessary with all the scientific research organizations in the Soviet Union.

    It did not surprise us to find the mysterious apparatus in the Siemens warehouse at Arnstadt. During the later years of the war all the large German works shifted their industrial plant and established branches and depots in areas less subject to air attack. Moreover, immediately before the capitulation the more valuable installations and stores of raw material were removed and secretly deposited in various remote parts. We often came across most interesting material in the least expected places.

    It was of great importance to find out who had ordered this apparatus to be made, and whom it was intended for. To discover this, we must first ascertain where it had been produced. Only a very few German works could have made it, the most important of these being at Siemensstadt, in the British sector of Berlin. That was beyond the scope of our authority - at least, officially.

    On the other hand, the Telefunken works were at Erfurt, and they were concerned with producing huge transmitter valves for broadcasting stations. Telefunken-Erfurt was perfectly able to handle such a contract. Moreover, the technical directors at Erfurt were in constant business contact with Siemensstadt, and had a pretty good idea of all that went on in other Telefunken works. There we should find the threads linking up with the mysterious apparatus at Arnstadt.

    We decided that Colonel Vassiliev should await the arrival of the Special Group experts, while Major Popov and I visited the Telefunken works at Erfurt.

    We notified the S. M. A. control officers, Lieutenant-Colonel Yevtikov and Lieutenant Novikov, that we were coming to Erfurt, and found them waiting for us in the former directors’ office. When we explained the reason for our visit they breathed a sigh of relief; they had obviously been expecting one of the regular inquiries into their failure to comply with production plans and reparations deliveries.

    We questioned all the engineers working in the department for transmitter valve production, and came upon several essential clues. Shortly before the capitulation they had executed some special orders for gigantic electrodes and other parts for some quite unknown and completely new type of construction. The constructional plans had come from Berlin, and the parts, when manufactured, were to be sent there, presumably for assembly. The work was strictly secret. When we persisted in asking the origin of the commission and the constructional plans, the technical head of the transmitter valve department said uncertainly: “Berlin-Dahlem ... I think...”

    That was good enough. During the war Berlin-Dahlem had been the headquarters of the secret laboratories for atomic physics engaged in atom-splitting experiments.

    At this stage Colonel Vassiliev telephoned from Arnstadt to report that the Special Group experts had arrived. I knew that Lieutenant-Colonel Yevtikov was a sluggish sort of individual, so I asked Lieutenant Novikov to get reliable men to start a thorough search immediately for anything that could have any connection with the mysterious order, and to place anything found under lock and key and post a military guard over it. Lieutenant Novikov was an energetic and able man, an engineer by profession, who later, when the Telefunken-Erfurt was transformed into a Soviet A. G. company, was appointed chief engineer to the works. While he set to work on the inquiries, Major Popov and I drove back to Arnstadt.

    In Vassiliev’s office we found a group of men who were obviously scientists and thoroughly at home in laboratories and research institutions. Together with them there were several taciturn men in civilian dress, which took no part in the discussion of technical points and kept mainly in the background. But one could see that they were the real bosses: they were the M. V. D. shadows.

    The experts had already examined the mysterious apparatus, and without asking them any questions we felt that they confirmed our suppositions. Major Popov reported on our visit to Telefunken-Erfurt. Now we had the unpleasant feeling that our report was acquiring the features of a judicial interrogation; it was as though the M. V. D. shadows suspected that we might be concealing something. Even in dealings with Soviet officers that institution applies its quite distinctive methods.

    A searching examination of the technical employees at Arnstadt continued all that day. Each individual had to pledge himself in writing to the strictest secrecy. Towards evening the apparatus was all taken to Berlin, under reinforced escort and with the greatest of precautions.

    Accompanied by Major Popov and myself, the Special Group experts went on to Erfurt. Yevtikov had already been ordered not to let anybody leave the works who was likely to be required for questioning.

    The inquiry went on all night: the taciturn men with the pale faces seemed to make no difference between night and day. The inquiry was held in Yevtikov’s office, but he, Major Popov, and I, spent the night in an adjacent room, whence one or another of us was summoned to establish some fact or to give information, as we were well acquainted with the activities of the Telefunken works. The Special Group acquired not only a mass of fresh material, but also a list of the German scientists and engineers who had been directly concerned with carrying out the secret commission. Once more the threads linked up with the Kaiser-Wilhelm Institute and the secret laboratories for atomic physics in Berlin-Dahlem.

    One of the leading German atomic physicists was Dr. Otto Hahn, a pupil of Max Planck. A number of the German scientists who had been working in his laboratory fell into the hands of the Soviet authorities after the capitulation and were taken to the Soviet Union, where they were afforded every possibility of continuing their research. Such famous German scientists as Professor Herz and Dr. Arden are now working in Soviet Research Institutes connected with atomic research under the general direction of Professor Kapitza, who is also head of the Supreme Administration for the scientific research organizations attached to the Ministry for Special Weapons.

    By the last few months of the war the Germans had cyclotrons for atom splitting at their disposition. But the catastrophic situation at the fronts and the destruction of the German heavy-water plant in Norway by the R. A. F. forced them to suspend attempts to solve the secret of the atom. Before the final capitulation they scattered all the atom laboratory equipment in spots which seemed safe from discovery. The Soviet authorities set up Special Units to search exclusively for the secret weapons on which Hitler had set such great hopes.

    During the month following our finds at Arnstadt all who had had anything to do with it were once more summoned to Potsdam-Babelsberg, to the headquarters of the Special Group. Somehow or other it had got hold of some valuable clues, both from German scientists working in the Soviet Union and from many others living in the German western zones. At times one cannot but feel admiration at the precision and speed with which the M. V. D. works. It is with good reason that this highly responsible field of research has been en-trusted to it.

    While the Special Group was solving the problem of the Arnstadt equipment the S. M. A. made a further important discovery. From Suslov, the Scientific and Technical Department’s representative for Thuringia, the head of the department, Colonel Kondakov, received a telegram announcing that ’The Levkovich Group has come upon a secret store of equipment whose purpose is unknown’.

    Colonel Levkovich was the head of the Dismantling Group operating in Thuringia. Such discoveries were by no means rare; dismantling teams had more than once come across double walls, with special installations or machinery concealed between them. Because of this a circular had been issued, instructing that all the walls of dismantled works were to be sounded. The dismantlers also searched systematically for plant removed from factories and works immediately before the capitulation.

    Kondakov sent two of his officers to Thuringia immediately. In the abandoned galleries of an unfinished underground factory, situated in a forest, they saw carefully packed apparatus which apparently had been intended for use in connection with very high-tension transformers or discharges such as are required in laboratories researching into the problems of high-tension current.

    They were especially struck by the remarkable scale of this apparatus, and especially the insulation. Although the experts from Karlshorst had never had anything to do with cyclotrons, they thought at once of atomic research, and cabled for experts from the Special Group.

    A few hours later the experts arrived from Babelsberg; their car was escorted by a second containing a force of soldiers in green caps: M. V. D. special troops. One glance at the plant convinced the experts of the significance of the find. A cipher cable was sent to General Pashchin, in the Ministry for Special Weapons at Moscow, and the following day a group of M. V. D. experts left Moscow to take over the plant. As soon as they arrived the area, with a circumference of several miles, was sealed off with M. V. D. guards. From that moment neither the men from Karlshorst nor those of the Special Group from Babelsberg were allowed to visit the area until the entire equipment had been removed to the Soviet Union.

    Later, Colonel Kondakov explained that we had not discovered anything new in the sphere of atomic research in Germany. Similar equipment was being made in the U. S. S. R. before the war, under the supervision of Professor Kapitza. Owing to wartime difficulties, Germany had been unable to conduct the research on any large scale. The purely scientific and theoretical aspects of problems associated with the atom have been known to the scientists of many countries for many years past, and Germany failed to find the solution to the problem of splitting the atom chiefly because of technical difficulties -above all, that of constructing the necessary plant and providing the energy for splitting the atom.

    One must remark on the striking difference between the Soviet and the foreign press in its handling of atomic questions. We - officers from Soviet Russia, who stood on the bounds between two worlds, saw the difference more clearly than anybody else did. While in general the Soviet press maintained an excessive silence, the foreign press was vociferous, and reminded one of a woman going into hysterics at the sight of a mouse. The fuss made over the atom bomb is indicative of fear and shows a lack of sense of reality. In the last resort the atom bomb alone cannot decide the destiny of the world. Man has already produced the atom bomb, and he will always be mightier than the atom.

    “It’s amazing how much fuss is being made over the atom bomb,” Colonel Kondakov remarked one day.

    “Yes, and the reports always come from ’reliable sources’,” his assistant. Major Popov smirked. “Sometimes from circles close to Karlshorst, sometimes ’direct from Moscow’.”

    “To tell the truth, the foreign press knows more than we ourselves do,” the colonel sighed. “Their continual quest for the sensational...”

    His remark was typical of the attitude of responsible Soviet officials. Each of us knew exactly so much as he had to know in order to perform his duties. And the majority of us went to great trouble to know as little as possible. While the world was shivering with atom fever our life pursued its normal course. I am reminded of a comparatively unimportant yet significant incident that occurred in my everyday life about that time.

    Shortly after my return from Thuringia the Administration for Reparations sent me a file containing constructional plans, accompanied by a note: ’We send you the prototype plans for a standard house-cottage intended for workers’ colonies in the Soviet Union, in accordance with reparations Order No... We re-quest you to check the electrical installations for the proposed project and confirm them. We also request you to prepare an overall plan of electrical installations for a total of 120, 000 houses, and to notify us which works are in a position to execute such an order. Petrov: Head of the Electro-Industry Department of the Administration for Reparations.’

    The plans included constructional diagrams for an ordinary German one-family house, consisting of three rooms, kitchen, bathroom, and toilet. In the basement there were a coal cellar and washhouse.

    I and several other engineers studied the plans with much interest. “When we go back to Russia we’ll get a little house like that,” one of us remarked.

    The electrical installations were checked, the plans approved, and the Administration for Reparations sent them on to Moscow for final approval.

    A little later I found the file again on my desk, with an accompanying note: ’On the instruction of the U. S. S. R. Ministry for the Building Industry I request you to make certain requisite modifications in the project. Petrov.’

    Curious to see what improvements Moscow had ordered, I unfolded the plans. To begin with, the washhouse had been abolished; the Ministry considered that the washing could be done just as well in the kitchen. Second, the verandah was eliminated. Quite understandable: the tenants weren’t to loll around on verandahs.

    After the modifications had been made accordingly, the project was returned to Moscow for approval. A few weeks later I found it on my desk yet again, this time accompanied by the laconic remark: ’Please make the necessary alterations. Petrov, ’

    This time the changes were pretty drastic. Without a word of explanation the bathroom and the toilet had been abolished. Every workers’ colony has public baths, so why a bathroom to each house? But the toilet? Apparently the Moscow authorities were of the opinion that such things were unnecessary so long as there were bushes around.

    The plans for electrical installations had been provided with a plentiful crop of thick red question marks. For instance, in the bedroom there were question marks against the wall plug, the bedside lamp to be attached to it, and the cord to enable it to be worked from the bed. The 120, 000 workers’ dwellings had been refashioned to meet the Soviet requirements. The cottages had been turned into ordinary huts. As finally ’modernized’, the project was the subject of bitter jest among the engineers of our department, and none of them expressed any desire to live in such a house.

    From one-fourth to one-third of the budget for the current five-year plan for the ’re-establishment of Soviet Economy’, i. e. some 60 milliard rubles, goes directly or indirectly into atom re-search and development. But if a man, the lord of creation and the creator of the atom bomb, needs to perform his natural functions, let him run to the nearest bush. So the State interest requires!

    In the high summer of 1946 a number of commissions from various Soviet ministries arrived in Karlshorst to inquire into the possibilities of allocating reparations orders and of exploiting the finished production lying in the warehouses of German industrial works. Two representatives from the Soviet Ministry for Shipbuilding invited me to travel with them through the Soviet zone to study the situation on the spot.

    Colonel Bykov, Captain Fedorov, and I set out from Karlshorst to go to Weimar. On the road I got to know my companions quite well. They were both extremely pleasant fellows, and ignored military regulations so far as to use the familiar Christian name and patronymic, rather than the prescribed rank and surname. They were not professional officers but engineers. And besides, they were in the navy; anybody who has had anything to do with seamen knows the difference between the navy and the army.

    On our arrival at Erfurt we put up at the Haus Kossenhaschen, which had been turned into the staff headquarters of the dismantling teams working in Thuringia. We sat in the old-fashioned, oak-paneled hall, talking while we waited to be called to lunch. I had been here often before, so the scene was familiar to me. But my companions had left Moscow only a few days previously, and they were keenly interested in all that was happening.

    “Tell me, Gregory Petrovich, what’s going on around here? Are they preparing for an expedition to the North Pole?” Colonel Bykov asked me in an undertone. The strange inquiry was due to the fact that all the dismantling officers bustling to and from were wearing enormous boots of reindeer hide, although it was a very warm summer day. And these men in fur boots carried sporting guns with them wherever they went, even taking them into the dining hall.

    “No,” I answered. “It’s only that the dismantlers have found a store of German airmen’s arctic equipment somewhere or other, and now they’re enjoying the pleasure of trying it out. And they’ve got their guns with them because they’re going off to hunt immediately they’ve had their dinner.”

    “An amusing lot!” The colonel shook his head. “Haven’t they really got anything else to do?”

    “The position’s rather complicated,” I explained. “The main work of dismantling was finished some time ago now, and the majority of them haven’t anything to do. But they aren’t having a bad time here, so their chief activity in life at present is to drag out whatever they’re doing. As they’re directly under Moscow control, the S. M. A. can’t do anything about it.”

    “In Berlin we were told that many of them have accumulated enough to retire for the rest of their lives,” Fedorov remarked.

    “Recently the S. M. A. Department for Precision Tools did take up one case,” I said. “It involved the director of the State Watch and Clock Works No. 2. He had been sent to Germany to dismantle the watch and clock industry. Soon after his return to Moscow the S. M. A. discovered that while here he had acquired many thousand gold watches and several dozen kilograms of gold illegally.”

    “That certainly should provide for the rest of his life,” Fedorov remarked with conviction in his tone. “If only for a lifelong free lodging.”

    “I doubt whether he’ll get that,” I commented.

    “Why do you?” The captain was astonished.

    “Well, the circumstances were reported to the higher authorities, and they hushed it all up.”

    “But why?” Fedorov still failed to understand.

    “Don’t ask me!” I replied. “Apparently they prefer not to bring such people into disrepute. ’Don’t wash dirty linen in public’, says the old saying. His wasn’t the first case of its kind.”

    “And he’s a Soviet director!” the colonel exclaimed indignantly.

    I could not help smiling bitterly. Nodding towards the dismantling officers bustling about, I said: “In the Soviet Union all these people are either high ministerial officials or factory directors. And hardly any of them are very different from that director I’ve just told you of. You can take my word for it. We in the S. M. A. are getting more and more of that sort of case brought to our notice.”

    There was an awkward silence, broken only when the headwaiter summoned us to the dining hall.

    We spent two days visiting factories and works in the Erfurt district. My companions were especially concerned with orders for special electrical installations in warships, and in particular in U-boats. I was struck by the interest they showed in the life going on around us - I had been more than a year in Germany now, and I was not so impressed by the contrasts as I had been at first.

    Among the works we visited was the Telefunken factory; my companions wanted to find out whether it could undertake reparations orders for naval receiving and transmitting apparatus. As we drove along the drive to the offices the colonel exclaimed: “Look at that, Victor Stepanovich! Tennis courts!”

    Captain Fedorov also stared through the window at several courts surrounded with a high wire-mesh wall. Around the courts there were flowerbeds, and a little square where one could rest. The captain gazed with intense curiosity at the tennis courts, the garden, and the nearby factory buildings, as though the very fact that they were all to be found together within the factory walls was noteworthy in itself.

    In the Soviet Union it is continually being proclaimed that the workers need to have opportunities for rest and recreation within the factory area. But as a rule the idea never gets beyond the proclamation stage, and such facilities are to be found only in a few works which serve as showplaces. But now, in Germany, the two Soviet officers were seeing things, which they had been told at home, were the achievement exclusively of the Soviet system.

    Not far from the office building there were several rows of cycle stands all of them empty.

    “But where are the cycles, Gregory Petrovich?” the captain asked me.

    “Now that’s really too simple!” I retorted. “In Russia, of course.”

    “Oh, of course!” he smiled. “But there must have been a lot here at one time. Almost one per worker.”

    After we had discussed our business with the Soviet control officers and the Telefunken directorate’s representatives, Colonel Bykov turned to me with an unexpected request: “Couldn’t you arrange for us to go over the works? So that we can get to know the labor processes and organization?”

    The technical director was quite willing to take us round. We went right through the production departments, from beginning to end of the process. In a great hall where electrodes were being wound and assembled for wireless valves several hundred women and girls were sitting at tables. The director explained the details, but Colonel Bykov did not listen to him. The colonel had fallen a little way behind, and was unobtrusively surveying the hall.

    His eyes passed slowly over the huge windows, over the high walls, the ceiling, and rested for a moment on the glass partitions that separated one sector from another. As a high ministerial official and head of one of the main departments in the Ministry for Shipbuilding he was well acquainted with working conditions in the Soviet Union, and it was obvious that he was quietly comparing them with conditions in this German works.

    As we were leaving the hall Captain Fedorov drew me back. “Gregory Petrovich,” he said, “how do you like this seat?” He perched himself on one of the seats, all of the same pattern, used by the women workers. It was fitted with a padded backrest, and its height was adjustable.

    “What do you find interesting about that seat, Victor Stepanovich?” I asked him.

    "To start with, it’s comfortable. For a worker it’s absolutely luxurious. But quite apart from that, did you notice the seats they had in the factory office?”

    “No, I didn’t.”

    “They’re exactly the same,” he said with a faint smile. “Directors and workers, they all sit on the same seats. And they’re really comfortable, too.”

    As we went on, the technical director began to complain of the difficulties they met with in regard to labor power; workers tended to come and go as they liked, and this had a detrimental effect on output. “It takes four weeks to train a new worker,” he said. “But many of them don’t stay longer than a fortnight. And absenteeism is very common.”

    “But haven’t you any means of stopping it?” the colonel asked in astonishment.

    The director shrugged his shoulders. “A worker can be away three days without good reason,” he explained. “If he’s away any longer he must obtain a doctor’s certificate.”

    “Then how do you stop slacking and shifting from one works to another?” the colonel asked.

    “If the worker comes within the categories I have just referred to we have no powers of dismissal. On the other hand, if he wishes to throw up his job we can’t make him work,” the director replied.

    “I’m not thinking of dismissal, I’m thinking of the necessity to make a man work,” the colonel persisted. The director stared at him blankly. “I beg your pardon?” he said. The colonel repeated his remark.

    “We have no legal means of compelling a worker to work. We can only dismiss a worker who violates the labor code,” the German answered.

    There was an awkward pause. The worst punishment a German worker could suffer was dismissal. In the Soviet Union dismissal was frequently a worker’s one, unachievable, dream. A Soviet director can deal with a worker entirely as he wishes. He can put a man on a poor and badly paid Job, and he can, or rather must, hand a man over to the law for arriving late, even if it were only a few minutes. But the worker has no right whatever to change his place of work without the director’s agreement.

    Arbitrary absenteeism is liable to lead to imprisonment. We Soviet officers were used to such discipline, and so we could not understand the German director’s impotence. And he for his part was highly astonished at what he evidently regarded as our absurd questions. Two worlds: two systems.

    “You were speaking of the labor code, just now,” the colonel went on. “What labor legislation governing relations between employer and employee is in force today? Laws dating from the Hitler regime?”

    “The German labor code dates mainly from the time of Bismarck,” the German answered. “It has suffered only insignificant modifications since then.”

    “The time of Bismarck?” Bykov sounded incredulous. “But that’s something like seventy years ago....”

    “Yes,” the director answered, and for the first times a look of pride showed in his face. “Germany’s social legislation is one of the most progressive in the world... I mean in Western Europe,” he hurriedly corrected himself as he remembered that he was talking to Soviet officers.

    The colonel looked at the captain. The captain, for his part, looked at me. I was used to this kind of mute dialogue; it was the normal reaction of Soviet people to things that made them think, but which could not be discussed.

    I took advantage of the fact that none of our control officers was near to ask the director why there had been a sudden fall in radio valve production during the last few months. When one inspects a factory it is best to talk with both sides separately.

    “The main reason is the shortage of wolfram and molybdenum wire,” he answered.

    “But you were recently allocated a supply securing the production plan for six months,” I retorted. “Haven’t you received it from Berlin yet?”

    “Yes, Herr Major, but don’t you know...” he muttered in his embarrassment. “Hasn’t Herr Novikov reported to you...?”

    “He’s reported nothing. What’s happened?”

    The director hesitated before answering:

    “We needed the wire so urgently that we sent a lorry to Berlin to fetch it.”


    “On the way back the lorry was stopped....”

    “What happened to the wire?”

    “Herr Major, our men couldn’t do anything....”

    “But where’s the wire?”

    “As our lorry was approaching Leipzig at night another lorry blocked its way. Armed men with machine pistols forced our driver and the dispatching clerk to get out, and they took over the lorry and drove off. The wire...”

    “Who were the bandits?”

    “They were wearing Soviet uniforms,” he answered reluctantly.

    As we got into our car after leaving the director, Captain Fedorov asked:

    “But who could have been interested in that lorry and its wire? D’you think it was some diversionists trying to sabotage reparations deliveries?”

    “We’re well aware of that kind of diversionary activity,” I told him. “The lorry will be found abandoned in a forest in a day or two, with the wire still on it, but stripped of its tires and battery. I expect that’s what Novikov is hoping for, too. That’s why he hasn’t reported the matter yet.”

    “But who goes in for that sort of thing?” the captain asked.

    “You live here for any length of time and you’ll find out.” I avoided a direct answer.

    From the Telefunken works we drove to a Thiel works for precision instruments and clocks. It was situated in a small village which we had difficulty in finding on a map. There were several other quite large industrial works engaged in armature production in the same village. It lay in a narrow valley between wooded hills, along the sides of which the Thuringian houses, brightly painted clung in rows. It was difficult to believe that this place was a workers’ settlement.

    “It looks more like a sanatorium,” Fedorov remarked, and his voice expressed envy, or regret. “In this country workers live as if they were staying at a health resort.”

    We called on the S. M. A. control officers, who had taken up their residence in the villa of one of the factory owners. As we came away the colonel laughed and said: “Victor Stepanovich, what do you think these brothers of ours are most afraid of?”

    “Lest they should be transferred somewhere else,” the captain replied without stopping to think. And we all understood what he meant by ’somewhere else’.

    People living in the West would never guess what it is that most astonishes Soviet people, especially engineers, on their first visit to a German factory. It might be thought that the Soviet officers would gaze open-mouthed at the enormous buildings, the innumerable modern machines and other technical achievements. But such things have long since lost any power to surprise us. It is rather the western peoples who would be astonished at the size of Soviet factories and the scope of their technical achievement.

    It is not western technique, not western machinery, that are new to us, but the place which man occupies in society and the State. We have to recognize the fact that men in the western system of free development of social relations enjoy far greater rights and liberties, that, to put it simply, they get much more out of life than do the Soviet people of the corresponding social stratum.

    As we were traveling on to our next point of call that evening, not far from Jena a fault developed in our car’s dynamo, and it stopped charging. To avoid running down the battery completely we switched off our headlamps and drove slowly through the night. On one side of the narrow road a steep cliff overgrown with trees towered above us, on the other side the cliff fell away into bottomless darkness. In the most God-forsaken spot of all, in the middle of a gorge, our auto petered out completely. We got out to stretch our legs while the driver examined the engine by torchlight.

    A dark form pushing a cycle loomed out of the darkness.

    “Can you tell us where we are?” I asked the German.

    “You’re at Goethe’s castle,” he answered. “It’s right above your heads.”

    “But is there a village anywhere near?”

    “Yes. You’ll come to a bridge a little way along the road, and there’s a village on the other side of it.”

    “I can’t do anything to it, Comrade Colonel,” our driver reported a moment or so later. “It’ll have to go to a garage.”

    “Now what shall we do? Spend the night in the car?” my companions fumed.

    “Of course not!” I said. “There’s a village not far off. We’ll go there for the night.”

    “God forbid, Gregory Petrovich!” the two sailors exclaimed in horror. “We can’t find a commandatura or an hotel for Soviet officers there.”

    “And very good, too!” I answered.

    “Cut it out!” they objected. “We’re not tired of life yet.”

    “Why did you say that?” It was my turn to be astonished.

    “Have you forgotten where we are? Not a day passes without a murder being committed. It’s been drummed into our heads that we’ve got to take the utmost care. We’ve been told not to let our driver spend a night in a car alone, for he’s sure to be murdered if we do. You know for yourself what things are like.”

    “And where were you told all this?”

    “In Moscow.”

    I couldn’t help laughing. “Well, if that’s what you were told in Moscow, it must be so. But you get a different view of it when you’re close up to it. We shall sleep better in the village than in any commandatura hotel: I guarantee you that. After all, we’ve all got pistols in any case.”

    After long argument they agreed to take the risk of spending the night in a wild and strange village. They told the driver he was to remain in the car, and we set out to walk.

    “But where shall we sleep there?” The captain was still dubious. “You can’t wake people up in the middle of the night and force your way into their house.”

    “Don’t worry, Victor Stepanovich. The very first house we come to will be a hotel. Would you care to bet on it?”

    “But how can you be so sure that it will be an hotel?” Captain Fedorov asked. “Anyway, if you’re right, we’ll open a bottle of cognac.”

    “It’s quite simple. We’re traveling along a country road, and in Germany the hotels are always found in the main street, at the beginning and end of the village. That’s an easy way to win cognac!”

    “All the same, I don’t like it.” The captain sighed mournfully.

    Some ten minutes later a bridge loomed up ahead of us. Immediately beyond it we saw light streaming through the chinks of window-shutters.

    “And now we’ll see who’s right, Victor Stepanovich,” I said, as I shone my torch on to a signboard, depicting a foaming tankard, fixed above the main door. “Here’s the hotel.”

    A few minutes later we were sitting at a table in the bar-parlor. My companions cast suspicious glances around the room, as though they expected to be attacked at any moment. The room was decorated in the Thuringian manner, and had heavily carved dark oak furniture, and antlers on all the walls. The ceiling- and wall-lights were fashioned from antlers, too. At the back gleamed the chromium-plated taps of the bar, and two girls in white aprons stood smiling behind the counter.

    After we had arranged rooms for the night, we ordered hot coffee. From our cases we took bread, sausage, and a bottle of cognac which the captain had brought with him as a ’remedy against the flu’!

    “Ah, Gregory Petrovich, it’s all right to drink, but we’ll be slaughtered like quails later on,” the captain sighed as he drew the cork. “You’ll have to answer for it all to St. Peter.”

    “Would you like me to betray my little secret to you?” I said. “Then you’ll sleep more quietly. I have to do a lot of traveling about on official business, and I’ve driven through Thuringia and Saxony again and again with a fully loaded lorry. In such cases there is a certain amount of danger, and you have to be on your guard. And when evening comes on and I have to look for quarters for the night... do you know what I do?”

    “You make for a town where there’s a commandatura hotel, of course,” the captain answered with the utmost conviction.

    “I did that once; but only once. After that first experience I’ve always tried to avoid towns where there’s a Soviet commandatura and garrison. I deliberately pull up in the first village I come to and spend the night in an hotel.”

    “But why?” Colonel Bykov asked.

    “Because it’s safer that way. During my twelve months in Germany I’ve had to draw and fire my pistol three times... and in every case I had to fire at men in Soviet uniform... out to commit a robbery,” I explained after a pause.

    “Interesting!” the captain said through his teeth.

    “I spent one night in an officers’ hotel at Glachau,” I went on.

    “To be on the safe side I drove the lorry right under my bedroom window. Hardly had I gone to bed when I heard it being dismantled.”

    “Amusing!” the colonel commented.

    “It wasn’t at all amusing to have to chase through the streets in my underclothes and waving a pistol,” I retorted. “I rounded up two Soviet lieutenants and a sergeant, called out the commandatura patrol, and had them arrested. Next morning the commandant told me: ’I quite believe you, Comrade Major, but all the same I shall have to let the prisoners go. I haven’t time for such petty matters.

    Let me give you some good advice for future occasions. Next time, wait till they’ve robbed your car, and then you’ll have evidence to show. Then shoot them out of hand and call us in when you’ve done it. We shall draw up a statement on the affair and be very grateful to you. It’s a pity you were in such a hurry this time.’”

    At that moment a fashionably dressed young woman and a man entered the bar-parlor. They sat down at a table opposite us and lit cigarettes.

    “All very well!” the captain said. “But there’s one thing about this place I don’t like: the people are too well dressed. Look at that fellow sitting opposite us with that dame. I wouldn’t be surprised if they’re former Nazis, who’ve hidden themselves away in this lonely spot. And now we’ve come and stirred them up. And did you notice that group of youngsters a little earlier? They came in, stood whispering to one another, and then slipped out again! It strikes me as highly suspicious.”

    “Well, I think the best thing to do is to go to bed,” I proposed.

    “Bed, maybe! But sleep?” the colonel retorted. “I think our first job is to see which side our window looks out on.”

    As soon as we went to our bedrooms upstairs, the colonel and the captain made a security check. They opened and closed the windows and tested the shutters. “We were told they throw hand-grenades through the window,” the captain explained. He went into the corridor and tried to discover whether the adjacent rooms were occupied by members of the Werewolf organization (The organization planned by Nazis to carry on guerrilla resistance and terrorism after the war. - Tr.).

    Finally he tested the door lock. My companions occupied one room, and I had the one next to it. Now, for the first time since I had arrived in Germany, I felt a little dubious. I bolted the door, thought for a moment, then took out my pistol and slipped it under my pillow. After undressing I put out the light and plunged beneath the enormous feather bed.

    The following morning I knocked at my companions’ door to awaken them. I heard sleepy voices, then the bolt was shot back. They were weary and worn out. I gathered that they had sat up till long past midnight, discussing whether they should get into bed dressed or undressed. Now, in the morning sunlight, all their fears and anxieties were dispelled, and they began to pull each other’s leg.

    “Tell us how you went to the toilet in the middle of the night with your pistol at the ready, Victor Stepanovich!” the colonel said, winking at me.

    “Do you know who that well-dressed couple were yesterday evening?” I asked him. “The village shoemaker and his wife. And he’s an old communist, too. I asked the landlord. And you took them for Nazi leaders!”

    We had asked the landlord the previous evening to arrange for a mechanic to help our driver first thing in the morning. When we returned to the car we found them both hard at work. To pass the time, we climbed the steep path up to Goethe’s castle, and were shown over the place by the caretaker-guide. When we returned the car was in order, and before long we were on our way again.

    We journeyed through the length and breadth of Thuringia and Saxony for several days, controlling, sequestrating, requisitioning current production, and allocating orders on behalf of the Administration for Reparations. It was during this trip that I first began to experience an unusual feeling. It made me realize that the year I had spent outside the Soviet Union had not passed without leaving its effect on me. Somehow, a change had taken place within me. I was conscious of that as I worked and lived together with my two naval companions.

    They provided a kind of standard measure against which I could check the process that was going on inside me. As I talked with them I was disturbed to realize that my thoughts and my outlook had been modified by comparison with those of Soviet people. What I felt was not a simple renunciation of what I had believed in favor of something else. It was an enlargement of my entire horizon.

    Sommaire https://seenthis.net/messages/683905
    #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

  • Airbnb host who canceled reservation using racist comment must pay $5,000

    Exclusive : Tami Barker, who said she was canceling a guest’s booking because the woman was Asian, must take a course in Asian American studies An Airbnb host who canceled a woman’s reservation using a racist remark has been ordered to pay $5,000 in damages for racial discrimination and take a course in Asian American studies. Dyne Suh, a 26-year-old law clerk, had booked Tami Barker’s mountain cabin in Big Bear, California, for a skiing weekend with friends in February, but Barker canceled (...)

    #Airbnb #discrimination

  • Meet Iceland’s first Syrian refugees: ’For us, it’s the freezer’ - Telegraph

    Like the other families, the Al Mohammads did not apply to come to Iceland. They left their home in the city of Aleppo in 2012 following repeated rocket attacks in their neighbourhood and after many of their neighbours armed themselves with Kalashnikovs. “I saw the Syrian Army dragging a man from a car through the streets,” said Mr Al Mohammad. “And three of my friends were killed. One of them did not see a checkpoint when he was driving and the person at the checkpoint shot him dead right away.”

    Fearing for his family’s safety, Mr Al Mohammad decided they must flee, but assumed they would only be away for a short time. In fact, they spent three years living in Lebanon, where more than a million Syrian refugees were living by the end of last year.

    In Lebanon, where temperatures rarely fall below 10C (50F) and summer days can be hotter than 30C, the family lived in an abandoned garage where Mr Al Mohammad and his wife slept beside his 67-year-old mother, Noufa, their 18-year-old daughter, Reem, and their five sons, who now age between 17 and two. The United Nations have them free water and electricity as well as food tokens that allowed them to buy a basic dirt of meat and rice. But there was no formal education for their children.

    When a United Nations agency asked Mr Al Mohammad last year if his family would like to go to Iceland, he was taken aback. “It was totally strange,” he said. “When I asked the clerk in the UN office ‘where’s Iceland?’ he said: ‘It’s next to Norway’. But afterwards, I discovered it is 1,000 miles away.

    “He kept telling me about the good summers in Iceland. I didn’t know why. Later on I discovered.”

  • Oliver Lewis
    Deputy Attorney General
    Department of Justice, State of California
    1300 I Street, Suite 125
    Sacramento, California 94244

    RE: Message to Mr. Olivier Lewis Re Client Kamala Harris

    Mr. Lewis:

    1. As you recall, you represented to me in writing that the clerk of the Yolo County Superior Court rejected the demurrer you sought to file on behalf of your client Kamala Harris. Later, you stated in open court that the demurrer was timely and properly filed. Can you please email me a copy of the “filed” stamped demurrer as well as the proof of service for my records?

    2. My understanding is that California Senators Jerry Hill and Kevin Mullin, as well as San Bruno Mayor Jim Ruane, asked Ms. Harris to investigate CPUC corruption involving PG&E, Michael Peevey, and others ( http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2014/09/19/attorney-general-kamala-harris-called-on-to-investigate-secre ) .

    Is your client going to disqualify and otherwise recuse herself from conducting such an investigation given her own personal involvement with corruption involving PG&E, Ophelia Basgal, and Michael Peevey in the CaliforniaALL matter? Please let me know.

    3. If possible, I will appreciate a written explanation from you regarding why the Office of the California Attorney General assumed the representation of Ms. Harris for misconduct alleged to have taken place prior to her election as attorney general.

    Thank you for your prompt assistance regarding these matters.

  • Charles S. Painter, Esq.
    Ericksen Arbuthnot
    100 Howe Avenue, Suite 110 South
    Sacramento, CA 95825-8200

    Dear Mr. Painter:

    This will respond to your letter dated June 26, 2014.

    1. In that you were going to urge the clerk not to file my latest pleading (which it already did), please advise as to the outcome of your conversation with the Yolo County Superior Court clerk, .

    2. From my end, this will serve to memorialize that the clerk incorrectly “filed” stamped the pleading with the date of June 25, 2014, despite the fact that it was submitted for filing (at the drop-box) on June 24, 2014 at 2:20 pm. I plan to contact the clerk’s office to have the error corrected.

    3. In connection with the anti-Slapp motion you have advanced, this will serve to meet and confer whether or not you are amenable to allowing discovery to be propounded on your clients without a court order.

    As you are probably aware, upon the filing of an anti-slapp motion discovery is stayed pending the resolution of said motion. Nevertheless, Section 425.16(g) permits the judge to issue an order re-opening discovery.

    After conducting comprehensive research, I believe that in order to effectively oppose the anti-slapp motion I will need to conduct discovery. Specifically, I am interested in serving your clients with requests for admissions, as well as deposing Douglas Winthrop, Richard Tom, and Geoffrey Brown before the opposition is due.

    As such, my question to you is whether you would be willing to produce your clients for depositions and answer requests for admission without me approaching the court seeking an order authorizing discovery. In the alternative, I am amenable to working with you in good faith to enter into factual stipulations that I can present to the court in my opposition to the anti-slapp motion.

    If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me.

  • This will serve as an update of yesterday’s ex parte hearing to extend time to serve pleadings.

    Initially, this motion was scheduled for Friday, March 29, before Yolo County Superior Court Judge Timothy Fall. Later the clerk informed that the entire Yolo County Superior Court had disqualified itself, and that the matter will be heard on April 1st at 1:30 pm by a visiting judge from a neighboring county.

    Yesterday, prior to appearing before the visiting judge, I attempted to file the ex parte motion, but was told by the clerk that I need to pay the filing fee (which I did), but not yet file the motion itself because it contains a judge’s order, so the entire set can be filed only after the judge signs the papers.

    Later, once the hearing started, the judge stated that he read the FAC and is familiar with many of the actors. The judge then stated that the ex parte motion is premature because I have 3 years to serve the summons and complaint. I told the court that I was aware of that rule, but my understanding is that Yolo County utilized “fast track” rules which requires service within 30 days.

    The court then took a short recess to read the local rules, and it was confirmed that service must be completed within 30 days. The judge then read the ex parte motion, but concluded that because he is familiar with many of the actors, he would recuse himself — which he did.

    Please note that no papers were filed. Once more information is available, an update will be provided.