region:baltic states

  • Quand l’essence européenne alimente l’Australie en fin d’hiver. Plus de 20000 km de voyage, les pays exportateurs étant l’Estonie et la Lettonie…
    Au cœur de ce business, le trader #Trafigura.

    The 16,000-Mile Gasoline Cargoes Revealing Dysfunctional Trade - Bloomberg

    Australia is increasingly taking Europe’s end-of-season gasoline.
    Bloomberg LP, Mapbox, OpenStreetMap

    • Traders sending more and more European gasoline to Australia
    • Shipments show challenge for country to cover own fuel needs

    Summer is coming to Europe and that can only mean one thing. It must be time to send the continent’s excess gasoline halfway across the planet.

    At least 400,000 metric tons of gasoline have been shipped or booked for delivery to Australia from northwest Europe since the start of this year, according to shipping data compiled by Bloomberg. Over 10,000 tons of marine fuel will probably be consumed to transport these cargoes just on one leg of the journey, more than some refineries produce in a day.

    While the precise motives for the trades are unlikely to become known, such cargoes could make sense because of the onset of Europe’s summer, which means switching to gasoline that’s more suited to warmer temperatures. That requires any excess stockpiles of winter-grade product to be cleared. Nonetheless, the cargoes also highlight the challenges Australia faces to supply itself or source alternative inventories more locally.
    European flows to Australia accelerated last year, having halted since 2012. Estonia and Latvia — two Baltic states — delivered cargoes for the first time in at least seven years in 2018, according to data from ITC Trade Map, a venture between the WTO and the United Nations.

    Commodities trader Trafigura Group Ltd. was the main charterer for the 400,000 tons sailing or booked for delivery so far in 2019. A spokesman for the company declined to comment.

  • Don’t Believe the Russian Hype – Foreign Policy

    Moscow’s missile capabilities in the Baltic Sea region are not nearly as dangerous as they seem.
    Drawing on expertise at the Swedish Defense Research Agency, we have published a report—“Bursting the Bubble”—that takes a closer look at Russia’s A2/AD capabilities in the Baltic Sea Region. We find that Russia’s long-range missile systems, though capable, fall notably short of the Kremlin’s maximalist claims. The technological limitations of the Russian missile systems, vulnerabilities apparent from their field operations in Syria, and the range of possible countermeasures available to NATO, suggest that Russia’s no-go “bubbles” are smaller than claimed, more penetrable, and arguably also burstable.

    Claims of far-reaching Russian A2/AD capabilities are mainly based on three systems: the S-400, the Bastion anti-ship system, and the Iskander ballistic missile. But early analyses have often equated maximum range with effective range, underestimated the inherent problems of hitting moving targets at large distances, and ignored a wide range of possible countermeasures. Together, this has led to the widespread overestimation Russia’s missile capabilities.
    Finally, it is vital that nonspecialist security professionals critically examine Russian A2/AD capabilities. Exposed to a flurry of announcements in recent years about new Russian #Wunderwaffen, no one should accept Russia’s stated capabilities at face value at a time when Moscow has every incentive to exaggerate, both to gain political influence and boost export sales.

    • Bursting the Bubble? Russian A2/AD in the Baltic Sea Region: Capabilities, Countermeasures, and Implications.

      Rapportsammanfattning - Totalförsvarets forskningsinstitut - FOI

      States with the ability to use a combination of sensors and long-range missiles to prevent adversaries from operating in an exclusion zone, or “bubble”, adjacent to their territory are said to possess anti-access/area denial (A2/AD) capabilities. This study examines Russia’s A2/AD systems and their implications for the Baltic Sea region. Much has in recent years been made of Russia’s new capabilities and the impact they might have on the ability of NATO member states to reinforce or defend the vulnerable Baltic states in case of crisis or war. On closer inspection, however, Russia’s capabilities are not quite as daunting, especially if potential countermeasures are factored in. In particular, surface-to-air missile systems currently create much smaller A2/AD bubbles than is often assumed and a number of countermeasures are possible. Experiences from Syria also raise questions about the actual capabilities of such systems in combat, relative to their nominal capabilities.

      Anti-ship and anti-land systems pose a greater threat but, here too, countermeasures are available. The dynamics of this strategic vortex affect Sweden directly and indirectly. This is one of the reasons why Sweden’s security is increasingly interlocked with that of its neighbours and of the transatlantic alliance.

  • (De)friending in the Baltics: Lessons from Facebook’s Sputnik Crackdown - Foreign Policy Research Institute

    On January 17, Facebook shut down more than 350 pages and accounts linked to Russian state-owned media company, Rossiya Segodnya, and its radio and online service, Sputnik. Citing “coordinated inauthentic behavior,” the social media monolith nixed the 289 pages and 75 accounts tied to the outlets across the Baltic states, Central and Eastern Europe, the Caucasus, and Central Asia. Another network of nearly 150 fake Facebook and Instagram accounts originating in Russia, but mostly operating in Ukraine, were also closed.

    Accruing audiences based on neutral topics ranging from tourism, to news, medicine, food, and sports, these Sputnik-linked pages and accounts also pushed coordinated Kremlin propaganda to around 800,000 unsuspecting followers with the intent to inorganically inflate their audience and promote Rossiya Segodnya outlets—spreading mis- and disinformation, curated in support of Russian state narratives.

    #pays_baltes #réseaux_sociaux #russie

  • #Nord_Stream 2 project can bec
    ome collision point in transatlantic relations - Rinkevics

    RIGA - The planned Nord Stream 2 gas pipeline can become a collision point in transatlantic relations, Latvian Foreign Minister Edgars Rinkevics (Unity) believes.

    While participating in a roundtable of an energy security conference organized by the Munich Security Conference and the ONS (Offshore Northern Seas Foundation) in Stavanger, Norway, Rinkevics expressed concern about the Nord Stream 2 project, which threatens to increase dependence on one dominant supplier and delivery route, which is contrary to the principles of the Energy Union (EU), LETA was told at the Latvian Foreign Ministry.

    Rinkevics argued that the only way to address these issues at the EU level was to support the diversification of energy supply sources and develop the EU’s internal energy market. Moreover, energy is not only a matter for European security but also a question of transatlantic relations. Nord Stream 2 can become one of the collision points in the transatlantic relationship.

    At the same time, Rinkevics indicated that Latvia and the other Baltic States had done much to integrate into the EU energy market, which means that the Baltic States can no longer be regarded as “energy islands”.

    #russie #lettoni #gazprom #guerre_des_tubes #gaz

  • Netanyahu expands his struggle against EU during Baltics visit -

    Netanyahu said he intended to counterbalance the EU’s ’unfriendly approach to Israel’ through direct contact with European leaders

    Noa Landau
    Aug 24, 2018 4:18 AM

    In the heart of Vilnius, Lithuania – his ancestors’ homeland, as he often points out – Benjamin Netanyahu formally thanked the country’s prime minister for helping him wage his all-out diplomatic war on the European Union in recent years.
    Netanyahu lauded Saulius Skvernelis on Thursday for his “strong stand” in support of Israel in EU forums. He said it was refreshing to see Skvernelis stand for “clarity, truth and courage.”
    “I want to thank you, Prime Minister and Foreign Minister Linas, for the strong position you have taken in the forums of the EU on behalf of truth, on behalf of Israel, on behalf of decency. Israel is often mistreated by the EU in Brussels. There are many distortions that are leveled at us and it’s refreshing to see that you take a stand of clarity, of truth and of courage. And we discussed how that can be expanded,” he said.

    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Netanyahu said he intended to counterbalance the EU’s “unfriendly approach to Israel” through direct contact with European leaders, as he began a three-day trip to Lithuania, where he is set to meet leaders of the Baltic nations.
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    Lithuania helped Netanyahu visit the EU headquarters in December by getting him a breakfast invitation with European foreign ministers before their monthly session. The move was seen at the time as running contrary to protocol and raised considerable anger in the office of the union’s head of foreign affairs, Federica Mogherini.
    Netanyahu has systematically cozied up to the most nationalistic countries of central and east Europe, with the aim of sabotaging the required consensus among the union’s 28 members to pursue a uniform foreign policy. Now he further revealed his strategy to use sub-regional blocs of states, like the Visegrad Forum and its star from Hungary, Viktor Orban, to sway EU positions on the Palestinians and Iran, or at least prevent a consensus, a tactic that would hinder the possibility of advancing new moves affecting Israel.
    “I am interested in balancing the not always friendly attitude of the European Union towards Israel so that we receive fairer and more straight-forward treatment. I am doing this through contacts with blocs of countries within the European Union, Eastern European countries, [and] now with the Baltic countries, as well, of course, as with other countries,” Netanyahu said before boarding his plane.
    Netanyahu is also due to meet Lituhania’s President Dalia Grybauskaite, Latvian Prime Minister Maris Kucinskis and Estonian Prime Minister Juri Ratas. Also, Netanyahu is scheduled to attend a commemoration ceremony at the memorial site of the Jews’ massacre in Ponar, meet the leaders of the Jewish community in the Vilnius’ Choral Synagogue, the only in the city to survive the Holocaust, and visit the gravesite of the Vilna Gaon, where he will no doubt tell his hosts yet again the history of his family, descendants from the sage of Vilna.
    “You know, my family’s from here,” Netanyahu told his Lithuanian counterpart a moment before their meeting. “I know, I know,” the host said.
    Israel’s relations with Lithuania and Latvia have been growing warmer in the last few years. Estonia is seen as cooler in its position and leaning toward a neutral stand on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict – especially during its term as the EU’s president. Unlike West Europe’s larger states, the Baltic states suffer from negative migration to other EU countries, which leads to a brain drain, and Israel is seeking to strengthen its relations with Estonia on the basis of this issue. Also, the complex history of the Baltic states and Russia has led to the rise of ultra-nationalistic views, and, since the Russian invasion of Crimea, deep concern over defense and military power.
    Netanyahu emphasized that, too, in his meetings, telling Lithuanian leaders that like Israel, Lithuania has great national pride, while stressing that this quality stood “alongside democratic values and individual rights.”
    Observers in the corridors of Brussels told Haaretz that Netanyahu’s acts indeed have a “chilling effect” on the ability to publish joint statements in the name of the 28 member states. These dynamics are not new but became more prevalent and assertive in the past two or three years. “It’s more difficult for the EU to speak with one clear voice on the Israeli-Palestinian conflict,” one observer said.
    Netanyahu’s cultivation of relations with the eastern European and Baltic states at the expense of the large liberal countries, like France and Germany, comes at a price that some would call ideological and others would call strategic. He is doing all he can to undermine Germany and France in a bid to prevent EU support for the two-state solution, which he himself usually supports in statements made to international audiences.

  • Merkel Says Nord Stream 2 Not Possible Without Clarity for Ukraine - The New York Times

    BERLIN — A gas pipeline planned to run from Russia to Germany through the Baltic Sea cannot go ahead without clarity on Ukraine’s role as a transit route for gas, German Chancellor Angela Merkel said on Tuesday, appearing to harden her stance on the scheme.

    The project, Nord Stream 2, would double the existing Nord Stream pipeline’s annual capacity of 55 billion cubic metres.

    Eastern European and Baltic states fear the pipeline could increase reliance on Russian gas and undermine Ukraine’s role as a gas transit route, which provides valuable revenues to a country hit by a civil war with pro-Russian separatists.

    #gaz #guerre_du_gaz #gazprom #allemagne #russie #ukraine #pologne #europe

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 10

    A Major in the State Security Service

    One day I picked up my telephone to answer a call, and heard an unknown voice: “Is that the staff of the Soviet Military Administration?”


    “Major Klimov?”


    “Good day, Klimov.” Then, after a brief pause: “This is the Central Administration of the M. V. D. in Potsdam.”

    “Oh yes. Whom do you want?”


    “What about?”

    “A major in the State Security wishes to speak to you.”

    “By all means. What about?”

    “A highly personal matter,” the voice said with a hint of irony, to go on with exaggerated courtesy: “When can I talk to you?”

    “At any time.”

    “We’d like to pay you a visit after office hours. Be at home this evening. What’s your address? But it doesn’t matter; we’ve got it here. Till this evening, so long.”

    “So long.”

    Frankly, I thought it was only an acquaintance of mine playing a stupid joke. A silly trick, especially on the telephone. When I got home that evening I lay on the sofa reading the papers, completely forgetting the promised visit. I didn’t remember it even when the bell rang. I went and opened the door. In the hall an officer was standing. The hall light shone on a blue cap with a raspberry band, and on blue-edged tabs.

    No doubt of it: a M. V. D. uniform. It was the first time I had seen that raspberry band since the end of the war, for the M. V. D. officers in Germany usually wore normal military uniform or civilian dress. But now they were calling on me in my own apartment! I felt an unpleasant emptiness in the pit of my stomach. Then the thought flashed through my mind: ’But he’s alone. So it can’t be so bad; it’s not usual to send only one when an arrest is to be made.’

    “May I come in?” The visitor walked past me with a confident step.

    I did not look at his face. Startled by the unexpected visit, I tried to think what it meant. Without waiting for my invitation the officer took off his coat and cap, turned to me, and said:

    “Well, old fellow! If we’d met on the street I wouldn’t have recognized you either. But now make your guest really welcome.”

    I stared dumbfounded at the officer’s face. He was obviously delighted at the impression he had made. I recognized him as my old school colleague and student friend, Andrei Kovtun, whom I had long believed to be dead.

    One hot day in July 1941 Andrei and I were standing in the street, watching a column of infantry march past. Yesterday they had still been peaceful citizens. Today they had been led into the Russian bath, their heads had been close-cropped, they had been put in uniform, and now the ragged, silent column was on its way to the unknown. They sang no songs; their faces expressed only resignation to fate. They were wearing old, completely faded uniforms, the heritage of previous generations of soldiers.

    “What do you think, how will it all end?” Andrei asked me.

    “We’ll pull through,” I answered, for the sake of saying some-thing.

    “I think the Germans will get here quite quickly,” he said in an enigmatic tone, giving me a searching look.

    Andrei was an amusing fellow, outwardly as well as inwardly- not good-looking, but sturdily built, tall, rather bandy, with arms too long for his body. His head seemed to go flat at the sides, and was stuck on an absurdly long neck. He was terribly proud of his thick, bristly hair, and had even let it grow into a shock that made him look like a tsarist cossack.

    He was all out of proportion, and had a savage appearance. His eyes were too black, his skin far too swarthy, and much too freckled for a grown man. I often used to say to him jokingly: “Andrei, if scientists should happen to dig up your skeleton some day in the distant future, they’ll be delighted: they’ll think they’ve discovered a specimen of a cave-man.” In those days he bubbled with youthful energy and seemed to exude the scent of black earth and steppe winds.

    His chief characteristic was an inordinate self-esteem. When we were at school together we often went out to the lakes about fourteen miles from the city. Andrei took a rod and nets, and I an old sporting gun. On the way we always had a race to see who could walk the faster. He laid down the conditions right to the last detail, and set off at a great pace, looking back again and again to see whether I was keeping up, or possibly felt like giving up. After an hour or more of this he would stop, quite out of breath, and say condescendingly: “Yes, you’ve got some idea of how to walk. We’ll call a halt, otherwise I’m afraid you’ll have a stroke.” He lay down on the grass at the roadside and gasped: “Of course, your gun’s lighter than my rod.... Otherwise I’d have beaten you. Now we’ll swop over.”

    Later, when he became a student, he found another outlet for his self-esteem: he ardently studied the lives of the great. He did this by simply rummaging through the library catalogues for books, which had titles beginning with the word ’great’. He was never put off, even by some three-volume work like Great Courtesans in World History.

    Whenever he visited me at home he always sat astride his chair and drummed his fingers on the table without saying a word. Then he would turn his flat face to me and ask in the tone of an inquisitor: “I expect you’ve heard of Cleopatra. But can you tell me who Messalina was? Well?” When I couldn’t answer the question he was absurdly delighted. As a rule I didn’t fall into the trap, but resorted to counter-questions. If he asked what stone Nero used for his spectacles I would say contemptuously: “That’s just stupid! But you tell me the difference between a cohort and a phalanx. That’s a man’s question, that is!”

    It has to be borne in mind that in the Soviet Union his Lory teaching begins with the Paris Commune. According to Soviet pedagogues all that happened before that event is to be related to the Darwin theory; namely, evolution from ape to man. Man really made his first appearance only in 1871. By the law of action and reaction we felt an invincible antipathy to the ’barrel-organs’, as we called the history teachers, and preferred to go and play football.

    The result was that it was unusual for a student to have any knowledge of antiquity and the middle ages. To acquire such knowledge one had to study such things for oneself, and it was very difficult to get hold of the necessary books. I first read textbooks on the history of antiquity when I was a university student, as a change from boring differential calculus and integrals. I don’t know why Andrei came to take an interest in the ashes of Alexander the Great: probably it was just his self-esteem. He assumed that he was the only student who could ever think of such an idea, and he was highly astonished when he found I could answer his importunate questions.

    Another outstanding feature of his character was his deep, instinctive hate of the Soviet regime. He hated it, as a dog hates a cat. I found his attitude incomprehensible and often rather un-pleasant-1 was more liberal in my views. Andrei’s father was an independent shoemaker, so, according to Soviet ideas, he belonged to the propertied class which was condemned to be liquidated, though all the property he owned was a pair of callused hands and a back bowed with much labor.

    I expect Andrei heard quite a few bitter curses at Stalin and the whole ’communist band of robbers’ even in his cradle. I could find no other explanation for his conduct when he took me aside at school and whispered anti-Soviet verses into my ears: the sort of thing one finds on the walls of lavatories. Usually I refused to be drawn into any argument. We were both sixteen, but I remembered that in a local school three scholars had recently been sent to prison for ’anti-Soviet activity’.

    During our student days he often came round to my place. We were not exactly inseparable friends: my impression is that he had no intimate friends whatever. His friendship was based mainly on one-sided contests on every possible issue. He felt a constant desire to excel me in examinations, and in general knowledge of the humanities. I was amused at his extraordinary ways, tried to haul him down from the clouds to earth and make him realize that even he had still a long way to go to perfection.

    My feeling for him was not so much one of friendship as of interest, because he was a very unusual fellow. Although he had never done me any wrong, I always kept him at a certain distance. But he honored me in a condescending sort of way with his friendship, or rather his rivalry, explaining that I did have some understanding at least of ’higher things’.

    He regarded himself as insuperable, unique. Among us students that gave rise to continual joking and banter. One thing in his favor was that, despite his self-esteem, he never took offense. He simply kept away for a time, and when he had got over it he turned up again as if nothing had happened.

    On one occasion, while we were studying at the Institute for Industry, at the beginning of the school year he came round to my place and seated himself, as usual, astride a chair. I was bent over the table, occupied with a plan, and took no notice of him. But this time he had especially important news. At first he preserved a mysterious silence in order to provoke my curiosity. I saw that he was bursting to surprise me with his news, but I pretended that I hadn’t noticed.

    “Haven’t you heard yet?” At last he could hold out no longer. I calmly went on with my drawing.

    “Of course you haven’t!” He dropped his voice almost to a whisper. “There are some simply marvelous girls in the first course this year. I was in the students’ hostel of the Faculty of Chemistry yesterday. They’re stunning! One of them I saw is a real princess. I’ve managed to find out her name - it’s Halina. And I’ve thought out a plan and I want to talk it over with you. Oh, drop your stupid drawing! I’ve arranged things with devilish cleverness. First I found out what room Halina occupies.

    Then I discovered whom she has in with her - there are four altogether. Next I sought out the ugliest of the lot and enchanted her all the evening like Mephistopheles. Now the toad thinks I’m head over heels in love with her, and she’s even invited me to go and see her. Get that? And in her room I shall find.... Halina!” He capered about joyfully, and made some indefinite grunts and groans of rapture at his own cleverness. "So it’s already half achieved. Only I can’t go along by myself. I need a companion. You’re going with me!

    “Anyway, you’re not dangerous as a rival,” he added, fully conscious of his own superiority.

    I was highly astonished. We all regarded him as a woman-hater. His appearance was so unprepossessing that he never achieved any success with the girl students. He was in the habit of saying: “Women haven’t any understanding. They see only the outer shell, they’re not interested in the soul.” Then he would mutter: “Besides, all the greatest men were lifelong bachelors.” So something unusual must have happened to make him suddenly wax enthusiastic about feminine charms.

    A little later I did meet the princess he was out to capture. It need only be added that our friendship and rivalry were extended to include Halina.

    We both received diplomas as engineers, passing the State Examination Commission in the spring of 1941. Now the world lay open before us. Despite all its attractions, student life had not been easy. Over half the graduates of our course had had to pay for their studies at a high price: tuberculosis, gastric troubles, and neurasthenia. But we had been fighting for our future, and now it lay before us in all its allurement. We had a definite profession, which promised improvement in our material conditions and the possibility of putting long-nursed plans into execution.

    Then came 21 June 1941.

    There are very many who will never forget that date. The war came like a bolt out of the blue. It shattered all our plans at one blow. We had to renounce all our personal and private life for several years. Yet we accepted the war with great calmness. Germany stood for us as a symbol of Europe, but for the majority of the young, thinking people of Russia, Europe was a forbidden paradise. The complete ban on contacts with the outer world had its negative aspects: many of the young Soviet people greatly exaggerated the reality, and thought of Europe as the incarnation of all that they were striving for in intellectual and material respects.

    During the early days many of us accepted that the war was the signal for the world communist revolution, that it was a logical maneuver engineered by the Comintern, staged by Stalin, and those who thought so were alarmed. But when the first reports began to come in of the Germans’ incredible successes and the Red Army’s catastrophic defeats, they were reassured. Many people genuinely welcomed the war. Particularly such a war! Secretly they thought of it as a European crusade against Bolshevism. That is a paradox, and very few people in Europe suspected its existence. Russian people now prefer not to be reminded of it: the later disillusionment was too bitter.

    Hitler played his greatest trump, the people’s trust, into Stalin’s hands. Before the war the majority of the young Soviet thinking people had had no faith whatever in Soviet propaganda, or at least treated it with great skepticism. The war taught them a bloody lesson that they will never forget.

    In those days, if Andrei caught me, anywhere, it didn’t matter where; he excitedly drew me aside and told me the latest reports from the front. The German reports, of course. He swore that Kiev had fallen long before the German troops had got anywhere near it. He greeted every Soviet defeat not only exultantly, but also with a really bestial malignity. He already had visions of himself leading a terrorist band, and was mentally counting the communists he would hang with his own hand.

    The war drove Andrei and me in different directions. I had my first letter from him at the end of 1941. It was written on a dirty scrap of paper, and every line expressed a hopeless depression. It was not a letter; it was the cry of a hound howling to the moon. He was with a training unit somewhere in the rear. To make things worse, it was a unit for special training: when the course was finished they were to be dropped as partisans in the German rear. He had been a constructional engineer; now he was an officer in the pioneer corps. That determined his future work: the organization of diversionist activities in the enemy rear.

    After reading the letter I felt convinced that the day he was dropped he would go over to the Germans.

    I received a second letter from him much later, after some twelve months. The paper was headed with a German staff heading, which Andrei himself had crossed out. As I read it I was not a little amazed at the amount of hypocrisy a man can achieve. It was written in an exalted style and consisted solely of a hymn of praise of the fatherland, the Party, and the government. He wrote:

    ’Only here, in the enemy rear, have I come to realize what “homeland” means. It is no longer an abstract conception, but a living essence, a dear being, the fatherland. I have found what I previously sought in vain: the meaning of life. To triumph gloriously or go under. But if I survive, to have a chest loaded with decorations. I am now a member of the Party; I have three orders and have been recommended for promotion. I am in command of a partisan force, which corresponds, roughly to a regiment in numerical strength, but our fighting power is even greater. I was a fool when I decided to be an engineer. Now for the first time I know what I have to do: when we have won the war I shall work in the N. K. V. D. and change my name to Orlov.’

    Little Nero no longer had any doubt of the outcome of the war. He wanted to join the N. K. V. D. because he regarded that institution as the quintessence of the Soviet regime. His letter went on to detail how many bridges his unit had blown up, how many trains it had derailed, and how many of the enemy it had wiped out. I had no faith in this regeneration. I simply assumed that when writing the letter he had had one eye on the military censor. The authorities form their moral and political opinion of an officer largely on the content of his letters, and his promotion therefore depends on them to a large extent. I assumed that his self-esteem and desire for a brilliant career had swamped all other feelings in him. I felt thoroughly angry, and replied:

    ’I’m afraid you and I may find ourselves on opposite sides of the table. Citizen Orlov’: a clear hint at his future career as a N. K. V. D. officer.

    The last letter I had from Andrei reached me a year later. It revealed the well-considered, mature thought of someone who had come to manhood. He reported that he now commanded a group of regular partisan units, amounting in strength to approximately an army division. His units were active in a district corresponding in area to a Central European state. The official army communiqués made references to their military achievements. He no longer listed the orders he had received, and only mentioned casually that he had been awarded the title Of ’Hero of the Soviet Union’.

    So my friend and rival had really carved himself out a career. Andrei was fond of boasting, but he was not a liar. During these years great changes had occurred in the souls of the Russians, and I was genuinely proud of his success. In conclusion, he wrote that he was moving westward with the advancing front into the Baltic States, that the work there would be difficult and there might be an interruption in our correspondence. That was the last I had heard of him. I thought with regret that his career was closed, and mentally put R. I. P. after his name.

    Now he was standing in front of me, alive and unscathed, risen from the dead, a man in the prime of life. On his chest a gold five-pointed star, the highest Soviet distinction for military prowess, glittered above several rows of ribbons. All his being radiated the calm assurance of a man who is accustomed to command; his features had lost their angularity and had acquired a distinctive, masculine, handsome quality. Only his character hadn’t changed: he had planned to give me a surprise that would make my heart sink into my boots 1

    “It’s a long time since we last met, brother. Prepare a fitting reception for your guest,” he said. His voice was different, strange; it had a note of patronage, as though he was used to ordering people about.

    “You certainly are a stranger,” I said. “But why didn’t you warn me? Now I haven’t the least idea how to celebrate your return from the dead. Why didn’t you write?”

    “You know what the words ’special task’ mean? For two whole years I couldn’t even write to my mother. But how are you? Are you married, or are you still ploughing a lonely furrow? Tell me all that’s happened to you, from beginning to end. How did you get on in the war?”

    “Like everybody else,” I answered. I was not yet recovered from the surprise, and felt a little awkward. He had changed so completely: would we find any common language?

    “There were various ways of fighting during the war,” he commented. “You know, the wise got the rewards while the stupid fought. But that’s all past now. What are your plans?”

    “About ten in the morning I shall go to my office,” I answered. “Very praiseworthy. So you’re still a realist?” Our conversation was formal and artificial, as though time had washed away the intimacy of our youthful years.

    “Ah, those were wonderful times, our student days. It might be a thousand years ago,” he said thoughtfully, as though he had guessed my thoughts. “Tell me, how did things go between you and Halina? I felt sure you’d marry her.”

    So he had not forgotten the princess of our student days. I too willingly turned our thoughts back to those years. I offered him a cigarette, but he refused it. “So you still don’t smoke?” I asked.

    “I tried it in the forests, out of sheer boredom. But I just didn’t take to it,” he replied.

    I knew that in the old days he could not stand spirits. I set a flask on the table before him, and he studied it as though it were medicine.

    “That’s my biggest defect: I can’t drink,” he said. “At home, I’ve got some of the choicest wines from Goring’s private cellar, but I never touch them. That isn’t always easy for me. Others can empty a bottle and find oblivion; I can’t.”

    “Are you beginning to be troubled by conscience?” I asked. “If I remember aright, you had a tremendous desire to be a Robespierre at one time. Oh, and by the way, is your name Orlov now?”

    “No, I was just intoxicated then. A kind of drunkenness,” he replied. I caught a note of uncertainty in his voice.

    “Tell me, Andrei, what made you write such idiotic rot in your letters? Were you writing with one eye on the censorship?”

    “You may not believe it, but I wrote exactly as I felt at that time,” he answered. “Today it seems idiotic to me too. To tell the truth, the war years were the happiest time of my life, and will always remain so. In the war I found myself. I waded in blood, but I was absolutely convinced that I was right, I was doing a great and necessary work. It all seemed as clear and clean to me as a field of virgin snow. I felt that I was lord of our Russian earth, and was pre-pared to die for it.” He spoke slowly, with an almost imperceptible falter in his voice.

    The self-confidence was gone. “Then what do you really feel now?” I asked. “These days I often lose that absolute conviction,” he went on as though he hadn’t heard my question. He stared into vacancy. “I’ve killed lots and lots of Germans! Look!” He thrust out his sinewy, swarthy hands towards me. "With these hands I’ve put out I don’t how many Germans. Just wiped them out: we partisans didn’t take prisoners. I killed, and I felt happy in killing. For I was convinced that I was doing right.

    “But do you know what I’m doing now?” His face twitched nervously; there was a note of suppressed resentment in his voice, a peculiar resentment, as though he was furious with himself. “Now I’m killing the German soul and German brains. Goebbels once said:

    ’If you wish to subject a people, you must rob it of its brains.’ That is my job now. The snag is that in this procedure your own brain threatens to go. We are interested in Germany only in so far as it is necessary to secure our own interests! Very sound! But things are going too far. However, that’s not really the crux of the matter. How can I put it...?”

    He was silent for a time; then he went on slowly, carefully choosing his words: “I’m tormented with accursed doubts. It seems to me... that what we’re trying to kill here... is better than what we have at home. I don’t feel any pity for the Germans, but I feel pity for myself, and for ourselves. That’s the crux of the matter. We’re destroying a well-developed cultural system, reorganizing it to match our own pattern, and that pattern... to he’ll with it! Do you remember what our life was like?”

    “Tell me, Major of the State Security Force, what is the job you’re doing at the moment?” I asked.

    “And another thing: talk a little more quietly. German houses have thin walls.”

    “What am I doing at present?” he repeated my words. Then, evasively: "Various things. Besides the tasks usually assigned to the M. V. D. we have many others of which nobody outside has any suspicion. For instance, we have an exact copy of your S. M. A. organization, only in miniature. We control all your work, and we give a hand when radical intervention is called for, swift and without fuss. Moscow has less trust in Sokolovsky’s reports than in ours.

    "I expect you know from experience than an M. V. D. lieutenant can issue orders to your army colonels, and an M. V. D. major’s word is binding on your army generals. Yet it is only an unwritten law that that is so: a general takes for granted that it is a law, and that if he disregards or fails to comply with it the consequences can be very unpleasant.

    “You know the Political Adviser Semionov, and Colonel Tulpanov?” he asked, but added without waiting for my answer: “We have contact with them very rarely, but they’re always conscious of our fatherly care. Right down to such details as would ensure a full hall and a sound moral tone in our Soviet House of Culture here.... And we often invite Wilhelm Pieck and other leaders to visit us for friendly conversations”-he ironically stressed the words ’leaders’ and ’friendly conversations’. "We never even shake hands with them, so that they shouldn’t get any Voltairian ideas into their heads. We don’t bother with velvet gloves, not like your Tulpanov.

    "Only a man who has worked in our organization can know all the depths of human turpitude. All our guests slink in on tiptoe. If they no longer please us, it isn’t far to Buchenwald. Pieck and his fellows know that well enough. A number of their colleagues are already stewing in their own juice there.

    “The democratization of Germany... Hm!... All the bakers and sausage-makers are to be sent to Siberia! The property-owners are to be liquidated as a class! We turn their places into Red Corners and call them after Pieck or some other dog. Do you know how we purged Berlin after the capitulation? It took us just one night. Thirty thousand people were taken from their beds and sent straight to Siberia. We already had the lists prepared while our troops were still the other side of the Oder. We got all we needed from the local communists.”

    He was silent for a moment, crossed his legs and studied his knee. “We can hardly shake off the servile scum. You know, after the capitulation there were literally queues of voluntary denouncers and informers waiting to be interviewed by us. Once I gave orders for a whole mob of these human abominations to be driven out of my waiting room with rifle butts. I simply couldn’t stand any more.”

    His words reminded me of the typical attitude taken by Soviet soldiers to the German ’political comrades’. Shortly before the Soviet and American forces made contact a group of Russian soldiers fell in with a single German. He had a rucksack on his back, and was wheeling a cycle loaded with all he possessed. He was going eastward. When he saw the Soviet soldiers he shouted enthusiastically: ’Stalin good... I’m communist... Comrade...’ He tried to explain that he was on his way to the Soviet Union, and intended to build communism together with them.

    The soldiers looked at one another without a word, turned him round to face the west, and gave him a good-natured push. When he resisted, and tried again and again to go east, the soldiers got wild and took away his rucksack and cycle. After they had given him a communist baptism he could hardly move a limb. As he pulled himself together and turned to go back the soldiers called after him: “Now comrade is a real communist. Yours is mine. Stalin-good!” They were perfectly convinced they had done him a good turn, they had saved his life.

    The officials of the K. P. D. - S. E. D. decorated their car radiators with red flags and felt that they were lords of creation as they drove like the fire-brigade about Berlin, with no regard to the speed limit. Whenever a Soviet soldier or officer driving a car met such a man he regarded it as a matter of honor to undertake the crazy ’comrade’s’ ideological re-education. The higher the ’comrade’s’ Party ranks the greater the honor of smashing in his radiator and his mug. “So that he won’t be in such a hurry to get to communism in future,” was the usual comment in such cases.

    The Karlshorst commandant, Colonel Maximov, only laughed when such incidents were reported to him. They were not simply acts of crude barbarism. After the Soviet soldiers had lived a while in Germany they spoke with respect and even with envy of the Germans. But they called the German communists rogues and venal riffraff. Any Soviet citizen who has seen Europe is quite convinced that only degenerates in the pay of Moscow can be communists.

    “Oh, and by the way, what were you doing in Petersburgerstrasse recently?” Andrei asked the direct question.

    I stared at him in amazement. It was true that I had been in Petersburgerstrasse a week before. A Moscow girl acquaintance named Irena had invited me to call on her. She had graduated from the Institute for Foreign Languages in Moscow and was now working in Berlin as a teacher of German.

    The house I had visited differed very little from the others in the street; it had no nameplate or red flag to indicate that it was used by the occupation authorities. But hardly had I opened the door when a man in the uniform of the M. V. D. frontier guards barred my way. My officer’s uniform and my identity papers were not of much use. Before I could enter the house Irena herself had to come down and identify me.

    The house was used as the school for the M. V. D. censors, and they lived as though in barracks. The conditions were very strict, as they are in all M. V. D. establishments. Although Irena was not on the M. V. D. strength, but was simply an outside employee, she had to obtain her employer’s permission to go out, even on Sundays. When she went out she had to enter the time she left and the object of her going in a record book; on her return she had to enter the time and sign her name again. As she herself admitted, they all lived like semi-prisoners.

    “How do you know I was in Petersburgerstrasse?” I asked Andrei. “That’s simple: I took a preliminary look at your personal file, only not the personal file you have in your Personnel Department here. If I’m not mistaken, not long ago you saw ’Eugene Onegin’ at the Admiralspalast, and you’ve seen the ’Petrushka’ ballet too, haven’t you? I can even tell you whom you went with.”

    He looked at me sidelong, to see what impression he had made. Evidently he was just as fond as ever of cheap effects.

    "But that’s not a crime at the moment: the Admiralspalast is in the Soviet Sector. But I advise you not to visit theaters in the other sectors, for that will be placed to your debit. Understand? We keep our own books on every S. M. A. officer, right up to Marshal Sokolovsky. At present your personal record is perfectly in order, and I congratulate you.

    “Oh, and while we’re talking about the Petersburgerstrasse, we’ve got one or two other interesting institutions there: a special school for German instructors, for instance. They’re the framework of the future German M. V. D. There are certain things that it’s more convenient to leave to the Germans. I’m only surprised at the enormous amount of trouble they give themselves. There are times when I can’t help thinking that some of them really believe they’re helping to build a finer Germany. And these petty hacks never even get supplementary rations, like the Special-Troika does. You know what the Special-Troika is, I expect. The Germans call the triumvirate Grotewohl, Pieck and Ulbricht simply and briefly the G. P. U. And for simplicity’s sake we ourselves have christened them the ’Special-Troika’.” (A reference to the days of the revolutionary Extraordinary Tribunals, which usually had three members - Tr.)

    He went on to tell of the slogans with which the walls of German toilets are embellished. “Do you know what S. E. D. stands for?” he asked. “The Germans say: ’So ends Germany.’ (So endet Deutschland.) Maybe they themselves don’t suspect how right they are. That will be clear to them when Germany is renamed the German S. S. R. and the present S. E. D. is known as the German Communist Party. Of course it’s not the name but the thing behind it that’s important.”

    For the sake of both of us I felt that I had to comment: “You’re saying some very remarkable things. If it were anybody else, I’d report it to the proper authorities without hesitation. But as they’re being said by a major in the State Security Service I must take them as deliberate provocation. So I think it unnecessary to do anything about it. Go on until you get bored.”

    He looked at me and laughed. “But you’re a prudent fellow! Reinsurance can’t do any harm. To reassure you, you can take every word I have said as provocation. In those circumstances I can speak even more frankly.”

    He got up from his chair and strode about the room. Finally he halted before my bookcase and studied the books. With his back to me he continued:

    "It’s really amusing to see how readily whole nations put their necks into this yoke. Take Germany. If Stalin had all Germany in his hands the Germans would dance to his pipe as one man. You know how they think: ’Orders are orders!’ Of course one would have to create the prerequisites first: the form of an independent German state, with a premier and other puppets. You have to play up the German national pride. And when the right men are in charge the Germans will vote unanimously for a German S. S. R.

    “Form and content!” he continued thoughtfully. "Take socialism and communism, for instance. According to Marx, socialism is the first step to communism. There are very strong socialist tendencies in the world today. Of course as modern society progresses it requires new forms. The Social-Democratic Parties, socialization under Hitler, the present socialistic trend in England. You can see it at every step. Well then, do all roads really lead to communism?

    "Now look at what we’ve got in Russia. It’s called socialism. By its form it really does seem to be socialism, for everything belongs to society in the shape of the State. But the content? The content is state capitalism or socialistic slave-ownership. The people pour out their blood and sweat to bring about the future communist paradise. It’s all strongly reminiscent of the ass with the bundle of hay hung out in front of its nose. The ass puts out all its strength, but the hay always remains the same distance off. And the naive idealists of the West treat the concepts of socialism and communism as interchangeable, and voluntarily put their necks in the same yoke.

    “Strange as it may seem, there is only one historical parallel to communist teaching, and that’s Christian teaching. Only the Christian teaching was as orthodox as communist teaching is to-day, and that is precisely why it spread all over the world. The Christian teaching said to the soul of man: ’Share with your neighbor’. But history has advanced to the materialistic phase. The common law of communism is: ’Take from your neighbor’.”

    He sank into his chair, stretched out his legs, and leaned his head against the back. “After the capitulation I took for granted that we would be taking all the best Europe had got-after all, we were the victors-and then we would impose order in our own house. Instead, we’ve forced our own muck down these people’s throats while we’re draining our own people of their last drop of blood. Permanent revolution! Here I’m building communism on an all-German scale. In that job Wilhelm Pieck is my errand-boy, and meanwhile what is happening in our own country?”

    An evil light gleamed in his eyes. He jumped up and took long strides about the room. His voice choked with fury: “Is that what I fought for?”

    “Listen, Andrei,” I said. “Assuming for the moment that your remarks are not intended as provocation, but that you really do feel and think as you say, how can you reconcile it with your work in the M. V. D.?”

    He looked into my eyes for one moment, then shifted his gaze to some invisible point in the twilit room.

    “You mean, why do I wear this raspberry-banded cap?” he asked. “Just for fun. Simply to enjoy the sight of others starting away from me. That’s the only thing I get any pleasure out of now in my work. When one has a vacuum inside, one inevitably seeks some substitute in the outside world.”

    “You had that streak even in the old days, a la Nero!” I retorted. “But a man doesn’t get far with that.”

    “You’re quite right. Do you know what are the occupational diseases of M. V. D. officers?” He laughed maliciously. "Alcoholism is the least of them. The majority of the men are drug-addicts: morphine, cocaine. It’s been statistically proved that three years’ work in the operational organs is enough to turn a man into a chronic neurasthenic. In the Crimea there’s a special M. V. D. sanitarium for treatment of the drug-addicts and impotents.

    But it doesn’t do much good. A shattered nervous system isn’t easily restored to health. Normal men can’t stick the work. And intelligence - that’s the most dangerous thing of all in our profession. If you want to make a career in the M. V. D. you must be a scoundrel by vocation. The idealists have long since lost their heads, the old guard has become part of the history of the C. P. S. U. What are left can be divided into two main categories: those who do every-thing they’re called on to do without offering any resistance, since they don’t mind how they earn their bread, and those who’re ready to betray even their own mother for the sake of their career.

    You know the Soviet commandment: outwardly be your superior’s slave, but inwardly dig his grave, so that you can take his place. The same holds true of the M. V. D., only much more so. No wonder they turn to cocaine and morphine.

    "You know, when I get sick to death of it all I go out in the middle of the night, get into my car and drive like a madman through Berlin. At full speed along the East-West Axis. The British Military Police try to stop me, but what can they do? I’ve got an eight-cylinder Tatra. And then I drive through the Brandenburg Gate. A hair’s breadth to right or left, and I’d be smashed to pulp. I’m even tempted to, sometimes.... It’s so simple.... Only a hair’s breadth.... You’re all right; you’re an engineer. That smells of oil and smoke. But everything around me reeks of blood.

    “At the university I thought of engineering as a solid sort of profession. But when I got down to practice and saw what a lot engineers were I stayed on in the faculty only by sheer inertia. All the time I wanted something different, but now I don’t know what I want. I know only one thing: my life will be ended with a bullet - my own or another’s.”

    I felt sorry for Andrei now. The man who had entered my room was in the prime of life, with a confident step and outlook, a man who seemed to have achieved his aim in life. But now I could tell from his own words that he was damned. And the calmness with which he spoke only accentuated my feeling.

    But you’re still an engineer too," I said. “And you’re a Party member and a war hero. You can go back to your old profession.”

    “That’s right out of the question,” he answered. "There’s no escape from the M. V. D. Have you ever met anyone who has? In the old days, work in the Cheka provided a way to a further, a different career. But now we’ve advanced in that respect too. Now you’re asked: ’Why did you leave the M. V. D.?’ Now such a step is a crime, it’s desertion from the most responsible sector of the communist front. They’d never release me, except to put me behind bars.

    “And besides, anyone who has had some power over other men finds it difficult to start catching butterflies and growing geraniums in a flower-box on the window-sill,” he said with an unpleasant smile. “Power is a tasty dish. And you can’t tear yourself away from it, you’re only torn away.”

    His words reminded me of a man I had met in a front-line hospital during the war. He was a private in a punitive company. Before the war he had been an aviation engineer. He was a Party member, and when he was called up he was assigned to work in the N. K. V. D. They sent him to the Secret Department of the Central Institute for Aerodynamics in Moscow, where he was put on secret work in the field of constructing special high-flying machines driven by turbo-compression engines.

    Nobody in Moscow suspected that almost all through the war a solo German Henschel circled over Moscow day after day. It flew at such a height that it was invisible to the naked eye. Only the experts knew the secret of the white smoke-clouds that formed and then slowly dissipated in the sky. The machine never dropped bombs; it only took photographs with the aid of infrared films. The Germans attached great importance to the regular photographing of the Moscow railway junctions, through which the main flood of military material passed to the West.

    German machines flew over Moscow day and night, and they gradually began to get on the Kremlin’s nerves. When the Soviet fighters attempted to go above their 80, 000 feet limit the Henschel calmly climbed still higher, then swooped down and shot up the Yaks and the MIGS. However, it did not often show the Soviet fighters such honor, and only made fun of them.

    The Defense Council gave the Institute for Aerodynamics the urgent task of inventing means of combating these German reconnaissance planes, and the former aviation engineer, the newly commissioned N. K. V. D. officer, was given the task of controlling the work. Under the ’plan’ drawn up by the N. K. V. D. higher authorities he was instructed to send them each month the names of a fixed percentage of spies, diversionists and wreckers.

    The ’plan’ was strict: every month a certain percentage of spies, a percentage of diversionists, and similar ’people’s enemies’. Often, in addition, they sent him an urgent demand for ten ’spies’ from the milling-machinists, or five ’wreckers’ from the laboratory or metallurgical workers, the demand being made to meet the N. K. V. D.’s special needs for some urgent constructional project of its own.

    After some months the lieutenant had a nervous breakdown. He was not very well acquainted with the ways of the N. K. V. D., and he put in a report with the request to be assigned to other work. A day later he was reduced to the ranks and sent to a punitive company. In the hospital where I came to know him he had had both legs amputated.

    Andrei was right; there would be no way out of the M. V. D. for him.

    “Where is Halina now?” he suddenly asked bluntly.

    “Somewhere in Moscow.”

    “I have only one hope left now,” he said dreamily. “Perhaps if I could see her again...”

    There was a ring at the door. I went out, and came back with an acquaintance named Mikhail Sykov, who lived not far from me. He excused his invasion with the usual remark: “I happened to be passing, and saw your light was on, so I thought...” He broke off as he caught sight of Andrei. Andrei’s face was not recognizable in the dusk; my desk lamp lit up only his blue and gold epaulettes and the numerous decorations on his chest. Sykov greeted Andrei, who only nodded without rising from his chair.

    The newcomer obviously felt that he had called at an awkward moment. It isn’t so easy to make conversation with a M. V. D. officer as with ordinary mortals. Besides, who knew what the officer was here for? On official business, quite possibly. In such cases it’s much the best to make yourself scarce. Anyway, the taciturn major showed no inclination to talk. So Sykov declined the chair I offered him, with the remark: “I’ll drop in some other time. I think I’ll go and see who’s around in the club.”

    He vanished as suddenly as he had arrived. Next morning he probably told everybody in his office that I was on friendly terms with the M. V. D., embellishing his story, of course. Among official S. M. A. circles my stock would rise: intimate relations with the M. V. D. were not without significance.

    Andrei sat a little longer without speaking, then rose and re-marked: “I think it’s about time I was going, too. Drop in and see me whenever you’re in Potsdam.”

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 02

    Soldier and Citizen

    The victory salutes thundered over Moscow, while the struggle continued at the front. Superficially the city showed little sign of the war. Anyone who had heard of the desperate air-battles over Moscow would have been amazed not to see any destruction that could be attributed to bombing. In Gorky Street only one house had been destroyed by bombs. I passed by the ruins more than once without even noticing them. Boards, painted like a gigantic film set, concealed them from the eyes of passers-by. Bomb damage generally was rare, and there was nothing in the nature of planned strafing from the air.

    The same was true of Leningrad. The Leningrad houses were pitted with shell-scars, practically all the wooden houses in the suburbs were pulled down and used for fuel by the people themselves during the blockade. But in Leningrad, too, there were no extensive signs of bomb damage.

    In Moscow there were many who wondered whether it really was not possible for the Germans to drop at least one or two bombs on the Kremlin. Just as a joke, to put the wind up its residents! It could not have done any harm, for a bomb-proof shelter had been built for the government in the nearest Underground Station, Kirovskaya, and it was connected with the Kremlin by an under-ground passage. The Moscow people firmly believed that the shelter had been constructed long before the outbreak of war. In 1942 the government was evacuated to Kuibishev, but the news-papers proudly emphasized that Stalin himself was remaining in Moscow. Of course the Muscovites added that a tunnel was hurriedly being constructed all the way from Moscow to the Volga town.

    By 1944 the majority of the government departments had returned to Moscow, and the city throbbed with a bustling, almost peace-time activity. The barrage balloons sent up for the defence of Moscow every evening seemed an obsolete procedure. The chief sign that the war was still going on was the great number of uniforms to be seen in the streets. There were more uniformed people than civilians.

    The Moscow command had very strong patrols in the city, and they not only checked documents, but saw to it that uniforms were scrupulously neat and boots and buttons polished. The patrol posted at the escalators of the Baumanskaya Underground station were rather worried about the swaggering fellows in uniform who had been using this station regularly for some time past. They wore the normal soldier’s shoulder-straps, but the red ground was edged by a very unusual gold piping. And almost all of them wore new officers’ coats of green English cloth. In addition, they had new Russian leather boots which were the object of the patrol’s envy, officers’ swordbelts with a red star and swordknot, and fur caps dashingly worn over one ear. Even these caps were not of the usual lambswool, but of grey caracoul. To crown everything, many of these foppish soldiers carried document-cases. In the army the function of the hands is to extend down the seams of trousers or to salute, not to carry document-cases.

    At first the military patrols were dumbfounded at such disregard of all the army regulations. Then, licking their lips at the thought of having such a rich booty in the guardhouse, they asked these youngsters to show their documents. When they presented crimson personal identity cards bearing the State escutcheon and the words ’Military College’ in gold lettering the patrols involuntarily saluted these extraordinary soldiers and shrugged their shoulders helplessly: ’Soldiers’ tabs and officers’ documents!’

    Not all the students in the first course were officers. When the son of some Moscow proletarian leader was called up the leader phoned the head of the college. General Biyasi: “Nikolai Nikolaich! How’s things? I’m sending my son along to see you today. Have a chat with him.” That was one way of doing your military service, even in wartime, without leaving your hearth and home, and with the opportunity of learning a valuable profession into the bargain. Unlike the students of other colleges we did not have to live in barracks, but could occupy private dwellings. As each student successfully completed each course he was advanced in rank.

    At the end of the first course an ordinary soldier became an officer, and a first lieutenant a captain. In this way a man who held no officer’s rank at all when he entered the college could leave it with a captain’s commission. On the other hand, a captain might have to start in the first course. The important thing was not one’s rank, but the faculty and course which one was attending. The members of a first course waited in a queue until it was their turn to enter the dining hall, but members of other courses walked in without having to queue. The members of the fourth course enjoyed many privileges and liberties. They could even take their rations home, a right that even officers on the teaching staff did not possess.

    In my time there were only eight students altogether in the fourth course of the German Department of the Western Faculty. They had been drawn from all over the U. S. S. R., and most of them had attended a university before. Their knowledge was of a very high standard, but so were the demands made of them by the college curriculum. They had to work hard and intensively. In addition to taking the normal subjects of the fourth course they had to get through the so-called ’special subjects’ of preceding courses, for instance, ’army service regulations’, ’army equipment’, ’army organization’, and ’army special training’. The discreet phrase ’special training’ connoted secret service and defence. And, of course, the ’army’ covered by the German Department was not the Soviet, but the German force. Outside his own special province, no Soviet officer knew as much about the Red Army as a student in our college had to know about all the formations of his ’army’, whether German, British, or other army covered by his particular department.

    For study of the special subjects the educational material provided usually consisted of handwritten matter or the service regulations of the respective army. It was forbidden to take notes on subjects which had to be kept very secret, and those concerned with the immediate past. But duplicated and carefully numbered rough notes could be obtained on these subjects, against the student’s signature and deposit of his personal documents. But these notes could be used only in the hall set apart for the purpose. The contents of these rough notes were always kept up to date, they were never more than a month old. The information covered not only the actual position at the moment, but even matters that were only in the planning or preliminary stage. Frequently photo-copies of the original documents were attached to the notes. The quality of the photograph indicated whether the document had been photographed legally, so to speak, or whether it had been done in rather less convenient and normal conditions. Sometimes one could tell quite easily that it had been taken with a micro-film camera. Such cameras can be built into a button, into the fastener of a lady’s handbag, etc.

    We in the German Department were taught some very interesting things. We had to study the medieval originals of literature in Gothic and old High-German, languages which would completely baffle a twentieth-century German. From the manner in which a man pronounced the words gebratene Gans we had to determine exactly where he came from, to within a few kilometres. We had to know the local food and drink of the various parts of Germany, how the people in various districts dressed and what were their characteristic habits. We had to know the smallest detail of the distinctive features of each national group, and learned to distinguish any faded German wine label with absolute certainty. We were told which of the German national groups cannot stand one another, and why; and what were their usual terms of abuse for one another. We were shown the historical genesis of all the present and past political and economic, ideological and religious antagonisms inside the German nation.

    The history of the Communist Party of Germany as we learnt it was very different from that to be found in the usual handbooks. The lecturer usually referred to the Party by the phrase ’our potential’ or other, more precise terms, but one might listen to a two-hour lecture without hearing the words ’communist party’ at all. These lectures would have been of great interest especially to German communists. Many of them honestly believe they are fighting for a better Germany. A political movement is to some extent only a trap for the credulous. Of course the leaders, who are in touch with the Comintern, are better informed on this delicate question.

    Once one of our students asked the lecturer: “Why don’t we get any communist come-overs from Germany these days?”

    “Think it over and you’ll find the answer for yourself,” the lecturer answered. “I can’t waste the other students’ time in giving explanations of such an elementary matter. We don’t want any come-overs. They’re much more use to us when they work outside.”

    In addition to lecturing at our college, this lecturer was an in-structor at the Red Army Secret Service High School, his subject being ’Underground work in the rear’.

    Despite what he said, if the issue be examined more closely certain questions remain unanswered. What has happened to the enormous German Communist Party? Germany was the first world power to enter into commercial and friendly relations with Soviet Russia. She had the strongest Communist Party and the most clearly defined industrial proletariat in all Europe, and for us Russians they were the shining example of proletarian consciousness and solidarity. At one time communism had struck its roots deep into the souls of the Germans. It had been regarded as axiomatic that Germany would be the next link in the chain of world revolution. Thalmann’s cap was as familiar to us as Karl Marx’s beard. And now...

    Now the Germans were fighting like devils, and our propaganda had thrown overboard all the principles of class approach. Instead, all Germans were branded as fascists and all we were expected to do was: ’Kill the Germans!’ Hitler couldn’t have thrown all the com-munists in Germany into concentration camps. Even our propaganda did not go so far as to say that. And yet Nazism seemed to be growing stronger and stronger among them. So what had happened to the communist consciousness, the proletarian solidarity, the class struggle, and so on?

    After a time our college transferred to new accommodation in a building right opposite the Stalin Academy for the Mechanization and Motorization of the Red Army, in Lefortovo Street. Under the old regime the building had been a Junker school; then it had be-come an artillery school. The place was rather uncomfortable, it stank of a barracks. On the other hand, this removal solved one of the most important problems of our command: now we were all under one roof, behind one fence. There was a parade ground in the middle, and a guardhouse somewhere in the background.

    In those autumn days of 1944 one often saw an edifying sight: students sauntering about the courtyard under the guard of other students. The prisoners had been relieved of their sword-straps and tabs, and they carried brooms and spades. With perfect equanimity they swept up the leaves that the autumn wind sent flying from the trees. The work was about as productive as bailing out water with a sieve. But the prisoners didn’t worry about that. Midday was still a long way off and life was boring in the clink.

    Other students did their best to cheer up the prisoners. “What Kolya, you in again? What heroic deed have you done this time? How long have you got?” Others stopped to stare at one of the generals’ sons among the prisoners. A very piquant situation: the father a general and the son collecting cigarette-butts under the eyes of a guard!

    The victims were usually first course students, many of whom were not yet accustomed to army discipline. Their punishment con-sisted mainly of sweeping up the leaves and collecting cigarette-butts. This was the method used to purge them of any desire for indepen-dent thought and to drill into them unquestioning submission to orders. Someone at some time or other had carefully carved the words on the door of the guardhouse: “I’ll teach you to love freedom!”

    This phrase was fashionable in the army about this time. Generals shouted it at the officers when they came upon signs of indiscipline during inspections. Sergeants shouted it into the faces of recruits, usually garnishing it with strong language and emphasizing it with blows of the fist.

    To this phrase there was one mysterious, but eloquent answer: ’Till the first battle...’ There is good reason for the change made in the new service regulations, as the result of which officers march, not at the head of their unit, but in the rear.

    Many of us officers were genuinely angry at the methods used to train reserve soldiers before transferring them to the front. They were drilled almost entirely in the manner of the parade ground; they learned to react to the orders ’right’ and ’left’, to salute their officers in the regulation style, to march in close order, etc. All through their training they used only dummy weapons, and they often reached the front without having fired a single shot from a rifle or other arm. The men themselves grumbled about this at first, but then they got used to it and submitted. This sort of thing often had its origin in local circumstances, but the general direction came from above and had a deeper significance.

    For the outcome of a war it is of no importance whether one man falls or another. But it is important that he should obey orders. And that is a decisive factor in training.

    The winter passed. I gradually got used again to study, and made acquaintances. I don’t remember how I first got to know Lieutenant Belyavsky. Some thirty-one years old, lean and upright, he seemed to possess an imperturbable calm and unconcern. But in reality he was very passionate by nature, and capable of great enthusiasms. At one time he had studied at the Leningrad University, and then had taken special courses preparatory to work abroad. He was master of several languages. During the Spanish civil war he was sent to Spain, and for some time passed as a Spaniard. For some mysterious reason he had remained with the rank of lieutenant for nearly ten years, whereas all his former Spanish comrades had by now achieved much higher rank and responsible service posts.

    He had a great love of the theatre, and brought tickets for all the Moscow first nights a month in advance. I sometimes thought he suffered from the spiritual malaise which affects so many Leningrad people, and that he turned to the theatre for temporary oblivion. For he had gone right through the worst period of the Leningrad blockade, and you could never get him to say a word about those days.

    All the college knew Valentina Grinchuk, generally and affectionately called Valia for short. While fighting with partisans she had been seriously wounded, had been brought out by air, and sent to a hospital just outside Moscow. On her recovery she was sent to our college to study. She looked like a child; her head reached no higher than my waist. In all the warehouses of the Moscow military district not one pair of boots could be found to fit her, so a pair had to be made to measure for her, on a children’s last. Yet few of our students could wear so many decorations, genuine battle orders, as that child. They were in such contrast to her clear, childishly innocent face that one could not help looking round as she passed. Even officers of superior rank to her involuntarily saluted her first.

    Before the war she had been a fourteen-year-old girl, running barefoot through her forest village to take a bucket to the well. She had had no idea who Hitler and what Germany were. Then one fine June morning the war violated the peace of her childlike heart. The Germans occupied her village; in the first intoxication of easy victory they did as they liked in the new ’eastern space’. With a child’s instinct she began to hate these strange men in grey-green uniform.

    By chance she happened to come into contact with the members of a regular partisan unit which had been detached from the Red Army for operations in the German rear. At first they used her as a scout. It never occurred to the Germans that this straight-haired, skinny little girl, who looked no more than twelve years old, could be in touch with the dangerous partisan movement. Soon after this, she was left an orphan, and she went off to join the partisans. She acted as machine-gunner, saboteur, and sniper, she volunteered for long treks as a liaison, she carried out highly dangerous acts of es-pionage. Many a German who thought of her as only a child had to pay for his negligence with his life. She had no real knowledge of life, and possibly for that reason she looked death fearlessly in the face; her soul was steeled in the fight.

    Just one thing was lacking in her-she never smiled. She had no knowledge of laughter, happiness, and joy. The war had robbed her of her chance of knowing the brighter aspect of life.

    Now she was an attractive girl of eighteen, attending a privileged Moscow college. Her contemporaries were still attending school, but this child wore the insignia of a first lieutenant, she had spent years in fighting, her officer’s tunic carried rows of active service decorations and gold and silver wound stripes.

    A flying officer, a second-course student, once invited Valia to go to a concert with him, and she readily agreed. Nobody knows exactly what happened that evening. It was only known that he tried to treat Valia as he thought girls who had fought at the front were used to being treated. Officers who had not themselves been at the front were always making this sort of mistake. When Valia sharply told him where he got off he shouted at her in a rage: “Everybody knows how you got all those orders! You’re all...”

    A little later he was found lying in the street with a head wound inflicted by a pistol butt.

    When the head of the college, General Biyasi, sent for Valia and demanded an explanation she curtly answered: “He can think him-self lucky he got off with his life.” The general did not know what to say to that, and only ordered Valia to hand over her pistol. But after that even the most presumptuous critics of front-line women fighters treated her with respect.

    February 1945. The German counter-offensive in the Ardennes was drowned in its own blood. The Allied invasion armies were preparing to leap over the Rhine and break through the notorious Siegfried Line. After prolonged preparations our troops on the Oder had gone over to the offensive, had broken the resistance of the East Wall and had enlarged the bridgehead, ready for the last blow against the heart of Germany. The war was nearing its end.

    Strange to say, conditions in Moscow had improved a little by comparison with the previous years; possibly the difficulties had been stabilized and the people had grown accustomed to them; possibly the successes at the front and the hope of a speedy end to the war made it easier to endure the difficulties. In the army and all over the country there was a clear improvement in morale. A miracle had been achieved: instead of being exhausted by the long years of war, the army was technically and morally stronger. Towards the end it was using a vast number of planes, tanks, automatic weapons, munitions, and equipment; in other words, it now had all that was so disastrously lacking at the beginning. That was difficult to under-stand, and many of us racked our brains over the problem.

    It would be naive to assume that this miracle was due solely to our military efforts and the moral transformation that had occurred in the nation’s soul during the war; nor could it be ascribed simply and solely to Allied aid. For one thing, by the end of the war the Soviet war industry potential was lower than at its beginning. The moral factor played a great part, especially when one remembers that at the beginning it completely failed to come up to the Kremlin’s expectations; but then, as the result of skilful internal propaganda and the enemy’s mistakes, it was brought up to specification again. The military aid provided by the Allies was enormous; it greatly lightened the burden of the Russian soldiers and the Russian people, it made up for many defects in the Kremlin’s military apparatus, and shortened the war. But not one of these factors determined the out-come of the war.

    War is like chess, it is susceptible of innumerable variations. The single moves may change in accordance with circumstances, but the game as such is determined from the beginning by the funda-mental strategy of the players. In this war the Kremlin developed a strategy that at first deliberately resorted to a gambit opening, in order that reserves could be thrown in at a later stage with all the greater force. This quite clearly occurred during the final phase.

    We students of the college often discussed the ’three stages’. While we were of various opinions in regard to details, fundamentally we were in complete agreement as to the general interpretation of our war strategy. These discussions had their origin in the very restricted circle of the Kremlin and Red Army general staff milieus. There was good reason for the fact that our college was secretly known as the ’Kremlin college’; not for nothing did many of our students have their ’papas’ on the General Staff. In the college one learned a great deal which was quite unsuspected by the ordinary soldier.

    It is very significant that all who took part in such discussions emphasised that they paid no attention to the official statements and rumours. Many ’rumours’ were deliberately put into circulation by the ’rumour-mongers’ of the Narcomvnudel. The Kremlin made use not only of an official propaganda machine in the form of the press and radio, but also of a remarkably efficient network of ’rumour-mongers’ organized by the Narcomvnudel, with the task of systematically leading the people into error in the direction the Kremlin desired. It need hardly be said that the Kremlin never publicly ad-mitted adoption of the gambit strategy known as the ’three stages’.

    According to this interpretation, the story of the war can be divided into three stages, or phases. The first phase began the day the Soviet-German Pact of Friendship was signed. The following day, in September 1939, I was to start my course of training in practical work at the Rostov Agricultural Machinery Works (Rostselmash), the largest producer of agricultural machinery not only in the Soviet Union, but in all Europe. When I went to the reaper-combine department, to which I was assigned, I was struck by a remarkable sight.

    The most important feature of this shop was the U-shaped conveyor belt, on which the combines were assembled. The conveyor was mounted on the floor, and each combine was fastened to a hook rising from the belt, so travelling round the shop. But now the con-veyor was at a standstill, the combines stood motionless, half assembled. And literally every square yard of space between the conveyor belt and the workmen’s benches was packed with a new production line: thousands of munitions chests for anti-tank guns. They had been made overnight, after the conclusion of the Pact of Friendship. A similar sight was to be seen in all the other shops.

    On the day the Pact of Friendship was signed with Germany tele-graphed orders were sent out from Moscow to put into operation a secret mobilization plan; this plan had been kept in the safe of the secret department attached to every Soviet factory and works. During all the three months I worked at Rostselmash every shop, all of which in normal times were concerned only with production for peaceful purposes, was engaged in turning out military material. Not only that, but from the very first day of the works’ existence so-called ’special departments’ had worked uninterruptedly on orders connected with the production of military weapons.

    In the course of my work I frequently had to visit the goods yards in Rostov station, and could not help seeing the endless trains loaded with armaments which were being produced by the Rostov industries which had been engaged in peacetime production. I must make it clear that I am not referring to the normal armaments works, each of which had its own railway lines, and whose production did not come under public notice.

    If one may digress into the field of political economy, the Soviet industry engaged in producing means of production could be analysed into two basic categories: the armaments industry as such, pro-ducing exclusively military material; and the other industries, which can be described as industries for peace production, but which, even at the time of their inauguration, were so planned that they could be turned over to armaments production in a moment. It is very difficult to draw the line between the two categories. Machinery construction appears at first sight to be a peace industry, but ninety per cent of the machinery produced goes to equip arma-ments works. And in September 1989 even this second category, which hitherto had been working, within limits, on the production of consumer goods, was geared wholly and completely to the mobilization plan, and from then on worked exclusively for war purposes.

    Like myself, the other students of our Industry Institute had to undergo practical training, being sent to hundreds of the larger works all over the Soviet Union. They all reported the same picture everywhere. The open preparations for war were obvious, even in September 1939. The only uncertainty was: whom was this war to be waged against? There were many who rather assumed that the Kremlin had decided to join with Germany in sharing out the world. The events in Finland, the Baltic States and Bessarabia, which followed soon after the Pact, seemed to confirm this view. In any case the Kremlin had already decided that the time had arrived for an active solution of the foreign policy problems.

    So the Kremlin prepared all its war machinery for the struggle. Friendship with Germany was made to serve the same end. U-boats bought in Ger-many arrived in Kronstadt, where the German distinguishing ’U’ was painted over with the Soviet letter for ’shch’, after which the Soviet naval men called them ’pike’, since the ’shch’ letter was the first letter in the Russian word for ’pike’ (shchuka). These U-boats served as prototypes for the Soviet dockyards to turn out ’pikes’ by the dozens. Later on battleships were ordered in Germany, but their arma-ments were to be supplied by the Kirov works in Leningrad, where they were to be mounted. But these battleships did not arrive in time.

    At a certain moment in this ’friendship’ period-the historians could establish the exact date-unexpected changes occurred in the relations between the ’high contracting Parties’. Both the partners’ appetites had grown immensely. Apparently Hitler, intoxicated with his successes, now felt convinced that he could manage to eat all the cake himself, without the aid of his bewhiskered friend. Any Soviet General Staff officer would laugh outright if anyone were to tell him that Germany’s attack on the Soviet Union took the Kremlin by surprise. And with justice, for no other regime in the world is so well informed on the situation in neighbouring countries as is the Kremlin.

    The myth of the unexpected ’perfidious attack’ was put out in order to justify the Kremlin’s mesalliance to the world. Weeks before the start of fighting on the Soviet-German front many citizens of the Soviet Union heard the British radio reporting the transfer of 170 German divisions to the eastern frontier of the Reich. And did the innocent children in the Kremlin have cottonwool in their ears?

    Anyone who did not happen to hear the radio transmissions could draw his own conclusions from the official Tass dementi: ’The foreign press recently has contained provocative reports of a concentration of German forces on the Soviet frontier. From well informed sources Tass is authorized to state that these reports are completely un-grounded fabrications.’ The Soviet people knew Tass far too well not to know that the truth was exactly the opposite of this statement.

    By the early spring of 1941 the Kremlin knew that war was in-evitable during the next few months. An extraordinary session of the Politbureau was held to draw up the basic decrees covering the strategy to be adopted in the event of a ’change in the situation’, i. e., in the event of war. A Defence Committee was set up at the same time, though its existence was made public only after the outbreak of war.

    The Kremlin knew the power relationships perfectly, far better than did the German Supreme Command. Despite all the enormous war preparations it knew that Russia was at a disadvantage in this respect. The only hope of salvation lay in wearing down the enemy by means of a protracted war, in thorough exploitation of the country’s vast territory and her material and human reserves, and therefore in the application of the Kutuzov strategy adapted to the requirements of modern war. It was about this time that the Krem-lin decided on a gambit opening. This form of defence strategy was to cost the country dearly; it was completely contrary to the Krem-lin’s pre-war propaganda, which had always talked of a ’bloodless war on enemy soil’. Naturally these new plans could not be made public. They were the Kremlin’s deepest secret since the first days of the Politbureau.

    Even at that stage the lines of retreat were foreseen and approxi-mately determined, the presumable losses and the available reserves were balanced against each other; even then Stalingrad was re-cognized to be the farthest point of retreat. They coldbloodedly worked out on paper operations involving tens of millions of human lives, and the results of the toil, sweat and blood of a whole generation. The members of the Politbureau could feel the ropes round their necks, it was a question of saving their own skins. The price...

    Even at that stage the war was divided into phases, and it was calculated what must be held in reserve for the ’third phase’. All else, everything that did not seem to be required for the ’third phase’, was condemned to be sacrificed in the ’second phase’.

    When the war broke out, men were sent to the front with old, quite unserviceable uniforms and weapons. Yet millions of sets of complete, modern equipment, armaments, and automatic weapons were lying, packed to resist the ravages of time, in scaled warehouses: these were predestined for the ’third phase’. When the Germans advanced more swiftly than the Kremlin plans had provided for, such stocks were destroyed or they fell into the hands of the enemy; but in no case were they distributed to the forces ahead of schedule.

    In the ’second phase’ there was much that did not go according to the Kremlin plan. Most of all they erred in their estimation of the people’s moral state. The Russian people made it quite clear that they had no desire whatever to defend the Politbureau. The morale of the troops was much lower than expected, and so the loss in human material was much higher. In order to retrieve the situa-tion the Kremlin was compelled to resort to extraordinary measures and declare the war a national patriotic war for the fatherland.

    The loss of territory was more or less in line with the ’plan’, but fulfilment of the ’territorial plan’ cost far more human lives than had been expected. The losses in material corresponded with the calculations; the forces thrown into defence received only out-of-date equipment and weapons; ’old stock’, planes and tanks of the most ancient type, were disposed of. This held good of the human material too. Sixty-year-old men, and women, were sacrificed to the ’defence phase’, while reserves for the ’third phase’, the ’offensive phase’, waited in the Far East for the day when they were to be thrown in.

    At the critical moment a new and favourable factor came into the reckoning. The western democracies, who in the period of Stalin-Hitler friendship had been reviled as bitter enemies, were now, willy-nilly, the Soviet Union’s allies.

    This was when the great game began. The Kremlin showed that, if it was not clever, it was at least cunning. Its aim was to spare its own reserves and to squeeze all the help possible out of the western democracies. And then, at the end, it would play its trump card, the reserves held in readiness for the ’third phase’, and the Russian bear would not only be left alive, but going forward to victory.

    The farther the Red Army advanced westward during the third phase, the greater was the quantity of first-class equipment of Soviet production that reached the front. It was no secret to staff officers that in 1945 great masses of arms were thrown in, much of it bearing a pre-war production mark.

    But since in the early stages the Kremlin had spared its man-power less than its material, toward the end of the war there was an acute shortage of soldiers. Moreover, the industries not regarded as of ’war importance’ were no longer able to fulfil the tasks set them, and so during the ’third phase’ there was a disastrous shortage of transport and other ’war-unimportant’ details, whereas Soviet-produced tanks and planes were available in adequate quantities. The majority of the military transport lorries and the like were of American production. The situation was still worse in regard to food. The food shortage was terrible. But, after all, that was nothing unusual in Soviet conditions. It was much more important to keep the war industry running at full speed.

    Such was the theoretical explanation of the war successes put forward by Moscow military circles.

    The Yalta conference came and went. After they had settled their military problems, the Big Three turned to the problem of restoring order in the world after the war.

    In connection with the Yalta conference, ’high circles’ of the Kremlin openly talked of two attempts to enter into peace negotia-tions between Hitler and the Soviets. The first attempt to sound the ground for a separate peace on the eastern front was made by Hitler when the Red Army gained a foothold on the right bank of the Dnieper. The Kremlin was quite ready to talk, and stipulated that observance of the Soviet 1941 frontier was the most important prerequisite.

    This shows how little the Kremlin then hoped for any great successes. Their only concern was to save their flayed hide from being worried any more. But Hitler still doubted whether the wheel of history had begun to turn to his disadvantage, and he demanded the Ukraine on the right bank of the Dnieper as his price. In this instance both the totalitarian opponents played with their cards on the table; at least they were more frank than they were with their democratic opposite numbers.

    The second attempt to conclude a separate peace was made by Hitler when the noose was already round Germany’s neck, im-mediately before the Yalta conference. On the eve of Stalin’s departure for Yalta he had no hesitation in entering into preliminary negotiations with Hitler. Who would offer him more, Hitler or the democracies?

    This time Hitler was asked to pay dearly for his immoderate demands in the earlier negotiations. Now the Kremlin no longer insisted simply on the retention of its pre-war frontiers; it required a free hand in the Balkans, possession of the Straits, and extensive concessions in the Near East. This time it was Hitler who was offered his former frontiers. Now the dream of world domination had come to birth in another brain. The policy of keeping trumps up the sleeve was justified; it brought not only salvation, but also the possibility of continuing the game.

    Hitler flatly rejected the Kremlin’s conditions. To accept them would have been a moral defeat for him. He preferred to suffer both moral and physical defeat, and to drag his whole nation, his Reich, down into the pit with him.

    The Yalta conference appeared to achieve complete unanimity among the partners. And then Stalin threw overboard all thoughts of a separate peace with Germany and concentrated all his attention on the diplomatic game with the western democracies. In the castle of Livadia he felt far more confident than he had been in Teheran. But even now he preferred not to make great demands, but to apply the tactic of squeezing out aid and concessions in exchange for promises and guarantees which he had no intention of keeping. It was still too early to show his strength. The Kremlin’s strength was only just beginning to develop, and the Kremlin itself had no clear idea of its immensity. It was best to gain time, and meanwhile get as much as possible in negotiations.

    The western allies proved very complaisant. They were quite convinced that the Kremlin was not strong enough to overrun Europe, and that the ’coup de grace’ would be administered by them, while the Soviet bear would remain stranded somewhere on the frontier of Poland. They made many concessions in the belief that the Kremlin would not be in a position to take advantage of them.

    Only the prudent and farsighted Churchill perceived the danger, hence his proposal to build up a second front in the Balkans and so protect Europe from the Red peril advancing from the East. The execution of this plan would have cost the Allies far more dearly than the invasion on the Atlantic seaboard, so its opponents won the day and it was decided to give the Soviet bear a further opportunity to burn its paws in pulling the chestnuts out of the fire for them.

    The Soviet bear pulled out the chestnuts, but he put them into his own mouth, even while he went on complaining of his weakness in order to obtain further deliveries of commodities. Quite con-vinced that he was bleeding to death, the Western Allies readily threw him further milliards in the form of lend-lease deliveries, and the bear prudently locked them away in his store-room.

    So the ’high contracting Parties’ shook one another’s hands and signed the communique, which at least one of them did not believe for one moment, having no intention of observing its terms. The communique was published, and all mankind, with the exception of the signatories, believed in it and were overjoyed. The future lay before us like a sunny May day, or like the blue sky above the Yalta shore. True, the only thing the ordinary Russian knew about current policy was that bread in Moscow cost fifty roubles a kilogramme.

    I took the final course examinations in the middle of February 1945. As I was credited with several subjects which I had taken during my studies at other schools, I was set free ten days earlier than my colleagues. After much difficulty I succeeded in getting a week’s leave. I obtained an official ’order’ from the college, and an official travel voucher to correspond, and so was enabled to visit my home town in the south of Russia.

    This trip was not a very cheerful one. The town gave me the same sort of impression as that conveyed by an autumn garden after a stormy night: bare boughs, leaves rustling underfoot, broken twigs. In my heart I felt desolation and emptiness.

    Before the war Novocherkassk had been famous for its high-spirited youth. There were five higher educational institutions to its hundred thousand inhabitants, and students dominated the town. But now I walked along the main street from the station at twelve o’clock midday and met only a few wizened old women. The typical picture of the Soviet rear. I walked beneath the cool colon-nades of my alma mater. The pictures my memory conjured up out of the past seemed far finer than the present reality. But had the reality changed so much, or had my wanderings about the world led to my applying a different yardstick?

    At the street corners women in rags were sitting, selling sun-flower seeds and home-made fruit drops. Just like 1923! Only now I had to give my little cousin a thirty-rouble note to buy the same quantity of seeds as five kopeks had bought in those days. The need, the poverty, were so hopeless, so completely without the least ray of light, that even the modest conditions of pre-war times seemed like a golden age. What we had thought wretchedness then passed for prosperity now.

    As I left the station at Moscow and plunged into the midst of the great metropolis’s swirling hurry and activity, I felt as relieved as a man returning home from the cemetery. In Moscow there was an upsurge of hopeful life. But in all the rest of our vast country men were conscious only of the bony hand of hunger, they felt only utter hopelessness.

    Now, after the German yoke had been thrown off, something much worse had taken its place: dread of a settle-ment of accounts. Men did not know what crime they had com-mitted, they knew only that there would be no escaping the reckon-ing. Enormous areas of the Soviet Union, and over half its popula-tion, had been under German occupation. And now, over every one of these people hovered the spectre of a reckoning for ’betrayal of the fatherland’.

    At the end of February all the graduates of our course were sent to the front and attached to the active army; before taking their State examination they had to have a period of experience on active service. I was attached to the staff of the First Byelorussian Army.

    During those days the divisions of the First Byelorussian and the First Ukrainian Armies were fighting desperately to overcome the latest achievements of German fortifications technique. After breaking through the East Wall a fight began to enlarge the Oder bridgehead. Inspired by their successes, the Soviet troops were burning to tear on into the heart of Hitler’s Germany, on to Berlin.

    Towards the end of April, just as the street battles in Berlin had reached their height, I was unexpectedly recalled to Moscow.

    #anticommunisme #histoire #Berlin #occupation #guerre_froide

  • THE SOUTH CHINA SEA : - the Mediterranean of Asia, Ellen Wasylina - livre, ebook, epub

    the Mediterranean of Asia
    The geostrategic Maritime Review n°9
    Ellen Wasylina

    The South China Sea is a classic Mediterranean sea-structure with a long history of populations living in the basin and taking advantage of a permanent trading activity interrupted by some dramatic war moments. The Chinese preponderance on the development and the history of the basin has been a permanent element of both equilibrium and dilemma. Political and military tensions are heating up with a sharp increase in commercial relations amongst the regional countries and the great international powers.


    Revues QUEST OF THE ARCTIC, Ellen Wasylina, The geostrategic Maritime Review 7

    The geostrategic Maritime Review n°7
    Ellen Wasylina

    This seventh issue of the Geostrategic Maritime Review comes on the sixth year of activity of the International Geostrategic Maritime Observatory. This publication contains five articles : Arctic Geopolitics as a Major Public Issue : the Reasons Behind a Lack of Awareness ; Harvesting Arctic Authority : The Protection of Arctic Biomarine Resources, Sovereignty and Global Security ; The Case for an International Régime for the Arctic ; 25 years ago : the Odyssey of the Astrolabe and A life in the service of France, of the Pacific, and the Arctic and Antarctica : Michel Rocard (1930-2016), Regions.


    Revues STRATEGIC BALTIC SEA, Ellen Wasylina, The geostrategic Maritime Review 8

    The #geostrategic_Maritime_Review n°8
    Ellen Wasylina

    This issue of the Geostrategic Maritime Review gives the reader some background and depth on the history of the Baltic Sea region. The studied topics are the geostrategic situation, the geopolitical and geoeconomic stakes of logistic hubs in the Baltic states, and finally, the digitalization and modernization of European transportation and the roles that the US, Russia and the EU play together to ensure national, economic and energy security in Eurasia.

    #arctique #mer_de_chine_méridonale #pays_baltes #mer_baltique #bibliographie #

  • Baltic Prudence or Paranoia, Redux: What Does Zapad-2017 Mean for the Baltic States? - Foreign Policy Research Institute

    Russia’s Zapad-2017 exercise will take place from September 14 to 20 and may become the largest Russian military exercise since the collapse of the Soviet Union. The Baltic states have been expressing concern and suggesting that the exercise poses a potential threat to their national security and exacerbates the strategic imbalance already present in the region. Some are taking these Baltic warnings seriously as understandably prudent. Others depict the Balts as unjustifiably paranoid. These warnings hearken back to 2010 when France first agreed to sell a number of Mistral ships to Russia despite the early concerns and protestations of a number of NATO countries, among them the Baltic states. Were the Baltic states displaying prudence or paranoia in their attitudes toward the sale? Time proved their stance to be prudent rather than paranoiac. The Baltic states are now again expressing grave concerns relating to Russia and Zapad-2017. This time, NATO is listening.

    #pays_baltes #sécurité #russie

  • Report : CIA set up task-force in 2016 to investigate possible Russian funding of Trump’s campaign

    A US counterintelligence task force was established by the CIA in 2016 to investigate possible Russian funding of President-elect Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, the BBC reported on Friday.

    The task force included the FBI, the Treasury and Justice Departments, the CIA, the Office of the Director of National Intelligence, and the National Security Agency (NSA).

    It was set up after the director of the CIA, John Brennan, received a recording of a conversation about money from the Kremlin going into Trump’s campaign coffers, the BBC’s Paul Wood reported. The recording was apparently passed to the CIA by the intelligence agency of one of the Baltic States.
    The Director of National Intelligence, James Clapper, released a statement last Wednesday reiterating that, while the intelligence community had "not made any judgment that the information in this document is reliable, “part of our obligation is to ensure that policymakers are provided with the fullest possible picture of any matters that might affect national security.

    Cette dernière phrase est incroyable : on ne sait pas si c’est juste une rumeur, mais on diffuse aux décideurs…

    L’article de la BBC dont sont extraites les informations ci-dessus comprend une première moitié sur le kompromat de 2013.

    Trump ’compromising’ claims : How and why did we get here ? - BBC News

    Donald Trump has described as “fake news” allegations published in some media that his election team colluded with Russia - and that Russia held compromising material about his private life. The BBC’s Paul Wood saw the allegations before the election, and reports on the fallout now they have come to light.

  • Putin: claims that Russia could perform a nuclear attack on Baltics are madness
    Russian President Vladimir Putin called claims that Russia could engage NATO in an armed conflict and use nuclear arms against neighbouring countries, including Baltic States, delusional.

    «I think all sober-minded people who really are involved in politics understand that the idea of a Russian threat to, for example, the Baltics is complete madness,» – Putin said in an interview to Bloomberg.

    «Are we really about to fight NATO? How many people live in NATO countries? About 600 million, correct? There are 146 million in Russia. Yes, we’re the biggest nuclear power. But do you really think that we’re about to conquer the Baltics using nuclear weapons? What is this madness?» – said the Russian President.

    #NATO #Russia #Nuclear_power #Baltics

  • Russia Starts Military Drills On Ukraine’s Border, In Annexed Crimea

    Moscow has launched large-scale military drills on Ukraine’s eastern border and around Ukraine’s Russia-annexed Crimean Peninsula.

    The Russian Defense Ministry said September 5 that 12,500 servicemen are taking part in the drills across its southern military region. It said the Russian Navy in the Black Sea and Caspian Sea are participating in the exercises and that planes also are being used.

    The six-day exercises will test the army’s ability to “plan, prepare, and carry out military actions,” the ministry said in a statement.

    Russia last month conducted a large-scale snap drill, putting its troops on full combat readiness in military districts bordering Ukraine and the Baltic states.

    #russie #ukraine #crimée #armée #opérations_militaires

  • Russian Anti-Access and Area Denial (A2AD) Range: August 2016

    Russia has altered the security balance in the Black Sea, Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East by establishing large anti-access/area-denial (A2AD) exclusion zones. Russia’s power projection in these regions has been further extended by the deployment of the S-400 air defense system to Crimea in August 2016 and to Syria in November 2015. Advanced air defense systems create A2AD “bubbles” that prevent Russia’s opponents from establishing air supremacy in strategically significant theaters. The Baltic States, much of Ukraine and the Black Sea, northern Poland, Syria and parts of Turkey fall under Russian A2AD bubbles created by S-300 and S-400 air defense systems. Russia operates advanced air defense not only within its own territory, but from sites in Syria and occupied Crimea, as well as cooperatively through the Joint Air Defense Network in Belarus and Armenia. Russia can use these systems to impede the ability of the U.S. to defend its NATO allies by disrupting the ability of US air forces to access conflict zones in the event of a crisis.

    #Russie #défense

  • Economic diary of Latvia

    This week, it became known about the biggest merging process in the banking sector in the past several years. Nordea and DNB have announced their plans to combine their experience, knowledge and efforts in Baltic States.
    This week, the Central Statistical Bureau of Latvia announced results of Latvian hotels and other places of accommodation for the first half-year of 2016. As it turned out, foreign guests have spent 1,892 million nights in Latvia, which is 6.5% more in comparison with the same period of 2015. In Q2 2016, the number of foreign tourists in Latvia reached 432.7 thousand people. 29.6% of them came from neighbouring countries: Russia (10.9%), Lithuania (8.6%), Estonia (8.1%) and Belarus (2%). There has also been an increase in the number of guests from USA (+56.6%), Spain (+33.4%), UK (+27%), Lithuania (+17.9%), Poland (+17.4%) and Finland (+13.5%).

    #Latvia #Economics #export #tourism #banks #DNB #nordea

  • Russia launches large snap military drills near Baltic borders
    MOSCOW, Aug 25 (LETA—AFP) - Russia on Thursday launched large-scale snap military drills, putting its troops on full combat readiness in districts bordering Ukraine and the Baltic states, the defense minister said.
    “In accordance with the decision of the Supreme Commander-in-Chief of Armed Forces of the Russian Federation (President Vladimir Putin), a spot check started today,” Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu said in televised comments.
    Troops in the country’s southern, central and western military districts, as well as the air force, northern fleet and paratroopers were in “full combat” mode as of 0400 GMT, he said.

    #Latvia #Latvija #Russia #Military_drills #NATO

  • Nordea and DNB to cooperate in Baltic States
    Nordea Bank and DNB Bank have signed an agreement on cooperation in Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania to create a new leading bank in Baltic States with powerful Nordic roots.

    The deal depends on conditions and approvals detailed in regulations.

    It is planned that the deal in regards to the new bank’s formation will be concluded around Q2 2017. Until then, both banks will continue working as competitors.

    It is intended that Nordea and DNB will have equal voting rights in the new bank. The division of economic property rights will be different. This is because it will be based on capital value of existing banks and the total investments in the new bank at the time of conclusion of the transaction.

    #Economics #DNB #Nordea #latvija #Baltics

  • Meetings of Nordic and Baltic ministers in a
    This week, foreign ministers of Baltic and Nordic countries will meet in Riga as part of NB8 format. Latvia will host the event as this year’s NB8 host country.

    The programme includes discussions about the cooperation in the region in the 25 years since the restoration of independence of Baltic States, the topical matters in Europe and security matters in the region and outside it, as reported by Foreign Affairs Ministry.

    #Latvija #NB8 #foreign_affairs

  • Lithuanian companies remain the largest in the region
    Turnover-wise, the three largest companies in Baltic States are all Lithuanian, according to the Top 50 rating of Baltic companies compiled by Coface credit risk company. Coface mentions as positive trend in Baltic States in regards to the growth of household consumption and improvement of the state of the labour market.

    #Latvia #Baltics #Economics #Lithuania

  • Reuters - U.S. F-22s land in Lithuania in show of force amid Russia tensions

    Two of the U.S. Air Force’s most advanced jets landed in Lithuania for the first time on Wednesday [27/04] in a show of force and support for a region worried by Russian military manoeuvres.

    The Baltic states and Washington have been riled by acts by Russian warplanes in the region in recent weeks, including one making “simulated attack passes” near a U.S. warship and another passing within 50 feet of a U.S. reconnaissance plane.

    The two U.S. Air Force F-22 fighters landed in Romania earlier this week and F-22s last year visited Poland and Estonia, all counties concerned about Russian military ambitions.

    The jets spent 20 minutes making three low-flying passes with aerial acrobatics over Lithuania’s Siauliai air base before landing to be met by President Dalia Grybauskaite.

    Without singling out any neighbour, I would like to say that no one has any right to poke their noses into here,” Grybauskaite told reporters.

    #je_ne_désigne_personne, mais suivez mon regard…

  • Nicolas Auzanneau (que je remercie) sur FB explique :

    « ... Pour ceux qui n’auraient pas encore compris que la situation politique en Lettonie est préoccupante, le Rapport annuel de l’Institut letton des relations internationales. Merci Marielle Vitureau pour le lien. Un papier impeccable de Karlis Bukovskis notamment.

    “It was just in 2014, when due to the conflict in Ukraine, the Baltic states were looking for the re-assurances of the Transatlantic and European partners. And it was in 2014 when the EU countries opted for sanctions against Russia, a peaceful instrument to stop the escalation of and a potential spill-over of the conflict. It was the President of the European Commission who during his State of the Union address to the European Parliament in September 2014 clearly stated that the EU is ready to do everything to defend the Baltic countries. The political and emotional support that the Baltic states were seeking was given (“Junkers: Mēs esam gatavi darīt visu, lai aizsargātu Baltijas valstis,” September 9, 2014). Now the solidarity question is on the table again, but this time Latvia is expected to be on the giving, not the receiving side. A strange and seldom experienced situation for Latvia.” ... »

    #lettonie #économie

  • Daily chart: More neighbours make more fences | The Economist

    EUROPE will soon have more physical barriers on its national borders than it did during the Cold War. This year’s refugee crisis, combined with Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia, has seen governments plan and construct border walls and security fences across Mediterranean and eastern Europe. On September 15th, Hungary completed a fence along its border with Serbia, a major point of entry for refugees making their way into the European Union (EU) this year. Within hours, over 60 people were arrested for attempting to scale it. Hungary’s is the latest in a ring of anti-migrant fences along the southern fringes of the EU’s visa-free Schengen zone. In the mid-1990s, Spain fenced off its Moroccan enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, followed in 2012 by fences on Greece’s and Bulgaria’s borders with Turkey. In the last few days reports have circulated on social media that Romania will build defences too. Ukraine began sealing off its border with Russia last year. This year the Baltic states announced they are following suit. That would leave Belarus’s as the only unsealed border between the Baltic and the Black sea.

    #frontières #murs #cartographie #sémiologie

  • More neighbours make more fences

    EUROPE will soon have more physical barriers on its national borders than it did during the Cold War. This year’s refugee crisis, combined with Ukraine’s ongoing conflict with Russia, has seen governments plan and construct border walls and security fences across Mediterranean and eastern Europe. On September 15th, Hungary completed a fence along its border with Serbia, a major point of entry for refugees making their way into the European Union (EU) this year. Within hours, over 60 people were arrested for attempting to scale it. Hungary’s is the latest in a ring of anti-migrant fences along the southern fringes of the EU’s visa-free Schengen zone. In the mid-1990s, Spain fenced off its Moroccan enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla, followed in 2012 by fences on Greece’s and Bulgaria’s borders with Turkey. In the last few days reports have circulated on social media that Romania will build defences too. Ukraine began sealing off its border with Russia last year. This year the Baltic states announced they are following suit. That would leave Belarus’s as the only unsealed border between the Baltic and the Black sea.
    #cartographie #visualisation #murs #barrières_frontalières #frontières

    cc @daphne @marty @albertocampiphoto

  • PASOS | Baltic group : Poland, Lithuania, Latvia and Estonia

    La Russie toujours le grand méchant pour ls Polonais et aussi pour les Baltes.

    Via Antoine Jacob sur FB

    The majority of Poles and the inhabitants of the Baltic states believe that Russia represents a military threat to their countries, although there are big differences among respondents from individual states, according to the results of an Institute of Public Affairs survey.

    The study found that 80 percent of Poles, 60 percent of Lithuanians, 59 percent of Estonians and 43 of Latvians said that they have such concerns.

    “In the case of Latvia and Estonia, the impact of ethnic divisions on the survey results is clearly visible,” the report states. “Among the people of Estonian nationality, the sense of military threat from Russia is almost identical as that among Poles (80%), and among the inhabitants of Latvia who are of Latvian nationality it is only slightly less frequent (69%). Whereas, very few Estonian (7%) and Latvian (5%) Russians point to such threat.”

    #russie #pologne #pays_baltes