region:eastern europe

  • Lebanon looks to hardline eastern Europe approach for Syrian refugees

    Lebanon said on Wednesday it wanted to follow the example of eastern EU states that have largely rejected refugees as a way of resolving its own refugee crisis.
    Foreign Minister Gebran Bassil sympathized with the Czech Republic, Hungary, Poland and Slovakia’s refusal to accept refugee distribution quotas proposed by the EU after the 2015-16 migrant crisis, when more than a million people streamed into Europe, mostly from Syria.
    Populist eastern EU leaders including Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, Poland’s powerbroker Jaroslaw Kaczynski and Czech President Milos Zeman, among others, blasted German Chancellor Angela Merkel’s “open door” policy on accepting migrants during that period.
    These countries “were acting in their national interest and decided that the redistribution of refugees among European countries is not in their national interest, although they faced EU sanctions for that,” Bassil told reporters in Prague.
    “I would like this attitude to be an inspiration for Lebanon, because every state must make national interests its top priority and at this moment Lebanon’s key national interest is the return of Syrian refugees to their homeland,” he added.
    Lebanon says it is hosting 1.5 million Syrians — around a quarter of its own population. Less than one million of them are registered with UN refugee agency the UNHCR.
    Most of the Syrian refugees in Lebanon live in insecurity and depend on international aid.
    The International Monetary Fund has said their presence has led to increased unemployment and a rise in poverty due to greater competition for jobs.
    The influx has also put strain on Lebanese water and electrical infrastructure.
    Lebanese government officials and politicians have ramped up calls for Syrians to return home, but the United Nations has consistently warned that conditions in the war-ravaged country are not suitable for such returns.
    “I would like Prague or Beirut to host a meeting, an initiative of countries seeking to plan and ensure the return of Syrian refugees to their country,” said Bassil.
    “This would be immensely useful for both Lebanon and Syria and in general it would be the best solution to the human, humanitarian and political crisis we have right now and which could get worse in the future,” he said.


    http://www.arabnews.com/node/1473496/middle-east
    #Liban #it_has_begun #modèle_hongrois #asile #migrations #réfugiés #réfugiés_syriens #intérêt_national #populisme #modèle_Visegrad #retour_au_pays


  • Ex-Nazis ‘gave Mossad the edge in Six-Day War’ (et, non, ce n’est pas la première fois qu’on entends ce genre de chose) :
    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/article/ex-nazis-gave-mossad-the-edge-in-six-day-war-q6fk5wp6z

    Israel was able to launch its surprise attack against Egypt and Syria at the beginning of the Six-Day War thanks to information provided to Mossad by an intelligence network of former Nazis, according to a book by an Italian who claims to have played a role.

    Adriano Monti fought, aged 15, in the international division of the German SS at the end of the Second World War and was recruited into a postwar intelligence organisation founded by General Reinhard Gehlen. Gehlen had run German army espionage efforts against eastern Europe during the war and worked closely with the CIA after it. His “Gehlen Organisation” became the backbone of West Germany’s foreign intelligence organisation, the BND.


  • (De)friending in the Baltics: Lessons from Facebook’s Sputnik Crackdown - Foreign Policy Research Institute
    https://www.fpri.org/article/2019/01/defriending-in-the-baltics-lessons-from-facebooks-sputnik-crackdown

    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


  • The Border Patrol Has Been a Cult of Brutality Since 1924
    https://theintercept.com/2019/01/12/border-patrol-history

    Since its founding in the early 20th century, the U.S. Border Patrol has operated with near-complete impunity, arguably serving as the most politicized and abusive branch of federal law enforcement — even more so than the FBI during J. Edgar Hoover’s directorship. The 1924 Immigration Act tapped into a xenophobia with deep roots in the U.S. history. The law effectively eliminated immigration from Asia and sharply reduced arrivals from southern and eastern Europe. Most countries were now (...)

    #ICE #migration #frontières #surveillance


  • Why Women Have Better Sex Under Socialism
    https://www.jacobinmag.com/2018/11/kristen-ghodsee-women-sex-under-socialism-eastern-bloc-communism

    One of the most positive features of state socialism, Ghodsee argues, is that it gave women economic independence from men. In the former Soviet countries, women may not have been able to take part in free elections or find a diversity of consumer goods, but they were guaranteed public education, jobs, housing, health care, maternity leave, child allowances, child care, and more. Not only did this arrangement liberate women and men alike from the anxieties and pressures of sink-or-swim capitalism; it also meant that women were much less likely to rely on male partners for the fulfillment of basic needs. This in turn meant that heterosexual women’s romantic relationships with men were more optional, less constrained by economic considerations, and often more egalitarian. As Ghodsee writes in her book:

    When women enjoy their own sources of income, and the state guarantees social security in old age, illness, and disability, women have no economic reason to stay in abusive, unfulfilling, or otherwise unhealthy relationships. In countries such as Poland, Hungary Czechoslovakia, Bulgaria, Yugoslavia, and East Germany, women’s economic independence translated into a culture in which personal relationships could be freed from market influences. Women didn’t have to marry for money.

    Alexandra [Kollontai] wanted to create public canteens where people could eat. She wanted to create public laundries. She also wanted to create mending cooperatives, because back then mending was a huge task that women had to do at home and she thought it would be more efficient if done collectively, reducing the burden on individual women.

    What we see is that when women have economic independence from men — in the sense that they can support children out of wedlock, they have jobs, they have pensions, they have access to housing and their basic needs like utilities and food are subsidized — they don’t stick around in relationships that are unsatisfying. When they can leave, they don’t stay with men who don’t treat them well.

    So if a man is heterosexual and he wants to be in a relationship with a woman, it’s not that easy to get a woman by providing her economic security she doesn’t have, or buying her something that she needs. He has to be kind, thoughtful, attractive in other ways. And it turns out that when men have to be “interesting” in order to attract women, they are. They actually end up being better men. It’s not that difficult a concept. I don’t know why people are so shocked by this.

    I think that in a culture where women have more economic opportunities, men self-civilize in a way because they realize that if they want to be in relationships with women they can’t be abusive, they can’t take women for granted.

    There were brilliant socialist feminists in the seventies, people like Silvia Federici and others, who were making the case that large structural changes would reorganize relationships between men and women. What happened is that, as Nancy Fraser has written about, feminism was largely co-opted by neoliberal capitalism. So we ended up getting a kind of Sheryl Sandberg-style “lean in” feminism, which is all about individual success and creating conditions for a handful of women to be as filthy rich as a handful of men are.

    The idea of socialist feminism evaporated with the general global backlash against Marxism and the rise of neoliberalism. We’re still surviving that now.

    Because I’m an ethnographer who’s been doing field work in Eastern Europe for twenty years, I know many people who will tell you that life was much more nuanced and complex, and not as overwhelmingly negative as Westerners imagine. Certainly not everybody was marching around in Mao suits with shaved heads, or starving in the streets and begging for a pair of jeans.

    Young people who are coming to socialist ideas today, they get automatically whacked over the head with the cudgel of twentieth-century socialist crimes in Eastern Europe. If you say anything about state-funded health care, people start screaming about the purges and the gulags. We have to be able to have a nuanced, thoughtful, enriching conversation about the past. The anti-communist knee-jerk reaction you get in the United States makes it difficult to have that conversation. I hope my book makes it a little easier.

    Ça me fait penser au truc que j’ai posté sur les régimes autoritaires, Trump, Duterte, etc. qui tapaient sur les femmes.

    #Kristen_Ghodsee #sexe #communisme #femmes #égalité

    • Merci, @aude_v.
      L’ouvrage d’August Bebel Die Frau und der Sozialismus (La femme et le socialisme), paru en 1879 (pendant les lois (anti-)socialistes de Bismarck), est l’une des premières, sinon la première analyse de la question de l’égalité en terme de lutte des classes. L’ouvrage a inspiré toutes les grandes féministes allemandes, comme Clara Zetkin :

      „Es darf nicht nach seinen Vorzügen oder Mängeln bewertet werden, es muss beurteilt werden nach der Zeit, in der es erschien. Und da war es mehr als ein Buch, es war ein Ereignis, eine Tat. Zum ersten Male wurde darin den Genossen klargelegt, in welchem Zusammenhange die Frauenfrage mit der geschichtlichen Entwicklung steht, zum ersten Male ertönte aus diesem Buche der Ruf: Wir können die Zukunft nur erobern, wenn wir die Frauen als Mitkämpferinnen gewinnen.“ Dies sagte Clara Zetkin über das Buch Bebels auf dem Gothaer SPD-Parteitag im Jahre 1896.

      https://www.sozialismus.info/2018/05/august-bebel-die-frau-und-der-sozialismus
      Les différences en matière d’égalité entre Allemagne de l’Est et de l’Ouest existent toujours :

      Die grundlegend und über viele Jahrzehnte unterschiedliche Familienpolitik in Ost und West wirkt auch heute noch, 26 Jahre nach dem Mauerfall und mit gemeinsamer Bundesregierung in beiden Teilen Deutschlands nach. Die Unterschiede sind sowohl strukturell (z.B. Ausgestaltung und Umfang der Kinderbetreuungsangebote) als auch kulturell, z.B. ein anderes Selbstverständnis von Müttern in Ost und West aber auch von ihren jeweiligen sozialen Umfeldern. Die damit einhergehende höhere Erwerbsneigung von Frauen im Osten ist im Vergleich zum Westen unabhängiger vom Familienstand und dem Vorhandensein von Kindern. Dies führte im Osten zu einer stärkeren Arbeitsteilung auch bei unbezahlter Arbeit, nicht jedoch zu einer gerechten Arbeitsteilung, denn auch im Osten arbeiten Frauen mehr unbezahlt als Männer.
      Die Unterschiede im Erwerbsleben wirken sich langfristig auf die ökonomische Unabhängigkeit aus, denn sowohl geschlechterbezogene Verdienstunterschiede als auch Rentenunterschiede sind im Osten der Bundesrepublik erheblich niedriger. Kaum Unterschied gibt es in der Geburtenziffer, in beiden Hälften des Landes ist sie gleich niedrig. Die Ursachen sind jedoch jeweils andere: Im Westen gibt es einen hohen Anteil kinderloser Frauen, v.a. bei Akademikerinnen, im Osten gibt es zwar wenig kinderlose Frauen aber dafür mehr Mütter mit nur einem Kind. Ist im Westen vermutlich der Zwang, sich zwischen Kindern und Beruf entscheiden zu müssen, ursächlich für Entscheidungen gegen Kinder, so sind im wirtschaftlich schwächeren Osten eher ökonomische Gründe für die Entscheidung gegen ein zweites oder drittes Kind zu suchen. In den letzten Jahrzehnten gab es Anpassungen in beiden Regionen, generell kann aber eher von einer Anpassung an ostdeutsche Traditionen der Familienpolitik gesprochen werden, denn ihre Kernelemente, wie die umfassende Bereitstellung von Kinderbetreuung und weitere Maßnahmen zur Verbesserung der Vereinbarkeit gehören seit einigen Jahren auch zum bundesdeutschen Schwerpunkt der Familienpolitik. Ein diesbezüglicher Kulturwandel hin zu mehr Akzeptanz arbeitender Mütter ist in der Konsequenz auch in Westdeutschland feststellbar.

      https://www.boell.de/de/2016/11/09/familienpolitik-ost-und-westdeutschland-und-ihre-langfristigen-auswirkungen
      #socialisme #féminisme


  • Widespread Blurring of Satellite Images Reveals Secret Facilities – Federation Of American Scientists
    https://fas.org/blogs/security/2018/12/widespread-blurring-of-satellite-images-reveals-secret-facilities

    Yandex Maps—Russia’s foremost mapping service—has also agreed to selectively blur out specific sites beyond recognition; however, it has done so for just two countries: Israel and Turkey. The areas of these blurred sites range from large complexes—such as airfields or munitions storage bunkers—to small, nondescript buildings within city blocks.

    (...) By complying with requests to selectively obscure military facilities, the mapping service has actually revealed their precise locations, perimeters, and potential function to anyone curious enough to find them all.

    #satellite #flou #secret #armée

    • Le billet de Matt Korda est fort intéressant.

      Although blurring out specific sites is certainly unusual, it is not uncommon for satellite imagery companies to downgrade the resolution of certain sets of imagery before releasing them to viewing platforms like Yandex or Google Earth; in fact, if you trawl around the globe using these platforms, you’ll notice that different locations will be rendered in a variety of resolutions. Downtown Toronto, for example, is always visible at an extremely high resolution; looking closely, you can spot my bike parked outside my old apartment. By contrast, imagery of downtown Jerusalem is always significantly blurrier; you can just barely make out cars parked on the side of the road.

      As I explained in my previous piece about geolocating Israeli Patriot batteries, a 1997 US law known as the Kyl-Bingaman Amendment (KBA) prohibits US companies from publishing satellite imagery of Israel at a Ground Sampling Distance lower than what is commercially available. This generally means that US-based satellite companies like DigitalGlobe and viewing platforms like Google Earth won’t publish any images of Israel that are better than 2m resolution.

      Foreign mapping services like Russia’s Yandex are legally not subject to the KBA, but they tend to stick to the 2m resolution rule regardless, likely for two reasons. Firstly, after 20 years the KBA standard has become somewhat institutionalized within the satellite imagery industry. And secondly, Russian companies (and the Russian state) are surely wary of doing anything to sour Russia’s critical relationship with Israel.
      […]
      My complete list of blurred sites in both Israel and Turkey totals over 300 distinct buildings, airfields, ports, bunkers, storage sites, bases, barracks, nuclear facilities, and random buildings—prompting several intriguing points of consideration:

      • Included in the list of Yandex’s blurred sites are at least two NATO facilities: Allied Land Command (LANDCOM) in Izmir, and Incirlik Air Base, which hosts the largest contingent of US B61 nuclear gravity bombs at any single NATO base.
      • Strangely, no Russian facilities have been blurred—including its nuclear facilities, submarine bases, air bases, launch sites, or numerous foreign military bases in Eastern Europe, Central Asia, or the Middle East.
      • Although none of Russia’s permanent military installations in Syria have been blurred, almost the entirety of Syria is depicted in extremely low resolution, making it nearly impossible to utilize Yandex for analyses of Syrian imagery. By contrast, both Crimea and the entire Donbass region are visible at very high resolutions, so this blurring standard applies only selectively to Russia’s foreign adventures.
      • All four Israeli Patriot batteries that I identified using radar interference in my previous post have been blurred out, confirming that these sites do indeed have a military function.

      lien vers le billet mentionné dans le dernier paragraphe : repérage des sites de batteries de Patriot en Israel https://seenthis.net/messages/743998


  • https://www.auroraabrasive.com/7-inches-stainless-steel-cutting-disc
    The global consumption of abrasives will increase by 5.9 percent per year and will reach 38 billion by 2013. The first regions to achieve growth are Asia, the Middle East/Africa, Eastern Europe and Latin America. The demand for abrasives in the four regions will exceed that of the United States, Japan and Western Europe.
    The consumption of abrasive tools is mainly due to the steady growth of the economy and the steady development of the industry, which leads to the continuous expansion of the production of durable consumer goods and the increase in investment in fixed assets. China, India and Russia account for a large share of the sales of abrasives. In particular, China will replace the United States as the world’s largest abrasives consumer market. It is estimated that by 2013, China’s consumption of abrasive tools will account for two-thirds of the global demand for new products. Sales in Thailand and Indonesia in Southeast Asia will also show good growth.

    The development of the global abrasives market is not optimistic compared with developing countries, its economic growth is weak, and the growth of durable consumer goods production is slow. It is expected that the demand for abrasives in the United States, Italy and France will grow by less than one percent by 2013, and the annual demand for abrasives in Japan, Germany and the United Kingdom will decline. Luo Baihui believes that the final result is that the per capita consumption of purchased abrasives will increase as the production costs of various products increase. Sales of abrasives in Canada, South Korea and Spain are expected to grow steadily with the economy and demand will increase. In the industrialized regions, the industrial output of these three countries has been in a leading position.

    The consumer demand for global abrasive tools is mainly non-metallic abrasive products, including: fixed abrasives, coated abrasives and abrasives, polishing powders, etc. It is estimated that by 2013, the sales of non-metallic abrasives will occupy most of the market, which will exceed the sales of metal abrasives, such as shot peening, steel grit, wire brush and grinding wheel. The consumer durables market is undoubtedly the largest sales target for abrasives, accounting for two-thirds of all abrasive products.


  • 56,800 migrant dead and missing : ’They are human beings’

    One by one, five to a grave, the coffins are buried in the red earth of this ill-kept corner of a South African cemetery. The scrawl on the cheap wood attests to their anonymity: “Unknown B/Male.”

    These men were migrants from elsewhere in Africa with next to nothing who sought a living in the thriving underground economy of Gauteng province, a name that roughly translates to “land of gold.” Instead of fortune, many found death, their bodies unnamed and unclaimed — more than 4,300 in Gauteng between 2014 and 2017 alone.

    Some of those lives ended here at the Olifantsvlei cemetery, in silence, among tufts of grass growing over tiny placards that read: Pauper Block. There are coffins so tiny that they could belong only to children.

    As migration worldwide soars to record highs, far less visible has been its toll: The tens of thousands of people who die or simply disappear during their journeys, never to be seen again. In most cases, nobody is keeping track: Barely counted in life, these people don’t register in death , as if they never lived at all.

    An Associated Press tally has documented at least 56,800 migrants dead or missing worldwide since 2014 — almost double the number found in the world’s only official attempt to try to count them, by the U.N.’s International Organization for Migration. The IOM toll as of Oct. 1 was more than 28,500. The AP came up with almost 28,300 additional dead or missing migrants by compiling information from other international groups, requesting forensic records, missing persons reports and death records, and sifting through data from thousands of interviews with migrants.

    The toll is the result of migration that is up 49 percent since the turn of the century, with more than 258 million international migrants in 2017, according to the United Nations. A growing number have drowned, died in deserts or fallen prey to traffickers, leaving their families to wonder what on earth happened to them. At the same time, anonymous bodies are filling cemeteries around the world, like the one in Gauteng.

    The AP’s tally is still low. More bodies of migrants lie undiscovered in desert sands or at the bottom of the sea. And families don’t always report loved ones as missing because they migrated illegally, or because they left home without saying exactly where they were headed.

    The official U.N. toll focuses mostly on Europe, but even there cases fall through the cracks. The political tide is turning against migrants in Europe just as in the United States, where the government is cracking down heavily on caravans of Central Americans trying to get in . One result is that money is drying up for projects to track migration and its costs.

    For example, when more than 800 people died in an April 2015 shipwreck off the coast of Italy, Europe’s deadliest migrant sea disaster, Italian investigators pledged to identify them and find their families. More than three years later, under a new populist government, funding for this work is being cut off.

    Beyond Europe, information is even more scarce. Little is known about the toll in South America, where the Venezuelan migration is among the world’s biggest today, and in Asia, the top region for numbers of migrants.

    The result is that governments vastly underestimate the toll of migration, a major political and social issue in most of the world today.

    “No matter where you stand on the whole migration management debate....these are still human beings on the move,” said Bram Frouws, the head of the Mixed Migration Centre , based in Geneva, which has done surveys of more than 20,000 migrants in its 4Mi project since 2014. “Whether it’s refugees or people moving for jobs, they are human beings.”

    They leave behind families caught between hope and mourning, like that of Safi al-Bahri. Her son, Majdi Barhoumi, left their hometown of Ras Jebel, Tunisia, on May 7, 2011, headed for Europe in a small boat with a dozen other migrants. The boat sank and Barhoumi hasn’t been heard from since. In a sign of faith that he is still alive, his parents built an animal pen with a brood of hens, a few cows and a dog to stand watch until he returns.

    “I just wait for him. I always imagine him behind me, at home, in the market, everywhere,” said al-Bahari. “When I hear a voice at night, I think he’s come back. When I hear the sound of a motorcycle, I think my son is back.”

    ———————————————————————

    EUROPE: BOATS THAT NEVER ARRIVE

    Of the world’s migration crises, Europe’s has been the most cruelly visible. Images of the lifeless body of a Kurdish toddler on a beach, frozen tent camps in Eastern Europe, and a nearly numbing succession of deadly shipwrecks have been transmitted around the world, adding to the furor over migration.

    In the Mediterranean, scores of tankers, cargo boats, cruise ships and military vessels tower over tiny, crowded rafts powered by an outboard motor for a one-way trip. Even larger boats carrying hundreds of migrants may go down when soft breezes turn into battering winds and thrashing waves further from shore.

    Two shipwrecks and the deaths of at least 368 people off the coast of Italy in October 2013 prompted the IOM’s research into migrant deaths. The organization has focused on deaths in the Mediterranean, although its researchers plead for more data from elsewhere in the world. This year alone, the IOM has found more than 1,700 deaths in the waters that divide Africa and Europe.

    Like the lost Tunisians of Ras Jebel, most of them set off to look for work. Barhoumi, his friends, cousins and other would-be migrants camped in the seaside brush the night before their departure, listening to the crash of the waves that ultimately would sink their raft.

    Khalid Arfaoui had planned to be among them. When the group knocked at his door, it wasn’t fear that held him back, but a lack of cash. Everyone needed to chip in to pay for the boat, gas and supplies, and he was short about $100. So he sat inside and watched as they left for the beachside campsite where even today locals spend the night before embarking to Europe.

    Propelled by a feeble outboard motor and overburdened with its passengers, the rubber raft flipped, possibly after grazing rocks below the surface on an uninhabited island just offshore. Two bodies were retrieved. The lone survivor was found clinging to debris eight hours later.

    The Tunisian government has never tallied its missing, and the group never made it close enough to Europe to catch the attention of authorities there. So these migrants never have been counted among the dead and missing.

    “If I had gone with them, I’d be lost like the others,” Arfaoui said recently, standing on the rocky shoreline with a group of friends, all of whom vaguely planned to leave for Europe. “If I get the chance, I’ll do it. Even if I fear the sea and I know I might die, I’ll do it.”

    With him that day was 30-year-old Mounir Aguida, who had already made the trip once, drifting for 19 hours after the boat engine cut out. In late August this year, he crammed into another raft with seven friends, feeling the waves slam the flimsy bow. At the last minute he and another young man jumped out.

    “It didn’t feel right,” Aguida said.

    There has been no word from the other six — yet another group of Ras Jebel’s youth lost to the sea. With no shipwreck reported, no survivors to rescue and no bodies to identify, the six young men are not counted in any toll.

    In addition to watching its own youth flee, Tunisia and to a lesser degree neighboring Algeria are transit points for other Africans north bound for Europe. Tunisia has its own cemetery for unidentified migrants, as do Greece, Italy and Turkey. The one at Tunisia’s southern coast is tended by an unemployed sailor named Chamseddin Marzouk.

    Of around 400 bodies interred in the coastal graveyard since it opened in 2005, only one has ever been identified. As for the others who lie beneath piles of dirt, Marzouk couldn’t imagine how their families would ever learn their fate.

    “Their families may think that the person is still alive, or that he’ll return one day to visit,” Marzouk said. “They don’t know that those they await are buried here, in Zarzis, Tunisia.”

    ——————

    AFRICA: VANISHING WITHOUT A TRACE

    Despite talk of the ’waves’ of African migrants trying to cross the Mediterranean, as many migrate within Africa — 16 million — as leave for Europe. In all, since 2014, at least 18,400 African migrants have died traveling within Africa, according to the figures compiled from AP and IOM records. That includes more than 4,300 unidentified bodies in a single South African province, and 8,700 whose traveling companions reported their disappearance en route out of the Horn of Africa in interviews with 4Mi.

    When people vanish while migrating in Africa, it is often without a trace. The IOM says the Sahara Desert may well have killed more migrants than the Mediterranean. But no one will ever know for sure in a region where borders are little more than lines drawn on maps and no government is searching an expanse as large as the continental United States. The harsh sun and swirling desert sands quickly decompose and bury bodies of migrants, so that even when they turn up, they are usually impossible to identify .

    With a prosperous economy and stable government, South Africa draws more migrants than any other country in Africa. The government is a meticulous collector of fingerprints — nearly every legal resident and citizen has a file somewhere — so bodies without any records are assumed to have been living and working in the country illegally. The corpses are fingerprinted when possible, but there is no regular DNA collection.

    South Africa also has one of the world’s highest rates of violent crime and police are more focused on solving domestic cases than identifying migrants.

    “There’s logic to that, as sad as it is....You want to find the killer if you’re a policeman, because the killer could kill more people,” said Jeanine Vellema, the chief specialist of the province’s eight mortuaries. Migrant identification, meanwhile, is largely an issue for foreign families — and poor ones at that.

    Vellema has tried to patch into the police missing persons system, to build a system of electronic mortuary records and to establish a protocol where a DNA sample is taken from every set of remains that arrive at the morgue. She sighs: “Resources.” It’s a word that comes up 10 times in a half-hour conversation.

    So the bodies end up at Olifantsvlei or a cemetery like it, in unnamed graves. On a recent visit by AP, a series of open rectangles awaited the bodies of the unidentified and unclaimed. They did not wait long: a pickup truck drove up, piled with about 10 coffins, five per grave. There were at least 180 grave markers for the anonymous dead, with multiple bodies in each grave.

    The International Committee of the Red Cross, which is working with Vellema, has started a pilot project with one Gauteng morgue to take detailed photos, fingerprints, dental information and DNA samples of unidentified bodies. That information goes to a database where, in theory, the bodies can be traced.

    “Every person has a right to their dignity. And to their identity,” said Stephen Fonseca, the ICRC regional forensic manager.

    ————————————

    THE UNITED STATES: “THAT’S HOW MY BROTHER USED TO SLEEP”

    More than 6,000 miles (9,000 kilometers) away, in the deserts that straddle the U.S.-Mexico border, lie the bodies of migrants who perished trying to cross land as unforgiving as the waters of the Mediterranean. Many fled the violence and poverty of Guatemala, Honduras, El Salvador or Mexico. Some are found months or years later as mere skeletons. Others make a last, desperate phone call and are never heard from again.

    In 2010 the Argentine Forensic Anthropology Team and the local morgue in Pima County, Ariz., began to organize efforts to put names to the anonymous bodies found on both sides of the border. The “Border Project” has since identified more than 183 people — a fraction of the total.

    At least 3,861 migrants are dead and missing on the route from Mexico to the United States since 2014, according to the combined AP and IOM total. The tally includes missing person reports from the Colibri Center for Human Rights on the U.S. side as well as the Argentine group’s data from the Mexican side. The painstaking work of identification can take years, hampered by a lack of resources, official records and coordination between countries — and even between states.

    For many families of the missing, it is their only hope, but for the families of Juan Lorenzo Luna and Armando Reyes, that hope is fading.

    Luna, 27, and Reyes, 22, were brothers-in-law who left their small northern Mexico town of Gomez Palacio in August 2016. They had tried to cross to the U.S. four months earlier, but surrendered to border patrol agents in exhaustion and were deported.

    They knew they were risking their lives — Reyes’ father died migrating in 1995, and an uncle went missing in 2004. But Luna, a quiet family man, wanted to make enough money to buy a pickup truck and then return to his wife and two children. Reyes wanted a job where he wouldn’t get his shoes dirty and could give his newborn daughter a better life.

    Of the five who left Gomez Palacio together, two men made it to safety, and one man turned back. The only information he gave was that the brothers-in-law had stopped walking and planned to turn themselves in again. That is the last that is known of them.

    Officials told their families that they had scoured prisons and detention centers, but there was no sign of the missing men. Cesaria Orona even consulted a fortune teller about her missing son, Armando, and was told he had died in the desert.

    One weekend in June 2017, volunteers found eight bodies next to a military area of the Arizona desert and posted the images online in the hopes of finding family. Maria Elena Luna came across a Facebook photo of a decaying body found in an arid landscape dotted with cactus and shrubs, lying face-up with one leg bent outward. There was something horribly familiar about the pose.

    “That’s how my brother used to sleep,” she whispered.

    Along with the bodies, the volunteers found a credential of a boy from Guatemala, a photo and a piece of paper with a number written on it. The photo was of Juan Lorenzo Luna, and the number on the paper was for cousins of the family. But investigators warned that a wallet or credential could have been stolen, as migrants are frequently robbed.

    “We all cried,” Luna recalled. “But I said, we cannot be sure until we have the DNA test. Let’s wait.”

    Luna and Orona gave DNA samples to the Mexican government and the Argentine group. In November 2017, Orona received a letter from the Mexican government saying that there was the possibility of a match for Armando with some bone remains found in Nuevo Leon, a state that borders Texas. But the test was negative.

    The women are still waiting for results from the Argentine pathologists. Until then, their relatives remain among the uncounted.

    Orona holds out hope that the men may be locked up, or held by “bad people.” Every time Luna hears about clandestine graves or unidentified bodies in the news, the anguish is sharp.

    “Suddenly all the memories come back,” she said. “I do not want to think.”

    ————————

    SOUTH AMERICA: “NO ONE WANTS TO ADMIT THIS IS A REALITY”

    The toll of the dead and the missing has been all but ignored in one of the largest population movements in the world today — that of nearly 2 million Venezuelans fleeing from their country’s collapse. These migrants have hopped buses across the borders, boarded flimsy boats in the Caribbean, and — when all else failed — walked for days along scorching highways and freezing mountain trails. Vulnerable to violence from drug cartels, hunger and illness that lingers even after reaching their destination, they have disappeared or died by the hundreds.

    “They can’t withstand a trip that hard, because the journey is very long,” said Carlos Valdes, director of neighboring Colombia’s national forensic institute. “And many times, they only eat once a day. They don’t eat. And they die.” Valdes said authorities don’t always recover the bodies of those who die, as some migrants who have entered the country illegally are afraid to seek help.

    Valdes believes hypothermia has killed some as they trek through the mountain tundra region, but he had no idea how many. One migrant told the AP he saw a family burying someone wrapped in a white blanket with red flowers along the frigid journey.

    Marta Duque, 55, has had a front seat to the Venezuela migration crisis from her home in Pamplona, Colombia. She opens her doors nightly to provide shelter for families with young children. Pamplona is one of the last cities migrants reach before venturing up a frigid mountain paramo, one of the most dangerous parts of the trip for migrants traveling by foot. Temperatures dip well below freezing.

    She said inaction from authorities has forced citizens like her to step in.

    “Everyone just seems to pass the ball,” she said. “No one wants to admit this is a reality.”

    Those deaths are uncounted, as are dozens in the sea. Also uncounted are those reported missing in Colombia, Peru and Ecuador. In all at least 3,410 Venezuelans have been reported missing or dead in a migration within Latin America whose dangers have gone relatively unnoticed; many of the dead perished from illnesses on the rise in Venezuela that easily would have found treatment in better times.

    Among the missing is Randy Javier Gutierrez, who was walking through Colombia with a cousin and his aunt in hopes of reaching Peru to reunite with his mother.

    Gutierrez’s mother, Mariela Gamboa, said that a driver offered a ride to the two women, but refused to take her son. The women agreed to wait for him at the bus station in Cali, about 160 miles (257 kilometers) ahead, but he never arrived. Messages sent to his phone since that day four months ago have gone unread.

    “I’m very worried,” his mother said. “I don’t even know what to do.”

    ———————————

    ASIA: A VAST UNKNOWN

    The region with the largest overall migration, Asia, also has the least information on the fate of those who disappear after leaving their homelands. Governments are unwilling or unable to account for citizens who leave for elsewhere in the region or in the Mideast, two of the most common destinations, although there’s a growing push to do so.

    Asians make up 40 percent of the world’s migrants, and more than half of them never leave the region. The Associated Press was able to document more than 8,200 migrants who disappeared or died after leaving home in Asia and the Mideast, including thousands in the Philippines and Indonesia.

    Thirteen of the top 20 migration pathways from Asia take place within the region. These include Indian workers heading to the United Arab Emirates, Bangladeshis heading to India, Rohingya Muslims escaping persecution in Myanmar, and Afghans crossing the nearest border to escape war. But with large-scale smuggling and trafficking of labor, and violent displacements, the low numbers of dead and missing indicate not safe travel but rather a vast unknown.

    Almass was just 14 when his widowed mother reluctantly sent him and his 11-year-old brother from their home in Khost, Afghanistan, into that unknown. The payment for their trip was supposed to get them away from the Taliban and all the way to Germany via a chain of smugglers. The pair crammed first into a pickup with around 40 people, walked for a few days at the border, crammed into a car, waited a bit in Tehran, and walked a few more days.

    His brother Murtaza was exhausted by the time they reached the Iran-Turkey border. But the smuggler said it wasn’t the time to rest — there were at least two border posts nearby and the risk that children far younger travelling with them would make noise.

    Almass was carrying a baby in his arms and holding his brother’s hand when they heard the shout of Iranian guards. Bullets whistled past as he tumbled head over heels into a ravine and lost consciousness.

    Alone all that day and the next, Almass stumbled upon three other boys in the ravine who had also become separated from the group, then another four. No one had seen his brother. And although the younger boy had his ID, it had been up to Almass to memorize the crucial contact information for the smuggler.

    When Almass eventually called home, from Turkey, he couldn’t bear to tell his mother what had happened. He said Murtaza couldn’t come to the phone but sent his love.

    That was in early 2014. Almass, who is now 18, hasn’t spoken to his family since.

    Almass said he searched for his brother among the 2,773 children reported to the Red Cross as missing en route to Europe. He also looked for himself among the 2,097 adults reported missing by children. They weren’t on the list.

    With one of the world’s longest-running exoduses, Afghans face particular dangers in bordering countries that are neither safe nor welcoming. Over a period of 10 months from June 2017 to April 2018, 4Mi carried out a total of 962 interviews with Afghan migrants and refugees in their native languages around the world, systematically asking a series of questions about the specific dangers they had faced and what they had witnessed.

    A total of 247 migrant deaths were witnessed by the interviewed migrants, who reported seeing people killed in violence from security forces or starving to death. The effort is the first time any organization has successfully captured the perils facing Afghans in transit to destinations in Asia and Europe.

    Almass made it from Asia to Europe and speaks halting French now to the woman who has given him a home in a drafty 400-year-old farmhouse in France’s Limousin region. But his family is lost to him. Their phone number in Afghanistan no longer works, their village is overrun with Taliban, and he has no idea how to find them — or the child whose hand slipped from his grasp four years ago.

    “I don’t know now where they are,” he said, his face anguished, as he sat on a sun-dappled bench. “They also don’t know where I am.”

    https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/global-lost-56800-migrants-dead-missing-years-58890913
    #décès #morts #migrations #réfugiés #asile #statistiques #chiffres #monde #Europe #Asie #Amérique_latine #Afrique #USA #Etats-Unis #2014 #2015 #2016 #2017 #2018
    ping @reka @simplicissimus



  • The rise of Nazism

    About | Roman Vishniac Archive
    http://vishniac.icp.org
    https://www.theguardian.com/artanddesign/2018/oct/28/roman-vishniac-rediscovered-photographer-nazism?CMP=fb_gu
    https://www.ushmm.org/collections/the-museums-collections/collections-highlights/vishniac-collection

    Born in 1897 to an affluent Russian Jewish family, Vishniac immigrated to Berlin in 1920 in the aftermath of the Russian Revolution. As an amateur photographer, he took to the streets with his camera throughout the 1920s and ’30s, offering astute, often humorous visual commentary on his adopted city and experimented with new and modern approaches to framing and composition. Documenting the rise of Nazi power, he focused his lens on the signs of oppression and doom that soon formed the backdrop of his Berlin street photography. From ca. 1935 to 1938, while living in Berlin and pursuing his lifelong interests in zoology, biology and science photography, he was commissioned by the Jewish Joint Distribution Committee (JDC), the world’s largest Jewish relief organization, to photograph impoverished Jewish communities in central and eastern Europe. On New Year’s Eve, 1940, he arrived in New York and soon opened a portrait studio. At the same time, he began documenting American Jewish communal and immigrant life and established himself as a pioneer in the field of photomicroscopy. In 1947, Vishniac returned to Europe and documented Jewish Displaced Persons camps and the ruins of Berlin. During this time, he also recorded the efforts of Holocaust survivors to rebuild their lives, and the work of the JDC and other Jewish relief organizations in providing them with aid and emigration assistance.


  • Israel became hub in international organ trade over past decade - Israel News - Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/israel-news/.premium-israel-became-hub-in-international-organ-trade-over-past-decade-1.

    Israel has become increasingly involved in the world transplantation industry in the last decade. This comes a few years after India, which until the 1990s was the global center of the organ trade, enacted legislation prohibiting transplants using organs acquired from living people.

    According to a 2015 European Parliament report, Israeli physicians and patients played a major role in the international organ trade, initially reaching Eastern Europe and later to other locales. The report says Israel played a key role in the trade that developed in Azerbaijan, Cyprus, Kosovo, the United States, Costa Rica, Panama, Ecuador and Colombia.

    2008 was a turning point in which a Knesset law banned the purchase and sale of human organs. The illegal transplantation industry has continued to flourish globally in recent years, the European Parliament notes, but the place of Israel – along with the Philippines and Pakistan – as hubs of the organ trade has been taken by new countries, among them Costa Rica, Colombia, Vietnam, Lebanon and Egypt.

    A number of organ trade networks were uncovered in Israel, but until the 2008 legislation, the subject was addressed officially only in circulars issued by directors general of government ministries. In a 2003 trial of members of an Israeli network that engaged in illegal organ trade, the court expressed disapproval at the prosecution’s attempt to convict the dealers on a variety of charges ranging from forgery of documents to offenses against the Anatomy and Pathology Law.

    #israël #trafic_organes


  • Inside Italy’s Shadow Economy

    #Home_work — working from home or a small workshop as opposed to in a factory — is a cornerstone of the #fast-fashion supply chain. It is particularly prevalent in countries such as India, Bangladesh, Vietnam and China, where millions of low-paid and predominantly female home workers are some of the most unprotected in the industry, because of their irregular employment status, isolation and lack of legal recourse.

    That similar conditions exist in Italy, however, and facilitate the production of some of the most expensive wardrobe items money can buy, may shock those who see the “Made in Italy” label as a byword for sophisticated craftsmanship.

    Increased pressure from #globalization and growing competition at all levels of the market mean that the assumption implicit in the luxury promise — that part of the value of such a good is that it is made in the best conditions, by highly skilled workers, who are paid fairly — is at times put under threat.

    Though they are not exposed to what most people would consider sweatshop conditions, the homeworkers are allotted what might seem close to sweatshop wages. Italy does not have a national minimum wage, but roughly €5-7 per hour is considered an appropriate standard by many unions and consulting firms. In extremely rare cases, a highly skilled worker can earn as much as €8-10 an hour. But the homeworkers earn significantly less, regardless of whether they are involved in leatherwork, embroidery or another artisanal task.

    In #Ginosa, another town in Puglia, Maria Colamita, 53, said that a decade ago, when her two children were younger, she had worked from home on wedding dresses produced by local factories, embroidering gowns with pearl paillettes and appliqués for €1.50 to €2 per hour.

    Each gown took 10 to 50 hours to complete, and Ms. Colamita said she worked 16 to 18 hours a day; she was paid only when a garment was complete.

    “I would only take breaks to take care of my children and my family members — that was it,” she said, adding that she currently works as a cleaner and earns €7 per hour. “Now my children have grown up, I can take on a job where I can earn a real wage.”

    Both women said they knew at least 15 other seamstresses in their area who produced luxury fashion garments on a piece-rate basis for local factories from their homes. All live in Puglia, the rural heel of Italy’s boot that combines whitewashed fishing villages and crystal clear waters beloved by tourists with one of the country’s biggest manufacturing hubs.

    Few were willing to risk their livelihoods to tell their tales, because for them the flexibility and opportunity to care for their families while working was worth the meager pay and lack of protections.

    “I know I am not paid what I deserve, but salaries are very low here in Puglia and ultimately I love what I do,” said another seamstress, from the attic workshop in her apartment. “I have done it all my life and couldn’t do anything else.”

    Although she had a factory job that paid her €5 per hour, she worked an additional three hours per day off the books from home, largely on high-quality sample garments for Italian designers at roughly €50 apiece.

    “We all accept that this is how it is,” the woman said from her sewing machine, surrounded by cloth rolls and tape measures.
    ‘Made in Italy,’ but at What Cost?

    Built upon the myriad small- and medium-size export-oriented manufacturing businesses that make up the backbone of Europe’s fourth largest economy, the centuries-old foundations of the “Made in Italy” legend have shaken in recent years under the weight of bureaucracy, rising costs and soaring unemployment.

    Businesses in the north, where there are generally more job opportunities and higher wages, have suffered less than those in the south, which were hit hard by the boom in cheap foreign labor that lured many companies into moving production operations abroad.

    Few sectors are as reliant on the country’s manufacturing cachet as the luxury trade, long a linchpin of Italy’s economic growth. It is responsible for 5 percent of Italian gross domestic product, and an estimated 500,000 people were employed directly and indirectly by the luxury goods sector in Italy in 2017, according to data from a report from the University of Bocconi and Altagamma, an Italian luxury trade organization.

    Those numbers have been bolstered by the rosy fortunes of the global luxury market, expected by Bain & Company to grow by 6 to 8 percent, to €276 to €281 billion in 2018, driven in part by the appetite for “Made in Italy” goods from established and emerging markets.

    But the alleged efforts by some luxury brands and lead suppliers to lower costs without undermining quality have taken a toll on those on those operating at the very bottom of the industry. Just how many are affected is difficult to quantify.

    According to data from Istat (the Italian National Institute of Statistics), 3.7 million workers across all sectors worked without contracts in Italy in 2015. More recently, in 2017, Istat counted 7,216 home workers, 3,647 in the manufacturing sector, operating with regular contracts.

    However, there is no official data on those operating with irregular contracts, and no one has attempted to quantify the group for decades. In 1973, the economist Sebastiano Brusco estimated that Italy had one million contracted home workers in apparel production, with a roughly equal figure working without contracts. Few comprehensive efforts have been made to examine the numbers since.

    This New York Times investigation collected evidence of about 60 women in the Puglia region alone working from home without a regular contract in the apparel sector. Tania Toffanin, the author of “Fabbriche Invisibili,” a book on the history of home working in Italy, estimated that currently there are 2,000 to 4,000 irregular home workers in apparel production.

    “The deeper down we go in the supply chain, the greater the abuse,” said Deborah Lucchetti, of #Abiti_Puliti, the Italian arm of #Clean_Clothes_Campaign, an anti-sweatshop advocacy group. According to Ms. Lucchetti, the fragmented structure of the global manufacturing sector, made up of thousands of medium to small, often family-owned, businesses, is a key reason that practices like unregulated home working can remain prevalent even in a first world nation like Italy.

    Plenty of Puglian factory managers stressed they adhered to union regulations, treated workers fairly and paid them a living wage. Many factory owners added that almost all luxury names — like Gucci, owned by Kering, for example, or Louis Vuitton, owned by #LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton — regularly sent staff to check on working conditions and quality standards.

    When contacted, LVMH declined to comment for this story. A spokesman for MaxMara emailed the following statement: “MaxMara considers an ethical supply chain a key component of the company’s core values reflected in our business practice.”

    He added that the company was unaware of specific allegations of its suppliers using home workers, but had started an investigation this week.

    According to Ms. Lucchetti, the fact that many Italian luxury brands outsource the bulk of manufacturing, rather than use their own factories, has created a status quo where exploitation can easily fester — especially for those out of union or brand sightlines. A large portion of brands hire a local supplier in a region, who will then negotiate contracts with factories in the area on their behalf.

    “Brands commission first lead contractors at the head of the supply chain, which then commission to sub-suppliers, which in turn shift part of the production to smaller factories under the pressure of reduced lead time and squeezed prices,” Ms. Lucchetti said. “That makes it very hard for there to be sufficient transparency or accountability. We know home working exists. But it is so hidden that there will be brands that have no idea orders are being made by irregular workers outside the contracted factories.”

    However, she also called these problems common knowledge, and said, “some brands must know they might be complicit.”

    The ‘Salento Method’

    Certainly that is the view of Eugenio Romano, a former union lawyer who has spent the last five years representing Carla Ventura, a bankrupt factory owner of Keope Srl (formerly CRI), suing the Italian shoe luxury behemoth Tod’s and Euroshoes, a company that Tod’s used as a lead supplier for its Puglian footwear production.

    Initially, in 2011, Ms. Ventura began legal proceedings against only Euroshoes, saying that consistently late payments, shrinking fee rates for orders and outstanding bills owed to her by that company were making it impossible to maintain a profitable factory and pay her workers a fair wage. A local court ruled in her favor, and ordered Euroshoes to pay the debts, which, after appealing unsuccessfully, the company did.

    Orders dried up in the wake of those legal proceedings. Eventually, in 2014, Keope went bankrupt. Now, in a second trial, which has stretched on for years without a significant ruling, Ms. Ventura has brought another action against Euroshoes, and Tod’s, which she says had direct knowledge of Euroshoes’ unlawful business practices. (Tod’s has said it played no role in nor had any knowledge of Euroshoes’ contract issues with Keope. A lawyer for Euroshoes declined to comment for this article.)

    “Part of the problem down here is that employees agree to forgo their rights in order to work,” Mr. Romano said from his office in the town of Casarano, ahead of the next court hearing, scheduled for Sept. 26.

    He spoke of the “Salento method,” a well-known local phrase that means, essentially: “Be flexible, use your methods, you know how to do it down here.”

    The region of Salento has a high unemployment rate, which makes its work force vulnerable. And although brands would never officially suggest taking advantage of employees, some factory owners have told Mr. Romano that there is an underlying message to use a range of means, including underpaying employees and paying them to work at home.

    The area has long been a hub of third-party shoemakers for luxury brands including Gucci, Prada, Salvatore Ferragamo and Tod’s. In 2008, Ms. Ventura entered into an exclusive agreement with Euroshoes to become a sub-supplier of shoe uppers destined for Tod’s.

    According to Ms. Ventura’s lawsuit, she then became subject to consistently late payments, as well as an unexplained reduction in prices per unit from €13.48 to €10.73 per shoe upper from 2009 to 2012.

    While many local factories cut corners, including having employees work from home, Ms. Ventura said she still paid full salaries and provided national insurance. Because the contract required exclusivity, other potential manufacturing deals with rival brands including Armani and Gucci, which could have balanced the books, could not be made.

    Production costs were no longer covered, and promises of an increased number of orders from Tod’s via Euroshoes never came, according to the legal papers filed in Ms. Ventura’s case.

    In 2012, orders from Tod’s via Euroshoes stopped completely, one year after Ms. Ventura first took Euroshoes to court for her unpaid bills. Ms. Ventura said that eventually put Keope on the road to bankruptcy, according to legal documents. Ms. Ventura was declared insolvent in 2014.

    When asked for comment, a Tod’s spokeswoman said in a statement:

    “Keope filed a lawsuit against one of our suppliers, Euroshoes, and Tod’s, to recover damages related to the alleged actions or omissions of Euroshoes. Tod’s has nothing to do with the facts alleged in the case and never had a direct commercial relationship with Keope. Keope is a subcontractor of Euroshoes, and Tod’s is completely extraneous to their relationship.”

    The statement also said that Tod’s had paid Euroshoes for all the amounts billed in a timely and regular manner, and was not responsible if Euroshoes failed to pay a subcontractor. Tod’s said it insisted all suppliers perform their services in line with the law, and that the same standard be applied to subcontractors.

    “Tod’s reserves the right to defend its reputation against the libelous attempt of Keope to involve it in issues that do not concern Tod’s,” the spokeswoman said.

    Indeed, a report by Abiti Puliti that included an investigation by Il Tacco D’Italia, a local newspaper, into Ms. Ventura’s case found that other companies in the region sewing uppers by hand had women do the work irregularly from their homes. That pay would be 70 to 90 euro cents a pair, meaning that in 12 hours a worker would earn 7 to 9 euros.

    ‘Invisible’ Labor

    Home working textile jobs that are labor intensive or require skilled handiwork are not new to Italy. But many industry observers believe that the lack of a government-set national minimum wage has made it easier for many home workers to still be paid a pittance.

    Wages are generally negotiated for workers by union representatives, which vary by sector and by union. According to the Studio Rota Porta, an Italian labor consultancy, the minimum wage in the textile industry should be roughly €7.08 per hour, lower than those for other sectors including food (€8.70), construction (€8) and finance (€11.51).

    But workers who aren’t members of unions operate outside the system and are vulnerable to exploitation, a source of frustration for many union representatives.

    “We do know about seamstresses working without contracts from home in Puglia, especially those that specialize in sewing appliqué, but none of them want to approach us to talk about their conditions, and the subcontracting keeps them largely invisible,” said Pietro Fiorella, a representative of the CGIL, or Italian General Confederation of Labour, the country’s largest national union.

    Many of them are retired, Mr. Fiorella said, or want the flexibility of part-time work to care for family members or want to supplement their income, and are fearful of losing the additional money. While unemployment rates in Puglia recently dropped to 19.5 percent in the first quarter of 2018 from nearly 21.5 percent in the same period a year ago, jobs remain difficult to come by.

    A fellow union representative, Giordano Fumarola, pointed to another reason that garment and textile wages in this stretch of southern Italy have stayed so low for so long: the offshoring of production to Asia and Eastern Europe over the last two decades, which intensified local competition for fewer orders and forced factory owners to drive down prices.

    In recent years, some luxury companies have started to bring production back to Puglia, Mr. Fumarola said. But he believed that power is still firmly in the hands of the brands, not suppliers already operating on wafer-thin margins. The temptation for factory owners to then use sub-suppliers or home workers, or save money by defrauding their workers or the government, was hard to resist.

    Add to that a longstanding antipathy for regulation, high instances of irregular unemployment and fragmented systems of employment protection, and the fact that nonstandard employment has been significantly liberalized by successive labor market reforms since the mid-1990s, and the result is further isolation for those working on the margins.

    A national election in March swept a new populist government to power in Italy, placing power in the hands of two parties — the Five Star Movement and the League — and a proposed “dignity decree” aims to limit the prevalence of short-term job contracts and of firms shifting jobs abroad while simplifying some fiscal rules. For now, however, legislation around a minimum wage does not appear to be on the agenda.

    Indeed, for women like the unnamed seamstress in Santeramo in Colle, working away on yet another coat at her kitchen table, reform of any sort feels a long way off.

    Not that she really minded. She would be devastated to lose this additional income, she said, and the work allowed her to spend time with her children.

    “What do you want me to say?” she said with a sigh, closing her eyes and raising the palms of her hands. “It is what it is. This is Italy.”


    https://www.nytimes.com/2018/09/20/fashion/italy-luxury-shadow-economy.html
    #fashion #mode #industrie_textile #travail #exploitation #Italie #esclavage_moderne #Pouilles #made_in_Italy #invisibilité #travail_à_la_maison #mondialisation #luxe #MaxMara #Gucci #Kering #Louis_Vuitton #LVMH #Salento #Carla_Ventura #Keope_Srl #CRI #Euroshoes #Tod's #Salento_method #Prada #Salvatore_Ferragamo

    via @isskein


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

    The report should include:

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

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

    #arctique #guerre #etats-unis


  • Netanyahu’s dark deal with Europe’s radical right -

    Netanyahu likes to boast about the foreign relations he has nurtured in Eastern Europe because these ties help him block EU decisions against the occupation, but there are no free lunches in politics

    Nitzan Horowitz
    Jul 09, 2018 4:32 AM
    | Haaretz.com
    https://www.haaretz.com/opinion/.premium-pm-s-dark-deal-with-e-europe-condones-anti-semitism-and-occupation

    Netanyahu’s Polish romance, much like his Hungarian romance, is part of a much bigger story. For years, Netanyahu has been promoting all sorts of ties with the radical right in Europe. He has some passionate fans there: A long list of anti-democratic movements and governments that consider Bibi’s Israel an optimal partner. The Israeli government has no problem with these entities, because they are essentially quite similar. The basis of the connection derives from overlapping interests and ideological closeness.
    To really understand Israel and the Middle East - subscribe to Haaretz
    Immigration is a prominent example. The right’s anti-immigration efforts (there and here) became fused with the Israeli-Arab conflict and made Israel an ally in the fight against Islam. “The Jews are our brothers in arms in the war against Islam,” Filip Dewinter, leader of a far right Flemish party in Belgium, explained a decade ago. In that same interview with this newspaper, DeWinter also argued that there was no need for laws against Holocaust denial.
    The far-right political movements, some of which are the descendants of Holocaust-era political parties and regimes, understood years ago that they had to change their image if they wanted to grow stronger. And that one way to do this was to enlist Jewish communities in Israel and around the world as a source of political legitimacy and seal of approval. Many far-right parties in Europe have chosen to distance themselves from anti-Semitism, in their public declarations at least. The open anti-Semitism has been replaced with crude Islamophobia. But the Jewish communities still aren’t buying it. Just scratch the surface and the real character of these groups is revealed.
    Last year, when tension was rising in the French presidential election, Marine Le Pen showed the face she’d been trying to hide. She asserted that France bore no responsibility for the persecution of French Jews, defying a two-decades-long national effort to acknowledge the terrible responsibility borne by French fascism and the Vichy regime for the murders of tens of thousands of Jews.

    Netanyahu likes to boast about the foreign relations he has nurtured, especially in Eastern Europe. These ties help him to block EU decisions against the occupation and the settlements. But there are no free lunches in politics. These relations come with a price, and Israel is paying it: refraining from criticizing these countries over anti-Semitism, xenophobia and anti-democratic legislation, even when Jews worldwide are appalled, as happened in the George Soros affair. This is a two-way deal: Forgive me my anti-Semitism and I’ll forgive your occupation.
    >> Yad Vashem vs. Bibi: When there’s nothing to celebrate, Netanyahu runs from the cameras || Analysis >>
    But diplomatic interests are just part of the picture. The Israeli government isn’t reluctantly being forced to swallow the various anti-democratic political trends in return for diplomatic gain – because it basically agrees with these trends. Essentially, Israel’s current government has no fundamental moral dispute with this dark trend in Europe.

    The profound political shift in Israel over the last generation is moving it from the side that upholds universal human and civil rights to the side that upholds a nationalist, ethnocentric view opposed to social welfare policy. This is where the far right can always be found, and where the Israeli right can increasingly be found now. This is a Putinist-Trumpist worldview characterized by social ruthlessness, racism and unabashed scorn for liberal democracy, all expressed by aversion to international institutions, nostalgia for the greatness of an imagined past, adulation of power, derision of the media and hatred of minorities.
    And it’s totally reciprocal: Many in Europe’s far right talk about “shared values” with Israel and view it as a nationalist role model. Thus we see more and more right-wing Israeli figures unashamedly pursuing ties with the European fascists, and the latter touting their friends in Israel. Now, for the most part, it is only the memory of the Holocaust combined with strong resistance from the world’s Jewish communities that prevents Israel from plunging deeper into this European morass.


  • American Carnage « LRB blog
    https://www.lrb.co.uk/blog/2018/07/02/adam-shatz/american-carnage

    I’m in Europe this summer, though not in exile. I have not been driven to find sanctuary, much less thrown into a cage awaiting deportation, or forcibly separated from my child. When I fly home to New York, I will not be told that my name has ‘randomly’ appeared on a list, and taken aside to answer questions about the country of my ancestors, or my religious and political convictions. But for the first time in my life I’m not certain that this privilege, which ought to be simply a right, will last.

    By a strange twist of historical fate, people like me, Jews whose families fled to the US from Eastern Europe in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, became insiders, ‘white ethnics’, but the racism, intolerance and sheer vindictiveness that Donald Trump has helped bring into the mainstream are volatile forces, in constant search of new targets. For Muslims, Latinos, immigrants and black people, this has been the Summer of Hatred. Now we can add journalists to the list. Trump, the inciter-in-chief, called them ‘enemies of the American people’. Five were killed in Maryland last week; they are unlikely to be the last.

    Any American abroad has had the experience of reading the news from home and experiencing the peculiar shock that others must feel when they learn of another school shooting, another police killing of a young black person. Is it possible, you wonder, that such atrocities fail to provoke a national emergency? But it is, and they do not. Instead, they are followed by similar atrocities, which occur with such numbing regularity that they begin to blur in your mind. This is the real ‘American carnage’, and it is permeating the country’s most powerful institutions, from the presidency to the Supreme Court.


  • For an open migration policy to end the deaths and crises in the Mediterranean

    The current crisis surrounding migration is not one of numbers – migrants’ crossings of the sea are at their lowest since 2013 – but of policies. The drive towards closure and the politicisation of migration are so strong after years of tension that the frail bodies of a few thousand migrants arriving on European shores are triggering a major political crisis throughout the EU.

    One epicentre of this crisis is in Italy, where Matteo Salvini, the country’s new far-right Interior Minister, is preventing NGOs from disembarking rescued migrants. Such was the case with the 629 people on board the Aquarius.

    Another is Germany, where the governing coalition led by Angela Merkel is at risk as the hardline Interior Minister Horst Seehofer has threatened to turn back refugees at the German borders. The European Council summit on 28 June 2018 promises to be rife with tensions. As EU member states will most probably continue to prove unable to offer a common response to migrants once they have arrived on European shores, they will reinforce the policy they have implemented since 2015: preventing migrants from crossing the sea by outsourcing border control to non-European countries.
    The consensus of closure

    This policy of closure has had horrendous consequences for migrants – such as the subjection to torture of those who are intercepted at sea by the Libyan coast guard, which has been equipped, trained and coordinated by Italy and the EU. Despite this, it has gathered growing consensus. Faced with the politicisation of migration which has fuelled the rise of far-right populist parties across Europe and threatens the EU itself with disintegration, even humanists of the centre left and right ask whether these inhumane policies are not a necessary evil.

    Would it not be better for migrants to “stay home” rather then reach a Europe which has turned its back on them and which they threaten in turn? Whispering or shouting, reluctantly or aggressively, European citizens increasingly wish migrants would simply disappear.

    Powerful forces driving migration, failed policies

    This consensus towards closure is delusional. Policies of closure that are completely at odds with the dynamics of migration systematically fail in their aim of ending the arrivals of illegalised migrants, as the record of the last 30 years demonstrates.

    Ever since the European states consolidated freedom of movement for European citizens in the 1990s all the while denying access to most non-European populations, the arrival of “undesirable” migrants has not stopped, but only been pushed underground. This is because as long as there are strong “push factors” – such as wars and economic crisis, and “pull factors” – such as work and welfare opportunities as well as respect for human rights, and that these continue to be connected by migrants’ transnational networks, state policies have little chance of succeeding in durably stemming the migration they aim to restrict.

    Over the last 30 years, for every route states have succeeded in closing, it has only been a matter of time before migrants opened several new ones. Forced to use precarious means of travel – often controlled by criminal networks, migrants’ lives were put at growing risk. More than 30,000 migrants are recorded to have died at sea since the beginning of the 1990s. A sea which has connected civilisations for millennia has become a mass grave.

    Fear breeds more fear: the vicious cycle

    These policies of closure, often implemented by centre governments allegedly in the aim of preventing the further rise of anti-immigrant sentiments, ultimately contributed to them. Despite the spectacular military means deployed by states to police borders, illegalised migration continued, giving European populations a sense that their states had “lost control” – a feeling that has only been heightened in the wake of the Arab uprisings.

    Migrants’ illegalisation has led to unjustifiable status inequality within European societies, allowing employers to pull salaries down in the sectors in which precaritized migrants are employed. This has lent to working classes the impression that migrants constitute an unfair competition.

    Policies of closure and discrimination thus only generate more fear and rejection of migrants. The parties which have mobilised voters on the basis of this fear have left unaddressed – and in fact diverted attention from – the rising unemployment, social insecurity, and inequality amongst Europe’s “losers of globalisation”, whose resentment has served as a fertile ground for anti-immigrant sentiments.

    In this way, we have become trapped in a vicious cycle that has fuelled the rise of the far-right.
    Towards an open migration policy, de-escalate the mobility conflict

    Over the years, the Mediterranean has become the main frontline of a mobility conflict, which has intensified in the wake of the 2011 Arab uprisings and European debt crisis. Since then, both the factors spurring migrants’ movement towards Europe and those leading to the drive to exclude them have been heightened.

    The lack of solidarity within the EU to respond to arrivals in so-called “frontline states” in southern and eastern Europe have further fuelled it. As long as the same policies continue to be applied, there is no end in sight to the political tensions and violence surrounding migration and the worrying political trends they are nurturing.

    A fundamental paradigm shift is necessary to end this vicious cycle. European citizens and policy makers alike must realise that the question is not whether migrants will exercise their freedom to cross borders, but at what human and political cost.

    State policies can only create a legal frame for human movement to unfold and thereby partly organise it, they cannot block it. Only a more open policy would allow migration to unfold in a way that threatens neither migrants themselves nor European citizens.

    With legal access to Europe, migrants would no longer need to resort to smugglers and risk their lives crossing the sea. No longer policed through military means, migration could appear as a normal process that does not generate fear. States could better detect individuals that might pause a threat among migrants as they would not be pushed underground. Migrants’ legal status would no longer allow employers to push working conditions down.

    Such a policy is however far from being on the European agenda. For its implementation to be even faintly imaginable in the medium term, the deep and entangled roots of the mobility conflict must addressed.
    Beyond the EU’s incoherent and one-sided “global approach”

    Today, the EU claims to address one side of the mobility conflict. Using development aid within its so-called “global approach to migration”, it claims to tackle the “root causes” that spur migration towards Europe. Researchers however have shown that development does not automatically lead to less migration. This policy will further have little effect as long as the EU’s unfair trade policies with the global south are perpetuated – for example concerning agriculture and fishing in Africa.

    In effect, the EU’s policy has mostly resulted in the use of development aid to impose policies of migration control on countries of the global south. In the process, the EU is lending support to authoritarian regimes – such as Turkey, Egypt, Sudan – which migrants are fleeing.

    Finally, when it has not worsened conflicts through its own military intervention as in Libya, the EU has proven unable of acting as a stabilizing force in the face of internationalised civil conflicts. These are bound to multiply in a time of intense competition for global hegemony. A true commitment to global justice and conflict resolution is necessary if Europe wishes to limit the factors forcing too many people onto the harsh paths of exile from their countries and regions, a small share of whom reach European shores.
    Tackling the drivers of migrant exclusion

    Beyond its lack of coherence, the EU’s so-called “global approach” suffers from one-sidedness, focused as it is on migration as “the problem”.

    As a result, it fails to see migration as a normal social process. Furthermore, it does not address the conditions that lead to the social and political drive to exclude them. The fact that today the arrival of a few thousand migrants is enough to put the EU into crisis clearly shows the limits of this approach.

    It is urgent for policy makers – at the national and local levels, but also researchers, cultural producers and social movements – to not only morally condemn racism and xenophobia, but to tackle the deep forces that shape them.

    What is needed is a more inclusive and fair economic system to decrease the resentment of European populations. In addition, a positive vision for living in common in diverse societies must be affirmed, so that the tensions that arise from the encounter between different people and cultures can be overcome.

    Crucially, we must emphasise the commonality of fate that binds European citizens to migrants. Greater equality and solidarity between migrants and European citizens is one of the conditions to defend all workers’ conditions.

    All in the same boat

    Addressing the entangled roots of the mobility conflict is a challenging agenda, one which emerges from the realisation that the tensions surrounding migration cannot be resolved through migration policies only – and by policy makers on their own for that matter.

    It charts a path worth following collectively as it points in the direction of a more open migration policy, but also a more just society. These are necessary to bring an end to the unbearable deaths of migrants at sea and end the vicious cycle of closure, violence, and politicisation of migration.

    Policies of closure have failed to end illegalised migration and only fuelled the rise of the far-right and the disintegration of Europe. If Europe is to stop sinking, it must end the policies that lead to migrants’ mass drowning in the Mediterranean. The NGOs being criminalised and prevented from disembarking migrants in Italy are not only saving migrants, but rescuing Europe against itself. Whether we like it or not, we are all in the same boat.

    https://www.opendemocracy.net/can-europe-make-it/charles-heller/for-open-migration-policy-to-end-deaths-and-crises-in-mediterranea

    #tribune #Charles_Heller #solution #alternatives #migrations #asile #frontières #fermeture_des_frontières #fermeture #ouverture_des_frontières #décès #morts #mourir_en_mer

    • Une politique migratoire plus ouverte pour moins de morts en Méditerranée

      La fermeture des frontières a coûté la vie à plus de 30 000 migrants qui tentaient de parvenir en Europe. Cette vision politique a favorisé la montée de l’extrême droite qu’elle prétendait combattre. Il est donc temps de changer de paradigme et d’adopter une nouvelle approche.

      Le sommet du Conseil européen du 28 juin n’aura que confirmé ce que tous savaient déjà. Face à la montée des partis d’extrême droite et à la menace de désintégration d’une Union européenne (UE) incapable d’offrir un accueil solidaire aux migrants arrivés sur le sol européen, la seule solution envisageable semble être de les empêcher à tout prix de pouvoir y mettre pied en externalisant le contrôle des migrations (1). Malgré la documentation de nombreux cas de tortures parmi les migrants interceptés par les gardes-côtes libyens financés, équipés, et coordonnés par l’Italie et l’Union européenne, ce soutien a été réitéré (2). Des ONG, qui ont courageusement déployé leurs bateaux pour combler le vide mortel laissé par le retrait des secours étatiques, sont sommées de laisser les Libyens faire le sale boulot, criminalisées, et interdites d’accès aux ports italiens. Chaque jour, la mer charrie son lot de corps sans vie.

      Il serait illusoire de penser que cette énième crise pourra être résolue par les mêmes politiques de fermetures qui échouent depuis plus de trente ans. Celles-ci n’ont pas mis un terme aux arrivées des migrants désignés comme indésirables, mais les ont seulement illégalisées. Tant qu’existeront des facteurs qui poussent les populations du Sud global sur les chemins de l’exil - guerres, crises économiques - et des facteurs d’attraction vers l’Europe - travail, Etat social, respect des droits humains - et que les réseaux transnationaux de migrants relient les continents, les politiques de fermetures ne parviendront pas à réduire durablement les migrations (3). Pour chaque route que les Etats ferment, plusieurs nouvelles voies seront bientôt ouvertes. La liste répertoriant plus de 30 000 migrants morts en mer depuis le début des années 90 ne cessera de s’allonger (4).

      Ces politiques de fermeture, souvent mises en œuvre par des gouvernements prétendant lutter contre la montée de sentiments anti-immigrants, n’ont fait que les renforcer. En dépit des moyens militaires spectaculaires déployés par les Etats pour contrôler les frontières, la migration illégale s’est poursuivie, confortant chez les populations européennes le sentiment que leurs gouvernements avaient « perdu le contrôle ». L’illégalisation des migrants permet aux employeurs de baisser les salaires dans les secteurs où sont employés des migrants précarisés, et des ouvriers en ont tiré la conclusion que les migrants sont une concurrence déloyale. Les partis, qui ont mobilisé les votants sur la base de sentiments anti-immigrés, n’ont offert aucune réponse à la hausse du chômage, de l’insécurité sociale et des inégalités qui ont généré un profond ressentiment parmi les « perdants de la globalisation » en Europe (5). Ceux-ci ont été d’autant plus réceptifs aux discours haineux. Nous sommes ainsi prisonniers d’un cercle vicieux qui a encouragé la montée de l’extrême droite et qui a perpétué les politiques de fermetures.

      Au fil des ans, la Méditerranée est devenue la principale ligne de front d’un conflit de mobilités qui s’est intensifié à la suite des « printemps arabes » de 2011 et de la crise de la dette européenne. Depuis, tant les facteurs qui amènent les migrants à venir vers l’Europe que ceux qui poussent à leur exclusion se sont intensifiés. Le manque de solidarité entre Etats européens a attisé le rejet des migrants. Tant qu’on appliquera les mêmes politiques de fermeture, il n’y aura pas d’issue aux tensions politiques et à la violence qui entourent les migrations, et aux inquiétantes tendances politiques qu’elles nourrissent. Le seul horizon de sortie de cette crise permanente est une politique migratoire ouverte (5).

      Citoyens et dirigeants européens doivent se rendre compte que la question n’est pas de savoir si les migrants vont exercer leur liberté de mouvement en franchissant les frontières, mais quel en sera le coût humain et politique. Les politiques des Etats ne peuvent que créer le cadre légal pour les mouvements humains, donc les organiser en partie, mais en aucun cas les bloquer. S’il existait des voies d’accès légales à l’Europe, les migrants n’auraient plus besoin de recourir aux passeurs et de risquer leur vie. En l’absence d’une gestion militarisée, la migration apparaîtrait pour ce qu’elle est : un processus normal qui n’engendre aucune peur. Les migrants disposant d’un statut légal, les employeurs n’auraient plus les mains libres pour dégrader les conditions de travail. Une telle politique est bien loin d’être à l’agenda européen, et suscite de nombreuses peurs. Pour qu’à moyen terme sa mise en place soit envisageable, il faut s’attaquer aux racines profondes et enchevêtrées du conflit de mobilité.

      Si l’Europe veut limiter les raisons qui poussent de trop nombreux êtres humains sur les chemins de l’exil, elle doit s’engager fermement en faveur d’une justice globale et de la résolution des conflits. C’est-à-dire réformer complètement la prétendue « approche globale de la migration » (6) de l’Union européenne qui, prétextant s’attaquer aux « causes profondes » des migrations, a surtout imposé aux pays du Sud l’externalisation des contrôles migratoires en leur faisant miroiter l’aide au développement. Bien plus, obsédée par la migration comme « problème », elle n’apporte aucune réponse aux conditions qui mènent à l’exclusion des migrants par l’Europe. Un système économique plus juste et inclusif permettrait de désamorcer le ressentiment des populations européennes. Une vision positive de la vie en commun dans des sociétés marquées par la diversité, de vaincre les tensions nées de la rencontre entre peuples et cultures. Il est vital d’insister sur la communauté de destin qui lie les citoyens européens aux migrants : plus d’égalité et de solidarité entre eux est l’une des conditions pour défendre les droits de tous les travailleurs.

      Une politique migratoire ouverte ne suffira ainsi pas à elle seule à surmonter les tensions entourant les migrations, elle devra être accompagnée d’une transformation profonde de notre monde. Mais pour se sauver du naufrage, l’Europe doit urgemment abandonner les politiques de fermeture qui sont la cause des dizaines de milliers de noyades en Méditerranée et ont attisé la montée de l’extrême droite. Les ONG aujourd’hui criminalisées font bien plus que sauver des migrants, elles sauvent l’Europe d’elle-même. Que nous le voulions ou non, nous sommes tous dans le même bateau.

      http://www.liberation.fr/debats/2018/07/03/une-politique-migratoire-plus-ouverte-pour-moins-de-morts-en-mediterranee
      #économie #illégalisation #extrême_droite #populisme #politique_migratoire #capitalisme #libéralisme #fermeture_des_frontières #ouverture_des_frontières #Charles_Heller


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 18
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM18.htm

    The Wings of a Slave

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Comrade Klimov?’

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘Come and see me for a moment.’

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘No,’ I answered, still rather preoccupied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Today I must cast up accounts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    III

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

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

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

    ‘Can I see Herr Diels?’ I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘To the American zone.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I could only shrug my shoulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    V

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

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

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

    ‘By whom?’ the director asked.

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

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

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

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

    ‘I wish you success!’ I smiled.

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

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

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

    ‘I’m going back to Moscow....’

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

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

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

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

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

    Suddenly he halted in front of me and asked:

    ‘Then why don’t you remain here?’

    ‘Where’s here?’ I asked indifferently.

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

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

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

    I listened still more closely, and asked:

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Where can you get hold of them?’

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

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

    He was silent for a moment; then he said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘May I come in?’ he said at last.

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

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

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

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

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘When?’

    ‘Today.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘God sent them.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The clock ticked like falling drops of water.

    Quietly, almost inaudibly, he went on:

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

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

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

    ‘No, thanks...’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘The car is here.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 18
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM18.htm

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    II

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Comrade Klimov?’

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘Come and see me for a moment.’

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘No,’ I answered, still rather preoccupied.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    Today I must cast up accounts.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    III

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

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

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

    ‘Can I see Herr Diels?’ I asked.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘To the American zone.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    I could only shrug my shoulders.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    IV

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    V

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

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

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

    ‘By whom?’ the director asked.

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

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

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

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

    ‘I wish you success!’ I smiled.

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

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

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

    ‘I’m going back to Moscow....’

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

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

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

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

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

    Suddenly he halted in front of me and asked:

    ‘Then why don’t you remain here?’

    ‘Where’s here?’ I asked indifferently.

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

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

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

    I listened still more closely, and asked:

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘Where can you get hold of them?’

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

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

    He was silent for a moment; then he said:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    VI

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘May I come in?’ he said at last.

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

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

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

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

    ‘Yes.’

    ‘When?’

    ‘Today.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘God sent them.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    The clock ticked like falling drops of water.

    Quietly, almost inaudibly, he went on:

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

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

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

    ‘No, thanks...’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    ‘The car is here.’

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 14
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM14.htm

    The Dialectical Cycle

    In the steaming heat of the late summer of 1946 Karlshorst lived its normal life. In all the S. M. A. administrations and departments there was feverish activity. In the rush of work the officers with gold epaulettes forgot that Karlshorst was only a remote island surrounded with a foreign and hostile element. But when the time came for them to go on leave and return to the homeland they grew more conscious of the fact that far away to the east was an enormous country whose interests they were called on to defend outside its frontiers.

    Letters from the Soviet Union reported an unusual drought all over European Russia. Fears were being openly expressed for the harvest. The small allotments and market gardens, which provided produce for the great masses of the people, were withering in the sun. People stared anxiously into the sky and feared that they were in for a famine still worse than that experienced during the war. Letters from home sounded desperate, hopeless.

    A year had passed since my arrival in Berlin to work in the Soviet Military Administration. I was due for leave at the end of the summer. I could shake the dust of Berlin from my feet and relax at home for six weeks.

    Andrei Kovtun took his leave at the same time as I, and we agreed to travel together. We decided to stop in Moscow for a time, then to visit our hometown in the south, and to finish our holiday somewhere on the Black Sea coast. Andrei insisted on organizing our leave so as to spend it largely surrounded by memories of our youth.

    At the Berlin Schlesische station Andrei, relying on his M. V. D. uniform, went to see the military commandant, and quickly came back with two second-class tickets. His foresight was amply justified. All the carriages were packed. The majority of the travelers was taking a mass of baggage with them, and refused to be parted from it; they did not trust the baggage cars. Andrei and I each had two trunks filled mainly with presents for relations and acquaintances.

    Our train arrived at Brest without adventure, though the Soviet military trains running between Berlin and Moscow often came under fire and even attacks from Polish nationalists hiding in the forests. The first check of documents and baggage took place at the Soviet frontier post in Brest, where we transferred to another train. The M. V. D. frontier guards made a special point of thoroughly searching the baggage of demobilized military men, looking for weapons which officers and men might be taking home as trophies.

    Just in front of us a frontier-guard lieutenant checked the documents of a captain going on leave. ‘Why didn’t you leave your service weapon behind, Comrade Captain?’ he asked.

    ‘I received no instructions to do so,’ the captain answered with a shrug of annoyance.

    ‘On arrival at your destination you must hand over your pistol to the local commandatura when you register,’ the lieutenant said as he returned the documents.

    ‘That’s peacetime conditions for you!’ the captain muttered as we left the control-point office. ‘Everybody’s afraid of something or other.’

    While waiting for the Moscow train Andrei and I sat in the waiting room. Here there were many officers in Polish uniform, including the Polish square military caps. They were all talking in Russian, resorting to Polish only for swearing. They were officers of Marshal Rokossovsky’s Soviet forces stationed in Poland and dressed in Polish uniforms. Some of the Russian officers returning from Berlin fell into conversation with them.

    ‘Well, how are things with you in Germany?’ an officer with an unmistakable Siberian accent and with a Polish eagle in his cap asked a lieutenant who had come from Dresden. ‘D’you find the Germans a handful?’

    ‘Not in the least,’ the lieutenant answered casually. ‘They’re a disciplined people. Tell them they mustn’t, and they don’t. At first we thought we’d have to deal with unrest and even attempts on our lives. Nothing of the sort!’

    ‘You don’t say!’ The fellow from Siberia shook his head, obviously astonished. ‘But our ’gentlemen’ give us more than we bargain for. Not a night passes without someone being knocked off or shot. And this chicken is of no help whatever’ - he pointed to the eagle in his cap.

    ‘You don’t know how to treat them!’ the lieutenant said with a hint of superiority.

    ‘It isn’t so simple as that!’ another Soviet officer in Polish uniform intervened. ‘During the war years Rokossovsky had sixteen expressions of Stalin’s thanks in orders of the day, but during his one year in Poland he has had twenty censures! All because of the Poles. They shoot at you round corners, and you aren’t allowed to raise a finger against them, otherwise you’ve had it! Court-martial for you. That’s politics!’ He gave a deep sigh.

    Shortly after the train for Moscow had started our documents were checked again, this time in the carriage. We had traveled only a few hours when the procedure was repeated a second time.

    Andrei sat silent in a corner seat, taking no notice of what went on around him, sunk deep in thought. A passenger glanced in, noticed the M. V. D. officer’s uniform, and pretended he had made a mistake, and went to look for a seat elsewhere. Even in the second class, where every traveler had a Party ticket, people preferred to keep a respectable distance between them and the M. V. D.

    Towards evening Andrei livened up a little - he had not uttered a word for a long time. We began to talk about the past. Gradually his reminiscences turned to Halina. I sat listening in astonishment. Evidently he had been thinking of her all the time, but only now did he openly talk about her. Time and distance had blunted his feelings a little, but now his heart was burning once more with that same former fire.

    The story of Andrei’s pre-war relations with Halina was somewhat unusual. She was an extraordinarily beautiful girl, with a pure and exalted quality in her beauty. Above all, her character was in perfect harmony with her appearance. Andrei worshipped her. But for a long time she was indifferent to his attentions and did not notice his slavish devotion. Then a strong friendship developed between them. Possibly his sacrifice and devotion won her, or perhaps she felt that his love was different from other young men’s flattering attentions.

    Their acquaintances all thought this friendship queer; the contrast between his angular figure and her spiritual beauty was too obvious. Nobody could imagine what bound them to each other. Again and again her girl friends reduced her to tears, for they took every opportunity of pointing out Andrei’s defects. His comrades openly congratulated him on his ’undeserved good fortune’.

    More than once this sort of thing led to their separating for a time. And then Andrei had no rest. He wandered like a shade behind her, not daring to go up to her, yet lacking the strength to turn away. Thus they went on, all but inseparable, down to the outbreak of war. The war flung him into the partisans and directed his unbridled emotions in another direction. The town in which she was living was soon overrun by German troops, and they completely lost contact with each other.

    ‘We’re continually striving towards something,’ he now said abruptly. "We strive for power, for fame, for distinction. But that is all outside us. And when you come to a certain point you realize that all the time you’ve only been giving out from yourself. And you ask yourself: what have you gained for it all?

    ‘I’ve got a strange feeling. Putting aside everything else and thinking only of myself, I get the impression that all I’ve done in my struggle to climb higher has been for Halina’s sake. Now I shall lay this uniform and these orders at her feet.’

    He ran his eyes over his perfectly fitting uniform, brushed a speck of dust from the blue riding breeches, and said dreamily:

    ‘Now Halina has graduated as an engineer; she’s living in Moscow, she has work worthy of her, and a comfortable home. And what more can any woman achieve today? And now, to complete it all, a major in the State Security Service will turn up as a guard and defender of her well being. Don’t you think that’s quite a logical conclusion? And now, old friend, I’m hoping that life will repay me with interest for everything.’ He clapped his hand down on my knee, then rose and stared through the window into the darkness ahead, as though he hoped to discern what fate had in store for him.

    I had noticed before that he had rather queer ideas of his position with regard to Halina. He had put all his ardour into his ambitions and had received no satisfaction from life in return; on the contrary, he was tortured by his situation, in which he was compelled to act against his own convictions. And so he had subconsciously begun to seek for some compromise with life, he had begun to convince himself that his old love and the happiness of married life would fill the void in his soul. To meet Halina again had become an obsession with him; he thought of it as the miracle, which would bring him salvation.

    ‘D’you know what?’ He turned round sharply. ‘I simply must get hold of a bottle of vodka.’

    ‘But you don’t drink.’

    ‘It’s for you,’ he replied abruptly. ‘I want everybody round me to be jolly. Damn it all, I’m not going to a funeral, I’m going to a wedding!’

    I tried to dissuade him. ‘So you want to insult me? Is that it?’ he demanded. I could only hope that he was unlikely to find vodka at that time of night.

    At the very next station he went out; a few minutes later he returned with a bulging pocket. ‘Obtained in perfect agreement with regulations!’ he grinned. ‘The station commandant had confiscated it from someone, and I confiscated it from him. The raspberry capband has its uses!’

    He filled the glass so full that the vodka overflowed. ‘I’m all on fire inside, and there’s something lacking,’ he said. ‘You drink for me. You know, there are times when I feel an emptiness inside me almost physically.’ He sat with his feet planted widely apart, his hands on his knees. ‘Sometimes I think about God, and I envy those who believe in Him. It’s better to believe in a non-existent but infallible God than in the scoundrelly pretenders of this earth.’

    ‘When did you go to church last?’ I asked.

    “Some twenty years ago. My father took me. When I was a boy I knew all the prayers by heart.

    ‘Yes, the soul of a man is not a piece of litmus paper,’ he sighed. ‘You’ve got no means of deciding straight off whether it will be red or blue. In my damned job one often has to think about a human soul. I’ve developed quite a psychosis: I’m looking for people who believe in something.’

    All around us there was silence. Our native land sped towards us.

    The train arrived in Moscow next day. We went into the sunlit square outside the station and stopped to look about us. The trams clattered past, cars drove by silently, and people were hurrying about their affairs. All the feverish life of the capital city was opened before us. It was all so everyday, so simple. We felt as though we had never left Moscow.

    Thanks to his M. V. D. uniform and the gold star of a ’Hero of the Soviet Union’ Andrei easily obtained a room for two in the Staraya-Moskovskaya Hotel on the farther side of the river Moskva, right opposite the Kremlin. Our window looked out on to the river, and beyond we could see the new Stone Bridge, the rows of trees beginning to turn yellow along the Kremlin Embankment, the pointed towers and gold cupolas behind the Kremlin walls, and a long white building staring with innumerable windows. That building housed the brain of our country, the laboratory for the creation of a New World.

    We spent our first day aimlessly wandering about the city. We were both impatient to see Moscow life with our own eyes. Only a year had passed since I had last seen Moscow, but that year had been so filled with experiences that I felt now as though I were getting to know my own capital for the first time. Somewhere in the depths of my being I felt mingled feelings of expectation, distrust, and anxiety; as though, despite everything, I was trying to find something here that would make me change my mind, would lead me to revoke a firmly made decision.

    That summer evening Andrei and I wandered into Mayakovsky Square. Before us the black cube of the Marx-Engels-Lenin Institute loomed up in the dusk. In that stone chest the brain of Lenin, the ideologist and founder of the Soviet State, is preserved in spirit as a very sacred object. To the left of the square rose the editorial offices of Pravda.

    At roof level an illuminated sign was announcing the latest news. Nobody in the square paid any attention to it. But we craned our necks and began to read: ’The farmers report... the accomplishment of the plan for handing in the harvest... ’ Andrei and I looked at each other. Evening after evening, year after year, similar reports had been flashed along the roof of Pravda before the war. And it was still the same today. Hadn’t there been any war and all that the war connoted?

    ‘What does it say up there, little son?’ An old, feeble, quavering voice sounded behind us.

    Beside Andrei a decrepit old man was standing. He was wearing a homespun coat of uncertain color, and a tangled, reddish beard framed his face and brightly twinkling eyes. His long hair hung down from beneath his old peaked cap.

    ‘My eyes are weak, little son, and besides, I’m not good at reading,’ he murmured. ‘Tell me what it says.’

    He addressed Andrei in the tone that simple folk use to their superiors: with respect and wheedling sincerity.

    ‘Why haven’t you learned to read and write, daddy?’ Andrei asked with a warm smile, touched by the old fellow’s request.

    ‘What do we simple people need to know them for? That’s what learned men are for, to understand everything.’

    ‘Where are you from, daddy?’ Andrei asked.

    ‘My village is a little way outside Moscow,’ the old man answered. ‘Nearly forty miles from here.’

    ‘Are you in town to visit your son?’ Andrei asked again.

    ‘No, little son; I’m here to look for bread.’

    ‘Why, haven’t you any in your village?’

    ‘No, little son. We’ve handed over all our corn. Now all we can do is sell our potatoes in the Moscow market in order to buy bread.’

    ‘What’s the price of bread in the market now?’ Andrei inquired.

    ‘Seventy rubles a kilo, little son.’

    ‘And how much did you sell your grain to the State for?’

    The old fellow fidgeted from foot to foot, sighed and said reluctantly:

    ‘Seven kopecks a kilo....’

    There was an awkward silence. We behaved as though we had forgotten his request that we should read the news to him, and walked on. In the middle of the square we came to a halt before a granite obelisk; it had a bronze plaque fastened to each of its sides. Andrei and I went closer to read the inscriptions on the plaques.

    ‘Little son, perhaps you’ll tell me what it says on those boards.’ We again heard that feeble, aged voice behind us. The old man stood there like a shade, shifting from foot to foot.

    A smile slipped over Andrei’s face, and he turned his eyes back to the obelisk, intending this time to satisfy the old man. Slowly he read the first few words aloud, but then he broke off and read the further lines in silence.

    ‘What’s the matter, little son?’ the old man asked with some concern. ‘Isn’t it written in Russian?’

    Andrei was silent; he avoided the old man’s eyes. In the dusk I too read the words. The plaques carried extracts from the Soviet Constitution, dealing with the rights and liberties of Soviet citizens. Hungry and ragged Moscow, this old peasant arrived in search of bread, and the bronze promises of an earthly paradise! I realized why Andrei was silent.

    The next day was a Saturday; we decided to find out where Halina lived and call on her. Through letters from mutual acquaintances I had learnt that she was working as an engineer in one of the Moscow factories. But when Andrei phoned the works administration they told him she was no longer working there, and refused to give any further information. On making inquiries at the Bureau for Ad-dresses we were amazed to be given an address in one of the out-lying suburbs, an hour’s journey by electric train.

    The sun was sinking behind the crowns of the pine forest when Andrei and I knocked at the door of a small timber-built house in a summer settlement not far from the railway. A negligently dressed, elderly woman opened the door to us, gave us an unfriendly look, listened to us in silence, and silently pointed up a rickety staircase to the first floor. Andrei let me go in front, and I could not see his face; but by the sound of his footsteps and the way he leaned heavily on the shaking banister rail I could tell how much this meeting meant to him.

    On the landing damp underwear was hung out to dry. Dirty pans and old rags littered the windowsill. A board door, hanging by rusty hinges, had tufts of wool blocking the chinks between the planks. I irresolutely took hold of the handle, and knocked.

    We heard shuffling footsteps. The door shook on its hinges and scraped over the floor as it was slowly opened; to reveal a woman simply dressed, with old shoes on her stockingless feet. She gazed interrogatively into the dimly lit landing. Then she distinguished men in military uniform, and the astonishment in her eyes was changed to fear.

    ‘Halina!’ Andrei called quietly.

    The young woman’s face flushed crimson. She fell back. ‘Andrei!’ a half-suppressed cry broke from her lips. She stood breathing rapidly and heavily, as though short of breath.

    Andrei avoided looking about him. He tried not to see the wretched furnishing of the half-empty room; he tried to ignore her old clothes and worn shoes. He saw only the familiar features of the woman he loved. All the world was lost in oblivion, sunk beneath the burning depths of her eyes fixed on him.

    How often during all the long years had he dreamed of her eyes! And now those eyes slowly took him in, from head to foot. They rested on the gold epaulettes with the blue facings, on the star indicating his major’s rank, on the brilliant raspberry band of his service cap. Her eyes turned to the M. V. D. insignia on his sleeve, then stared into his eyes.

    ‘Halina!’ he repeated again as though in a dream; he stretched out both his hands to her.

    ‘Gregory, shut the door, please!’ she said to me, as though she had not noticed Andrei or heard his voice. Her tone was cold, her eyes faded, her features set. She avoided Andrei’s eyes and, not saying a word, went to the open window at the far end of the room.

    ‘Halina, what’s the matter?’ he asked anxiously. ‘How is it you’re living here... in such conditions?’

    ‘Perhaps you’d better tell your story first,’ she answered. She seemed to be finding our visit a torture.

    ‘Halina! What’s the matter with you?’ A growing alarm sounded in his voice.

    There was a long silence. Then she turned her back on us and said in a voice that was almost inaudible as she gazed out of the window:

    ‘I’ve been dismissed... and exiled from Moscow.’

    ‘Why?’

    ‘I am an enemy of the people,’ she said quietly.

    ‘But what for?’

    Another silence. Then, like a rustle of wind outside the window:

    ‘Because I loved my baby....’

    ‘Are you married?’ His voice broke with the despair of a man who has just heard his death sentence.

    ‘No.’ The word came softly.

    ‘Then... then it’s not so bad, Halina.’ The fear in his voice turned to a note of relief.

    There was another silence, disturbed only by his panting breath.

    ‘Look at that!’ She nodded at a small photograph standing on the table. Andrei followed her glance. From the simple wooden photograph frame a man in German officer’s uniform smiled at the major of the Soviet State Security Service. ‘He was the father of my child,’ she said from the window.

    ‘Halina... I don’t understand.... Tell me what happened.’ He dropped helplessly into a chair; all his body was trembling.

    ‘I fell in love with him when our town was under German occupation,’ she answered, after turning away from us again. ‘When the Germans retreated I hid the child. Someone informed on me. And of course you know the rest....’

    ‘But where is the child?’ Andrei asked.

    ‘It was taken from me.’ Her voice choked. Her shoulders shook with dry sobbing.

    ‘Who took it from you?’ There was a threat in his tone.

    ‘Who?’ she echoed him. ‘Men in the same uniform as you’re wearing.’

    She turned her face to us. It had nothing in common with the face of the gentle and friendly girl we had known in past days. Before us stood a woman in all the nakedness of her womanly pain.

    ‘And now I must ask you to leave my house.’ She stared fixedly at Andrei’s motionless figure. He sat with shoulders bowed as though under the blows of a knout, staring at the floorboards: his back huddled, his eyes expressionless, and his body lifeless.

    The sun was glowing orange beyond the window. The branches of the dusty pines swayed silently. The sun lighted up the fluffy hair of the woman standing at the window caressed her proudly carried head, the gentle outlines of her neck, the frail shoulders under the old dress. The light left in shadow all the wretched furniture of the half-empty room and all the signs and tokens of human need. At the window stood a woman now farther off than ever, but now more desired than ever. On a chair in the middle of the room slumped a living corpse.

    ‘Halina... I’ll try...’ he said thickly. He himself had no idea what he could hope to do, and he was silent again.

    ‘We have nothing more to talk about,’ she answered quietly and firmly.

    He rose heavily to his feet, looked helplessly about him. He muttered something, held out his hand as though asking for something, or maybe in farewell. She looked away, taking no notice of his hand. There was another long silence.

    I crept out of the room as though from the presence of the dead. Andrei followed me. As he went downstairs he clung to the wall like a blind man. His face was ashen; words came incoherently from his lips. Our steps sounded hollowly on the creaking stairs.

    In the train he stared with glassy eyes out of the window and was obdurately silent. I tried to distract his thoughts with talk. He did not hear my voice; he took no notice of me whatever.

    As we made our way to the Moscow Underground station he broke the silence by asking: ‘Which way are you going?’ I guessed he wanted to get rid of me, but I also felt that on no account could I dare to leave him to himself.

    We returned to our hotel. All the rest of the evening I followed him like a shadow. When he left the room for a moment I unloaded our pistols, which were lying in the table drawer. He would not have any supper, and went to bed unusually early. But he tossed and turned and could not sleep. He wished to escape from this life at least in his sleep, to find release from his torment; but he could not.

    ‘Andrei, the best thing would be for you to go home tomorrow,’ I said.

    ‘I have no home,’ came from his bed after a long silence.

    ‘Then go to your family,’ I persisted.

    ‘I have no family,’ he said thickly.

    ‘Your father...’

    ‘My father has disowned me.’

    Andrei’s father was a man of the old school, hard as oak and as obstinate as a mule. When the years of collectivization arrived the old cossack had preferred to leave his native soil to live in a town, rather than join a collective farm. In the town he had become an artisan. No repressive measures, no amount of taxation could drive him into an artisans’ cooperative. ‘I was born free, I shall die free!’ was his one answer. He had given all his strength to bring up his son, in the hope that the lad would be a comfort to his old age. But when he heard that his Andrei had gone over to the enemy he disowned him.

    All night Andrei tossed and turned in his bed. All night I lay in the darkness, not closing my eyes, fighting to keep from falling asleep. The hours passed. The ruby stars of the Kremlin towers shone in through the open window. As the sky turned pale and the first feeble light stole into the room, I saw that Andrei was still awake. He had buried his face in the pillow, and his arms hung helplessly down, one on either side of the bed. In the silence I caught words that came strangely from his lips, words that I remembered from times long past, the time of my childhood. They came in a passionate whisper: ‘Lord, incline Thine ear and hear my prayer, for I am miserable and weak.’

    For the first time that night I closed my eyes. I would not hinder a man who stood on the confines of this world. And again in the early morning stillness I heard a whisper that had nothing earthly in it, the words of a long forgotten prayer: ‘Lord, forgive thy sinful slave...’

    On the farther side of the river the Kremlin clock chimed in answer.

    While in Berlin I had exchanged very little correspondence with Genia. She was too sensitive to the least hint of insincerity and mental reservations; moreover, there was still a military censor-ship, and that had to be taken into account. A frank description of my present life and of our impressions of the real world around us would have been unforgivable lunacy. And we had no private life in Karlshorst that I could write about. Both she and I were too young and too fond of life to write each other insane letters out of sheer amiability.

    So I preferred to use the nights when I had a twenty-four-hour turn of duty in the staff headquarters, and was alone in the commander-in-chief’s private office, for getting direct telephonic contact with Moscow and talking to Genia. On such occasions we had long conversations that had no connection with the marshal’s office, or policy. The people tapping the telephone could go on reading their novels unperturbed.

    On returning to Moscow I looked forward impatiently to seeing Genia again. And in preparing for my first visit I spent a long time pondering what to wear - my military uniform or civilian clothes. I finally decided in favor of the civvies.

    I found only Anna Petrovna at home. She was feeling bored, and she took the opportunity to ply me with questions concerning Berlin, and simultaneously to retail the latest Moscow news.

    Now the family was reunited. Genia’s father, Nikolai Sergeivich, had returned home after the conclusion of operations against Japan. But even now, when he was stationed in Moscow, his wife knew as little as ever about his duties and activities, and she lived in constant dread of his being sent off again in some unknown direction and for an indefinite period.

    After lunch Genia decided that she and I would go off into the country for the rest of the day. I was very grateful to her for taking me to her parents’ country house, for the small summer villa outside the city had been the scene of my first meeting with her, in the early days of the war. She herself drove her sports-model Captain.

    When we reached the villa she began to question me at great length and in unusual detail about life in Germany. All my explanations and descriptions failed to satisfy her. Suddenly, quite unexpectedly, she gazed into my eyes and asked: ‘But why are you so thin?’

    ‘I’m feeling fine!’ I replied. ‘It may be just overwork.’

    ‘No, it isn’t that.’ She shook her head. ‘You look really bad. You’re keeping something from me.’ She gazed at me closely, as though trying to read my thoughts.

    ‘Maybe there is something,’ I assented, touched by her anxious tone. ‘But if there is I haven’t noticed it.’

    ‘But I do,’ she whispered. ‘At first I thought it must be some-thing coming between us... Now I see it’s something else. Forget it!’

    And I did forget it. I was boundlessly happy to see the familiar walls around me, and to hear only Genia, to think only of Genia.

    As the evening twilight settled over the forest and shadows began to steal through the room she decided to celebrate my arrival with a supper.

    ‘Today you’re mine.’ She flashed her eyes at me. ‘Let father be annoyed because we’ve gone off! Let him know how mother worries when he’s not at home! I’ll show him!’

    We had hardly sat down to eat when we heard the sound of a car approaching. Genia raised her eyebrows anxiously. The car stopped outside, and a moment later Anna Petrovna entered. She was followed by Nikolai Sergeivich and a colleague of his, Colonel-General Klykov. They were all in a very cheerful mood, and the house was filled with their laughter and talk.

    ‘Now isn’t this wonderful! We’ve only just arrived, and the table’s already laid!’ Klykov laughed and rubbed his hands. ‘Nikolai Sergeivich, your daughter’s a treasure!’

    ‘D’you think she’s prepared all this for us?’ Nikolai Sergeivich answered. ‘You must excuse us for interrupting, Yevgenia Nikolaevna,’ he said very formally, turning to his daughter. ‘Would you permit us to join your company?’

    ‘And you’re a fine one!’ he added, turning to me. ‘Get into civilian clothes and you immediately forget your army regulations! You know your first duty is to present yourself to your superiors! Ah, you youngsters....’

    ‘But we were just getting ready to go home,’ Genia began.

    ‘Then why have you laid the table? For us?’ Her father roared with laughter. ‘So we drive here, and you go back there! You think you’re clever, my girl. But I’m no fool either. Just to punish you we’ll spend all the evening with you.’

    Anna Petrovna set to work to prepare supper. They had brought cans and bottles of a striking diversity of labels with them. All the lands of eastern Europe were represented: Bulgaria, Rumania, Hungary. These commodities were not spoils of war, but normal peacetime production. There were American conserves too, obviously the remnants of lend-lease deliveries. None of these things could be bought in the Moscow shops, but they were available in abundance in the special distribution centers to which generals had access.

    ‘Well, Gregory, now tell us all about it from the beginning.’ Nikolai Sergeivich turned to me when the dessert arrived. ‘What is life in Germany like?’

    ‘Not too bad,’ I answered vaguely, waiting for him to be more definite in his questions.

    ‘In any case he has a better apartment there than we have,’ Genia intervened.

    The general ignored her, and asked: ‘What’s Sokolovsky doing?’

    ‘What Moscow orders,’ I replied, involuntarily smiling. ‘You people here should know best what he’s doing.’

    Obviously I had given Nikolai Sergeivich the opening he was fishing for. He sat turning over his thoughts. Genia looked about her with a bored air.

    ‘Germany’s a tough nut.’ General Klykov broke the silence. ‘It’ll be a long time before we crack it. The Allies won’t clear out of western Germany without giving trouble, and there isn’t much to be expected simply from eastern Germany. Not like the Slavonic countries: no sooner said than done! I think our first task is to create a strong bloc of Slavonic states. If we form a Slavonic bloc we shall have a good cordon sanitaire around our frontiers. And our positions in Europe will be strong enough to prevent any repetition of 1941.’

    ‘My friend, you’re always looking backward, but we’ve got to look forward.’ Nikolai Sergeivich shook his head reproachfully. ‘What do we want a Slavonic bloc for? The old dreams of a pan-Slav empire! Today we’re in the epoch of the communist advance along the whole front. Eastern Europe and the western Slavonic states are of interest to us now chiefly as providing a favorable base for penetration and further action.’

    ‘So far the masters are pursuing a quite clear pan-Slavonic policy,’ the colonel-general retorted. Like all the upper circles of Moscow he resorted to the vague term ’masters’ to denote the Kremlin and the Politburo.

    ‘That’s what policy’s for, to conceal the ultimate aims,’ Nikolai Sergeivich said. ‘It would be a crying shame not to exploit our possibilities today. One half of Europe belongs to us, and the other half is inviting us to take it over and give it order.’

    It was now quite dark outside. Moths fluttered through the open window and beat against the lamp glass, burning their wings. A drowsy fly crawled over the table, moving its legs painfully. The fly had no aim, it simply crawled.

    ‘There’s Europe!’ the general said with a contemptuous smile, and he unhurriedly picked up the fly between two fingers. ‘You don’t even have to catch it, you simply take it.’

    ‘But tell us frankly, Nikolai Sergeivich, what do you need that dead fly for? What good will it be to you?’ the colonel-general asked.

    ‘Of course we’re not greatly interested in western Europe as such,’ the general answered after a moment’s thought. ‘It’ll probably be more difficult to plant communism in the Europeans than in any other peoples. They’re too spoilt economically and culturally.’

    ‘There you are! You yourself admit it’s very difficult to make Europe communist,’ Klykov expressed his thoughts aloud. ‘If we intend to build communism seriously there we’ll have to send half the population to Siberia and feed the other half at our expense. And what’s the sense of that?’

    ‘We need Europe so as to deprive America of her European markets, and then she’ll go under economically. But in any case...’ The general was silent, thoughtfully rolling the unfortunate fly between his thumb and fingers. Then, as though he had come to a definite decision, he flung the fly away and repeated: ‘But in any case... neither you nor I know what the masters are thinking. And it’s just as well that we don’t,’ he went on after another pause. His tone suggested that he knew more than he proposed to say.

    ‘Communist theory lays it down that the revolution should develop where there are the best prerequisites for it: in the weakest link of the capitalist system. And at the moment that isn’t in Europe. Today Asia is ripe for revolution. There we can gain the greatest possible successes with the least risk and the least expenditure. Asia is waking up nationally, and we must use this movement in order to further our objectives. The Asiatics are not so cultured and spoilt as the Europeans.’

    He paused again, then went on: ‘It’s more important to have Asia in our hands than Europe. All the more so as Japan has dropped out of the running. Today China is the key to Asia. Nowhere else in the world are the prerequisites for revolution so favorable as in China.’

    ‘All right, I give you China,’ the colonel-general said in a joking tone. ‘And what will you do with it?’

    ‘China is an enormous reservoir of vital forces,’ Nikolai Sergeivich replied. ‘It would be a tremendous thing to have such a reserve at our disposal, for the army and for industry. And, above all, that’s the way we shall force America to her knees.’

    ‘So America’s giving you trouble again?’ Klykov laughed.

    ‘Sooner or later our roads will cross,’ Nikolai Sergeivich answered. ‘Either we must renounce our historical mission or follow it through to the end.’

    ‘All the same, I assume that our post-war policy is directed towards ensuring the security of our frontiers, both in the West and in the East.’ The colonel-general held to his views. But he prudently made his remarks sound more like a commentary on Kremlin policy than an expression of his own attitude.

    The general put on a smile of superiority. ‘Don’t forget, my friend, that one can build socialism in one country, but communism only in all the world.’

    ‘What’s the world to do with you, when you’re a Russian?’

    ‘We’re communists first, and Russians only second....’

    ‘So you need the whole world.’ The colonel-general drummed his fingers ironically on the table.

    ‘That is the general line of the Party,’ the general answered coldly.

    ‘Our policy during the war...’ Klykov put up a feeble opposition.

    ‘Policy can change with circumstances, but the general line remains the general line;’ the general would not let him finish. ‘It has to be so,’ he went on slowly. ‘It’s a historical necessity. We’ve already exhausted all the possibilities of internal development. Internal stagnation is equivalent to death of old age. Either we finally retreat on the internal front, or we go forward on the external front. That is the law of dialectical development that applies to every state system.’

    ‘You’re going too far, Nikolai Sergeivich. You’re placing the interests of the state system above those of your people and your country.’

    ‘That’s why you and I are communists,’ Genia’s father said slowly and firmly, raising his glass as though to confirm his words. Klykov pretended not to notice this invitation, and felt for his cigarettes. Anna Petrovna and Genia sat listening to the conversation with bored expressions on their faces.

    ‘What you’ve just said, Nikolai Sergeivich, is one thing in words, but in reality it means war,’ Klykov said after a long silence. ‘You underestimate the external factors-America, for instance,’

    ‘And what is America?’ Nikolai Sergeivich asked. ‘An agglomeration of people who represent no nation and possess no ideals, and whose basis of unity is the dollar. At a certain stage her living standards will fall inevitably, the class antagonisms will grow sharper, and then favorable conditions will arise for the development of the class struggle. The war will be shifted from the front to the rear of the enemy.’

    ‘And that’s what you and I are generals for - to wage war,’ he added.

    ‘A general should be a citizen of his country first and foremost.’ Klykov drew at his cigarette and sent the smoke curling up to the ceiling. ‘A general without a native country is...’ He did not finish the sentence.

    During the war Colonel-General Klykov had successfully commanded large Soviet forces in the field. Shortly before the war ended he had been recalled from the front and given a comparatively subordinate post in the Commissariat for Defense. Generals on active service were not subjected to such changes without reason.

    Before leaving Moscow to join the S. M. A. I had met Klykov more than once at the home of Genia’s parents. Whenever the talk turned to politics he had always been very moderate, taking the attitude that the war was one of defense of the national fatherland. At that time, just about the close of hostilities, there was a good deal of rather independent discussion, or rather surmise, as to the U. S. S. R.’s future policy. It is hardly to be doubted that Klykov had been rather too frank in expressing his opinions, which did not entirely coincide with the Politburo’s secret plans, and that this had been the reason for his recall to the rear, closer to the Kremlin’s ever-watchful eye.

    ‘But we won’t argue about that, Nikolai Sergeivich,’ he said in a conciliatory tone, after a long pause. ‘In the Kremlin there are wiser heads than yours or mine. Let them decide.’

    They fell into a long silence. Anna Petrovna sat turning over the pages of a periodical. Genia looked at the clock, then at the moon rising through the trees. At last she could stand no more, and she jumped up.

    ‘Well, you can go on dividing up the world, but we’re going home.’

    ‘Why, is the moon making you restless?’ her father laughed. ‘Off you go, then, only don’t get lost on the way. If anything happens, Gregory, I shall hold you responsible.’ He jokingly wagged his finger at me.

    A minute or two later we drove off. In the moonlight, the shadows of the trees fell spectrally across the ground. Here and there the windowpanes of summer villas gleamed through the trees. The car bumped over the hummocky forest road. I sat at the wheel, not speaking.

    ‘What were you so dumb for this evening?’ Genia asked.

    ‘What could I talk about?’ I asked.

    ‘What others talk about.’

    ‘I can’t repeat the sort of thing your father says. And I mustn’t support Klykov.’

    ‘Why not?’

    ‘Because I don’t happen to be Klykov. Your father would never stand from me what he takes from Klykov. Klykov gives expression to very imprudent views.’

    ‘Let’s forget politics!’ she whispered. She put her hand to the dashboard and switched off the headlamps. The night, the marvelous moonlit night, caressed us with its silence. I gazed into her face, into her eyes, veiled in the half-light. My foot slowly released the accelerator.

    ‘If you don’t close your eyes again...’ she murmured.

    ‘Genia, I’ve got to steer the car.’

    Instead of an answer, a neat little foot was set on the brake pedal. The car slowly pulled sideways and came to a stop.

    I spent the next few days visiting my numerous Moscow friends and acquaintances. Everywhere I was bombarded with questions about life in Germany. Although occupied Germany was no longer ’foreign’ in the full meaning of the word, and many Russians had already seen the country with their own eyes, there was no falling off in the morbid interest the Russian people showed in the world on the farther side of the frontier.

    This interest and the exaggeratedly rosy ideas of life abroad were a reaction from Soviet Russia’s complete isolation. Moreover, the Russians have one trait, which is seldom found in other nations: they are constantly seeking to find the good sides of their neighbors in the world. The Germans used to regard this as evidence of the primitive ways of thought in the East.

    After I had satisfied my friends’ curiosity as far as possible I turned to questioning them about life in Moscow. But while they were very ready to listen to my guarded accounts of life in Germany, they were very unwilling to answer my questions about life in Moscow. The general mood was joyless. Everybody had hoped that living conditions would improve after the war. But now there were signs of famine. And in addition, the papers were again talking hysterically of a new war danger.

    When my friends learned that we in Berlin were in the habit of meeting Americans, talking to them and even shaking their hands, they stared at me as if I were a ghost, and did not know what comment to make. Although there had been a considerable cooling off in relations between the Allies during the first twelve months after the war, the very fact that we lived in the same city did to some extent mitigate the growing tension in official relations.

    But in Moscow the one-sided and continual abuse in which all the press and propaganda weapons were indulging was leading the people, despite their own personal convictions, to think of the Americans as cannibals. The propaganda poison was having its effect.

    One evening I went as usual to see Genia, and found all the family making ready for a journey. Anna Petrovna explained that they were going next morning to see Nikolai Sergeivich’s parents, who lived in a village between Moscow and Yaroslavl, and she invited me in her husband’s name to go with them. I knew already that his parents were simple peasants, and that, despite their son’s attempts to persuade them, they had refused to move to Moscow, preferring to remain on their land and continue as peasants.

    I readily accepted the invitation, though Genia turned up her nose a little and made no comment. I had observed already that she was not fond of visiting her grandparents, and did so only because her father wished her to. She had grown up in the Moscow milieu, and was completely alien to her peasant origins.

    Early next morning Nikolai Sergeivich, Anna Petrovna, Genia and I drove in the general’s limousine out of Moscow. We passed through the suburbs with its factories and small houses, and plunged into the forests surrounding the city. Towards midday, after a long journey over by-roads, we drew near to our destination. Bumping over the potholes, the car crawled into a village street. It was enveloped in a deathly silence; there was not a sign of life anywhere. No domestic animals, no chickens, not even a dog to be heard. It seemed to have been deserted by its inhabitants.

    Our car stopped at one of the houses on the outskirts. With a groan the general climbed out and stretched his legs after the long drive. Anna Petrovna gathered her things together. Genia and I waited for them to lead the way. There was no sign of life in the hut. Nobody came out to welcome us.

    Finally, the general went up the steps of the porch and opened the unfastened door. We went through a dark entry smelling of dung. The general opened the living-room door without knocking. In the middle of the room a girl about eight years old, bare-foot and straight haired, was sitting on the floor, swinging a cradle hanging from the ceiling. She was singing under her breath. When she saw us she stopped, and stared half in wonder, half in alarm, without rising.

    ‘Good morning, my child,’ the general said to her. ‘Have you lost your tongue?’

    In her confusion she only stuck her finger into her mouth.

    ‘Where is everybody?’ Nikolai Sergeivich asked again.

    ‘They’ve gone to work,’ the child answered.

    At that moment we heard a noise behind us, and a pair of legs shod in worn feltboots began to stir on the enormous Russian stove that filled half the room. A muffled coughing and groaning came from the shelf for a few moments, then a shaggy, gray head was stuck out from behind a cloth curtain.

    ‘Ah.... So it’s you, Nikolai!’ an aged, rather hoarse voice said. ‘So you’ve come again!’ It was the general’s father. The old man’s face showed no sign of pleasure at the sight of his son.

    ‘Who else should it be?’ the general thundered with forced gaiety as the old man climbed down from the stove. ‘I’ve brought something for you, Sergei Vassilievich. Something for the pain in your legs. You won’t refuse a bottle of vodka, I’m sure!’

    ‘Bread would have been more acceptable than vodka!’ the old man grumbled.

    ‘Marusia, run to the chairman of the collective farm’ - the general turned to the child - ‘and ask him to release all our people from work today. Tell him the general’s arrived.’

    ‘The general... the general....’ the old man mumbled in his beard. He laid his hand affectionately on Genia’s head. ‘You’re looking well, dragon-fly. So you haven’t forgotten your old grand-dad in that Moscow of yours?’

    I went to the car and brought in the packets and bundles of presents we had brought with us. One after another the rest of the family arrived, all the general’s numerous kindred and their grown-up children. They all seemed rather awkward, and showed no sign of pleasure at the arrival of guests. The last to enter was a man who had been wounded in the war, and now walked with the aid of a stick. He was the general’s cousin, and the collective farm store-keeper.

    As usual in the country, the oldest man of the family issued the orders. The grandfather waved to one of the women:

    ‘Lay the table, Serafima. We’ll have dinner now we’ve got guests.’ Turning to his son, he remarked: ‘I don’t suppose you’ve eaten potatoes for a long time, Nikolai? Well, you can have some now. We haven’t any bread, so we’re eating potatoes instead.’

    ‘What’s happened to your corn then?’ Nikolai asked. ‘Haven’t you received anything yet from the collective farm?’

    ‘Received anything...’ the old man muttered. ‘The collective farm handed over everything down to the last grain to the State, and that still left it in debt. We haven’t met our delivery plan. We’re managing with potatoes at present, but when winter comes... we haven’t any idea what we’ll eat.’

    ‘Well, don’t worry!’ the general reassured him. ‘We’ve brought bread with us.’

    ‘Ah, Nikolai, Nikolai! If you weren’t my son I’d show you the door! Brought your bread to make a mock of us country-people, have you? You know our custom: the host provides for the guest. You’ll eat what we eat. And no arguments! Don’t turn up your nose at our food.’

    With a sweeping gesture he invited everybody to sit down at the table, on which Serafima had set a huge iron pot of steaming beetroot soup. Next to it she placed a pot of potatoes boiled in their jackets. Then she arranged earthenware plates and wooden spoons round the table. The general was the first to sit down.

    He was the most talkative of all the company, and tried hard to show that he was perfectly at home in the house where he had been born. He joked as he peeled his potatoes, readily held out his plate for Serafima to fill with the ’beetroot soup’, which apparently had been made without meat or fat. For some time only the clatter of the wooden spoons was to be heard.

    ‘What’s a dinner without vodka?’ the general exclaimed at last, and he rose and went across to his packages. ‘We’ll throw back a glass all round, and then we’ll feel more cheerful.’

    All the men in the house readily accepted his invitation, and the bottle was swiftly emptied. A second followed it. The plain peasant food was quickly disposed of. The general again resorted to his packages, and littered the table with cans of preserves labeled in all the languages of Europe. His old father watched him glumly, and tried to protest; but then he held his peace and, staring at the strange labels, confined himself to the brief remark: ‘You’ve done some looting....’

    The plentiful supply of vodka had its effect; they all found their tongues.

    ‘Well, Nikolai, tell us. They say there’s a smell of war around again,’ the old man asked, a little more amiable after several glasses of vodka.

    ‘We’re a long way off war at the moment, but we must always be ready for surprises,’ the general replied. ‘We’ve won the war, now we must win the peace,’ he added self-importantly.

    ‘What sort of world?’ his father asked, screwing up his eyes cunningly. ‘That old story again... ’proletarians of all countries unite... ’?’ (The Russian word ’mir’ has two meanings: ’peace’, and ’world’; the old man deliberately twists his son’s remark.)

    ‘Why of course, we mustn’t forget the proletarians of other countries,’ the general said sluggishly, conscious of the ineptitude of his remark. ‘Proletarian solidarity,’ he added, avoiding his father’s eyes.

    ‘Of course, of course.... My belly tells me every day that we’re proletarians. But as for the solidarity! D’you mean that others are to go hungry with us? Is that it?’

    ‘Let’s have another drink, Sergei Vassilievich,’ his son proposed, realizing that there was no point in arguing with him. He filled his glass again.

    ‘But tell me just one thing, Nikolai.’ His father went over to the offensive. ‘I don’t say anything about our having shed our blood and gone hungry in this war. God be thanked that it ended as it did. But tell me one thing: did the soldiers want to fight at the beginning, or didn’t they? You should know the answer, you’re a general.’

    The general stared silently at his plate.

    ‘Nothing to say?’ the old fellow crowed. ‘The soldiers didn’t want to fight. And you know very well why. Because they’d had enough of that song long before. You can’t fill your belly with songs.’

    ‘But all the same we won the war,’ the general said in his own defense.

    ‘Nikolai! I’m your father, and you needn’t tell me lies. Have you forgotten what was promised us during the war? Why were the churches opened again? Why have you been given Russian epaulettes? Why have you tsarist ribbons on your chest? You hid behind the backs of the Russian people! We were promised land and freedom. That’s what we fought for! And where is it all?’ He banged his fist down on the table, making the glasses jingle. ‘Where is it all?’ he shouted again, furiously pointing a skinny finger at the potato skins littered about the table.

    ‘You can’t have everything at once,’ the general feebly protested.

    ‘What do you mean by that? You can’t have everything at once!’ The old man exploded like a gunpowder barrel. ‘D’you mean it’s going to be still worse?’

    ‘Oh no.... But when everything’s been destroyed it can’t all be restored at once;’ the general made his retreat.

    ‘Ah, now that’s a different story! But you began at first with the old song: Solidarity! Proletariat! We know it all by heart. We even know it backward!’

    The general said no more, but apathetically chewed a bread-crust. The old man could not get over his excitement. With a trembling hand he helped himself to a glass of vodka and tossed it off. He wiped his mouth with the back of his hand, then looked about him to see if anyone was daring to oppose him. But they all sat staring indifferently into their empty plates.

    ‘Don’t tell me any of your fairy-stories, Nikolai!’ the old fellow said decisively, with a challenging stare across the table. ‘I know all that you’ve been up to! D’you think I don’t know how for the last twenty years you’ve been going about the world with a flaming torch? D’you think I don’t know where you got all those gewgaws from?’

    He pointed to the orders on his son’s chest. ‘When you were lying in that cradle,’ he nodded to the cradle hanging from the ceiling,” we didn’t only have bread in the house, we had everything in plenty. Now you’ve become a general, but the child in that cradle is crying with hunger. What’s happened to your conscience? Answer me! Have you exchanged your conscience for those gewgaws?"

    ‘Grand-dad, where could I find a basket?’ Genia, who had been sitting silent next to her father, asked the old man. She rose from the table to go out.

    ‘What, dragon-fly, had enough?’ Her grandfather gazed after her. ‘Go and pick some mushrooms in the forest, then we’ll have mushrooms as well as potatoes for supper.’

    Genia stood at the door with a basket on her arm, and nodded to me to go with her. As I left the room I heard the old man say:

    ‘I tell you, Nikolai, I don’t want to hear any more about the proletariat in my house. If there’s anybody who’s the last, the very bottom-most proletariat, it’s us, and not anybody else. If anybody’s got to be set free, it’s us! Get that? Put that in your pipe and smoke it!’

    Genia and I walked out of the village. The forest began almost at the last house. The sky was overcast with gray. The air was autumn-ally clear, and pervaded with the scent of rotting leaves and dampness. Genia had flung a kerchief over her head, knotting it beneath her chin. She took off her high-heeled shoes and dropped them into her basket, and went on in front without saying a word, cautiously stepping with her bare feet through the grass.

    I followed her, my eyes delighting in her supple figure. We went deeper and deeper into the forest, and at last came to a clearing littered with the great, mossy trunks of felled trees; all around them was a wilderness of wild berries, mushrooms, and grasses.

    ‘But what does father come here for at all?’ Genia broke the silence. She walked aimlessly along with bent head, gazing at the ground. ‘Granddad always entertains him with this sort of performance, and father seems to like it.’

    ‘Perhaps he likes to see the difference between what he was and what he is now,’ I suggested.

    ‘I’ve had enough of this comedy, long since!’ she went on. ‘And this time it’s all the more unpleasant because you’ve seen it.’

    ‘Genia!’ I called quietly.

    She turned round so swiftly and so readily that she might have been waiting for the call. Her chestnut eyes were fixed on me with a look of expectation.

    ‘Genia, what comedy are you referring to?’ I asked, feeling an unpleasant suspicion rising in my mind. She stood embarrassed, disturbed by the tone of my voice. I took her by the hands and set her against a large, mossy stump rising as high as her head. She humbly stood as I had placed her.

    ‘Don’t you see it for yourself?’ She attempted to avoid my question.

    ‘But it the comedy itself you mind?’ I gazed into her eyes and saw that she was expecting, yet fearing, my question. ‘Which one do you think is the comedian?’

    ‘I... I don’t know, Grisha....’

    ‘Genia, which one do you regard as the comedian?’ I repeated harshly.

    ‘I’m sorry for granddad,’ she whispered, lowering her eyes. I could see that this talk was torturing her. ‘But it’s all so silly...’ she added, as though excusing herself.

    ‘So you think your grandfather is a comedian?’ I insisted.

    ‘No; he’s quite right. But...’ Tears came into her eyes.

    I had a feeling of relief, mingled with a warm tenderness. I took her head between my hands and kissed her on the lips. I had no wish to go on tormenting her, by forcing her to disavow her own father. There was no need for me to say more.

    ‘D’you know what, Genia?’ I said, as I played with a strand of her hair. ‘I’m very grateful to you at this moment.’

    ‘Why?’ she whispered in surprise.

    "I was afraid for you. I was afraid you’d say something else....

    ‘I felt really upset for the old man,’ I added thoughtfully. ‘Before the war came, each of us lived in his own nest, and each built his life to the best of his ability. During the war everything was changed, everybody was threatened and everybody was equal in the presence of death. In those days of blood and evil I experienced so much good from people I didn’t know at all, from simple people like your grandfather. The war brought us together in a brotherhood of blood. Now I feel sick at heart for these people.’

    A gray pall crept across the sky. The scent of rawness rose from the earth. A bird fluttered about for a moment, then flew off. ‘You and I are on top,’ I went on quietly. ‘We must never forget that. Our being on top and remaining there only makes sense if we don’t forget it. I think your father has. And I was afraid you bad too....’

    The rustles of the autumnal forest stirred through the glade. I looked at Genia’s bare feet, at her peasant’s kerchief, at the basket standing beside her. In her hands she held a sprig of ash berries which she had broken off as she walked along.

    ‘I’d be tremendously happy if you were only your grandfather’s granddaughter and lived in that hut,’ I said.

    She pressed closer to me, as if she were cold.

    ‘For then I’d know you belong to me,’ I whispered into her ear. ‘You know, I often think of the first days we met. When you were simply Genia, a delightful girl who was a soldier’s friend. D’you remember how I knocked at your door, straight back from the front, in a soldier’s dirty greatcoat? I was always so proud of you... A soldier’s little wife...’

    ‘Grisha, tell me quite frankly.’ As she learned against the mossy stump she bore little resemblance to the saucy and carefree girl I had once known. She spoke quietly, seriously. ‘You’ve come back from Berlin completely changed.... And you talk so little... I feel that something’s getting you down. What is it?’

    ‘Genia, it’s because I’m sorry that our friendship will never be anything more than that...’

    ‘What’s preventing it?’

    ‘When I first met your father I was proud of him. I thought of him in those days as an example to be followed...’

    ‘And now?’ She looked into my eyes with a strange look.

    I did not answer at once. I could not yet put what I felt into words. ‘That you should leave the life you’re living now and belong only to me... I can’t insist that you should do that,’ I said quietly. "But if you were to include me in your life, it would be the end for all of us.

    ‘So my father stands in the way?’ she said with a strange calm. The words came as an answer to my own thoughts. I remained silent, gently stroking her shoulders. The leaves of the birches rustled quietly. The cloudy sky was silent. Ants crawled aimlessly over the stump.

    ‘Don’t be afraid, Grisha. I’d come to the same conclusion my-self.’ Her voice betrayed her weariness. ‘There’s just one thing I want to say: it isn’t my father that stands between us. What has come between us is something that long since came between me and my father. I am only a woman and a daughter. But I feel differently about that.’ She was silent for a moment, then she went on: ‘I’ve told you once already I’m an orphan...’

    She raised the sprig of mountain ash to her face and brushed her cheeks with the cluster of berries. The air was fresh with the autumn. We stood silent in the forest glade, forgetting what we had come there for.

    ‘And so you’ve quite made up your mind?’ she asked at last.

    I only shrugged my shoulders impotently.

    ‘But supposing I throw up everything and come to you in Berlin?’

    ‘My position there is too insecure. I can’t risk your future...’

    She played thoughtfully with the cluster of orange berries. Her eyes gazed over my shoulder into the distance.

    ‘I shall never forget you, my dear,’ I began, and was not at all sure whom I was trying to comfort, her or myself. My heart quivered once more with all the pang of a soldier’s parting, with sadness and tenderness, as in times past. But now the girl’s body did not quiver and caress me as it had done in the past. It was lifeless and cold.

    ‘Don’t be angry with me,’ I pleaded. ‘It’s very difficult for me too. Very...’

    She raised her head. The emptiness in her eyes slowly gave place to the irresistible call of life. ‘If it has to be so,’ she whispered, ‘the soldier’s little wife won’t cry.’ She smiled through her tears. Then she set both her hands on my shoulders and threw her head back as though she were looking at me for the first time. A burning kiss scalded our lips.

    After a fortnight in Moscow I suddenly felt a griping void and restlessness. I hurried to put my affairs in order, feeling rather like a man afraid of being late for a train.

    Andrei Kovtun had already left Moscow. After his meeting with Halina he had wandered about for several days as though in a trance, dead to everything around him. I had great difficulty in persuading him to take the train to Sochi on the Black Sea, to spend the rest of his leave in a sanatorium. Even when I saw him off at the station he did not smile, and as he shook my hand he gazed aside.

    When I left Berlin to return to Russia I had not felt any need of a rest. But now, after a fortnight in Moscow, I felt desperately tired and in need of a break.

    One morning towards the end of the third week I hurriedly packed my few belongings and took a trolley-bus for the Central Aerodrome. I had already phoned and found out that there were always free places in the S. M. A. planes flying from Moscow to Berlin. And now, just as I had done more than a year before, I stood in the airport office, entering my name in the passenger list.

    With a pain in my heart I went to a telephone kiosk and called up Genia. When I heard her familiar voice I said:

    ‘Genia, I’m phoning from the airport. I’ve been urgently called back to Berlin.’

    ‘Don’t tell lies,’ I heard her say. ‘But I’m not angry with you. Only it’s a pity you didn’t give me a parting kiss...’

    I was about to say something, but she had already rung off.

    Half an hour later our plane was airborne. This time the pilot did not make a farewell circle above Moscow. This time I did not gaze out of the window. And I did not look forward with any feeling of pleasure to what lay ahead of me. I tried to avoid thinking of what I had left behind me.

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


  • Gregory Klimov. The Terror Machine. Chapter 07
    http://g-klimov.info/klimov-pp-e/ETM07.htm

    In The Control Commission

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Oh, not bad!” I answered.

    “Everything’s kaput,” he went on.

    “Oh yes, ganz kaput,” I agreed.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “About the weather, Comrade General.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

    “Where?”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


  • Orange snow creates eerie post-Apocalyptic scenes in eastern Europe | Toronto Star
    https://www.thestar.com/news/world/2018/03/26/orange-snow-creates-eerie-post-apocalyptic-scenes-in-eastern-europe.html


    à Polyana dans les Carpates ukrainiens

    The photos and videos haven’t been edited by the latest Instagram filter or otherwise digitally manipulated. Orange-tinted snow did blanket parts of Eastern Europe on Friday and over the weekend, creating eerie post-Apocalyptic scenes and baffling people from countries like Russia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Romania and Moldova, the BBC reported.

    Documentation of the strange snow appeared all over social media, with some making jokes about “skiing on Mars,” according to CNN.

    While orange snow seems unearthly, meteorologists said the phenomenon actually occurs about every five years and that this instance was caused by sand from storms in the Sahara Desert mixing with snow and rain, according to the BBC.

    Unlike past occurrences, however, the concentrations of sand are much higher this time, with people even complaining of getting it in their mouths, the BBC reported.


  • From Graffiti to Politics, Anti-Semitic and Neo-Nazi Speech Is Becoming More Visible in Eastern Europe · Global Voices
    https://globalvoices.org/2018/03/13/from-graffiti-to-politics-anti-semitic-and-neo-nazi-speech-is-becoming

    Recent events in Eastern Europe show a rise in antisemitism rhetoric, including in European Union (EU) members like Bulgaria and other EU candidate countries.

    In November, monuments to the Soviet army in the cities of Plovdiv and Sofia, Bulgaria, a country that was a close ally of the USSR during its existence, were vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti. Russia’s foreign ministry spokesperson, instead of condemning the graphic show of anti-Semitism, used the fact to try to revise the history of the rescue of the Bulgarian Jews during World War II.


  • Meet the Walt Disney of Eastern Europe
    http://www.messynessychic.com/2018/02/06/meet-the-walt-disney-of-eastern-europe

    For those whose taste in fairytales favours a darker touch, we’re traveling to the far reaches of Eastern Europe, and into the enchanting world of animator Jiří Trnka. The late Czech animator (whose name is pronounced “Yershy Trinka”) created nearly two-dozen films over his lifetime, from folksy gems like Grandfather Planted a Beet (1945) to the gutsy anti-Stalin short, The Hand (1965).

    Craftsmanship ran in Trnka’s blood. He was born in Bohemia in 1912, where his grandmother sold toys for a living and his mother worked as a seamstress. “Even as a child he was making puppets,” explained his daughter, Helena, to the Novy Domov journal in 2012, “He had access to fabrics and other such materials and he taught himself to sew. He was also a very skilled self-taught wood carver.”

    Trnka (left).

    After bouts as a pastry chef and locksmith, he finally began to pursue a full-time career in the arts, and graduated from Prague’s Academy of Art and International Design in 1935. Most of his early work consisted of illustrations for the children’s tales of Hans Christian Anderson and other fairytales, and after WWII, he co-founded the studio Bratři v triku (“Brothers in Tricks”) with animators Eduard Hofman and Jiří Brdečka, which is still in operation today.

    His first puppets were made of wood, and incorporated simple materials like burlap, and found natural objects (i.e. acorn nut hats).

    “[He was] the first rebel against Disney’s omnipotence,” explains biographer Jaroslav Bocek in Jiri Trnka: Artist and Puppet Master, “By painting the dreamlike aspects of reality, Trnka was doing the same as the surrealists…his roaming brush reflected a child’s roaming mind, with its inability to concentrate, its tendency to fantasy.” But it was Trnka’s adult-targeted puppetry that really took things to the next level.

    #animation


  • Denmark will increase defense spending to counter Russia : PM

    RIGA (Reuters) - The Danish government expects to win backing for a substantial increase in defense spending next month, to counter Russia’s intensified military activity in eastern and northern Europe, the NATO-member’s prime minister said Monday.

    Denmark last week deployed 200 troops to a UK-led NATO mission in Estonia aimed at deterring Russia from attacking the Baltic NATO members.

    https://www.reuters.com/article/us-russia-security-denmark/denmark-will-increase-defense-spending-to-counter-russia-pm-idUSKBN1F42LT
    #Danemark #armée #armes #armement #Russie #Estonie #pays_baltes

    cc @reka

    –-> un petit air de guerre froidre


  • Wladek Flakin : Some revolutionary Jews - EXBERLINER.com
    http://www.exberliner.com/features/opinion/some-revolutionary-jews
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PmSKBFM-WWk

    As Chanukah is drawing near (Dec 12-20), I decided to take a walk through Berlin’s old Jewish quarter just after sunset and tried to imagine the same place in the 1920s. I saw myself descending a staircase into a random building’s half-basement, where I’d bump into people arguing in conspirative tones, using a mixture of Berlinerisch and Yiddish. They would go silent and and the mood would turn hostile – until I could prove my revolutionary bonafides.

    This was my imagining of the home base of the KPD (Germany’s Communist Party), illegal for long stretches of the 1920s. Their secret Zentrale was just a few blocks away at Hackesche Höfe, where Kino Central is today. Jewish life in Berlin was intertwined with the revolutionary underground. The KPD was founded by Rosa Luxemburg, and after her murder taken over by her lawyer Paul Levi. In 1924, a younger generation took over, with 29-year-old firebrand Ruth Fischer as chairwoman and Werner Scholem (less well-known than his brother Gershom, a scholar of Jewish mysticism) at the helm.

    There is lots of ideological tension in these streets. My heroes from the past were planning for revolution. But now we’re just demoralised hipsters trying to sell this memory to tourists.

    This is exactly the tension expressed in the music of Daniel Kahn and the Painted Bird, who I saw in concert just last month – I had to at least partly realise my own fantasies. Kahn, a fellow Neu-Neuköllner originally from the US, has been making music in Berlin for more than 10 years. His band just published its fifth album, The Butcher’s Share.

    Kahn strikes me as the kind of character one would encounter in the 1920s: a rootless and multicultural Revoluzzer with a black fedora, leather jacket and full beard. He performs the classic hymns of the Jewish workers’ movement of Eastern Europe – Klezmer music in the original Yiddish. Traditional songs like “Arbetslozer Marsch” or “Arbeter Froyen” are filled with the pathos of millions of struggling proletarians condemning capitalism and conjuring up the socialist utopia.

    But times have gotten less revolutionary. When Kahn sings a harmonica-laced ballad about a Vilna partisan waiting, gun-in-hand, in the dark woods for a German patrol, sure, it will make any lefty go teary-eyed. But then again, shooting Nazis is not currently part of our life experience. So Kahn also gives us new songs about the contradictions of revolutionary-minded hipsters living under capitalism – rejecting it, and yet still profiting in unintended ways from the awful exploitation. “Every pair of pants contains a horror story”, he sings, because “there’s blood and guts encoded in the value of the ware.” This rather depressing observation about the ignored realities of globalisation is also the title of the album: You have to give the butcher his share.

    We really want to believe in the socialist utopia with the same passion of our forebearers from the KPD, but in a time with few mass struggles it’s easy to lose hope – this tension is the core of this modern Klezmer punk. Kahn would certainly be happier playing at a large revolutionary demonstration with a megaphone and an accordion, or at a secret assembly with a ukulele. But these aren’t the times we’re living in – at least not yet. Until the winds change, we’ll be stuck living with our contradictions, enjoying socialist battle songs in a stuffy theatre where there isn’t even space to dance.

    But the memories still live on. And if it’s too cold for you to take a walk down Linienstraße through the old Jewish quarter this Chanukah, there’s always another chance to catch the ol’ Kahn instead.

    #musique #Berlin #histoire