The Scary Guess

Once upon a time, a scary guess popped up in my mind out of the blue. It was so outlandish that, please, read it with the grain of salt. Why it is so unbelievable? For instant, can you imagine a connection between, say, filling Siberian Gulags with inmates and building Dneproges dam? Of course, not! Maybe, my worn imagination was too wingless to fathom that these two may be connected? Too old for it? Lately, a youngster shouted, “Hey, you, granny, watch your step and take your cane off my feet?” In my eighties, my cane hurt him, as I was pushing through the street crowds. In general, this is a critical age when we do more than hurting people, we hurt ourselves counting our errors, diminishing their count and idealizing our scanty achievements! As I am one such “bookkeeper” and still counting and hoping that Higher Powers would interrupt it by whisking my soul from here to over there, to another world. We do not know the date, when it will happen, but we can observe, how our loosening memory brings suddenly to light forgotten details from our colorful past. We cannot find, where we dropped our keys, watch, jewelry, cell phone, glasses, but recall completely forgotten name of our boss 55 years ago, a man whom you did not like, who was rude and terrible and a typically hated by the office folk. What for memory produced this name today? Yes, lost glasses were on my nose, and lost keys were in my pocket, and I definitely did not need the name of the forgotten boss. My head looks to me as an empty Halloween pumpkin with forgotten to light a candle inside its carved emptiness… We forget…  Sometime an entire nation can forget something significant never forgetting one of our flagmen, comrade Stalin! Despite passed decades, the random ringing of a doorbell makes a wave of fear run through my body. And I calm down myself, bubbling, you are not there anymore, you are here, and ‘black crows’ are not picking up people without charges or warnings in the United States of America.

But it’s time to move from words to deeds. Recently, I found an interesting article in my Inbox that went viral in American Russian speaking community.  

Such Kind of Information Was Not Delivered in Our Schools

For example, the famous Stalingrad’s Tractor Plant was entirely built in the United States, dismantled and transported and assembled in the USSR on 100 ships. The first tanks were created at this plant.

Dneproges was built by the American Cooper Engineering Company and by the German company Siemens.

Gorky Automobile Plant GAZ was built by the American company Austin.

The current car company AZLK was built copying Ford’s design. The famous Magnitogorsk is an exact copy of the metallurgical plant in the city of Gary, Indiana.

Albert Kahn Inc. designed and built 500 Soviet enterprises!

Albert Kahn, the pioneer of the industrial design

As an architect, Albert Kahn designed Detroit’s industrial businesses. Designing all Ford plants, Khan worked out high-performance technology for designing industrial enterprises. In the USA, his company with a staff of 400 people prepared working drawings in a week, built industrial buildings in five months. Kahn was able to prove that he can do the same in the USSR: the STZ project was completed in record time; building constructions were made in the USA, then brought to the USSR and mounted in six months!

Albert Kahn Inc. created in the USSR a school of advanced industrial architecture.

Around the factories, simultaneously, the cities were created for workers. Ernst May, a German architect, participated in the development of architectural projects in about 20 Soviet cities!

For 10 years, the Americans built in the USSR about 500 plants and factories!

About 200 thousand American engineers and technicians arrived in the USSR, who led the almost million-strong army of Gulag prisoners — plus the few pre-revolutionary cadres remaining in Russia.

American professors trained three hundred thousand qualified specialists at the labor faculty — that is, all the cadres for Soviet industry for many years to come!

Thus, the capital base of socialism was built by US capitalists, plus the cheap labor of GULAG’s prisoners.

This information was new to me and many others. How did happen that none of us had ever heard about the foreign capitalists’ ventures in Russia? Over the Internet, I asked my friends’ opinion regarding our amazing forgetfulness. But people had nothing to share, as myself, they also had no ideas about it. Nevertheless, the question was still there, maybe I had missed something talking to people in Russia. I was born in Estonia, which was connected to the USSR in 1940, when waves of mass arrests of civilians seemed to subside. At the Estonian Polytechnical Institute, I received an engineering degree, and fate gave me work of supervising production of an Estonian product on plants in Russia. My business trips whisked me to Vladivostok, Leningrad, Kamchatka on the Amur, Barnaul, Tashkent, Samarkand, Frunze, Tavda, Novorossiysk, Odessa, Kiev, Petrozavodsk… I had to stay in hotels, booked for me by the administration of the plants producing silicalcite, a new building material, the invention of the Estonian scientists Johannes Hint.  In the Soviet Union, there was lack of hotels. For average travelers the stay in hotels was an unthinkable luxury. The hotels were filled mostly by business folks called “komandirovochnie,” in other words, people on the business trips. In case of longer stays, the hotel guests became acquainted to the degree of talking, sharing information where to find a tolerable dinery, or buy snack to go with hot tea. Oftentimes, these conversations around the cup of tea started a variety of other topics, like how the Baltic “three sisters’ –Estonia, Latvia and Lithuania were occupied, or how our life changed under Moscow control. But I can’t remember that anyone would ever say a single word about the American large and so memorable business ventures in the USSR. Could it be that no one knew anything about the 200,000 well-fed, well-dressed, tall, confident foreigners walking around the country, strolling with their straight backs, athletic walks and their heads held high? … And no one ever noticed them, and there were no stories about couples in love called “he is an American, and she is a Russian,” or the other way around. Legends about the sons of the gods, who descended from heaven to mix with earthy beauties have been alive for millenniums, and here people’s memory, film makers, writers and journalists had not noticed Americans presence in the Soviet Union, and had never wrote  or done documentaries about it? How was it possible?

Once, a scary guess struck me, inspiring my imagination to stay some seconds into the shoes of the Greatest of all Great Leaders, Great Liar Josif Dzhugashvili, nickname Stalin from word “сталь” meaning “steel”. It was whispered that he started his splendid rise as a Road Robber of gold for Bolsheviks and serving as an informer of tsar’s Okhrana, or simply, Okhranka  (1881-1917), the department of combatting political terrorism and revolutionary activity, especially to curb the spread of Marxism, Leninism and Stalinism, the only holy “science” of the Russian communists. Stalin learned early on how to gain power and once, becoming the head of government and “father of all nations,” he did not waste time searching ways to modernize Russia, as there were no ways to do it overnight. Instead, he hired the best of the best Americans to copy their industrial success stories in Russia. But how to make the 200 millionth people FORGET about the USA engineers’ work? Media shouted about the dizzying success of Stalin’s socialism. Of course, media did not spill a word about the repetition of American industrial experience in Russia. So, Stalin bought his success! But how to pass a lie that he did not buy, but built it? How to make people forget about his business with the Americans? How to make us, the fools, to believe that this was not our gold, but iron will and wise of great Stalin who took over the country with wooden plow, and passed it to posterity with atomic bomb?

 The matter was urgent and he, Stalin, found a way out of his uncomfortable situation. Again, he succumbed to means that he mastered to perfection – spreading fear! He cast the country in deep fear that silenced people for good. He organized the waves of mass arrests. Застучали по рельсам колеса … поездa шли на Восток — “the wheels pounded on rails… the trains were heading East…  

Aleksander Galich, performing bard wrote in his classics “Clouds Are Floating to Abakan”  
 Clouds are slowly floating.
 It’s warm, I suppose, to the clouds,
 The cold in me would last centuries.  
 like a horseshoe, I freeze in the track of toboggan, 
 When my iron cane break ice on that road!
 What for I do my twenty-year term, 
 Tossed along the net of Gulags?  

Wikimedia. A map of the former Soviet Union showing key gulag locations.

Going to bed, people were not sure that in the morning they would wake up at their apartment. Black Crows, as people called the black cars without windows that could stop at any house arresting its residents without trial and investigation. The base to pick victims came from denunciations, phone calls, simply by suspicions that this or that citizen does not approve the purge of country from “foreign spies”.  All over the country popped up “troikas,” – mini committees of three non-juridical individuals, “true communists,” appointed amidst proletarians, or industrial workers to judge and sentence victims during this seemingly idiotic purging complain.  However, the key for understanding the real motivation behind that wave of mass arrests laid in the content of the charges, as if invented by devil’s himself.  Thousands were charged of being Japanese spays not knowing any Japanese… An arrested person could be charged as an Argentinean intelligence officer, Madrid terrorist, person who had rich relatives in Paris who stole tsarinna diamond tiara and are hiding it under their bed. Some other unmasked people’s enemy could be the friend of anti-Bolsheviks committee in Shanghai, and there were multitude of other equally ridiculous sentences.

Please note that in any listed charge, there is the name of some foreign power, and the main reason of arrest is communication with that foreign power. The credibility of these charges didn’t bother anyone. The intensity of the horror and despair to become the next victim of this complain had eaten up the last crumbles of common sense in Stalinist Russia.  This was how Stalin found a sure way to cover up the truth about his deal with American capitalists.

Quotes from a modern day article.


by Robert Burton -Bradley, a journalist at the ABC’s Asia Pacific Newsroom. You can follow him on Twitter: @R_BurtonBradley ;

“…. Northern Siberia (…) is a logistical nightmare for fieldwork. Winters can get down to -50 degrees Celsius, there are no roads, and the landscape is cut through with rivers, swamps, and shrouded in dense taiga forest, meaning a lot of travel is spent on foot hauling heavy gear. “

“In summer — when temperatures pass 20 degrees Celsius — you have to contend with rivers swollen with melted snow. They can take up to half a day to cross, with hours spent drying out clothes and equipment.”

“Then, there’s the insects. Mosquitoes and flies are everywhere and there are about a million for each of us,” says Lukas, a member of expedition.” “Repellents and smoke from cigarettes work only briefly, but the fire reduces their quantity to a bearable limit.”

The rest I leave to your imagination.  Why we, the humans, cannot exist without great leaders in order to avoid nightmares created by Hitler, Stalin, and their mad followers, do we ever learn to go by without unimaginable nightmares of Nazi stoves and Russian icy Gulags, and so many other nightmares that had never been discovered by media. I am grateful to the bold group of ABC life explorers who took the trouble to find the traces of Gulags in Siberia. I own to Robert Burton-Bradley for his great publication about this  trip to Siberia, started  with the personal money of the participants. Once American industrialists helped to launch the Russia industrialization, today American journalists help to launch the honest talk about how average people, Russian and all the other nations under Stalin’s rule paid for Stalin’s and Communist Party dirty secrets along the way…  

Thank you ABC, for finding some rare Gulag’s photos. I assure you that none of “zeks”, the Gulag prisoners on this photo had committed something worth to be sent to Gulag do time… But here, in this crowd, are definitely some poets, scientists,  musicians, writers, everybody smarter than Stalin. Russia performed here, on the fields of Gulags its hara-kiri …. God’s ways are truly unfathomable.       


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