Book: A story of the ordinary man’s life in the USSR



YURY KHEYFETS


A STORY OF THE ORDINARY

MAN’S LIFE IN THE USSR


CHICAGO

2010


Instead of the Preface


A lot of interesting people

Exist in the world.

Their fate is like the

Movement of planets.

Each planet has something

Special and

there are no planets which

Are identical to this one.

When human beings are dying the

first snow in his life is

dying too as well as his first

kiss and first fight.

He is taking along with him

All his relationships in

this worlds.

This is the law of fierce

Game: The world’s inside

Human beings are dying .

Every time I hear

About the Death of

Someone I would like to cry

Of this

Inevitability.


(Russian poet

E.EVTUSCHENKO)


If billiard ball suddenly became conscientious and get the ability to recall a game than his perception of

Game would be similar to a life of a human being. Some unknown force pushed it out to this field where our ball can see others balls as well. The blows of fate collide it with other balls.

It is moving together with one or two others balls and then their ways are separated.

The same blows of fate pushing some of the balls out of field to a billiard pocket . Then its turn comes.

However ,after a while, a ball is still returning to the field a new game.

Does it occur the same way with human beings? Not likely, because there is a very low probability for this new life, although there are people who believe in the souls moving into different bodies.

The events described in this book are shown from point of view of the author’s perception. I believe that each person has his/her own angle of refraction of events which are taken place in the world.

The angle of refraction is determined by his education, IQ and genetic composition.

Future readers may find some pages are boring and the humor weird.

So, do not read these pages.

I still hope that there is a reader who studied history ,economic and social psychology of former Soviet Union and may find something interesting for himself.

This book which presents some middle ground between confession and chronicle will help this reader to look into the vanished world.

To the bright memory of my mother, her brother and sister are dedicated these memoirs.


Chapter 1


LOOK INTO THE PAST


March 18 1939. The Soviet Union, Leningrad.I remember well this day was a holiday. At that time a working week in the Soviet Union compiled 6 days. Therefore, the one weekend day was set on specific numbers of days in a month.

Usually these numbers were 6,12,18,24,30.

On the Calendar March 18 was emphasized with red paint. Because this day officially was

mentioned as Day of the Parisian Commune. The Soviet Union was considered a state which was controlled by Workers Party. As a result of that official propaganda respected the first in the world State managed by workers in Paris,France in the year 1870.

Everyone in our family sat down at a large rectangular table for breakfast .

One side of the table was set against the wall. On the wall hung a large Political Map of the world, where countries were painted in different colors. This Map attracted my attention because painted in red the Soviet Union reminded me of a large animal. But this animal somehow was pictured with two heads. One of heads was shown on a West Hemisphere. I did not understand why this

Monster was shown twice. Once day my uncle Fedya took the map off the wall and rolled it.The two heads of Monster coincided. He explained to me that the our planet in reality is the gigantic ball.

Our family was very odd.

Our family consisted of 5 people including me. My mother lived with her brother, my uncle Zodik, and my aunt the mother sister Zina. Aunt Zina was married to Uncle Fyodor, and they lived in a separate room in our apartment, however we had a common household. Adult people of our family were born at the end of 19th century. My mother Sofya Kheyfets as well as her brother and sister were born in the area of Russia where Jewish settlement was permitted –small city Senno in Belorussia.

(My grandparents had 6 children :three boys and three girls.)

The uncle Fyodor was a Russian man from a poor peasant family. He was a member of the Communist Party and as most of the Russian people were at that time he was a the hard core believer in Communist ideology. My aunt Zina met him in area called Ural ,where she worked as a physician after

Graduating the Leningrad Medical University. During the time which I describe (1935-1941) she worked in Leningrad . Uncle Fyodor at that time was a student of the university and he prepared himself to be a military lawyer . After graduation from the university uncle Fodor was summoned to the army and sent to the unit in Litvinia , which in 1940 was occupied by Soviet

Red Army. He was working at the headquarters which was located several miles from the German border .

His last trip to Leningrad was in the middle of May of 1941. I was told that he was in a terrible mood, depressed and foreseaw that his life will end in near future. Unfortunately his feelings were justified. He probably was killed in the first fight close to the German-Russian border 22 June 1941.

My aunt was not able to get information about his fate. Every time she would be told that he was missing in action.

My aunt Zina (Zinaida Izraylevna Kheyfets) at that time worked at the Institute of Professional Diseases, located in Leningrad on second

Soviet Street.Shortly after the war she was mobilized to active duty in Army as a doctor, where she rose to the rank of

Major of Medical Services. She received awards for many inventions and improvements for

care of the wounded troops. One of these invention was an equipment for the supply of several wounded

men with oxygen and it was displayed in the Leningrad Military

Medical Museum.

After the 1917 revolution the Jewish People were finally given

all civil rights and the opportunity to live outside the Area of the Jewish

Settlement.

My mother moved from Senno (Belorussia) to Leningrad and entered Leningrad

Medical University.(On the picture 1 my mother shown in the center of group of her brothers and sisters .This picture done in Senno,year 1916) After graduation from the University she acquired the profession of

Ophthalmologist.(Picture 2) She was sent to

work in the village Rasskazavo Tambov region. (specialists in the Soviet Union after the graduation of the university would have to work out at least 3 years in the place where they were sent by the state commission.)

There, she worked for several years and, judging from her

personal photo album, she had several friends over there .

I think that these people in the photographs

were young professionals, sent to work in this

large village. In any case, the circle of her friends did not include local

residents. I remember the photograph of a young handsome man on the reverse side of which was written: “To the best of women

Sophia KH .in memory of one of the three “ (Photo 2)

Then, approximately, in 1929, something forced my mother to leave this place

and go to work in the city of Grozny of Chechen republic .

I know that in 1931 she met a man who became my father

(perhaps she knew this man before).

This man I know nothing about not even his last name.

I was told later that he died of cancer before I was born.

This was not true, because sometime in the mid-thirties, when my mother and

I already lived in Leningrad, my father came to Leningrad and wanted to

persuade my mother to create a family. My mother did not agree .I believe she made this decision

under the influence of her brother's my uncle Zodik, who had no children and wanted to be my father .

My metric certificate includes blank graph where my father name was supposed to be written.

At the end of 1931 my mother, being pregnant, decided that the best choice for her was

to return to their home in Leningrad.

On Jan. 18, 1932, in a maternity ward of Schroeder Hospital (street of Red

cadets), the author of this manuscript was been born. Soon I was brought to

apartment number 10 at home 26 on Bolschoi Avenue,located on the Petrograd Side, at that time known as the Street of Karl Liebchnecht (He was a German famous Kommunist)..

My mother had help from her older sister, Aunt Fanny. She lived permanently

in Moscow and at the time of my birth she came to Leningrad for a while.

Soon after this event, my mother went to work as a doctor -

ophthalmologist at 13 clinic Vyborgsky district of Leningrad.

She worked at this place continuously .During the war of 1941-1945 she stayed in the city and

survived the German blockade , terrible hunger and daily artillery fires.(Officially the blockade started on September 8 1941 and lasted 900 days).

Many books were written about the blockade of Leningrad.

I would like to mention only two things based on stories of my mother.

While she worked as a physician she also was a member of Military Medical Commission. This Commission was supposed to inspect the health of young people enlisted in the army. However, because of hunger, people were extremely weak at that time.

She told me that sometimes young men that enlisted in the army were dying on the street after they left the Medical Commission.

She also told me that during the very cold winter of years 1941-1942 bodies of people who died from hunger, were accumulated in the back of our building. These bodies lied as piles of timber till springtime, because people were weak and no burial was possible at freezing cold winter.

She got serious illness in the year 1962

(ovarian tumor) followed by the her death in August 1962.

I can not say that my mother had been a great doctor, but she was

very responsible and dedicated person to her patients.

After the war the Soviet propaganda greatly exaggerated

the medical successes of Professor Filatov in Odessa, claiming returning vision to

people with blindness. I remember my mother's anger when she spoke about

her patients, trying desperately to get money for trip to Odessa.

It was , very difficult to dissuade them from doing so. Professor Filatov and his aides took the unfortunate people with huge money only to announce that they are not able to help them .The surgeries that Filatov performed in Odessa, were done also in Leningrad at the Eye Institute. .But they helped only a very few people and could not help for because

most of the postwar blind people were blind as a result of a degeneration of vision nerve.

Now I want to tell you about my mother's brother's my uncle Zodik (Caesar

Izraylevich Kheyfets). From my point of view he was a father to me who took part in my development and education.

Actually, it is no exaggeration to say that my personality

shaped by his great influence

in moral and ethical terms. This does not mean that lately in my life I

acted as he would do. Of course, I behaved differently, but often I feel remorse.

Uncle Zodik was born in 1891 in the small city Senno, Belorussiya. He graduated

Gymnasium externally, which means that he received a diploma, without visiting

a school. Then he came to St. Petersburg in the year 1911 to enter the university.

At that time there was only a three-percent quota of Jews admitted to higher education university or Institute

The entrance examinations were performed on 5 subjects. The teachers

had no bias against Jews.

However, if people who

received high grades for exams exceeded 3 percent of

Jews, a lottery was taken for Jewish students. The lucky people became the students.

But at that time it was possible to take exams to two

different University simultaneously.

Uncle Zodik was examined in Technology and Forest Universities .

He got very good grades in the exams for Forest University and therefore no lottery was needed.

So, he decided

not to tempt fate and he joined the Imperial Forest University,

where he studied from 1911 to 1915.He graduated in 1915, receiving the title of Forest Engineer. As a person with

higher education, he received the right of residence in St. Peterburg. Nevertheless it was extremely difficult to find a job because Jews were not allowed to be admitted to state jobs.

He told me an interesting story.

Studying at the University, uncle Zodik worked at the laboratory conducting research .

His leader, a renowned professor, was very

interested in the outcome of this research .He wanted to continue this work but to do so it was necessary to hire uncle Zodik as an employee of the State University.

The Professor applied for a permit to the Ministry of

Agriculture and Forestry, who controlled the State University.

He went the Ministry, located in St. Petersburg to talk to Minister.

Later, he told my uncle Zodik of a conversation he had with the Minister.

The Minister listened to him attentively and said that he perfectly

Understood the professor’s reasons, that he really needs this man.

“ But you have to understand me”, said the Minister. “Such precedent “(the hiring of a Jew

for state service), we cannot create”.

Therefore my uncle found a job in private forestry in the Ukraine.

He soon returned to St. Petersburg, to

work as a math teacher in a private Jewish school of

Eyzenbeat located at Theater Square.

After the revolution in 1917, when the Jews were encouraged by the Bolsheviks to work in the civil service, my uncle started

to work in the forest department of Government organization.

In private life he was a bachelor. He attempted once at the end of twenties to create a family. He married, but soon he got

divorced. This event in our family is also carefully concealed.

However, in his personal paper, I found the name of this woman and a date of marriage .I am sure that the reason for the divorce was that uncle

Zodik had large genital hernia, so the normal

sexual relations were for him impossible .For some reasons at that time

he refused surgery to remove the

hernia. However, he agreed to surgery in the year 1946.He underwent surgery,

after which there was a recurrence of hernia, and his conditions returned to square one.

I want to tell you about a nightmarish period of his life in 1937,

when the massive Stalin’s repression took place. At that time he was the

Head of the Export Department of the Leningrad Forestry Trust

(Lespromtrest). His duty was to ensure the timely

loading of timber for foreign ships in the Port of Leningrad.

At that time the timber was one of the few items of the Soviet Union’s

exports .The standstill of foreign ships in Port due to the violation of the terms of loading was penalized with gold currency which the Soviet Union had to pay.

Harvesting and transportation of timber to the place of embarkation

conducted under contracts with collective farms and transportation companies. For anyone who did not live in the Soviet Union it is very difficult to

imagine a terrible mess in this case: drunkenness of

farmers, the lack of horses for timber skidding ,

impassable mud roads, lack of trucks and petrol and many other hindrances.

And my uncle in these conditions was responsible for the loading of foreign ships .All his activity was under the control of the

People's Commissariat of Internal Affairs (NKVD),which conducted numerous imprisonments and repressions. He often was getting calls while he was in office .

The caller seemed to be NKVD officer who

demanded that uncle Zodik appeared on the scheduled time at the specific address (usually it was a private apartment).

When he arrived at the meeting, the Secret Police started to interrogate him in a very rough manner. They demanded to know why the ships loading plan is delayed and threatened him with arrest. Every time after that meeting, he

did not know whether he will return home or not. He answered that he did everything that it humanely possible to speed up the loading. They reply that in that instance he should say who is personally sabotaging this job.” We want you to help the Soviet Union to fight internal enemies”-they would say. Uncle Zodik knew that any person who he named would be immediately arrested. He did not mention anybody.

At the end of the interrogation he was forced to sign a paper of non-disclosure of the conversation. Perhaps this was the cause of increased secrecy in our family. He was not able to share this horror with his siblings.

Later the Secret Police started to talk more persistently .”We understand that you are doing everything in your power, but we want you to inform us on a regular basis who is to blame for disrupting the loading, who impedes your work. We want you to

to help us in a fight against the enemies and saboteurs, so

tell us who is preventing you from doing your work?”

Uncle Zodik understood perfectly well that had he given any name, that tomorrow

this man and his family will disappear.But if he refuse to

cooperate ,they will arrest him. He was a man of very high moral standards

Therefore he could not be a spy for the Secret Police. Finally , he was given 3

Days to think about their proposals and was threatened with arrest.

In these 3 days the 47-year-old uncle Zodik’s hair became gray.

When he had to give a final answer, he replied:” I am ready to work 24 hours a day for the Soviet government, but what you want from me (being of Secret Police informant,Y.K.) I cannot do.

It is beyond my nature “. Very reluctantly they let him go, apparently, decided to let him go free this time . Shortly after this conversation

he was able to leave the Company that dealt with export of timber. This was not

easy, because at that time, for employee to quit ,the consent of management was required.

Apparently nobody want to let employee go if this person performed a very good job.

It happened that the manager of Company Melnikov was an old acquaintance of uncle Zodik.

Melnikov felt that he might himself be arrested because local newspaper published an article which blamed him that some Company employee are “enemy of people.” Among them my uncle name was printed. Therefore Melnikov decided that in his interest to dismiss my uncle. .Subsequently, all employees of the Timber Company

were arrested and executed as enemies of the people, including Melnikov.

But Uncle Zodik, at that time, has worked as a teacher in the school, and

Somehow the Secret Police left him alone.

This story my uncle told me only in 1956, when we returned from the Communist District Party Committee Meeting, where we heard a report of Khrushchev on Stalin's crimes.(Stalin passed away in 1953 and Khrushchev in 1955 became General Secretary of the Soviet Communist Party Y.K.)

In ordinary life, Uncle Zodik was not a brave man, but rather a cowardly man.

He was afraid to ride a bike and he was scared to sail on a boat through the Gulf of Finland of Baltic Sea.

However, in the described situation, he showed such strength of spirit

and the dedication to his moral principles that were extremely

rare at that time. I believe that it was easier to stay under enemy heavy fire in the combat than

to reject the Secret Police demands to be their informant.

Here I want to tell about a person who took care of

me since my birth. She was the housemaid Katya, who had served in

my family for 7 years, from 1932 to 1939. By that time the Russian countryside was impoverished by Government policy and many peasants starved. Many young country girls including Katya escaped to a large cities. But there was another problem in big city :nowhere to live and high unemployment.

Katya decided to work as a housemaid because in this case she would be able to live in a tiny room in our communal apartment. This small room was separated with plywood wall from the kitchen.

She put there a bed, small table and a small locker. That is all.

But still, it was her pigeonhole,

and she received Leningrad registration, which was extremely important.

Katya was modest, decent girl. Because of her type of work she didn’t have a lot of free time and did not marry. She cared about me as her own child.

Each day the adult people went to work, and Katya and I went to grocery stores,

which meant standing in endless lines for 2-3 hours every day .These lines were occupying the entire street, or in some cases courtyards. Katya was a very responsible housekeeper and she had a kind personality .She worked in the house ,did shopping, took care of me and prepared dinner for whole family. She left us after 7 years of work because she got better job and living condition at the factory. Katya survived the Leningrad’s blockade in 1941-1945 due to her participation in burials of dead from hunger people .The city administration provided some extra bread for this job.

It was very difficult to find reliable housemaid after Katya left.

However, the last house maid before the war was woman called Vasilisa She was a very useful person .She was 40-45 years old with large eccentricities, apparently survived the hunger in her youth, and therefore all

change left from the shopping money she spent at her discretion for supplies of

cereals, rice, peas, biscuits, canned food, for which my mother criticized her. These food surpluses, she piled on the lower shelves of pantry.

Hard to overestimate how useful these products were

for my mother later during the war, during the Blockade of Leningrad.

Our multifamily apartment consisted of 5 rooms, 3 of which were occupied

with our family .Before the revolution of 1917 only one family lived at this apartment.

A huge Dutch oven covered with white tiles heated our largest room and the room of neighbors.

I was told that this furnace required a lot of

firewood. At that time it was extremely difficult to buy, dry, store and deliver of firewood .

Therefore, it was natural desire not to heat neighbors rooms.We had a small furnace in our other

adjacent room so that the heat should only apply to our 2 out of 3 rooms.

The Dutch oven was used as a storage place for canned foods.

Our neighbors adjacent large room was tied to tragic event.

The Russian family of 4 persons-husband, wife, two children lived in this room .The head of that family

Vasily was a member of Communist Party and occupied a high position at the factory .He was a good-natured

man who loved to drink , sing, play guitar.

In one grim night in 1937,sometimes around 2 a.m. our apartment was awakened by

wild banging on the door .The coming men were in uniform with the insignia of the Secret Police.

(At that time the Secret Police called NKVD-people commissariat of internal affair Y.K.).They marched into the neighbour’s room and ordered to Vasily to be ready in 10 minutes. .At the same time they searched the room. After searching they took Vasily away.

His wife was a simple woman, who desperately tried to find out his fate.

She was forced to stay many hours with other unfortunate women in the

Main office of NKVD. The only thing that she had heard from NKVD officers: “ You can

marry a second time “.

The woman then told under great secret to my mother that

Vasily at some party said only one sentence:

“Bukharin was also not a fool “(Bukharin was a political opponent of

Stalin and was destroyed by Stalin Y.K.) . Someone of who attended that party was an NKVD informant, and heard Vasiliy’s words. He informed his bosses that Vasily is an “enemy of people”.

At that time It was not clear what happened to the detainees.

Now it is well known: they were mercilessly beaten and tortured until

they agreed to sign some monstrous

accusations against them, such as the attempt to assassinate Stalin or spying for foreign country or a bridge explosion and so on. Then it was 10 minute kangaroocourt where only three judges were present (one from NKVD, one from Communist Party and from Military) and they read a verdict. At that time they sentenced most of prisoners to be shot.

But Vasily’s wife and other relatives were told that arrested men are sentenced to 10 years imprisonment with no right of correspondences.

Poor women with children was left without any income, and she was soon

evicted from Leningrad, and traces of her disappeared over time.

The Jewish family Blyumshteyn (4 people )

was moved into vacated room. They lived in that room until the evacuation from Leningrad in 1942.

Such was the situation in the larger world-the Soviet Union and in the little world, our apartment, where my childhood years were passing by.

I grew up as a shy and secluded child .Was this due

the lack of a children's environment, or was this my nature? It is difficult to answer. By the way, my mom was a very sociable person.

When I was acquainted with a child of my own age, I

usually took a long look at him, not daring to approach and begin to play.

My mother called me a savage.

As I already wrote, I was not placed in a preschool or kindergarten. All

my outside walks for a long time consisted of standing in lines for food

with Katya. I learned to read when I was 5 years old .My ABC books were

signboards on shops of the Bolshoi Avenue. The first words I read were

meat and milk, written with large

enamel letters on the sign in front of shop opposite our house .

I remember also what fun for me were conducted by state of air defense drills. Suddenly the radio broadcast was interrupted and the announcers ominous voice told about an expected air raid. An Air Alarm was advertised. It was interesting for me to watch from the window at how the busy the street, usually filled with people, was quickly emptied .

People started to run trying to hide into bombs and gas-proof shelter, located in the courtyards. Later I saw some men in masks with stretchers .

After approximately one hour the radio declared that the air raid is over. This announcement was

accompanied with cheerful music.

A more pleasant time I had in summer when we went to the country and where I lived all summer with our housemaid. There I enjoyed disclosing nature.

When I was 5 years old, we rented a cottage in Luga. According to story told by my uncle ,

the chess champion of the Soviet Union Michael Botvinnik rented a summer house next to us. He could often be seen playing chess in the garden by himself.

I was not acquainted with him, but nevertheless later when

I wanted to look good in the eyes of my friends I tell them that Botvinnik personally

taught me to play chess. (I prudently did not sit by the board

not to disgrace myself and Botvinnik).

For three summers in a row -1938.1939 and in 1940 ,we rented a cottage in the



same place-Siverskaya village, 100 kilometers south of Leningrad located on the

Vitebsk Railway .This was an amazingly beautiful place where many children's health

facilities and healing homes were located. There I found my friend .He was a local boy

named Sasha. Behind our house was wooded and

deep ravine on a steep slope of which kitchen gardens were located. I with

Sasha sometimes chosen to run through fenceless side of vegetable gardens from the ravine and stole cucumbers .This was not done because we were

hungry but simply out of love for art. Cucumbers were eaten during the day.

Siverskaya is located on the river Oredezh. Close to

our house the railway bridge hung over the river. At the foot of the embankment of the bridge was a sand beach, where we often sunbathed,

swam, and caught dragonflies and butterflies. I remember, I stared with regret

at the trains that rattled the bridge. The cart

plates reflected destination Leningrad-Mariupol. To me Mariupol

seemed a mysterious country, and I was a little

envied of the people in the windows of cars. I thought that they happen to go

into this mysterious country.

I can not say that I was

very attracted to technology .However, I liked the trains, locomotives and rail cars.

Sasha and I

almost entirely spent one summer on the railway station

Siverskaya. We met commuter trains, the final point of

which was Siverskaya. When all passengers got out of train cars, we

jumped into the train, avoiding being seen by the conductor, and then

traveled by train a couple of miles to switching trucks. There the

locomotive was uncoupled, and driven onto a turntable. We

watched with delight as the engine turned at 180 degrees.

Then the engine was joined to the other end of train, and we again had a

free ride on the train when the locomotive moved the train to the passenger platform.

Then we waited for the next train and started all over again.

The weekend has always been a joyous.We went to the station to

meet my mother. Sometimes uncle Zodik and aunt Zina with his husband uncle

Fyodor arrived .I remember how after breakfast we went to the river, swam or walked in the woods

collecting berries. Once Uncle Fyodor rented a large paddle boat on the

Boat Station.Our whole family plunged into it,

and we had long river trip up the Oredezh .We passed the shoal under the railway bridge, then the river became narrower.

Soon the houses disappeared and Syversky village was left behind. The beaches were covered

with high grass and bushes.

We found a dry peninsula, landed our boat and had a picnic.

At the end of the weekend the housemaid and I accompanied my

relatives to the train back to Leningrad. The parting was sad.

In the last summer in Siverskaya (year 1940) I had the company of 4 children ,including a girl .Her parents also were summer residents. This girl was my first

love .Of course, due my natural shyness, I did not show my feeling for her.

But somehow my friends found this out and were teasing me.

This kind of problems occupied my life in the last pre-war

summer of 1940.

In the beginning of autumn we moved to the city and everything went back to the winter

schedule.

Having learned to read early, I was addicted to books. I read, of course,

children's literature and deeply experienced a book content. I remember a book

called “Mariykino childhood”(I do not remember the author). This book tells the story about the childhood of the maid's daughter.She is almost always half-starved, and the plump young master, who often goes for walk eating sour cream or butter sandwiches, various desserts and fruits and not sharing it with anyone. I was very sorry for the poor hungry little girl. This was communistic worldview: poor people are good, rich people are bad.

Our family always subscribed to official newspapers .We had also the wire radio which translated official information and political news. The political news were discussed between uncle Zodik and uncle Fyodor.

Uncle Fyodor, as a former Communist party functionary, retained in the bookcase

party literature: the works of Lenin,

his associates, records of party congresses, the memoirs of the revolutionaries

(Kropotkin, Bakunin, etc.) He also retained the official newspapers “Pravda” and “Izvestia “

which published important government documents.

(Many years later, after the war, I read the old pages of newspapers dated years 1937-1938 and

erupting waterfalls of hate and slander of

people ranked as the so-called “ enemies of the people”. Each plant or factory organized workers

meetings, where “ enemies of people “ must be blamed and condamned. Of course ,all these people were already arrested and waited the shooting squad.

In 1938, the book, partly written by Stalin was published in millions copies. The book is entitled “Short History All-Union Communist Party (Bolsheviks)”.All adults were required to study this work of dictator Stalin as religious people studied Bible .

I also wanted to know what was the content of this book .

I have read the first chapter, comprehending it my own way.

One day, lying in bed, I wanted to share this

information with adults and shouted: “Long live the “Bolsheviks” and

“Mensheviks”. The scared mother ran to my bed and forced me to silence .I did not realized that the Mensheviks were enemies of the

Bolsheviks and their such glorification (if someone heard and told to Secret Police) would be very costly to our family .This was the

first lesson for me about the need to keep my mouth shut.

Still, the question of how to distinguish the Bolsheviks from the Mensheviks was very

interesting tor me .Once I asked my uncle Fydor about this .He explained me this way:

“When you see a man's hair combed back, that means he is

a Bolshevik. And if he has bangs or wear his hair down over his forehead,

he is a Menshevik.”

This explanation satisfied me, and while I was on the streets I could accurately distinguish between the Bolsheviks and Mensheviks .

Uncle Zodik and Uncle Fyodor often discussed the current political

events and it seemed to me that they had a common opinion .But they had not.

Uncle Fyodor was an orthodox Bolshevik, who firmly supported the party line.

( It was a joke about this type of people: Question :Did you have any hesitation in carrying out the party line? Answer: No ,I hesitated together with the party line)

However, uncle Zodik had a very

skeptical look at many events. He did not always believe the official line, but he would have keep his opinions to himself.

Also there was another significant difference between them .Uncle Fyodor was a handyman.

I liked to watch how he disassembles and lubricates

Revolver, which he as military officer was allowed to carry. Once I even took an unloaded revolver and entered a common communal kitchen. The neighbors saw me waiving the revolver and fled in fear.

From uncle Fyodor, I learned how to repair an iron or kettle.

Uncle Zodik was not able to repair anything. Later when I was in ninth grade I read the translated from English book by a writer Jerome Jerome (“Three man in the same boat, not counting a

Dog”). I rolled with laughter while reading the chapter about how Uncle Podger hangs a picture.

Uncle Podger for me was a real prototype of Uncle Zodik.

When I was 6, uncle Fyodor in one of the conversations said to me that

I am a Jew and that Jews are different from Russian in appearance, for

example, the shape of the ear etc. I realized that I am somehow different from Russian people.

This revelation offended me because everyone my age wanted to be identical to each of the

people. However ,I told nobody about this discovery.

But later when we were standing in the line with Katya, and she held my

hand, one of the women asked me a question:

“Why do not you ride on a tramcar, as they are?” She asked

pointing to a passing tram. (It was kind of sport for some kids to ride for free outside

of the tramcar standing on the tramcar coupling).

I replied nothing. The another woman entered the conversation:

“The Jewish people are cowardly nation . “

This phrase hurt me very painfully , because at that time

I realized how shameful it is to be a coward. The cowards were despised everywhere.

Later I often thought about this conversation and thought that there was no greater

shame than to be a coward.

When I became an adult I realized why at all times among all nations to be a coward

is considered shameful and despicable : by saving oneself a coward endangers the survival of society, so public morals always and everywhere condemned the cowards, though there was another point of view expressed by the Odessa cynical joke: “Better to be a coward for 2 minutes than a dead man all my life”

In the spring of 1940, a fateful decision was made for me.

I was 8 years old, and it was the age when children are enrolled in 1st grade.

Since I read a lot, knew how to write and knew four of the arithmetic operations,

Uncle Zodik decided that there is nothing to do for me in the 1st grade. He took me to his school and asked

a teacher of junior grades to check my competence.

I performed test problems well and the teacher said that second grade also is not needed for me. Therefore, my uncle decided to place me in third grade. My mother was against it.

She said that for me it will be psychologically difficult to be in the grade with kids two years older than me. She was absolutely right. But uncle Zodik did not understand such subtlety.(Some pictures from my preschool childhood are shown at # 3,4,5.On # 4 my mother,uncle Zodik and aunt Zina. Picture 6 –a house ,where we had 2 rooms on third floor).

I did not have my own opinion at this time. On September 1940, I went to

Third grade of Leningrad school #50.

Learning was easy for me, I carefully did my homework.


However, I felt bad during the physical exercise class. I was physically


undeveloped comparing to other pupils from my class. Also, my home education


led to the fact that I did not know how to play children's games, for


example, popular game called lapta , which is similar to baseball. My lapses caused laughter from the game participants. Therefore for me


days with physical exercise classes have been very unpleasant, and in those


days I did not want to go to school. But to miss school, at least for one


day without being sick, was absolutely impossible in the eyes of my family.


I was forced to go to school to meet the humiliation.


Life taught me the small tricks. I remember such a case.


In the autumn, the teacher recommended all the children create a special


notebook with daily weather observation .She determined the


special symbols for clear, rainy or


overcast days. Air temperature was supposed to be recorded as well as wind direction and speed.


She requested to fill this table every day.


However, it was absolutely natural that after 2-3 days, all children, including me, abandoned the project, as such regular


pedantically observation is not in children character.


Meanwhile, somewhere in April, she recalled about her diary of weather and


asked to bring it tomorrow to school the next day. But I did not have a diary. What to do? The bright idea came to my head: after all, nobody remembers what was the weather every


day in winter and autumn, so if I fill a diary in retrospect,


given the fact that the winter is cold, and fall is not, one can imagine in his diary the correct picture.


It took me an one and a half hours, and the diary was full with all the necessary tables.


The next day I was almost the only student who brought the


diary and received well-deserved highest grade.


In fabrication, the first false data I certainly did not


understood what I was doing exactly the same thing that the Soviet newspapers published in the official articles.


(The famous satirists Ilf and Petrov called Soviet official statements as a work of art


on the verge of fantasy).


Many years later, at my job, I had to return to similar forgeries more than once.


While being in the school I created the impression of an obedient good little boy, probably this was the reason of my election to the editorial board of class paper. On this ground , I even acquired couple of friends.

Also, I fell in love with a girl. Her name was Frolova, I


liked her fiery red hair and freckles . But again, it was love at a distance, of which my love subject was not even aware.


It was accepted at that time among the educated families to teach


children art: music, drawing, foreign


language, etc. My family was not exception .


For more than six months one of best Soviet instruments piano “Red October” was placed in our room.


The piano was bought by my Moscow aunt Fanya for their children and for some reason was


not immediately shipped to Moscow .My mother hired a


music teacher that come once in a week. But according to the Russian saying I had a bear's ear and my music lessons were useless.


I did not learn to distinguish the notes on paper.


However , improvising, I wrote


a melody, listening to this melody our neighbor Anna


Yakovlevna Blyumshteyn was weeping . I do not know what


caused this effect. I can only add this was my only


achievement in learning the music .

But when I went to school in 1940 I was sent to a group, where several children learned the German language. Our teacher was the a real German lady.We called her aunt Lilya. From the lesson one she did not say an one Russian word .


All conversations should be only in German .At first we understood very little


but soon I could write compositions and freely read the Tales of the Brothers Grimm in German.


One school year I was involved in this group . This gave me a sense of speaking the German language. Then in high school I got


solid highest grade in German, not even picking up a textbook.


My first school year ended in May of 1941.


For high grades and good behavior, I was awarded at honorary certificate.


There were no exams after the end of class 3, at the end of May our whole class with a teacher and a couple of parents went out of town, to Ozerki, where we spent the entire day.


The ride to Ozerki was convenient because going there and back we have to


get on the same tram number 21 without change seats.


Immediately after school ended was again left alone. For some reason, we went to the summer cottage late this year , at June 17.


Until than, I started to play in the courtyard of our building.


It was a large place with a playground,


several trees and with a lot of secluded corners (garages, trash


tanks), where it was convenient to hide. We were playing hide and seek, 12 sticks games and of course war games which all boys play.


I remember a sense of fun and joy after such a


saturated day. Adults continued to attend to their serious affairs, and for some reason they decided that I should have been brought to the country in the village Vsevolozhsk.


I and new housemaid left Leningrad on June 17.

In the country I was very bored.There were no friends.

Here I am forced to make some literary digression.

The end of the thirties in the Soviet Union is closely linked with the sensation of the approaching war.


All newspaper and radio were full of slogans to be ready to defend our country from the Nazi Germany, or from Japanese militarists, White Finns, or Anglo-French imperialists etc. It seemed, that the whole


world thinks only of how to destroy our peaceful life and defeat the Soviet Union . Only one government controlled radio channel was available. Therefore radio endlessly broadcasted


military songs about the power of the our Red Army, and how quickly Red Army will crush any enemy. For example:



          The armor is strong and our tanks are fast,


          And our people are full of courage


          In military lines Soviet tankers stand


          The mighty sons of the motherland ..



Or: If a war happened tomorrow,

if tomorrow we will get order to march,


          If the forces of darkness descend,


          The entire Soviet people, as one man,


          Will rise for our free Home.



In 1936-1939, there was a civil war in Spain, in which


The Soviet Union actively supported the Communists and leftists.


The propaganda idealized this war as the struggle for happiness of


Spanish people. The famous poet Mikhail Svetlov in its


poem called Grenada wrote:


I left my home, I went to fight,


           In order to defend Grenada land and give it to farmers.


Now, it is obvious by stupidity and absurdity of such lines .

But, at that time , many young idealists were volunteering to go to fight for Spain.

Also, there were battles in the Far East in 1938 where victorious Red Army defeated the Japanese mlitarists on Lake Hassan and in Mongolia.


In August 1939 the Soviet Union signed a peace treaty with Nazi Germany. As we now know some secret documents were attached to this treaty about division of Eastern Europe between Germany and the USSR.

Immediately, after treaty signing, Germany started the war with Poland. England and France were forced to declare war with Germany because these countries had a mutual aid treaty.

On September 17 1939,

the Red Army invaded Poland from the East. Poland was not able to fight

against Germany and the Soviet Union and capitulated.

In Soviet propaganda this war called as” the freeing friendly peoples of Western Belarus and Western Ukraine,” but in fact it was the partition of Poland agreeing to Hitler’s Germany.


Soviet newspapers spent too much time writing with the same slogan: “extend a brotherly hand to the peoples of western Belarus and western Ukraine.”

About this issue arose anecdote (We will extend your arms however your legs you

extend by himself ) .

Finally in 1939 there was the war with Finland .This war took place at


Karelian Isthmus, close to Leningrad. We felt this war because it was a mandatory blackout,

all windows will to be curtained. The blue light bulbs were installed in the doorways to protect against attacks by enemy


aviation ,which did not happen in this war. The hospitals received many wounded and frostbitten people, as the winter of 1940 was exceptionally frosty .The Red Army was finally victorious but this victory was achieved with a very expensive price tag of killed and wounded troops.


However in March 1940, the peace treaty was signed, according to which the


Karelian Isthmus, including the city of Vyborg, seized by the Soviet Union.


Despite the storm clouds, constantly clouding the peaceful sky,


people continued to live, go to work, attend theaters, give birth, go to the summer houses and resorts .The life did not stop and the expectation of a big war that will turn everything upside down, moved away somewhere on the periphery of the mind .

People knew that war was inevitable, but thought ,God willing, this year still be peaceful.


On June 14 1941, Soviet newspapers published official information that all conversations of approaching war with Germany are false and provocation of imperialists. ( I guessed that this information

speeded up my departure to Vsevolzhsk )

However, on Sunday June 22 1941, the entire armada of two hundred


fifty German divisions crossed Soviet border everywhere from White Sea to the Black Sea. The War shocked all by its apparent suddenness and surprise.


On this sunny Sunday morning, my mother and uncle Zodik arrived to


Vsevolzhsk, and we went to local park. My cousin Ira and her father also joined us.


We arranged small picnic on the lawn. Somewhere around 12 a.m. a man was passing and screamed:


“Did you not hear anything?” No, what happened? "-we asked. “The war with Germany has begun! Molotov (then chairman of the Council of Ministers Y.K.)


spoke on radio. The mobilization is announced”.


Everything what seemed important earlier immediately lost its meaning and significance.


New problems have overshadowed the horizon. What to do in the new situation


and how to live on?


           My childhood was over.



Chapter Two.


Hard times. (1941-1945)

Get up huge country, Get up to the fight till the death

With dark fascist force, with a curse horde.

(From popular song)


A few days after the beginning of the war I was still in Vsevolzhsk with our housemaid . It was very disturbing and boring .Every morning I went to the railway station for fresh paper, then read the reports of military action, trying to discover something about the decisive victory of the Red Army.

However in the early days and months of the war the Red Army suffered defeats at all fronts. Almost entire Soviet air force was destroyed on the ground, some aircrafts did not even have a chance to take off.

The positions of tanks and artillery were destroyed.

The millions of Soviet soldiers were surrounded and captured in the first weeks of the war.

But we knew nothing about it . Everyday operational communications of the Soviet Information Bureau published only obscured news in newspapers..

For example, the German armies captured the capital of Belorussia Minsk on June 26, 1941 ,only four days after beginning of war.

But the newspapers do not mention this event. However, whoever attentively red military communiqué could note that suddenly the Minsk direction of attacks disappeared from communiqué and Smolensk direction was mentioned. It could mean only an one event : Minsk was occupied with Germans. But only people who were able able to read between lines noticed that.

Starting June 23 whole country studied the everyday communiqués lines trying to determine what is going on the fronts.

Millions of people ,enlisted to the army,had no idea that their fate was settled, and in the coming days, weeks and months, they are destined to die from gun fire in the attack or burned alive in a tank, or die from the exploding shells or bombs, or from the unhuman conditions of detention camps.

And many Jews soon will be forced to fill Babi Yar in Kiev with their bodies as well as many other ditches and ravines in Belarus and Ukraine. The small Belorussia city Senno, where my mother and her brothers and sisters were born was captured by German armies in July. As we learned after the war all Jewish people of this small city, including my grandfather ,who was over 80 years old, were ordered to walk to ditch outside the city. Then all these people were shot only because they were Jews.

But on June 22 the first communiqué sounded calm.

Anyway, whole picture of war seemed extremely bleak: vaunted Red Army did not answer with triple blow for blow of the enemy, as we all expected under pre-war Soviet propaganda.

On the contrary, the Red Army quickly retreated everywere to the east across the vast front of the Black Sea to the Baltic.

On June 27 I was finally brought home in Leningrad.

The city administration believed that German aviation will start bomb Leningrad as they bombed London and other cities in England. Therefore, they decided to relocate children to safe areas of country .In general children were evacuated with their schools and teachers.

I remember discussion in our family of whether to evacuate me with school or with some other agency. Aunt Zina worked at the Institute of Occupational Diseases, which was located close to Moscow railroad station. This Institute was part of the medical corporation GIDUV (State Institute for Advanced Medical Training). GIDUV also organized evacuation of their employees children by forming a child-care facility under the name: Base of GIDUV. After some hesitation and doubt adults have decided to send me with Base of GIDUV. The decisive argument for this was that, in their view, the Base of GIDUV will have children of doctors, which means, children of the intelligentsia, while the ordinary school groups likely to include street hooligans. (In reality it turned out later that very few children had intelligent parents, and even those who had, were taken quickly back by the parents, but the most of the children’s parents were nurses, nurses aides, cooks, etc. (Some children by this time took part in street gangs activity.) But the decision was made, and I began to prepare for departure.

I remember the day July 3, when I heard on the radio the first speech of Stalin who was the Commander in Chief .At that time I considered him as a God. But even a God with a heavy Georgian accent, could not say anything comforting to cheer people up. The Red Army still was retreating to the East. The German troops captured vast part of Soviet territory.

July 5 was my last day in Leningrad with the family .In the evening we took the tram to the Institute of Occupational Diseases, where many children with parents gathered. Windows of Leningrad houses have already been crossed with strips of paper: it was expected that this way the windows can withstand the air waves from the bombardment.

Children with parents gathered in the frontyard of the Institute of Occupational diseases .I remember the barking dogs in the lab of experimental medicine.

From there, we walked quickly to the Moscow railroad station. It took us not more than 15 minutes.

Our train, consisting of many cars, stood on a distant platform. At the platform entrance, I said goodbye to my mother because the parents were not allowed to enter the platform

At this moment I and my mother have absolutely no idea that it will be 4 years before we see each other again.

I walked along the long platform only with my cousin Ira and her mother, Aunt Dora, who was allowed to walk on platform because she wore military uniform.

I was under some sort of apathy and mechanically followed adult guidance.

We stopped next to freight car and used small ladder to get in. I found myself in the company boys of different ages. Some of them looked younger, but most of them were older than me.

Our educator was a middle-aged woman, Lydia Ivanovna. As a rule, educators have their own children among the evacuees. The freight car had two rows of bunks on each side of the car and four small rectangular portholes below the ceiling in the upper corners of the car. The car was loaded with 60-70 children and caregivers.

The agonizing awaiting of train taking off continues, fortunately, not for very long. I found a spot on the bunk. Finally when it was already dark, there was a strong shock. The train locomotive start moving.

No matter how sad was our departure, when a group of children become acquainted, the funny jokes started.

One of those boys was Vova Shtriter. He was about 14, I envied how easily he joked and gave ridiculous nicknames to other boys. For example, one boy, named Yura Shustin he called Yurkin, Bochkin, Probkin, Zatychkin, Svistodyrochkin. These nicknames stucked to him. Vova Shtriter easily communicated with everyone and I thought that many of the children were already knew each other before.

As it happened in third grade of school, I again felt like an outsider in this society.

We had no idea where we are transported. It was possible only to determine the direction of motion. Our train moves to the east. And as it turned out, it was the most reasonable way, because many children were taken to the south of Leningrad, from which soon they had to flee back to Leningrad, escaping from the approaching German troops. This happened in particular with the uncle Zodik school , which was evacuated to the area of Valday. In a short time all of them, including my uncle Zodik , had to flee with great difficulties, among chaotic retreat of our troops way back to Leningrad.

We rode to the destination three days. Our long standings happened on the major stations (Babaevo, Vologda). Latrines in the car were not available, therefore, only during stops we could relieve bladder. I remember that I have done this only 1 or 2 times the whole way, because I had to find secluded place near the car, but it was not easy. We ate only what we took with us : biscuits, chocolate in my case. The weather was very hot and I had no appetite. In the half-open door of the car the beautiful nature pictures were seen. Pines, spruces and other trees carried away to the west. Life outside the train seemed, breathed calmness and majesty, and, contrary to logic, suggested that like we were going on summer vacation, and soon we will return to Leningrad. This feeling was not only mine, but peculiar to many adults. (It mentioned in the song 60x years Rio Rita: over month and no longer the war will be over).

After a long standing in Vologda our train turned southeast and on 8 of July, we were given instructions to leave the train at a small railway station of Yaroslavl railroad.

At the railway station we were awaited with a several horse-drawn carts. We loaded ourselves and our suitcases on the carts and drove through long-shaking potholes on the dirt road. We passed through the district center Kukoba, where there was a short rest and went further. Finally, at the middle of the night, we arrived at our destination: the former monastery of St. Isaac's, located near the village of the same name. Of course, in the Soviet period the monastery was abolished, but all the monastery buildings were used for the collective farm business.



The former monastery was build from white stones with walls approximately a meter thick.

We were very tired and I remember that in the first night of sleep we dropped on the floor using thin blanket taken from home.

Next morning the organization of our orphanage began. Group of younger boys (approximately 30 children) was placed in a large room with very high ceilings. We stuffed our mattress and pillows with hay and arranged mattresses and pillows this way: the heads against the wall and feet toward the center of room. Later we were given wooden homemade rough beds. Also a dining room was organized. I should say that in this first period of the war, our food was relatively good, in the morning we were given the bread with butter and sugar, tea, we had full 3-course dinner (soup, main course, and compot) and a decent supper. My mother gave me also seven plates of chocolate. The plates were in the suitcase, but I found, in my opinion, a more suitable place for storage: under pillow. I, of course, did not have long to enjoy chocolate, only one day. Next day, chocolate disappeared without any traces.

Of course, nobody knew what happened with my chocolate.

I made a couple of friends in the room. One- Misha Kurtasov, calm, even phlegmatic boy. Sometime in the evening we walked together in the vicinity, searching for stones or flints for creating sparks. One day we went to the neighboring village to look at the village on fire. The fire brigade included men with disabilities, who were taken barrels of water from the cart..They tried to pour water on to a fire through old hoses .Fire ended by itself after several houses were burned down. Misha Kurtasov died tragically in 1942, but this event is yet to come.

The day after arrival we were told that every day after breakfast we must work in collective farm. The place for job was 5 miles from our house. This 5 miles we had to go through the forest dusty or muddy road, and during this way we were attacked with myriad flies or horse flies, which bites were very painful .The work consisted of the knitting of bushes, which were to serve as fodder for animals during at winter time .

We were told that a quota was established –21 brooms for one person. Being inexperience, I barely made 7 brooms in a first day, while trying very hard. On the next days I was more successful. Subsequently, there were other work: weeding, harvesting of flax .I remember that summer was very hot and we were thirsty during a work, but in the forest next to workplace only dirty ponds were available .We tried to collect the water in the palm of your hand from the middle of the pond, separating the silt and mud, and drink this warm, smelling swamp water. Even now I don’t understand, why we did not carry good water from our living quarter. We would come back home by 4-5 p.m. for dinner, followed by a free time. Each day was very similar to previous one. Never later in my life I felt such a slow flow of time, as in July-August 41, the days seemed never ended. This sense came from the visits of parents or relatives of children, who took children away from the orphanage. The other children including me were terribly jealous of leaving kids. In my letters home to Leningrad I begged to pick me up from the orphanage.

The older children quickly filled the gaps in my education, knowledge of which was forbidden for me. As called now sex education did not take long. New for me, obscene Russian language was mastered easily and quickly by close contact with a speaking environment. But the most important thing for me was to defend myself, because the boys in a team are always looking for the weakest, who they could make fun of. In a fight with one of the boys in front of the whole group, I somehow instinctively felt that under any circumstances I could not give up. I continued to bite and scratch, even after we turned out to be on the floor. Eventually we were separated .

Although I did not win, but I did not loose

and after this fight nobody tried to scorn on me.

The intelligent boy Marik Pevzner somehow got reputation of whipping boy. Probably he surrender himself to other boys ,he did not fight and as a result of this behavior, he was forced to tolerate insults and some punches.

It was considered as a sign of good behavior, when passing the table where Marik was reading a book, cuff or punch him.

And I, too, was no exception and acted as others .Poor Marik only drew his shoulders and blinked with large eyes.

(After the war, Marik grown up and matured, and, as I was told, he became director of the bookshop in Leningrad)


Every evening happened, for example, such scene. Before going to bed someone would yelled out out that Peter or Vasya or Mark spoiled the air in the room, and whether it assertion was true or just someone

wanted to scorn of a boy, was unknown.

This announcement declared krakova. It meant that the children from entire room

ran to the bedside of the culprit and all began to clap on his body with their hands. Simultaneously they singed :

Kra-kra-Krakow (In Russian this sound like verses).

Get ready lads,

Whoever would not come to the feast,

will be punished.

Oak, wasp or millet -

Choose from three one –

If you choose oak, then all boys will scream: ”Pull his ears to the lips” and began

new round of Kra -Kowa. If you choose a wasp, then “Pull his hair.” The boys started pulled out his hair.

The best thing in this situation say “millet”. The boys cried in response:

“It was decided to restart.”

And in the end of second round the culprit was suggested something else:

“Mother or father? “

If you choose a mother, then krakowa starts again, but soon everyone become experienced and

chose father .Then krakowa ends and boys would leave the culprit alone.

There were other options for this punishment.

Many years later I read “Bursa essays” by Russian writer of nineteen century Pomyalovsky, where he described

the lives of boys in religious school(seminary) which trained boys to become priests in tsars Russia .

Interesting, that the manners and behavior of the seminary students at the pre-Revolutionary Russia

almost completely match to the behavior of Soviet children's

in orphanage 100 years later .Even Krakowa already existed in seminaries.

But how these absolutely different institution were tied ?

The boys in orphanage, who were under the influence of the older “street”

teenagers, formed a kind of microcosm of our morality, they implemented laws of survival for everyone. But older “street” teenagers were influenced by a criminal world. Therefore the moral and laws of behavior in this environment were similar to criminal world and were passing from one generation to another .

(Almost like Bible commandments). This explains also the transmission of oral

heritage from one generation to another .

To these rough boys I owe my rapid sexual education .

There was a very popular song which used melody of famous popular song but had obnoxious words. This song called “Gop so cmikom”

“This song is famous for everyone, but we will sing another

song about the hooligans in Leningrad, yes, yes.”

And then followed a full detailed description of what is now called

group sex.

As I recall, no one complained to our educators about these ugliness , because everyone understood that a complaint

would cause an inevitable revenge.

In this atmosphere I lived for 2 months. It was no wonder that children of intelligent families were gradually taken away by the parents or relatives. At that time ,I did not understand how difficult it was for my relatives to come and pick me up from this place.

Finally, the light came to my life too.

In early September, I suddenly saw my uncle Zodik, who somehow escaped from Leningrad on the last train.

On September 8, German troops captured the railway station Mga.

By this way they cut off the last railway connecting Leningrad to the rest of Soviet Union. The blockade of Leningrad began.

Because of his age, and, most importantly, for health reasons uncle Zodik was considered unfit for military service. Uncle Zodik started to work as

a teacher in our orphanage and, thus, was qualified for

orphanage food supply. From this time a privilege life comparing to other children started for me .We were given small room in monastery building . It was narrow cell

with high ceiling and large window.

But it was not a hostel ,it was our own room, and our life would be settled for a while.

My situation became similar to other children who had parent working as caregiver in orphanage. They usually lived separately of rest children.

The orphanage children called us “the home kids “.

The school year in rural schools at war time started on October 1(not September 1 as before). The reason was to help collective farm with agriculture works. At that time we mainly dug potato or harvested flax.

Meanwhile, the news from the fronts were very disappointing.

Leningrad was under a siege, Kiev was captured by Germans on September 19, (At that time we did not know that on September 30-about fifty thousands Jews in Kiev were killed by Germans and Ukrainians at

Babi Yar,).

The Germans were approaching also in our direction, trying to capture Moscow. Our village located approximately 150 miles north-east of Moscow.

(German leader Hitler believed that after capture of capital of Soviet Union Moscow the war will end with German’s victory. Millions of Red Army troopers were killed or captured. The Soviet General Staff lost almost all reserves. Hitler pressed hardly Japan to start a war with Soviet Union on the Far East. Therefore Soviet Union kept significant armies on the Far East. However, the Soviet Military Intelligence Agency found out in October 1941 that Japan rejected Hitler’s plan, preferring to start a war against USA and Britain. Therefore the Soviet General Staff decided to move secretly a lot of troops from Far East to Moscow vicinities. To hide this move from German the Secret Police mobilized thousands of Moscow residents to local militia and send these untrained and poorly armed peoples to meet German troops . Of course, most of these peoples were killed, but Germans realized that Red Army was using the last reserves. However ,the German Armies were also exhausted plus freezing winter started. The German advance to Moscow became slower but German Generals already saw Kremlin through their binoculars. At the same time the trained fresh Russian troops sent from Far East,were concentrated close to Moscow. In the beginning of December these new troops attacked Germans through whole front near Moscow. It was very unexpectedly for Germans and they started to retreat. The Red Army advanced for 200 miles west from Moscow. It was the first Red Army victory in this war. Of course, at the time of war we knew nothing about this operation. We learned about this at the end of twentieth

century. Y.K.)

The nearest railway station ,located 18 miles from our village (Baklanka of Yaroslav railway) was

almost completely destroyed by German aircrafts in early November. At this time some unknown to us Communist party chief

decided that our orphanage is to be moved further to the east part of the Soviet Union.

New evacuations began on 15 November .For me this move was severely complicated by

the fact that I was seriously sick. I got the high fever, measles, joined with

pneumonia and soon dysentery. At that time no antibiotics treatment existed. Therefore the medical treatment at that time continued long time and during this time I had to stay in bed.

I was placed in a special ward for sick children, completely isolated from healthy children. At that time the food in the orphanage was already bad. I am not sure that I would have survived if Uncle Zodik would have not been next to me.

He would bring me some chicken broth from local farmers in exchange

for some clothes, cranberries in sugar

or cottage cheese with sour cream.

In the cold winter on 15 November, I was taken out of the hospital ward, wrapped in my winter coat, and put in a horse-drawn sledge, some heavy boxes were placed on my legs so I could not bend my knees for the entire journey to station, which took 2-3 hours.

It is surprising that in that difficult time structure of the management of a railroads was not compromised and acted accordingly to military rules.

This can be seen from the fact that our boarding

for a new evacuation included 2 freight cars, of which

one was intended for sick children (this car called the isolator).

Only 12-14 sick children, including me, were placed in isolator, all other 75 or 80 children were boarded in regular freight car.

On both sides of our car flank beds were located. In the center of the isolator the primitive iron stove and some kind of primitive toilet was organized .

The physician of our orphanage was the mother of mentioned already Volodya Shtriter. Her name was Vera Albertovna ,she worked in the same institute where my aunt Zina worked and ,of course she knew aunt Zina well. She resided in our car-isolator.

Our freight cars were standing on the railway station for 3 days.I remember

some people entering our car and advising us what to do in case of bomb raids. They told us to jump immediately out of car and hide himself in a ditch next to railroad embankment . But luckily for us, for days while we were standing at the station

Baklanka, the bombs raids were not happened .Probably, the Germans decided that they already have

destroyed this station and there is nothing important left there.

Meanwhile, my condition was considered better. But some other medical problem added: I got severe toothache with

bloated cheek.

However, at that time, our car was almost comfortable .An other freight car

accommodated more than 70 children, teachers and staff .

Uncle Zodik also rode in this vagon and he told me later, that conditions over there were appalling.

All people were jammed like sardines, there was terrible smell and very bad nutrition.

Doctor Vera Albertovna took the temperature of sick children each

morning. I had the increased temperature (37.2C or 37.3C).

With such a temperature, I still considered sick. When we arrived to our destination uncle Zodik explained me the secret of my lingering illness: he simply asked Vera Albertovna to keep me in isolator to avoid hard conditions of other car. To do this she

needed to write down on medical form the higher temperature than I really had. (this is one example of importance of personal connections in the Soviet Union).

Finally, there was a strong push, means that our cars were

coupled to some east-bound echelon. We did not know our final destination.

Our train was going to the East with many stops because it was necessary to let trains going west pass, because their destination was the war zone. Also our cars idle for days at various stations, waiting for the formation of the next echelon to the East. And no one had an idea where we were taking at.

So, on cold winter day, December 2, we disembarked from the train and find ourselves at railway station Omutinskoya in West Siberia.

We were taken on horse carts to large village

Sitnikovo, located 11 miles away from Omutinskoya.

There we were staying for nearly 4 years.

Sitnikovo was located in the large areas of steppe, surrounded by the sparse birch wood .Railway station Omutinskoya was situated approximately in between

Siberian cities Tymen and Omsk.

The administration of collective farm was located in Sitnikovo.

The village also had machine and tractor station, club, and school . About two miles from the center of the village a factory producing condensed milk was located.

Children of our orphanage were placed in 2 peasants cottages.

I and Uncle Zodik were supplied with food from the orphanage, but we were able to rent a separate housing from local people. Uncle Zodik rented a small room (6 square meters) from a local resident in the village beyond the river side . To enter this room we had to pass through the kitchen and living room , where our landlord, which was an old woman, lived with her married daughter and small child. The husband of her daughter was in the army.

In the entrance of the house in a small area two buckets of water from well and hand washstand settled.

No special toilet arrangements were made and people used barn outside the house together with cow and pigs. Simply you had to choose not quite filthy part of the barn. However, the subzero temperatures in cold and long winters, when first snowfall happened

in September and melts in the middle of April,

contributed to some kind of sanitation.

Of course, all private houses in Sitnikovo had no electricity. We used a kerosene lamp for lighting. However ,kerosene as well as all products during the war was in very short supply. The only small store in this village was the one where you could get small amount of badly baked bread and only under condition that you have ration card. Uncle Zodik as a teacher has this a ration card. I didn’t have , but I was on orphanage food supply.

Our landlord had a Siberian husky dog named Matros. This dog was

kept outside in a box on a chain and was always hungry and angry. He became

my friend, because I often brought some pieces of bread,

left over of a dinner in orphanage dining room.

In December, I began to attend school, fourth grade. My two months

break in the fourth grade program was not important for continue my education. .It is necessary to mention that Sitnikovskaya

school included the composition of good teachers .

Uncle Zodik became one of the teachers of mathematics, the other math teacher

was also evacuated to this village was a professor of the Leningrad

University Venkov. In my class we had a very competent

local mathematic Mikhail Ivanovich, who

returned from the front without legs.

Russian language and literature teacher was a young, charming

girl Valentina, a real beauty with the Siberian

blue eyes and a mop of curly blond braiding hair. I saw that

uncle Zodik liked her. I also liked her. For her misery, all the young males were sent to fronts. I remember, as on a lesson of

Russian language, she gave examples of adverbs, after which usually the soft sign-UZH is not written.

As an example she mentioned words YZ, ZAMUZh, NEVTERPEZh which means approximately ,” I would like to be married. “

Blushing, she added: do not take this on my account. She was very

sincere and emotional girl. I loved literature and read a lot,

enthusiastically rehearsed and recited poems .Later when I was already in seventh grade

I read expressively poem of Russian poet Lermontov “On the death of the poet”(this was dedicated to the death of greater Russian poet Pushkin who was killed in a duel in the year 1837).

I remember that the Valentina Petrovna eyes were filled with tears when I read this poem. (Photo 8,middle row left , next to uncle Zodik)

Principal of the school was tall dark-skinned woman with

pitch-black hair, black eyes, aquiline nose, always

dressed in a dark suit and white blouse .Her name was

Zinaida Ivanovna.(Picture 8,she is in the middle of second row). She never raised her

voice, she talked smoothly and quietly, but for some reason, all students, even

mischief’s were very afraid of her. When she majestically passed along the corridor

during breaks, the usual bustle and fuss stopped, and all pupils

lined along the aisle walls .To be invited to her office for a conversation was considered a

great punishment . I think that she was a some kind woman- vamp,

a kind of psychic or just a witch, as people sad in the old days.

I remember also the military teacher Jacob Ignatievitch, who had returned from the front with some

wounds and because of abundance of young women he felt as a

cock in hen house .(At that time almost all available healthy men in village were mobilized to army with exception of old and sick men).Besides normal activities of military affairs,

where boys learned to assemble and disassemble the arm shutter, take aim,

and learned military statutes and regulations . 2 or 3 times during the school year

we were subject to military training games .

Usually in the evening, in darkness, after long marsh

with wooden rifles and rattles, we would lay down on the snow

in some ravine, and then all of a sudden jumped up and shouting “Hurray!”.

We ran forward, collided with the “enemy”,

trying to choke each other in snow . When the fights ended we returned to school . Due to long lying in the snow

I seriously frozen my hands. Since that time my hands always frozen very easily.

Good teachers also were in history, biology. An exception was

teacher of physics, whose name was Barbara .

She was a real barbarian in physic. The picture of our school would be incomplete if I did not mention the German language teacher

Martin Ivanovich. He was a Russian German, expelled from

the existed pre-war Autonomous German Republic on Volga River. The German settlers lived in this area of Russia for more than 200 years.

He was ordinary person and he was not able to discipline students.

He personally

dragged by the hand to the desk each boy running around the class, but at this time two or three others left their places.

Therefore he grabbed his class journal and began to put bad grades to instigators of disorder, but this only led to injustice from boys point of view, so until the end of the lesson from all over

class could be heard: “why you set me a bad grade? “

For me the lessons of the German language was not a problem, because for a many years I used the basis of language, which I learned in German group of “tanta” Lily.

I've acquired a couple of school friends, one of which was

Edik Schmidt, Russian German. He lived in the Sitnikovo with his mother in time of war.

It was a relatively intelligent boy, we exchanged books, the latest stamps, postcards. Reading books was my second nature .In spite of some problems finding books in Sitnikovo ,in general ,I was able to get a lot of interesting literature. Aunt Zina, and aunt Fanya sent parcels with food to us, as well as books (sometimes in the book to my great regret pages were cut to place a chocolate bar).But most of the books I got borrowed from orphanage kids.

I read and reread the “Three Musketeers”, “20 years later”, “10 years later”,

“Viconte de Brazhelon”, many novels by Jules Verne, “The Two Captains “ of Soviet author

Caverin. I was very fond of “Hero of Our Time,” by Lermontov ,

Turgenev's novels, “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer”, etc. These books I reread several times.

When I was in 6th grade, someone sent me one-volume book of Soviet poet

V.Mayakovsky. At first, I did not like his poems, but gradually

I learned to recite his poems with expressive and imbued with the revolutionary fervor declaimation. (After all, while

I was a hundred percent a Soviet patriot who believed in the triumph of the sacred

socialism as well as Mayakovsky himself, we had a common belief)

Therefore, the entire one-volume edition, including prose and travel notes, I read many times. I believed that the Mayakovsky suicide in 1930 happened due to the machinations of the enemies of the Soviet Power. I also hated these enemies of Mayakovsky.

Uncle Zodik was working in orphanage as an educator and in local school as a teacher.(Picture 7: I and uncle Zodik in 1943)

Orphanage children suffered from malnutrition, especially in the first year of 1941-42, when

the orphanage did not have the land plot, where subsequently

potatoes, cabbage and other vegetables were grown. Many children suffered from lack of vitamins. They covered with abscesses and to treat abscesses in that time was extremely difficult due to lack of medications .

Local people are not starving, because almost all people had household

plots, many people had chickens, pigs and even cows.

I mentioned that absolutely no consumer’s goods was possible to get in the village. It was nowhere

to buy clothing, shoes, even a pencil or a notebook.

Our relatives sent us through mail some clothing and uncle Zodik

exchanged it for food .For example, female winter coat

uncle Zodik exchanged for to 100 liters of milk, and every day a local woman

brought a liter of milk to our house. At summer time we gained access to the fishing with the homemade fishing tackles.

Sometimes I managed to catch five or six fish.

in two-three hours, mainly roach, perch and others small fish and we enjoyed

fried, very bony fish.

Fishing hooks were of very great value in the village. For one

hook produced in the factory a liter of milk was given.

My mother sent us from the besieged Leningrad fishing

supplies, which we used to exchange for food.

Home-made fish-hooks were made of wire,

did not have a beard, and already caught fish was often teared off the hook, so the factory hooks with the beard were very appreciated by fishermen. Therefore an exchange of fish-hooks to milk was very valuable for us.

Our landlord had in the house an old loom, and during long

evenings, she tapped the shuttle, executing coarse canvas, from which she

then sewed the skirts and jackets.

The Great value packages were also inks for painting clothes or fabric. These paints were also sent to us from Leningrad. Also many local people knitted sweaters and pullovers, that in general, led a self-service economy.

At light summer evenings, sometime a cousins of our landlord would come to visit..

They were sitting conveniently on the porch and each of them was

trying to find louses in the hair of other.

I need to say that these insects appeared on many heads at that time, but it was still feasible, due to hygiene, village bath ,

where the head washed with a concentrated solution of ash, to get rid of louses.

Since Uncle Zodik worked as a teacher in high school, he was given

for a couple of years an apartment in the school house, which represented one-story cottage with two separate apartments . It was

a separate apartment (porch, hall, kitchen and an aisle to the light

living room).In the wooden floor of the living room a removable cover was located. By raising this cover we could go down to the basement, where we stored potatoes till spring time .Of course, we had no running water,

and no electricity, and toilet was in the 30 meters behind the house, but for us this apartment was a great achievement mostly because it was separate apartment and due to absence of an landlord.

We had also wire radio installed so we could listen to once in a day broadcasting from Moscow.

Our house was located at the center of the village: windows of living room looked at the orphanage dining room, to the left of house was a country clubhouse,

where sometimes movies were shown. But the back side of the our house

looked to the garden, behind which wooded area, consisted of many bushes, started. When one passed this wooded area, one turned out in the open field, called Elan, but somewhere around distance 3-5 miles

one could see forest .It looked from distance as a thick forest but when you enter it you see sparse birch trees.

On long winter nights, we heard constantly the wolves howling next to our backyard.

The predators were hungry and coming close to the village from joining to our house wooded area .One winter afternoon

I went skiing and came out of the bushes on the steppe. Suddenly I saw in the distance of couple miles several wolves. From distance they looked as big dogs.Of course ,I was not looking to

meet them and quickly turned back .It was day time and I was not followed by them.

Village clubhouse sometimes showed movies, but I rarely went there

due to the fact that a lot of spectators come from the factory and they addressed viciously to the evacuees.

The most harsh words referred to Jews among the evacuees (I should say that Jews physical appearance distinguish them clearly from Russian people.) I could not simply stay calm and ignore them. Therefore I preferred to stay home and avoid watching movies .As an exception, I remember the movie seen in 1942 called ”The defeat of German Armies under Moscow” .It was the first movie about the victory of Red Army in the war.

Contrary to factory youth , the village guys treated us well. Probably factory guys were not local and also come from another districts. So I used to live

without watching movies ,which are according to Lenin the most basic form of art for peoples.(Lenin's words),

Even after my return to Leningrad I was not

particularly attracted to the cinema.

In the spring we planted potatoes in the area behind the house and even the “Siberian fruit “-a

cucumber. Cucumber’s seedlings were grown at home and in the middle of June, when were no expectation of soil freezing ,

we sowed seeding in the fertilized soil.

The cucumbers were ready in 2-2,5 month providing an absence of night freezing.

Sometimes the local guys raided our kitchen garden and half of the crop was stolen, but some cucumbers were left for us too. At winter months

we usually had barrel with sauerkraut.

In June of each year, forest fields were covered with rugs of white flowers

on short stem .There were millions flowers of forest strawberries in the birch forest.

But usually in late of June, frosty nights happened and almost

entire strawberries were frozen. However, one year (I think 1943 or 1944) there was no frost in June.

and it was an abundance of strawberries , the people went to the woods to pick berries with buckets .To pick up

a bucket full of fragrant berries, you did not have to wander through the woods.

Just sit on the lawn and pick up all berries around yourself. Then you move - to the neighboring lawn etc.

We cooked jam without sugar for

absence of it and ate a lot of raw berries. In the fall the whole orphanage went to the forest to pick-up mushrooms. Even horse driven carriage was used for this occasion.

There were a lot of mushrooms, however only one type which was only good for salting.

So our economy, including forest, river, were sometimes we caught fishes, coupled with the exchange of clothing’s gives us good nutrition during war time. My and Uncle Zodik picture of this time shown on photo (photo 7).

During the summer, after school, my time in orphanage activities.

All summer, including September, we were daily

participating in different agricultural jobs. The most of time, it was a weeding vegetables, planting, spading and harvesting potatoes. After breakfast, we usually went 4-5 miles on foot to the collective farm field, where worked

till four, and then returned to orphanage for dinner.

Accompanied us and worked with us was one of orphanage caregivers, most often

Olga Kazachkova, an attractive woman, about 40 years old.

She was educated in Soviet times

and fully met the requirements that the Communist party set for educators. During the work on field she showed an example of

diligence and dedication. I think that many

boys watched with interest her breasts hanging under her blouse

when she bent down for weeding .Once

such an episode occurred.

Entrance of orphanage dining room faced the collective farm stables, where the groom was an old man called David.

The chief of collective farm usually drove around using buggy harnessed with handsome shiny black stallion. Once after breakfast I and three others boys were sitting on logs in the yard, waiting for the complete gathering of children for the next walk

to the field. At this time, the mare horse was brought to the courtyard and stallion from the stable neighing joyfully,

David brought stallion out of the stall, and brought close to the mare, Stallion climbed its large front legs on the mare croup, and David helped him to insert his penis into the mare vagina. At that time through the courtyard into the dining room was passing a group of girls with Olga Alexandrovna. All the girls, as if on command,

turned out their heads and stared at the wall of the building. However I and other boys continued to sit on logs, watching the sex between horses. For a couple minutes nobody bothered us. Then suddenly angry Olga Alexandrovna ran out from cafeteria and harshly attacked us as if we would initiate this process: “What right do you have to watch? How much were you paid for the spectacle? Leave immediately!!” etc. Her youth years were during the years when sex was almost a taboo subject in Soviet Union. Therefore she considered our interest in sex almost a crime. At that time, the country's leaders believed that youth should be engaged in sports, skydive, be able to shoot well etc. By other words,

youth must dedicate all their mind and forces preparing for war against an enemy which suppose to attack our country. Under these conditions, sex

would only distract young men and women to achieve the main goal.

The mood of the time was expressed by the poet Vladimir Mayakovsky:

“Love means that you should be jealous of Copernicus, (the famous astronomer. YK. )because only

He, and not the husband of Maria Ivanna

To be considering your rival! “

(By the way, Mayakovsky himself did not follow this call)

Therefore, returning to the described history, it was clear

what formed these ideas in the mind of Olga Alexandrovna .

She could not accept the fact that the boys would see the forbidden,

from her point of view, scene. Smarter educator would simply not pay attention to it, particularly that by the time of her appearance the sex was almost completed. However , she felt that her duties required these action .We reluctantly obeyed and walked slowly out of the yard.

But the process of puberty did not follow any instructions because hormones run high and I developed sexual feelings very early. I recalled such a case, which occurred in the spring.

I was 12 or13 years old. In May-June, we went every day into the forest to get firewood for orphanage.

Usually our tools were the ax and saw and it was quota - 1 cubic meter of wood per 2 people per day. I used to work with these tools very well.

It was not easy: I would have to cut down 4 medium

birch trees (in this area, the forest was only a birch), cut the branches,

sawed and split logs .Then firewood to be put together. This work usually ended around 4 p.m. and we ready to walk home for dinner.

Between forest and our village located a plain field, which local people called Elan.

Before leaving the forest, our group of woodcutters used to

take a rest to take a bite of light sandwiches.

Girls sat on a fallen tree, and I had settled directly on the grass Opposite of me on the tree sat Galya Kazachkova, very attractive girl of 16, she was the daughter of mentioned above

Olga Aleksandrovna. Accidentally, I noticed that her legs were wide apart and the skirt rode up on her knees.

I saw her blue satin panties that are not tightly adhering to

body, shifted to one side, and this way opened to my view the most hidden part

of a girl's body.

The desire to

have this girl was so strong that I almost fainted.

I could not take my eyes off. Maybe it lasted no more than half a minute, as Galya probably felt or notice something

and drew the skirt. Later, I felt a

sense of shame for my reaction, since under the influence of the upbringing, I was sure that I had a bad habit,

that the Soviet boy should not react this way.

In summer on hot days, after returning from field work, children very much liked to swim

in the river. The river was not wide, probably, two hundred feet. Most of the children fled to a river. But I didn’t swim, because I did not know how to swim and as result of this I was ashamed.

Once a tragedy happened. My friend

Misha Kurtasov also could not swim, but he was trying to cross the river on a wooded slippery log.

At the middle of the river, he somehow fell from the

log and began to scream for help. His scream heard his elder sister who was able to swim well.

She swam to him. Misha somehow grabbed her stranglehold,

and together they plunged into the water. When mature help arrived,

everything was over. In a couple of days all orphanage children buried the brother and sister at the local cemetery. Nobody of their relatives was able to visit funerals because of the war.

Their parents remained in the besieged Leningrad and it was

unknown whether they are alive or not. At that time I first started thinking about

absurdity and injustice of fate. The parents sent the children

away from the dangers of the war only to accidental death of children in Siberia.

(Meanwhile after defeat under Moscow in the December 1941 German armies were not able to offense in winter times. Therefore whole front from White sea to Black sea was, in general, stabilized. However, next spring German armies started large offense in the South. They occuipied whole Ukraine, Crimea and were trying to occupy large industrial city Stalingrad, located on Volga river. This way they tried to cut Moscow off the south part of country. They concentrated a half-million armies with aviation, tanks and artillery on this direction. The heaviest fight for Stalingrad continued for several months. But a winter was approaching and Soviet General Staff prepared counter offense, which started in November 1942. The German troops of about 350,000 were surrounded under Stalingrad. Within 2 months all German troops were annihilated or captured.

After this defeat in January 1943 Germany was not able to organize an attack on broad line of front. Only in the summer of 1943 Germans tried to start new attacks between cities Kursk and Orel. But after two weeks of heavy fighting the Red Army started counter attacks and German troops were forced to retreat West.

However, Leningrad was under siege up to the end of January 1944. All attempts to free the city from siege were unsuccessful. The only achievement of Red Army on this direction was the break through the blockade in January 1943. Due to this victory Leningrad became connected to rest of the country through one railroad. This significantly improved food supply to the city. In the June of 1944 American and British armies landed on the German’s occupied France beach and after heavy fighting started to advance East. However , at this time the Red Army troops appeared on pre-war border between Soviet Union and Poland.

Meanwhile, our life continued as usual. In 1945 I was in seventh grade. Only 5 boys

and at least 20 girls were in our class. I remember that the most intelligence girl in our class named Luda was showing the interest to me.

Her mother was a biology teacher in our school, and the her father-director of machine-tractor service station. I liked her as I liked most of the girls. But I did not know what to do with her because it was nowhere to invite her and

we lived at a distance of 5-6 miles. From each other.

In addition, I was afraid of what would happen if one of school students

will see us together .To say briefly ,this love damped, as

cigarette in the wind.

At that time it was common feeling that the war was approaching to an end.

We dreamed of return to

Leningrad, and the pre-war life seemed to us very idealistic.

However, a mobilization to the army continued. From tenth grade students of the school as well as grown up

teenagers from the orphanage were enlisted in the army and after a short training

sent to the front. Not everyone came back. Sometimes, passing through the village, I

heard weeping of women in the houses .This meant that this

house got an official letter from army commissariat with

notice that the husband, brother, son or father of the women died with heroic death, protecting our homeland.

Some guys were lucky. For example, one of the senior school students-intelligent, nice guy Leon Adlershtein, was sent to front twice because after

a serious wounds he received 6 months vacation, during which he returned to orphanage. Other guys were not so lucky and didn’t come back.

But another situations, also occurred.

I have already mentioned Vova Shtriter, the son of our physician. He was drafted and sent to school of junior officers' quarters, where he

studied for 6 months prior to leaving to the front. This military school,

located close to our village in city Ishim, trained commanders of

infantry platoon .These people usually were killed in the first battles

because their duty was to raise the platoon troops to attack. Vova often came for a day or two to orphanage in a new uniform, and I would looked enviously at his brand-new jacket

, sword belt and pants and chrome shoes.

Uncle Zodik knew the woman-owner of the apartment, where Vova Shtriter lived with his mother.

Once she stopped uncle Zodik on the street and told him

about the terrible things happening in her house when Vova arrived for leave from the military school. Throughout the house on the sills and under

table he spreads his excrements. Soon she told uncle Zodik that

2 officers came from the military school to find out how he behaved

at home. She told them everything. It turned out that in college he behaves the same way and, therefore, he was demobilized as an insane. If they would found out that he simulate madness, then in time of war he would be punished by the military court and death by shooting. But, with the help of his mother he

played his role well and stayed alive. Soon, in 1944, when

Leningrad was released from the blockade, he went to Leningrad.

Looking ahead, I will say that when in 1948 I became a student of Electro -Technical University named after Lenin, I met there Vova Shtriter, at that time he was close to graduation. He was even some

Komsomol leader. Greeting him in the hallway, I felt that he pretended not to know me. To him, of course, it was unpleasant to meet with someone who might know something about his questionable past.

His further fate is unknown to me.

After the liberation of Leningrad from blockade in January 1944

all our thoughts were focused on the early returning. This was not so simple. Return to Leningrad

required an official invitation from the local authorities in Leningrad. Due to my mother staying during blockade in Leningrad our two rooms were preserved.

Finally, the Leningrad Department of Education where, uncle Zodik was known as very good teacher, sent an invitation and we were allowed to go back to Leningrad.

But to get official invitation to Leningrad was not sufficient to return home. At that time the Soviet Union prepared for war with Japan and the only one railroad through Siberia was overloaded. Through our railroad station Omutinskaya only 2 trains were going daily to Moscow .No tickets, of course, were sold, because of that the trains were

loaded to the eyeballs, people even rode on the car’s roofs. The

normal way to travel was not possible. In the Soviet Union, like now in Russia, personal connections were very important. We were

helped by remote relatives .I already mentioned above that in Moscow, lived my Aunt Fanya,

whose husband held an important position in the Communist Party's Central Committee:

he was a Head of Transport Department of the Central Committee. Although at this time he divorced

aunt Faney, but still, on her request, at a meeting of the Central Committee he addressed to the Director of Transport Department of the Tyumen

Regional Party Committee, asking for help to assist to the Tyumen region two of his distant relatives. This request was transferred to

the local Secretary Omutinskoya District Party Committee,

who knew that Uncle Zodik was one of the best teachers in whole district. He tried to persuade uncle Zodik

not to leave, but to stay in Sitnikovo. He promised even that uncle Zodik will get government reward if he stayed in Siberia.

But, of course, these promises were in vain. We dreamed to go back to Leningrad. Then Secretary of

Omutinskya District Party Committee, said that he would come to the station and help to board us on the train. Finally he managed to push

us in a vestibule of overloaded car and told us that we should get out

in the regional center-Tyumen. In Tyumen we got off of the train and went to

Tyumen Regional Party Headquarter to the person with whom our distance relative- Head of Transport Department of the Central Committee talked in Moscow . He was a

Head of Transport Department of the Tyumen District.

So we came out from the train vestibule and walked on foot

to the building of the Regional Party Committee .I remember,we passed through

central square, planted with potatoes.

Finally, we reached the building of the Regional Committee. Member of the Tyumen Oblast Party Committee,

with whom spoke the relative in Moscow, gave us

direction to the Hotel and promised that the next day he will meet us

on the station and will try to push us on the Moscow train. (Name of

man was Mazurov). Of course, the next day we were at the station long before train arrived.

Mazurov addressed the Head of the train and demanded his

help. The head of the train said that he will try to set us in the officer’s car. Several man cleared for us passage to the officers

car from surrounding officers .I remember one colonel, pointing to

us, shouting: * And who are these people? "Why are they boarded?” Mazurov replied :

“ They boarded according to the instructions of the Communist Party Central Committee “. I can understand this

Colonel: it was hard to imagine that the old and young ragamuffins (just so we looked), go on some secret

mission. In short, we were shoved into the car. But no seating places were available in the car and till Sverdlovsk

we were standing in aisle.

In Sverdlovsk, some oficcers came out, and we received 2 second-class place in the officer compartment . No serious problems happened after that, and after 3

days we reached Moscow. (our luggage was directly to Leningrad).

Being in the capital for the first time, we searched for a couple of hours Mantulinskaya street, where Aunt Fanya lived . Somewhere around noon, we

came to her apartment. She was shaken by a view of our clothes:

I was in a prewar jacket with sleeves above my elbows and boots

tied to soles. Uncle Zodik looked not better.

In a couple of days we became to look ourselves , fitted in a

more decent clothes and shoes, which we were supplied by Aunt Fanya.

To get on the train to Leningrad from Moscow was also extremely difficult.

And so once again we required the assistance of the former husband of Aunt Fanny, to book us tickets.

We wanted to go home as soon as possible.

Finally, after 17 hours on the passenger train from Moscow to Leningrad,we approached the platform of the Moscow station in Leningrad. So, on July 20, 1945, after four very long years we again set foot on the ground of Leningrad.


Chapter Three


Time of big expectations (1945-1948)


Finally, on July 20, 1945 after 4 years of separation we set our foots on Leningrad’s soil.

I saw the city I dreamed about almost every day of these

four years. Leaving Leningrad as a child, I almost

did not know the city, except for a few neighborhoods close to our

home on Grand Prospect 26 of the Petrograd side. (Photo 6)

I and uncle Zodic met my mother. She stared at me

and said that I changed so much that she would have passed by me

on the street without recognizing. I also lost touch with my mother during this time and looked at her at

first as a stranger. The tram route number 12

at that time was riding through the Nevsky Prospect, I looked at unfamiliar city. I did not see a lot of destroyed buildings

because instead of wastelands small green squares were created.

However, on the streets a warning message was written with blue paints:

“Attention Citizens! At the time of artillery shelling this side of the street is more dangerous. “

In many windows the plywood replaced glass which was broken by the bombing. The plywood also covered upper part of three

big windows of our rooms.

The rooms were preserved for us because my mother spent the entire siege in the city.

In our neighborhood most of the houses were not destroyed.

Glass in our windows flew from the huge explosion that devastated a multi-story building on the

corner of B. Zelenin and Chkalovsky Avenue which distanced approximately

about a mile from our house.

My state of mind at that time was very patriotic and I supported the Soviet Government in everything. It is sufficient to say that when I entered into our biggest room, I suggested that large

family portrait on the wall to be replaced by a portrait of the leader of the Soviet Union Josef Stalin.

My mother with a certain apprehension looked at me like she was trying to estimate

how deeply I was brainwashed by official propaganda

and how free she can talk to me.

In general, damage from the bombing and shelling was much less than we expected. Relatively few people were

killed by shelling and bombing :fifteen or twenty thousands.

Of course, these are no small numbers

but nothing can be compared to the number of the dead from the starvation

for 900 days of the blockade: of 1, 5 to 2 million people.

I wrote already briefly about this terrible

time in Leningrad while we lived peacefully in Siberia. In August-September, Hitler's troops reached the southern

outskirts of Leningrad, having taken all the suburbs: Pushkin, Kolpino, Gatchina,

Pavlovsk .On September 8 they have captured Shlisselburg, city, located

at the flowing of the Neva River into Lake Ladoga. This way the city of Leningrad was cut off of the rest of

Soviet Union as it was then called the “Great Land.”

In the south of Leningrad the front line stretched from the Gulf of Finland in the west to

Lake Ladoga on East. However, north of Leningrad

the military situation was a little better, since advancing from the north Finnish troops, in

defiance of Hitler requests, refused to move south of the old

(before the Soviet-Finnish war of 1940) the Soviet-Finnish border. There was a large (1500-1700 square kilometers) area,under Soviet Army control which could significantly

improve the food supply to Leningrad. However, the Party leadership did not allow farming in this area.The party management is also committed a huge mistake by concentrating all

food for Leningrad on the south-west city limits, in

so-called Badayev warehouses. The Germans used these mistakes

well. Their aircrafts bombed the Badaev warehouses and set huge fire.

Eyewitnesses told that the fire continued for a

few days, flowing streams of melt sugar, mixed with soil. Almost immediately, after the fire, food supply of the city dropped significantly.

Of course, food ration was introduced for all the products. For example,

amount of bread for one person decreased from 600 to 200 grams for working man per day, and in December a few days absolutely no bread was available even through ration cards.

People starved, boiled leather belts, and ate the carpenter

glue. Of course, all house animals like dogs and cats, disappeared. There were many cases of cannibalism. Those people who had anything to do with the distribution of

bread, easily became rich, because for a kilogram of raw, stuffed with all the

trash bread, they could get a piano.

Also came a very cold winmter, water pipes were frozen, water would have to be carried on sleds from the Neva River.

Winter 1941-1942, claimed the lives of hundreds of thousands of people. In November of 1941

Party leadership has decided to build a road from

besieged territory through the ice of Lake Ladoga to the “Grand

Land”. Day and night, under German bombing trucks were evacuating people to the East and loading food on the way back to Leningrad.Many people died on this “way of life” route from the German bombing or from hunger.

In spite of many victims, this road called “the Way of Life” and it saved Leningrad from complete extinction.

In the spring of 1942 with the warming weather the life of the survivors became a little easier:

city authorities ordered to survivors to clean up the streets, remove dirt, debris, and unfrozen corpses, some trams start ride.

My mother told that had I and uncle Zodik stayed in Leningrad,

we would not survive .During the blockade the men, in general, passed away in families first, women lived longer.

For my mother it was much easier to feed her because she was alone. She was helped with some amount of grain stocked at pre-war time and she received a couple of times a food parcels from Aunt Zina, who was enlisted to the army as a doctor. Her military unit was located on the Karelian front, and sometimes she was able to pass a parcel through military officers visiting Leningrad.

These were high-ranking officers who came

to Leningrad in military aircraft.

My mother also told us that among her patients

in the medical clinic was an old man, he was Tartar. This man sometimes brought her a

horsemeat. So , in comparison with the majority of the population of Leningrad,

my mother did not feel severe hunger. In 1942 my mother fell ill with typhus, she was placed in a hospital, where she could easily starved from hunger, as the

main meal in the hospital was a soup of wild plants, to say simpler, from the grass. But this time she was helped to survive by her remote cousin, who stayed in Leningrad and was visiting my mother in the hospital.

My mother worked as a doctor in a medical commission of Vyborg

District of Leningrad, checking on the fitness of young recruits enlisted to Soviet army .She told me that in

the commission room were candy and lollipops, which the doctors fed

to drafted into the army recruits exclusively to avoid the situation that someone would die

from hunger, while in medical clinic. Whatever happened on

the streets did not bother physicians. Some of recruits died later on the streets. Such reinforcements were assigned

to the Leningrad front.

I read recently Memoirs of the scientist Likhachev ,Blockade Survivor ,an old St. Petersburg man, former Academician of Russian Academy of Science. (He passed away several years ago).

He wrote that the truth about the siege is so terrible that it will be never be written. Simply, it is impossible to describe the depth of moral

decay of human beings. I agree with him.

I wrote in previous chapter, that in January 1943, Soviet troops liberated

Schlisselburg, and soon restored the only railway

to “Grand Land”. A year later, in January 1944 all

German groups around Leningrad were destroyed.

On 27 January 1944 Leningrad celebrated

This was the Great victory of the Soviet Army. Everywhere music was played, people danced, embraced, each other and there was

solemn salute of 24 rounds in honor of Great victory.

People thought that after that Great victory almost the kingdom of God on Earth will started. For survivors of the siege there was an opportunity to eat plenty of bread, potatoes and other vegetables. For them it looked like a paradise.

In our old multifamily apartment significant changes happened to the worse. The family Blyumshteyn was

evacuated in 1942 through Ladoga lake after the death of oldest man. Their room was occupied by

a woman with a child who lived before in the outskirt of Leningrad

in a wooden house, demolished for fuel. At that time many

wooden houses were destroyed and used for heating. But people who relocated from the destroyed houses have remained on the new

places forever, and according to the new rules they could not be evicted.

Therefore, the previous tenants did not have any chance to get their living space back.

This way, a woman called Kapitolina

N. Tkachev (commonly Kapka), settled in our apartment and remain there even after 1963 when I managed to exchange our rooms to a separate apartment.

She was evil, cowardly, utterly deceitful creature.

She has worked in an organization to fight rats that

gave her considerable benefits: each day she was at home by 11 am after she placed somewhere the rat poison. Also,

she received some amount of flour for the production of poison.

After the war she periodically changed boyfriends living in her room which she found among alcoholics in pubs.

The average stay of these men was approximately 6 months. In a hunt for a man

she was trying to present herself as a semi intelligent person. (Her behavior reminded me the story of Russian satirist Zoshchenko

“Aristocratka”). For simple man she looked as an attractive woman.

It was certain, that at the same time she was strong

anti-Semite. Once during the war, she told my mother: “ I do not like your nation “.

My mother replied, saying that she somehow would

live without her (Kapka ) love.

In 1944 one of Kapka’s men robbed our rooms. He steeled a lot of

valuable things ,opening the lock of one of room while my mother was at work.

My mother was 100% sure as who was a thief.

She went to police asking them to search the Kapka’s room. But police did not even went to the apartment, saying that according to the Stalin’s constitution they can not suspect a men in a crime

if he had not caught in a process of crime. This statement is a paradox

in a country where millions of people were imprisoned

and shouted for nothing at all.

The remaining, after stealing, clothing’s my mother transferred to an apartment of our relatives

on Lenin Street, and after our return to Leningrad, my

responsibility was to return these things home. Usually

I was dragging a suitcase or package to the tram stop at the intersection of Grand Avenue and Lenin street, rode for 2 stops to the Pioneer streets, and then dragged the luggage to our apartment on 3 floor.

I made probably a dozen such trips in August 1945.

To finish the story of the robbery in an apartment, I must tell about the episode, which occurred in early 1946.In common area, where we kept our coats, my leather flight cap disappeared.

On all our questions Kapka answered simply:

someone came to the apartment from the street and took my cap, but we had no doubts .After this case, our coats and caps would

have been bring in the room.

One month remained before school year started on Sept.1,1945 .

I did not have any friends and I began to explore Leningrad

from the window of a tram.

Every day, after the start of the working day, I sat down in the

streetcar of specific route and rode to the end stop.

Then, on the other streetcar I come back.

I remember that , the tram route number 30 was going to

Rzhevka, it has been almost a summer resort, the route number 18 brought

me to the park of Polytechnic Institute, route № 12 to Central Park

Culture and Leisure. etc. Sometimes I wandered in such vicinities, which I had never visited again for all 35 years of my life in

Leningrad. One of the places ,for example, was Volkov cemetery located

at the end stop of the route number 4.So, gradually, I became acquainted with city. On July 24 was celebration of Soviet Navy.. I went to Palace Square, watched like people had fun and danced, saw holiday fireworks and illuminations, and still went home alone.

The food supply at that time was relatively normal, although the ration cards still existed. My responsibility was to buy bread and other products using ration cards. Meanwhile, time has passed more quickly than in Siberia, and on September 1

I began to study in 8th grade 51th male school of Zhdanovsky school district.

The beginning of the school year coincided with the celebrations of the victory over

Japan after a short-term military operation carried out by

Soviet Army in Manchzhuria. The official propaganda portrayed

Japan's surrender as a result of this military campaign.

In fact, Japan surrendered after the atomic bombing of Japanese cities Hiroshima and Nagasaki in August 1945, conducted by the Americans Air Force.

But we did not know about it at that time and took the official version of victory as a true thing. Anyway, September 3, was declared a holiday with an appropriate celebratory fireworks, people were happy that finally comes an end of all wars.

By the way, my Aunt Zina, already at that time in the rank of major of medical services, was in the Far East,

in the Soviet army in Manchuria.

Returning to my affair, I remember that in the 8 grade class were approximately 22-25 students born in 1930 (I was an exception to this rule).Most of the guys, similar to me returned to Leningrad from the evacuation.

There were 2-3 students who were survivors of the blockade.

The class s also included 6 Jewish boys, two of whom became

my friends. One of them, Jura Levy, was a

typical intelligent Jewish boy, very short-sighted,

in glasses, with outspread ears, and spread arms and legs.

He had a good sense of humor, but often could not hide

laugh or smirk, which led him to some problems .He was excellent in math and also he had the ability to

concentrate at the right time in order to solve math problem. Next to him a drum may rattle but Yura Levi ignored this noise.

We became friends because of common interests, books, and, most importantly, love for chess.

Usually, he came to my home in the evening and we play

chess until such time when the head grew heavy, and then we

went for a walk along the Grand Avenue. I followed him to his home on the Grand Avenue 4.

My other friend, with whom I shared a desk for a long time

was Misha Rolnik. He was 3 years older than me, more

wiser in life experience than I was, therefore, he always observed

reasonable and well-understood rules, adopted in society.

He was from a poor family and every summer he was working in some small workshops.

And I suspect that he not always had enough food to eat.

His aunt was working as a ticket collector at the Palace of

Culture on Vasilevsky district. This gave us an

opportunity to attend some performances free of charge .

I remember one evening in 1946, when I attended the concert

of young and yet little-known Arkady Raikin.

He read, so called, 11 chapter to Pushkin's poem Eugene Onegin. (However, the real Puschkin’s poem Eugene Onegin consist of only 10 chapters, as we knew from school years.)

This 11 chapter describes the comic adventures of Eugene Onegin

in Leningrad after the war of 1941-1945 and was published in magazine “Leningrad”. The author of this chapter was a poet-humorist Alexander Khazin, of course, a Jew.

Eugene Onegin, the noble man of 19 century, walked through contemporary Leningrad, where he understood nothing, and constantly was amazed by to environment. He was trying to find girls of his youth Olga or

Tatiana, but, to his horror he discovered a women named Olga and Tatiana wearing cotton jackets and working on painting front sides of homes .They were swaying

on the ropes inside of wooden cradle. The author wrote:


The tram comes to our Eugene,

The poor, dear man!

His unenlightened century

Did not know of such rides!

But fate kept Eugene safe:

He has been once stepped on his leg,

And only once, was kicked into the stomach,

He was called an Idiot.

He remembered the ancient rules and wanted,

To request a duel to end a dispute ,he

Reached into his pocket, but someone stole

his gloves ...

The viewers laughed continuously because everyone rode

in the already overcrowded trams with people hanging up not only inside but outside the tram..

Shortly thereafter the Communist party decision has come on drawbacks of

magazines “Neva” and “Leningrad.” Party boss Zhdanov denounced

famous writers Zoshchenko and Akhmatova, as enemies of the socialist country. Also Khazin was blamed for 11th

chapter of Eugene Onegin, which slanderous

depict the heroic Soviet people .It was good that the writers were

not arrested, but simply denied the opportunity to publish their works.

In school I also met a guy who lived in our building and was in grade 9.His name was Boria

Rabinowitz, and he remembered me from prewar time when we skiing in the backyard.

Somehow, he joined our company and often four of us walked

through the Grand Avenue, discussing various events.

My way of thinking of the time represented with the followed discussion.

At that time in yeasr 1946,1947) newspapers and radio erupted continuous

streams of anger directed against so-called warmongers. The media understood under warmongers American imperialists.

I suggested (in our

company, of course) that a good idea to invite those warmongers here, in the Soviet Union, to show them how we work in peace

and how all the people dream only about peace. Possible, that after such visit, they would understand better that our country does not wishing the war, and their (imperialists) attitude toward us would be changed for the better. Yura

Levy quite reasonably pointed out this is nonsense that you can change ideology of 5-year-old child, not adult men . Anyway, at that time this was my naive, complacent thinking .But gradually my views were changing. Thatis happened for two reasons: conversations with my uncle Zodik, who developed critical thinking in my mind and due to a gift of Moscow relatives-German made radio receiver.

At that time the continuous jamming of

foreign radio broadcasts was not technically feasible, so I could

tune up from jamming at least for a minute or two and listen British Broadcasting Corporation or Voice of America. In the classroom there were several guys with whom I maintained friendly relationship. One of them was Lenja Murkin, an excellent athlete and joker.

He loved to arrange some sorts of minor mischiefs, such as

place an inkwell on the seat when you're standing, responding to the teacher,

or suddenly say that you face is in ink spots. I used my

handkerchief to wipe these stains, while he helpfully pointed out with finger, pre-dipped in ink,on your cheek, saying: “ This is where the spot is”. Looking forward

I say that this Leonja literally saved me from a great shame on the first year at college. It was a lesson of physical fitness .I like most of Jewish boys, had no successes in these exersizes.

The particular stumbling block for me

was climbing on pole.

However, to obtain a good grade on physical education I had to climb a pole. A teacher read the list with last names. My letter X was still far off, but I felt that decisive moment is approaching. I did not know what to do, how to escape from this situation.

Suddenly, Lenya Murkin approached to me on his own initiative.

He already climbed the pole, and sayd: “I know that you will not pass this exercise, let me make do this for you! “It was a wonderful escape. We swapped shirts, and, when a teacher called my name, Lenja walked to the pole for the second time. He climbed like a monkey

to the top. Weary teacher slipped indifferent glance at his figure, not noticing that Kheyfets was the blue-eyed blond. This event may seem

to readers small and insignificant,but at that time Lenja action was my salvation from big shame . Unfortunately Lenja in the second-year left

the institute, and traces of him disappeared. However, his noble deed I remember all my life.

But I had to return to school.

Warmest memories left in my mind the teacher of

Chemistry and our educator of classess 8 and 9 Anna Isidorovna

Grinenko. She was a petite pretty Jewish woman approximately thirty five years old.She was divorced and had a son. She was a nice person, to whom you could easily turn for advice and help, and all this was combined with women's attractiveness (dimples, a good figure, pretty little feet). She was liked by many guys in our grade. We wondered how her husband could leave such an amazing woman. Even after graduation of high school for several years we continued to meet in her small apartment on Moscow Avenue, talking about our life and eating cakes and other dishes cooked by her.

While I was in grade 9, I remember very important conversation with her, which changed my behavior.

I'll tell you about this episode. At that time all textbooks for high school strongly underlined, ( true or false)

the successes of Russian domestic science, the priority of Russian scientists to the West and the fact that Russian Scientists and Engineers were the first in innovations comparing to the West scientists.

Of course, these statements were unfair, but at that time the Soviet Communist Party struggled against people

admiration for the Western consumer goods. It was considered to be politically correct in

every way to elevate the role of Russia. At that time I was already inclined to

critical analysis of many phenomena of life, so sitting at

the lessons of chemistry I commented on what the teacher said. I simply wanted to bring an attention of students to my non standard opinion.

In general, my comments came to the fact that textbooks statements about Russian innovations were not proven

and needed to be verified.

Briefly, I expressed a certain nihilism that often evoked laughter

In the classroom.

Once Anna Isidorovna asked me to come after school

to her chemical lab. When we were alone, she turned to

me with the following words: “ You're making a remarks all the time during

my lectures. And do not you ever thought that your doubts

contradict with the official party line on science? Do you know what country we live in? Do you have a guarantee that

someone from the class does not run to the NKVD to inform them about your mood?. What do you expect? Arrest and exile? "Do you know ,what happened in 1937?I am not scare you, but the same NKVD

still exist and operates. Do not think that the students of our class are good guys and they will not report to secret police.

Some people thought this way in 1937, but in reality

millions of ordinary peoples were NKVD informants. Therefore, remember my words and be very careful .”

Anna Isidorovna risked too, talking openly to me.

She knew my family, but she could not be sure at 100%

of my response, because I myself could be an NKVD informer.

But she was deeply decent person and decided that she

could speak frankly to me.

Needless to say, that after this conversation I did not commented teacher’s statements.

Anna Isidorovna was on friendly terms with the teacher of

physics Ludmila Izeekileevna Poroshkina, and we were surprised about

this friendship because we could not understand what may be in common between these two completely different

women. Lyudmila Izeekileevna was already middle-aged woman of

50-55 years old, but her tall, slender girlish figure suggested an

absence of children, as well as her presence in

school from first bell to the last one. During great breaks the aisles

of male school became filled with a lot of activity: somewhere students were gambling,

chasing someone down the corridor, and in the end of the corridor students played soccer.

They used aluminum inkwell as a ball. Of course, there was terrible

noise around. Lyudmila Izeekileevna would walk out very slowly

of the teachers room and stopped at the beginning of the hallway, with a broad smile and flashing eyes, without saying a single word. She would radually moved down the corridor: students stopped, and players ceremoniously lined up along walls. Then she slowly

defiled along the quiet students, triumphantly looking on both sides. Sometimes she grabbed the hand of some unwary teenager, who did not notice, to his misfortune, the Royal procession. The teenager found himself

caught by teacher, and was subjected to punishment. He was also ordered to bring his parents to school.

Ludmila Izeekileevnna’s etnicity was from people of the Russia’s North

and, apparently, she was very inarticulate, chewing on the words, and sometimes while you would listened to conversation it was difficult

to refrain from laughing. But this laughing was a very

great sin at her class. The revenge occurred

immediately. Once, in grade 9, at a lesson of physic Yura

Levy could not stop laughing over some stupid words teacher said.

She yelled immediately: “ Levy, out of the class! “ At this moment, I smiled and got heard .” Kheyfetz, out of the class! “ We did not grieved from a long and went to play chess. But we were not allowed to return to class until we apologize. We refused to apologize because we did not understand our guilt. Poor Anna Isidorovna tried to correct the situation and tried to force us to apologize. We refused and

replaced the lessons of physics by playing chess, and in the annual paper , we found bad grades on the physic . In the next 10 class Ludmila Izeekileevna was supposed to be our

class educator Yura and I also another guy who was also hated by this teacher (Yura

Efimov) nurtured plans for vengeance in the early 10th grade .We

decided to buy some kind forms of application in which we supposed to

write that teacher of physic weres selling cheap devices of physics laboratory, referring to L.I.Poroshkina. But before the first lesson, in the new school year Anna Isidorovna

led us by the hand into the study of physics and demanded that we

apologize. From respect to Anna Isidorovna we apologized to L.I.Poroshkina for our bad behavior. Lyudmila Izeekileevna victoriously smiled, and the incident was settled. Already completed


ads about selling of devices were not posted.


However, contrary to our expectations, being a class educator, Ludmila Izeekileevna passionately defended our interests, sometimes even losing any objectivity. On the school graduation math exam , where she was a math teacher assistant she just asked me what ticket number I wanted to get. She put the desired ticket to certain place, telling me about that. We found out that she was not a bad person, but she had serious complexes because of her poor Russian language. Also she liked to show her power. The most important quality of her, of course, was stupidity. Anna Isidorovna certainly knew her well, knew that in fact she is a good person, and therefore she has been with L.I. on friendly terms.


              Perhaps the most unusual figure among our teachers was the school director Konstantin Russo. He was a man of medium


age (45-50). He looked as a gloomy, dark man with a pitch-black hair and glasses with a big horn frame. He always wore uniform of


retired officer, including wide belt, and breeches which were


neatly tucked into polished chrome boots. Perhaps ,


he was a political worker in the Army and after demobilization


he was offered a job as a school principal.


When we were in grade In grade 9, he taught Russian literature. He spoked slowly


impressively with pauses to appreciate the imagination which his words caused. He usually mention Russian writers of 19 century


not only by the last name, which was usually accepted, but he used first and patronymic names like they were his friends.


For example, Aleksandr Sergeyevich (Puschkin) or Lev Nikolaevich

(Tolstoi) etc.


He never preparing for lessons, therefore, coming to a class, he was improvising. In accordance to program of literature studying, we supposed to learn the works of great Russian writer L.N.Tolstoi.


The easiest way for our teacher was to ask students


who read Tolstoi manuscript “War and Peace”. It happened to be one student. His name was Petya


Zhadrinsky, round-shouldered guy in glasses with a face similar to polecat. Petya was distinguished from the rest of students by the fact that he absorbed a tremendous numbers of


different books. He not only read but memorized its contents.


His memory retain any insignificant details: who said that and this about whom and who at that time entered the room. However, Petya

did not understand the real meaning what he red . It was useless to ask his opinion about meanings on Ostrovsky or Chekhov plays, or


his opinion of Ostrowski’s play “Grosa” or Chekhov’s story “Ionich”.


But our teacher was glad that at least someone read “War and Peace”, therefore, he suggested that Petya would tell us about book content, ranging from the first chapter. Petya muttering till the lesson time expired, Konstantin Konstantinovich


somberly listened with bowed head, and we were all glad that we were not called by teacher to answer. At this time the chess epidemic captured our class and I thought about the next move in the pending party.in a pending game. After these boring lessons our teacher start discussion on “War and Peace”, which gradually was being transferred


into discussion about social problems in our society. We talked about many things .He explained us the situation with women rights


in tsarist times: rules of divorce, monogamy, polygamy, prostitutions and the other things. This was interesting for young males, and the most advanced part of the class to which belonged


Jewish guys willingly participated in discussions.


Then there were other discussions: about collective farms, cooperatives, private enterprises. It is necessary to say that for the time when any deviations from the approved Party line were not allowed and when Party imposed upon people a rigid ideological line on everywhere and on everything, to hold such discussions was very brave action. Of course, our literature teacher himself was the member of Communist Party , therefore he felt himself more freely than non-members of the Party.

Any way, fortunately nobody reported about these discussion to NKVD, and we successfully completed grade 9. When our teacher was to give grades to each student on literature he simply performed this task very easily -depended on the degree of student participation in the discussion . I should say


that these grades were fai: the most intellectual guys got highest grades.


      Unfortunately in the next class , which was the last class in school we had another teacher of literature.


During the summer vacations of years 1946 and 1947


my friends parted somewhere, and I ,again, was left to myself.


I did not ride trams, but I found a good way of


spending time. On every day I went to Central Park


Culture and Leisure (CPKO) , went to the beach, where I put in storage


my clothes in the dressing room, left only with number plates and swim suit .My goal was to learn to swim. I just tried to swim to the specific spot in the Neva river till I feel tired.


At first it was 2 meters, then 4, to the end of the first summer


I was able to swim 25 meters without being tired.


I performed these exercises every day, regardless of the weather.


Then I dressed, drunk coffee and


donuts, which were produced by baked machine at the entrance to CPKO.


After that I went to a chess club, settled down in the bright pavilion among birches on the shore of one of the inland lakes.


The chess club was some kind of democratic institution in those days.


Anyone can enroll in the tournament on his level. At first


I joined to lowest level tournament. Getting in this tournament 75% of points I was qualified for next level 5.


Then in the tournament of level 5 I


received level 4.I remember that I needed to collect one point in the tournament of level 4 to get to level 3.


After that , my attempt to get a title of chess grandmaster was stopped.


But, regardless of the tournament, in chess club you could always find a partner


for game. Inside the chess club was high density smoke. I soon noticed there where


several gray-haired man with smoking pipes in their hands that made them look like retired


”sea wolves”. Often through tobacco smoke I could


see the figure of a boy, age 11-12, who played with the “sea wolves”


or analyzed the game. 2-3 men watched his game


among which sometimes I was present .The name of boy was Boris. The chess players told me


that he had a chess level 2 which for this age boy was great achievement. Many years later I read in the paper about the new


world champion Boris Spassky, who in those years improved his skills playing in a summer chess club of CPKO, so I and the World Chess champion had swallowed the same smoke. This unfortunately was the only thing which tied us together.


And on the romantic front, the things stay the same: natural


shyness, reinforced strict socialist morality, which


I took at face value, excluded any familiarity with


girl on the street. And at school parties, I stood against the wall, unable to dance.


Therefore when the news flashed that in the women school in our


district dance lessons would be open, I and Yura Levy decided to enter. The dance school was organized on a good level. The teaching was conducted by former ballet dancer who would come for lessons with a partner and pianist. The girls and boys were crowded in opposite corners of a large hall while teacher showed the elements of dance. Then he request the boys to invite girls. In accordance to the etiquette of invitation we strode across the room, approached to 3 meters to the girls, stopped and looked to their eyes, tilted head. This meant an invitation to the dance.


Receiving the consent, expressed with a nod, it was necessary


carefully take the girl's arm and hold up to the original


dance position. Then we, accordingly to our skill and dexterity,


began to glide girls on the polished floor. For


me the main goal was to avoid to step on partner’s foot.


Therefore, in order to avoid such a disgrace, I had to be kept from


the girl at a greater distance than required. This disturbed the harmony of the dance, but it was a lesser evil


than being branded as a clumsy bear.


The dance lessons were going relatively well, however, the problem was,


that these lessons were absolutely unpractical because we learned onlythe old classic dances which nobody danced during the parties. People danced everywhere the tangos and fox-trots, but the Soviet cultural administrators so thatt as admiration of West. Therefore officially


permitted dances learning in schools were only ballroom dances. We learned waltz, pad-Espuma, Waltz-Gavotte and even


Mazurka. So there was no relation of dance school lessons to real life. Since I was not invited to balls at Nobles


meeting, it was no where to apply new skills. At least


I learned to dance waltz. Once at one school party I invited the girl to dance, using the received at school


knowledge of court dances etiquette. She with some dismay


drew back, apparently, thinking that I was not quite normal.


I was ashamed, retreated, but I learned from this that I should forget about formal etiquette and do whatever other guys were doing

who did not graduated from dance school.


I used the same approach and the results were much better, in any case, nobody rushed away from me.


        Meanwhile , time inexorably continued its run.


The last school year for me in September 1947 started


in the new building located on Petrozavodsk street just opposite


of famous Petrozavodsk baths .This circumstance played a definite value in our studying , but more of that below.


In the last grade 10 two strange subjects were added to learning plan : the logic and psychology.


I am convinced that the addition of these two subjects happened accidentally without of Party Central Committee approval,. because these subjects developed critical and independent mentality which

absolutely contradicted to typical communist dogmas.


Indeed, the whole country was


brought up in the firm belief that the only correct


theory, explaining always everything and everyone,was a Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist


ideology. Stalin answered clearly to question addressed to him, why do we follow


Marxism-Leninism: “ Because it is true”. No evidence, no explanations .It is true and that's all.


However, from the point of view


of formal logical rules the Marxist-Leninist


Ideology is a set of unrelated unproven


communication stamps, which were hammered into people head just as the Lord's Prayer.


Psychology, for its part, talked about the different types of human temperament


and human behavior, while the official ideology widely declared


creation of a new socialist soviet human beings. Psychology if you study it seriously, leads to the idea that nurturing the new man,


to put it mildly, stupidity .I believe that soon or later someone from Party Bosses understood


that the teaching of these subjects in school can lead


to undesirable consequences, namely, to independent thinking .


An independent thinking even of small number of people was


a greater threat to the power of the Communist Party and Soviet


State.


Therefore soon the teaching of these subjects were canceled.


But we did not seriously study these subjects, in general, we hardly looked into textbooks.


No special teachers for these subjects were prepared, therefore


the school administration instructed to handle these courses the teacher who was teaching the history, his surname Zheltovsky.


It was a lean, bilious type sickly man, totally


unable to maintain even a semblance of discipline.


In his classes the students who were quiet, as I, was played the sea battle, games and other students conducted a


real war fought among themselves, throwing portfolios


and galoshes. Poor Zheltovsky sometimes tried to stop us .


Having a headache, he would ask us to behave quietly, but we


did not pity him, and the orgy continued. Soon we achieved with him


some kind of compromise .We selected delegates to sit at his lessons, usually ,3-4 students, and the rest of students went to movie theater.


The permanent delegate who was present at each lesson was already mentioned Peter Zhadrinskiy.

In April and May with the onset of warm weather more interesting activity appeared. Leaving delegates in the classroom, we went to the attic and through the dormer window climbed on the roof .I already said that in front of the school were Petrozavodsk baths.


The roof was very convenient place to view the waiting room of the bath’s women areat, where in April and May some windows were open. One guy brought field binoculars for better view. We saw with great interest how women take off or put on their clothing before or after the bath.


We were sitting back next to


vertical frame of the roof, trying to merge with roof surface. But


as we tried to go unnoticed sometime it was becoming increasingly difficult.


Once we spotted the school principal deputy Dmitry Zverev. He did not climbed onto the roof, but only stuck his head out of the dormer window and began call us with dirty words.


(but no foul language, for he was a cultural


man). His favorite words were:* idiots, sheep, donkeys, etc.


          Dmitry Zverev taught in grade 10 the literature and


Russian language. He looked like a good-looking image of old


men on billboards at the side end of some houses.


The portrait usually had a sign like this: “ I saved money in a savings bank and bought a motorcycle”.


However, the majority of citizens had another understanding of this slogan.


There were other words association: “ gained “ and “drink.” In Russian it sound like rhyme . ( Money Nakopil and Propil).


In contrast to our former teacher Rousseau, Dmitry Zverev did not tolerated any deviation from the school plan. He never smiled, was always gloomy and treated us as a necessary evil. But his power in the graduating class was enormous .


Gold or silver medal after graduation from the


school let us to enter the university


without a new series of exams and this was very attractive. At that time to get any medal was special requirement to have a higher mark in Russian language and literature. Therefore Dmitry


Zverev held veto power on the medal to those whom he dislike. He disliked Jews, but as usual most of


candidates for the medal, were Jews. I remember that none of


Jews of both the tenth grades was getting highest grade five on


exam.

The first exam in Russian language and literature was held


May 20 simultaneously throughout the whole Soviet Union. All schools in the country received


envelopes from Ministry of Education with mandatory themes of composition .


Three themes of composition were offered. Two of them related to classic literature and third one was a “free” theme.


(Lenin in the image of Mayakovsky , the “Catherine” Character in Ostrovsky play “Storm”


and free theme: “ Our Soviet country became the last Hope for the World “)


I chose a free theme, which title represented lines from a poem of


known Soviet poet Lebedev-Kumach. My essay, of course,


was politically correct with a set of high-sounding propaganda


phrases and quotations, and it was fully consistent with the official standards of that time and did not


contained grammatical or syntactical errors.


If Dmitry Zverev would rated this composition with mark five, than he had


to send an essay to the District of Education for approval and


confirmation. Perhaps, he did not want to compromise himself in the eyes of these bureaucrats submitting an essay of Jewish guy.


It was much easier for him to appraise this essay with lower grade, what he gladly did on the ground of dissatisfaction with the content of composition.As a result, although all


other exams (there were about 10) I passed with the highest mark five, I did not get any medal.


The same fate comprehended Yura Levy and other Jewish guys.


The same evening, May 20th , two guys from our school come to my home. One of them-Lev Romanov studied in my class, the other by the name Cachin studied in


parallel tenth class .They asked me no more, no less ,as to


write a new compositions for them, in order to replace the works


written by them in the morning exam. I had no desire to write essay again so I suggested to them to go with them to school and correct grammatical errors in the already written compositions. Yura Levy also joined us and we went to school. It is necessary to say that these two guys were radio amateurs, they assembled and operated radio center in ourSchool. They mounted equipment, installed


dynamics and wirings. At those days, the school radio center was an uncommon thing, and the principal of school was very proud. Each morning before beginning of the lessons we were met by a cheerful march from the Soviet movie about young sailors:


                     “ Open space blue


                      Wave astern,


                      Proudly fluttering in the fog


                      Flag of the native homeland.


                      We move forward

 And not deviate from the path,


                      Because we Stalin's name


                      carry in our hearts ...”


Or the song from the movie “First glove”:


                      If you want to be healthy, harden yourself


                      And try to forget about the doctors ...


Of course, because of their work these guys used certain preferences in our school and teachers


examined them very liberally, avoiding the setting low grades.


But the main privilege was that they had the keys to


all premises and that gave them the idea to replace the essays.


It was already around 10 pm, when the four of us come to the school,


but, thanks to the Leningrad’s white nights, it was still not dark. With high caution, avoiding noise, we entered the teacher’s room, where still unchecked composition were kept. We found necessary papers, went into a classroom and began checking. I checked


essay of Lev Romanov and corrected, probably 30-35


grammatical errors. I had to ignore stylistic and syntactic errors.


Jura Levy did the same checking with composition of Kashena. Finishing the checkings we returned compositions to the teachers


room and place it into the former spot.


Luckily for us, nobody saw us because at that time this unlawful activity could inflate a great problem.


These guys got average grades for their compositions and got certificates for graduating high school.


            The day before the rest of the exams they would come to


the school and mark four tickets for themselves of


the total number of 30-35.


Lev Romanov was impudent fellow and he complain to me: “ Imagine ,I can not force myself to learn the four tickets “.


My plan about go to University unchanged, because my friend


Boris Rabinovich, who was older than me, easily entered in 1947 to the Faculty of Physics of


Leningrad University .” So, it means that for us is the same road” as popular wartime song stated.


And we did not understand that the situation in the country has been changed dramatically.


In January 1948, the official report in the main Communist Party newspaper “Pravda” informed Soviet People about the death of Director of Moscow Jewish Theater Samuel Mihoels. Also it was announced that his death was the result of the street crime in city Minsk. The state


organized a solemn funeral of Mihoels in Moskov . At that time we took this report


at a face value. (It was clearly proven many years later, that Mihoels


was killed by the KGB agents by the order of Stalin. Stalin conceived a great anti-Semitic campaign, but for the


beginning he had to get rid of the very well known and respected by the West world man which personified Mihoels). Almost immediately after this crime created by the government the press and radio campaign was launched against the, so-called ,


rootless cosmopolites. Under this name Party and Soviet government meant Jewish scholars, writers, playwrights, actors, in general, Jewish intelligentsia. Some of them lost their jobs , others humbly


repented their “sins” at the general meetings. These meetings


were gloomy reminders of wide prewar arrests. They were conducted in the factories and offices as a prelude to the next Stalin's witch hunt.


Although the rootless cosmopolitans were blamed for all


mortal sins, as the worship the West, belittling


Russian national achievements, a deviation from the Party


lines and so forth, but direct call for removing Jews still not yet be heard.


But everyone knew, against whom the campaign was directed. Perhaps,


our literature teacher understood it better then we.


And I and Yura Levy submitted, as planned, our documents to


Faculty of Physics of the Leningrad University and began to prepare for 6 exams [Russian language and literature, mathematics, (oral and


writing), physics, chemistry, German language].


In four subjects, I received excellent marks.


Examination in oral math was held at the University location


on Vassilyevsky Island. Finishing answers on my ticket, I had to


solve fairly complex problem. When the problem was solved,


It seemed simple, but it happened after


exam, but as Russian saying rightly says, the tablespoon is needed for the dinner and not after. During exam I did not


fiind the correct approach to the solution. (Later, in a calm atmosphere, I solved it). As a result, I received very average grade. If the reader will take an interest, there is a problem:


          Through the point lying inside the triangle, three


           straight lines drawn in parallel to three sides of a triangle.


           This way the area of a triangle divided into 6 parts,


           of which three are triangles with area S1, S2, S3.


           Determine the entire area of the whole triangle.

This problem I found later on the list of a very difficult problems for students with special math abilities.


But obviously biased attitude of the examiner, I felt during the


exam in chemistry, due to the anti-Semitism of teacher. This is absolutely true, because while preparing for the exam next to me was a Russian guy who answered before me and I heard the questions


and answers. More simple questions were hard to imagine.


Encouraged by easy exam, I went to the table to the examiner


took a ticket, but he stopped me and he himself choose ticket for me. I decided that it was better for me not to argue with the teacher about such deviation from normal rule because I knew chemistry relatively well and preferred not to spoil teacher’s attitude towards me.


The ticket number which he selected to me ,was 13


and included the questions about catalysis. I answered


within iknowledge I learned in school. He began to ask me to explain


this phenomenon in detail, in spite that these details were not described in school textbooks. When I told him that detailed explanation of this process is not available, he asked me :”Do you think that this is metaphysic?”

This was serious accusation in time of the official materialism rule. Then he requested me to write


structural formulas of inorganic substances, while in school, we used structural formulas


only to organic materials. Of course, I did some errors, and he gave me low grade.


We were all raised on the concepts of fairness and equal


treatment of all people. Therefore, I was greatly surprised of a


diametrically different attitudes of the examiner to me and to the Russian guy, who passed exam before me. At a young age one is stung by the injustice, then it


becomes much more bearable.


In University the admission committee always considered as the main criteria for the accepted students the grade point average, I had a good average: 4.3.In previous year


students enrolled to the Physics Faculty of University had in average 4.0.So in spite of some misfortunes I still was hoping that I will be exerted to University.

Being so confident in my accepting, I went after the exams to


Zelenogorsk, where in that year we rented a small room on


second floor of private house. This time on the beach of Zelenogorsk unexpected event occurred ,


which could end prematurely the life of author of these memoirs. It was serene Sunday day. The beach was crowded with people. I went for a swim alone, but at that time I was not a good swimmer. I knew that somewhere in the Finnish bay approximately 100 yards from the beach was a shallow place, where I could take a rest. Perhaps, I miscalculated the spot of shallow .While I swam, I felt tiredness.


I turned back but I felt that I could not swim anymore. I felt, that I was not able to reach the beach . Not far from me I saw people some swimming.


I was very ashamed, but I had to call for a help. A tough guy about 20 years old swam to me and began to support me for the arm. With his help I swam to the beach. When I came out of the water I was shaken and a beach with other people was revolving in my eyes.


After barely a few steps, I fell on the sand and laid there for 20 –30 minutes, until I felt myself better. I did not even asked the name of the guy who saved me.


Then I went home, saying nothing to anyone about the incident.


                     Somewhere toward the end of August, I went to the University,


to find out the schedule of classes. On the wall in the reception committee office the printed lists of enrollment hung .


Twice I looked through


lists, but could not find my name. I noticed no Jewish names on this list. I asked the girl at the reception committee, where I can find my name.


She pointed to the corner of the room, where written by hand list hung with the names of people who was not exerted.


On the first page I found my name and Yura Levy name was written several lines below. (He was not exerted despite of the fact that the oral exam in mathematics, he passed with A(In Russian scale it means 5 and that his average score was 4,5). Here in these sheets were most of the Jewish names. Only Jewish boys stood in line to the reception of the chairman of the office committee .The guys who came out from the office, just waved his hand, and one guy even dared to say: “ Blacks are not taken. “


I was shocked and I needed time to observe situation.


Only a few days left before schooling started in any university or institutes ,which usually happened on September first.


At the family council it was decided to use the human connection which had uncle Zodik.


He taught mathematics in the girl’s school and among of his students


in Grade 9 was the daughter of a director of the Textile Institute Truevtsev.


Truevtsev was also the representative of the Central Communist Party Committee for acceptance of the young people


to the Universities and Institutes. Uncle Zodik used his student as a connection to Truevtsev.


Truevtsev answered that he wanted to talk to me next day.


The next day I came to the Textile Institute located on the Herzen Street close to Nevsky Prospect. Truevtsev Secretary reported


about me and I walked into his office. I saw, with


puffed face nobleman, who was sitting behind a large desk.


Perpendicular to the desk, long table was attached covered with green cloth . Long rows of chairs installed along this table.


I passed gallery of chairs and stopped by the desk of Truevtsev.


Not inviting me to sit down, as soon as he understood who I was ,he immediately got down to business: “ I can offer


you one of two things: any faculty of the Textile Institute


or Instrumentation faculty of Electrotechnical Institute named after


Lenin (LETI) .” It was necessary to decide immediately. I choused the Electrotechnical Institute.


He immediately wrote a note to the dean of the Instrumentation Faculty .He said that I don’t need to pass new exams because the exams which I passed to University will be good for Electrotechnical Institute.


I thanked him and left the room.


The next day I came to LETI, gave a note and other documents to the dean . He included my name in the list of one of the groups of students in the Instrumentation Faculty which prepared engineers in the field of industry automation and remote control.


To finish this story, I would like say that my uncle also helped


Yura Levy to enter LETI. He used another


channel for his placement through the school girl whose father Orlov was a teacher in LETI. With help of this man Yura Levi was accepted on Electro-Energy Faculty.


The request from teacher was enough for the Faculty at that time


because it was shortfall of students entering Technical Institutes.


Thus,I and Yura entered different faculties and gradually our


ways were separated and no longer intersected. However, for couple of years we still rarely meet together. About one such case, I am going to tell here.


In 1950 in Leningrad’s Variety Theater, the man with fantastic abilities conducted his experiments.


His name was Wolf Messing. His ability to read other people thoughts at a distance, and prophecies were very famous.


Somehow he mysteriously penetrated the depths of the human minds. In 1939 when Hitler's troops entered Warsaw, and Messing, being a Polish Jew, was arrested and jailed, he had by power of his mind gathered all the security guards in one place, made one of them to open Messing’s cell, which allowed Messing to safely escape from the


prison . Later he moved to the Soviet zone of occupation of Poland.


From there he escaped to Soviet Union. Appearing in Belarus, Messing tried to find a job in the circus,


as a magician. It is necessary to say that in the Soviet Union under


Bolshevik government official ideology was based on the primitive


materialism and atheism. Therefore, people with abnormal abilities, to put it mildly, were not welcomed. However, due to Messing’s popularity in Europe Soviet dictator Stalin wanted to look at his phenomena talent. He ordered NKVD to bring Messing to Moscow, where Messing fulfilled a number of challenges by Stalin’s


instructions. (one of them was a task to enter the building of the State


Bank and withdraw the huge sum of money, giving to the cashier an empty blank of paper.


A poor elderly cashier was shown a blank piece of paper and


he gave money to Messing. Finally the cashier had a heart attack, when he learned on what ground he gave money.) As a result, Stalin personally


ordered not to touch Messing, although the NKVD (Commissariat of Internal Affairs) secretly followed Messing everythere.


Such a man appeared in the Variety Theater, the program of his show modestly called “Psychological experiences “, or something like that.


Yura Levy and I managed to buy two tickets in the last row.


The theather was overcrowded. Before the beginning of Messing show some official organizer read


a little lecture to the auditorium .The main idea of lecture was that, nothing supernatural in abilities of Messing's and whatever he is doing. His actions did not contradict Marxism and materialism. Then of those viewers present in the theather bureau was selected


and placed by a long table on the stage. I would like to say that the composition of the presidium was malevolent to Messing :


a few senior officers, three or four heavily built men, several middle aged women of the scandalmonger type. At least, that was my impression. Of course, the entire presidium consisted of members of the Communist Party, and perhaps some were


undercover NKVD officers. Someone from the viewers sent the note to the Bureau with assignment for Messing.


Messing performed the tasks based on mental order from author’s of assignment. Usually, it was different


variations of the same topic: “ Go to such and such row number, such a place in the row, take the purse from sitting on this place woman, get a phonebook and a mirror out, bring them on a stage. Then search through phonebook notebook for the specific name, remember and show to the public 2


last digits of this person’s phone number. “ (Or similar tasks.) After Messing performed the task, someone from


Bureau would read the content of original note and


viewers were convinced of the correctness of the Messing performance. Face of


Messing expressed great tens of his job, sometimes he shaked his head: “ You do not think about task” he would say. I remember, someone from the audience shouted to him:


”You a deceiver!”. Hearing this, Messing trembled, lost his temper and began shouting in a


broken Russian: “ I have traveled the world, performed in Berlin, Rome, Paris, Australia, and nowhere I heard such an insults, as


I hear here !”

Meanwhile, I noticed that Yura Levy wrote detailed note. Then he put in my trouser pocket his cigarette case.


The note he sent to the stage. Suddenly I heard that Yura was summoned to the scene.


The Bureau has selected his job, as most complicated. Yura entered the stage


and begins mentally command Messing what to do . I have to remind that Yura had remarkable ability to deeply concentrate on something. When he was solving a problem, he did not heard anything around .I saw that Yura and Messing were coming to me. (Messing performed this task with blindfolded


eyes, so, moving around the hall, Messing kept Yura's hand.) He went into our last row,


took me by the hand and led me to the stage. I was somewhat embarrassed, because the eyes of the viewers in the hall were turned on us. I was dressed as it was popular among students at that time:


blue-green combination shirt with a belted blue trousers.


When three of us found ourselves on stage under the bright light of bulbs, I noticed that Messing was approximately 45 years old. I saw a sweat rolled down his forehead.


The Messing eyes were covered with tight scarf.


Yura stood by and mentally ordered Messing to take the cigar case and matches from my pocket


insert cigarette into my mouth, lit a match and held it to


cigarette, but did not light a cigarette and extinguish the match. Then he pulled out a comb from my pocket, extend it to my hairs, but he did not brush my full head of hair . He simply hand his hand on my hair. Then he performed on me some other minor actions, erased from memory. When thel assignment of Yura Levy was performed


(it was the last Messing’s task), the Bureau read Yura’s original note, and all viewers were convinced that the task was performed by Messing absolute correctly.


In the subsequent post-Stalin years many books were written about Messing.


I will mention one of them, written with sincerity and love: author-Tatiana Lungina -


”Wolf Messing-Man of Mystery,” published by the publishing house Hermitage in the year1982 .


Tatiana Lungina was a medical doctor and close Messing’s friend .

She described many interesting stories related to life of Messing ,.

his family and friends. I have this book in my library. Unfortunately,

the book is written in Russian.


Chapter 4 Student years (1948-1953)


Our Institute


Right at the intersection of the street of Professor Popov and Apothecary

alley on an island called Aptekarsky in the 19th century, a Gothic architectural building was built. Specific architectural forms of

the building underlined its resemblance to the Catholic cathedral (photo 9.10).

Since the beginning of the 20th century, this building was used for an Imperial Electrotechnical Institute, which under the Soviet regime was renamed after V.I.Lenin .(The short abbreviation is LETI)The memorial board informs that

during a student meeting in the early 20 century, Lenin was hiding in the building from the czarist police.

Indeed, in one of the main audiences of the Institute behind the huge movable board next to the wall was a door leading to a small room with no windows. Lenin allegedly was hiding in this room

during a police search . If this is true, than the czarist gendarmes performed very poorly as compared to created later under Soviet Union Soviet secret police,

which originally called CHEKA and later NKVD and later KGB. This audience had the only suspected thing - a traveling board, but police did not look behind it. It is a shame and pity. Perhaps, this time Lenin would be sent off to a place so remote that he would not able to get out, and the October Revolution could not take place.


But , according to a Russian saying, History does not have the subjunctive mode.


Within the LETI walls I spent 5.5 years. This was a time filled with lectures, course work, tests, and anxiety before each exam and a cheerful feeling after the exams were over.

In our faculty, there were 4 groups specializing in close areas of instrument design .My specialty was Automatic and Remote control. Visiting of lectures

was considered mandatory for all faculty. Practice problem-solving was carried out in smaller groups. For laboratory work, we broke into groups of 2-3 people.


I had hoped that the institute teachers would be bearded intelligent professors who represented their own scientific schools. I thought that these professors were authors of multivolume scientific books.

But reality fell short of my expectations. The teachers represented a sample of the new Soviet worker-peasant-intelligentsia of the first post-revolutionary generation. Their faces also

emphasized the worker-peasant descent. This does not mean that they did not know their subjects. Contrary to this, many of them, despite their inherent boorish manners and unsmooth literacy, wrote a decent summary. A synopsis of a lecture is the main weapon of the students in preparing for exams, since there were no physical possibility to read recommended books.

The exception of these types of teachers was perhaps only one teacher, who corresponded to my conception of what it means to be a professor. He was Professor Sergei A. Rinkevich, a white-haired old man with a spiritual, delicate face of an old pre-revolutionary intelligent. He gave us group lectures about automatic motor drives. He was the founder of this science in Russia and was the author of several books. He also founded the laboratory of electric drive in Russia and Germany.


At his lectures, he basically shared with us his own memories. He told us how he created this science, what tasks had to be solved, and how he overcame different problems. He saw us not as students who

need to pass these exams with good grades but rather as his own colleagues with whom he is interested in sharing scientific problems. Of course, to write something based on his words was impossible.


Even a smart girl, Ghalya Golovkin, who manages usually to make a synopsis of any subject and whose notes were of great value in an exam, was helpless. However, exams were approaching. For exam preparation, only 3 days were given. Rinkevich recommended to study his book (500 pages), published only in 1925 and no longer republished. In the Public Library on the Fontanka River were only 4 copies of this book. (For Americans who are reading that I reporting that reproduction of printed materials in the Soviet Union

was strictly prohibited and punishable by imprisonment).


What could we do? We gathered together at a special meeting of our group and decided that we should somehow communicate with Sergei Alexandrovich ,and that

we cannot get the low grades on the exam, because this deprived us of potential scholarships whose size was within 300-400 rubles a month. Here is some clarification.

In 1947, the Soviet Union government conducted money reform. In wartime, so much money was printed that it led to high inflation. Since most of the money was worthless, the government decided it was time for the people to tighten their belts. I remember that in the published decision of the Council of Ministers and the Central Committee of the Communist Party about monetary reform, were the words that Party and government believes that this is the last sacrifice

they ask people to take upon themselves.(This was the final sacrifice of previous measures and the first one in new series). Rumors about future money reform spread throughout the population and people bought everything that was possible to buy in

antique shops, believing that old good-quality things will not lose their value. A majority of the population, and us, included, kept money in the bank, and some under our mattresses.

People who kept money under their mattresses have lost more than others, because 10 old rubles became equal to one new one. People who trust government banks received for 3 old ruble one new ruble up to a certain limit.


In short,since 1947, new money was introduced until 1961 when Khrushchev organized zooming prices 1:10 and released new banknotes in denominations of 10 times less than available before.


Now let me get back on the institute affairs topic. What could be bought for a scholarship? Not a little bit. A kilogram of bread cost one ruble and 20 kopecks., half-liter bottle

of very low quality cheap vodka costs 21 rubles 20 kopecks. Travel allowance for business travel was 26 rubles per diem, which could be enough to eat in

canteens, and a one way railway ticket from Leningrad to Sochi was worth 218 rubles. So for students, especially newcomers, who lived in Leningrad

in a dormitory, a scholarship was very vital. We decided to entrust one of the students, Michael Zlachevsky, a very delicate conversation with our professor. He had to explain to him the situation before exams and most importantly to inform him that

that low grades are not acceptable for students.


Misha Zlachevsky said that the textbooks are difficult to get and that time for the exam preparation is not enough.

Sergey Rinkevich sympathetically listened while nodding his head. But we felt that the crux of the problem escaped his attention.

Therefore we whispered, ”Tell him directly about the problem”. Finally, Misha replied, "We cannot get anything less than a grade four on the exam because it deprives us of getting our scholarships"

Then our teacher climbed down to earth and promised that he would keep a Liberal approach to our answers. He kept his word. He set only 2 low grades, because those

students knew absolutely nothing, but they did not get scholarships anyway. The students who at least say something on the exams got higher grades. Unfortunately, our group was the last one where Sergei Rinkevich teached, because next year he passed away.


In the company's worker-peasant teachers, was a Lecturer of the Metal Technology Gorshkov. Heavy with an unhealthy puffy face, not very neat, Gorshkov

was despised by most students because he often repeated that allegedly he is cut off from important business. He bolstered about his imaginary or real labor successes during his previous work on factories. The main sentence he repeated over and over was: ”I was waiting for plants of the South.” Let me explain further:


In 1953, during the so-called thaw after Stalin's death, students of our institute set a satirical play under name :”Spring in LETI”. In one scene a slob-teacher was derided. He was saying some nonsense about his labor successes. When he uttered the phrase:” I was expected for plants of the South, the whole audience shakes hands in applause.

Everyone knew that this play character represents our teacher, Gorshkov.


Metal Technology was probably the most boring and dull subject of all. However, it was mandatory for students on exams to determine the name of metal cut under a microscope. To do this, you would need to keep track in mind of dozens different pictures. I do not have a good visual memory, but I was lucky. One of students who was passing the exams before me

told me that if you see gray rectangles on more of a dark background, say the word Babbitt . I saw this picture and said that this is: Babbitt . I received an undeserved high grade, however my knowledge of Metal technology ,was to put it mildly, very weak.



It would be wrong to say that all teachers grew up under the Soviet regime were cad people. I would say that among them you could meet people whom I called

aristocratic. Usually they wore brand-new suits and they lectured very well. They were 40-50 years old at that time and attracted the special attention of women's part of our faculty.

As part of this group of teachers was Professor of Applied Electronics, Bayda and Professor of Theoretical Mechanics, Kelzon. (His hobby was mountain climbing and he was rated a high grade in this sport). I also have a kind word for a teacher of Automation Control-Hector, intelligent, calm an elderly Jew with large engineering experience. His method of exam was simple and elegant and included to allow students the use of any literature or synopsis in preparing an answer to the ticket.

Then he opened some electrical schematic and highlighted in pencil some circuit element (contact, a diode, etc.). He asked a student to explain the designation of this element.

He could ask students what changed in the schematic operation and asked if this element would replaced with other one. This way, he demanded comprehension and understanding above all, not mindless memorization.


The opposite approach is used by teachers of the Department of Marxism-leninizm . Although this subject had no relation to the skills of future engineers, the Soviet Communist Party stated everywhere that nobody could be a good engineer or a good doctor without knowledge of Marxist-Leninist theory. Propaganda stated that without knowledge of Marxist-Leninist theory, any Soviet citizen could fall under the enemy of socialism influence or even become an” enemy of the people.”

This term was invented by Stalin for branding those communists who did not agree with him. The subject contained a complexity of books, articles and speeches of Marx-Engels-Lenin-Stalin.

Materialism was officially proclaimed as the only possible philosophy in the Soviet Union because the

faith in God was declared a relic of capitalism and the Soviet people

were promised a future paradise on earth(not on heaven) in the form of communism. The basic formula of life under communism was the slogan:”From each person take

according to his ability and give him according to his requirements. It means that if someone has only two curves in the brain, he still would get under communism all what he wants.

Several years later, I read on the wall of a public toilet a smart statement that said "Communism is a fairy tale for fools. “ This was true. God was banished, because the world already had God, a “great friend” of all peoples, Coryphées of all sciences, the Great Stalin.

After the war, an anecdote was told: “In 1943 at the conference of Heads of U.S.A., Great Britan and Soviet Union was conducted in Tehran, Iran. Even the God himself visited this conference because of its importance. The God was sitting on the throne, and he was welcomed by the participants of the meeting. While welcoming Roosevelt and Churchill, the Lord

rose from his throne, walked over to him and shook hands. When Stalin's turn came, the Lord remained seated on a throne. He only extended a hand for shaking. Then, Roosevelt and Churchill asked “Lord, why he did not he stand up to greet Stalin” and his reply was “Once I get up, he would immediately sit down at my place. “

The teachers of Marxism-Leninism became

people little capable of useful work for society, but wishing

to have an easy and good piece of bread. Among them were many Jews. Uncle Zodik contemptuously called these people “scholars socialists”.


At a time when I was studying, they were gradually expelled from the pulpit and were replaced by Russian farm workers or by people of peasant origin or descent. I remember one lecturer named Pisman with a shock of gray hair and outstretched to the eternal grimace on his face, like he had just swallowed a bitter pill. With a Jewish accent, he was saying to us the great truth: “The Mensheviks were fed ... (he wanted to say “try”). In this series, there was another lecturer, a small woman named Kiel, barely visible above the chair, but to utter the same truth with the indisputable aplomb and confidence.

But they have propped up and was soon were ousted by the younger Russian people. One of these teacher was a thin

women age 35-40 years old with watery eyes that reflected the Holy Faith in the Party lines. Of course, she was completely absent of any sense of humor, and being lonely, she did not care about time she spent. Her surname was Semenov.

She accepted student’s tests, even on New Year's eve up to 11 p.m.. Semenov terrified all students because sometimes she forced them to come over 2-3 times for same exams. To illustrate her brutality, I remember a story of one

of the students in our group, Eugene Arshavsky. He stuttered heavily and the teachers usually endured his intolerable speech for a very short time. They quickly set him a grade or asked him to write something. However, Semenov did not give him an easy life. Once she caused him to speak in a seminar, and Eugene started as usual: Bu ... bu ... bu ... At the same time his face scared and distorted in an attempt to pronounce words Semenov listened quietly and after some time said: “You do not know material Arshavsky”.

“I know, I know, I know! “... quickly shouted Eugene, perhaps, for fear of a bad grade, this cured him for a while from stuttering.”Then answer the questions”-, replied Semenov. Eugene began again: “Bu ... bu ... bu” . Semenov again mentioned that he did not know the material. And he again screamed “I know…”

This situation repeated three times. Finally, stuttering did not justify Eugene’s expectations. This time he did not pass and he received a well-deserved low mark.

I was somehow respected by Semenov. The reason was in the fact that Marxism-Leninism was nevertheless

history, garbled, set from foots on its head, adapted to glorify Stalin but history. But in history, I felt like a fish in water, unlike other students, who were

good in the technical disciplines, but were unable to

learn the confused ideas of Marxism-Leninism.

So I spoke on all seminars, complementing and developing the inarticulate previous students statements .Also, another important reason existed. At that time it was considered essential to tie

Marxist-Leninist theory to the present day life.

For myself, who read the newspapers regularly and who was

interested in politics since my childhood, this requirement presented absolutely no problem.

At that time the whole Soviet press and radio considered the main

villain in the world, Yugoslav President Tito, who, after the war

showed independence of Stalin.

Every newspaper printed a caricature of Tito. They blamed Tito for everything was considered a good

tone in every speech, regardless of the topic.

So, I tied any topic discussed at the seminar to present time, betraying

and condemning the clique Tito. Of course, I needed to find some kind of transitional

words, to move from, say, Lenin's book “What to do? “

to the ferocity of Tito government. I did it easily. Therefore,

in the eyes of Semenov, I was a magic wand on all seminars.

The first exam at the end of second course was Marxism .To increase time for preparation to other

exams, I decided to pass the exam earlier in the full confidence

that Semenov could set me only the highest grade .She agreed

to take my exam earlier .She asked me to give Stalin's definition of NEP (new economic policy of the Communist Party, which began in the year 1921 )

She demanded that I would answer literally with memorization of Stalin’s words.

I replied, too, with Stalin's words, that Marxism is not a dogma, but

a Guide to political actions .Her little eyes bulged in

astonishment , but soon she came around and set me the highest grade.


Speaking of Tito, I remembered a scene observed several years later in Gorlovka, in Ukraine. I rode in a tram, but in the coaches always there were beggars, each performing some specific song .One of the beggars sang verses, ending with the words:

“And the bandit Tito ever game is lost”. Even Stalin died by this time, Tito has ceased to be a bandit, and once again became a friend, but for the Russian people the new situation was not different from the old one. The car riders did not pay attention to the song of beggars.

The portraits of our teachers lacking of another

frame-teacher of military strategy and tactics : the captain of 2nd rank

Hayndrava. At that time, students of higher educational institutions received deferment to the army .

The students military training was conducted in the walls of our

Institute. In our case, our institute had the Navy Cathedra. At the graduation from the Institute, we were supposed to pass the State exam for naval training and we are given the rank of engineer-lieutenant of reserve .

Our teacher, Hayndrava, was able to read only printed text, but he managed some

difficult words to read from the second or third try .Once he saw in the text, the word

“blitzkrieg “(which meant lightning war in German). From the third

attempt, he read it as “blitskirg” and innocently smiling and fearing

that we did not understand, he explained: “It was a German general’s

name”. In general, he was a simple and good man, he did not ask

additional questions on exams and was satisfied with the students primitive answers.

The students life was a lot of fun between exams. There was a famous song about student’s lives. “The students having fun from session to session and the session just only twice a year.“

The educational process in the institute not only included listening to lectures. (Lectures accumulated with every day, and soon we just mechanically copied it from the board or from the teachers words. ) A lot of time of a year was used to handle all course projects , laboratory work followed by their shaping and the problem solving on some subjects.

Therefore, some student fraternity took place, based on the common struggle for the right of first admission to the exam, then for the common efforts to pass the exam,

without losing one’s scholarship . Sometimes you meet in the corridor of the Institute in the evening a student of their own group or of a parallel group with bloodshot eyes from lack of sleep, disheveled hair and some papers under his arm.

He rushes to you, waiting for salvation, as a sailor on a doomed ship, throwing your words: “Did you pass the laboratory work on strength of materials?” Or:

“Did you finish the courses design of the electric motor”? Or: “Did you solve Math problems?” After an affirmative answer to at least one question you listen a desperate plea:” Let me copy! “

I sometimes also had to apply for mutual help because the performance in good faith of all jobs exceeded the capacity of a normal hard-working man.

All students groups had appointed by the institute administration the students administrative body consisting of

an elder, trade-union organizer and Party organizer (if there were several members of the Party in a group).

Thus, an each group copied the same principle of management that permeated everything in Soviet society.

These trio (administrator, chairman of

local trade-union and the Party secretary) was called on the people's slang

triangle .In addition to these officials, one or several groups had

an informal, strictly conspiratorial person, who reported

information about the mood among the students to the institute

informants, and they, in turn, were the informants of KGB.

Even now I am not sure who was

informant in our group, although I had some suspicions regarding this.

I suspected one of the slick guys.

I remembered that in the fifties, when Stalin and his assistant Kim Il Sung unleashed the Korean War, Stalin started a media campaign

accusing Americans in the use of bacteriological weapons in Korea.

Newspapers choked with anger by publishing pictures of containers

which allegedly contained the deadly bacterium. By this time, my uncle Zodik and I knew the true value of this campaign.

But I was surprised when one of our students, the usual apolitical Russian man, whose interests are mainly in motorcycles and fishing

suddenly became interested in my opinion regarding

barbarians Americans .He repeatedly struck up a conversation with me, about what bastards are Americans.

I was by this time an experienced man and readily agreed with him. There were no consequences for me for having these conversations.

Between 1955-56, working in the Urals, I met a local guy Tolja Vasilyev, who studied

in LETU at the same time, when I was there, but with the other faculty. He told me that he lived in a dormitory and one day he said something bad regarding the collective farm system in the Soviet Union. A few weeks after, he visited the Theatre of Leninsky Komsomol, it was April 30 and the First May celebration was held there .

This evening, two strong men approached him, took his arms and under the pretext that he is drunk, he was asked to exit the theater .They push him into a black car .He told me that he still had the hope that if, after the Kirov bridge car would turn right, then perhaps it is taken to the detoxification center,

and if the car turned left, that means that car is driving to the Big House. (People of Leningrad understood under Big House the Leningrad Corporate KGB office).

Unfortunately, the car turned left,

and later he received 5 years of the labor camps for anti-Soviet propaganda.

After Stalin death, many political cases were reviewed, and he was released in 1954 for lack of crime. Then he returned home to the Ural and was admitted to LETI at correspondence.

His story finally had a happy ending.


Despite my experience with official anti-Semitism at the University admission, I have not lost the illusions about the Communist ideology.

Still I had some faith in the Marxist-Leninist ideology. I thought that if Lenin had lived another few years,

there would be no mass reprisals. Even my faith in Stalin did not disappear at that time.

Comrade Stalin said once that anti-Semitism is the highest degree of cannibalism. It means that absolutely impossible

imagine that Stalin is an anti-Semite.


We are building communism


Soon I was elected the group Komsomol organizer. That demanded me to be an example of how to inspire people to perform voluntary labor of any

kind, like planting trees in the park, construction of a new

Institute building, or scavenging in the dormitory building.

After the first course, the Komsomol Committee of LETI considered a students trip for summer vacation on the construction site

of the rural Krasnoboisky hydroelectric Power station. It was believed that students will complete the electrification

of remote areas of the Leningrad region. The whole idea was

painted in a romantic tone like this "let us help Communist Party

to build socialism in the wilderness".


Students represented free labor for the state organization

“Selelektro” in electrification of remote area. At that time, Lenin's statement:” Communism is Soviet power plus

electrification “ was repeated often. It followed from this that the construction of Power Station is equivalent to the construction of communism.

Applications to the work on construction site were filled: from our group about 30 people expressed a desire to go, but the Committee

of Young Communist League selected only 12, including me. I was proud of it like belonging to the elite.

In early July, probably a couple hundred students from different

faculties arrived at the station Lodeynoe Pole, located

in the north-east of the Leningrad region .After couple of hours

of waiting, finally, collective farm trucks arrived.

We quickly climbed into the open box of the trucks

and rode through the dusty road to the destination ,

located 80 kilometers south. I was included in the linear team. It meant we had to pull the power lines to villages

houses. Our team consisted of 12 boys and one very well-fed girl ,who was a cook. We arrived to a small village on the banks of the river Oyat, and began to organize our way of life. This included the construction of toilets in the yard,

stuffing hay mattresses and pillow cases, bed organization

on the bunk, placing it in the cellar brought food ,find firewood

for stove. Our cook, without wasting time, prepared excellent dinner.

Having looked around, we saw that they were in a very picturesque

place: a narrow but fast flowing river Oyat with water color of fast

brewed tea twisted, skirting the wooded mountains. There were a lot of streams with cold clean water which were coming out of underground to the surface of mountains.

On a hot summer day, there was no greater pleasure than to cling to the crystal clear stream, feeling like everything inside your body is cooling.


On the opposite bank of the river forest there was woodlands with no signs of habitation.

The next day, the foreman took us at 6 am and after a heavy

breakfast, we headed to work.. I got a task to dig holes for

the power transmission line support. The hole should be at least

180 cm depth with steps leading down. We worked approximately untill 7 p.m. In the first days I was very tired and when we came home I

fell down on the mattress even reluctant to get up for dinner. However, soon this physical state has passed, this type of work turned into a habit.

If I worked on normal soil, I performed 2-3 holes in the day

but in complex soil (clay with water or stones), my performance

sharply decreased.

Our cook, fed us wonderfully, especially with delicious dinner. However, after the first week, when on Saturday evening, we came back from work, anticipating a good lunch, our cook suddenly told us that we ate all the products which were distributed for us for two weeks. What were we supposed to do? The village where supplies were kept was located 6 miles from our location and nobody from the local people worked on Sunday. Of course, our small village had no mail office, no phone, and no grocery store. Therefore on Sunday, our team leader asked for help from the Chief of local poor collective farm. He gave us a bag of dried potatoes,

still left from war-time and part of the recently slaughtered pig

meat. We found out the cast iron pot, from which, apparently, watering the calves, and lit a bonfire on the shore of river. Also, we threw into a pot pieces of pork meat.

When the water boiled in a pot for about an hour, we threw in some dried potatoes.

All the hungry crew lay on the couch, waiting for Sundays lunch.

Throughout my life, I have not eaten more terrible food. I did not eat pork at all because our family did not use it at home. A dried potatoes also was terrible. But we were very hungry and had no choice. The next day half our team was sick with stomach aches.

We joked that the score was 6:1 in favor of

pig. (In one killed pig 6 sick patients). I did not get sick, therefore next two days I was given another job. I was asked to organize products supply from Efremkovo . Therefore, I would have to rely on previously alien to me two living beings-horses. I was given two one axle carriages with harnessed horses .

I warned not to give horses to drink while in the road.

No others instructions. I walked hesitantly beside a cart

Other horse obediently followed first one .However, on the first ascent

to a hill, they almost stopped, and down from hill my horses were trotting . I gradually learned how to manage them.

But worst for me was their desire to turn off the road into a forest to any stream. I applied the whip, to force them on the stay on the way. Finally, our cavalcade reached Efremkovo, where the center

of the Linear branches was located. I left my carriages next to a primitive café organized by our students. While I was eating a good lunch, someone entered the cafe and asked who is the owner of horses he had seen walking peacefully through the village without driver. At that moment I and another

guy who was in the cafe (accidentally it was Sasha Plotkin, whom I knew well from living together in the evacuation of Siberia) rushed in pursuit of horses.

After we ran approximately 1000 feet, we caught up with the fugitives, and brought them quietly to appropriate place.

This time we bound horses to a fence.

My carriages were loaded with rolls of aluminum wires and food products, but this time, much less food as compared to the first 2 week’s worth of supplies. I went on my way back.

The next day I was assigned to the same job, but I have already acquired some experience.

On a way back from Efremkovo, I was accompanied by a new chef who was an unfamiliar to me guy because our glorious cook withdrew as being unable to cope with responsibilities.

I remember that on the way up the hill, one carriage overturned and coils of wire rolled under the hill. I asked the new cook to hold the horses while I went to search load. Eventually I found 4 rolls and

on itself brought them to the carriage, but the fifth roll disappeared somewhere in the forest . Fortunately for me, the missing roll of the wires went unnoticed.

The next day I went back to the normal work and felt

how much nicer it is to depend only on yourself. Perhaps this

experience has strengthened my individualism.

The nature of work has changed. After the wells, we started installing the poles

after placing on them hooks and isolators .This work required good organization and coordination of the team.

Our team leader Slava Kozlovsky was too hasty. When the pole was approaching the vertical position, he tossed his head, looking at the top of pole. He saw the move of clouds on the pole background which looks like the pole is falling down: “ Falling! All run! “ We ran off from the pole, and then the pole really fell. To install pole to the vertical

position was not easy. After a couple of days our managers sent us

a very good team leader. He was a guy with some experience in

this type of work .From him we learned a lot. Each guy in the team knew his place in common work.

Everyone knew where to intercept the clamp or hook.

After completing the installation of high voltage poles and towers for

transformers, we went through the village to put low-voltage poles.

But it was very easy after the previous work. Sometimes there were conflicts with the local people, who did not understand what we are doing. Conflicts arose in cases when we supposed to place a pole to in someone's kitchen garden.

Once an angry woman rushed out and showered us with selected abuse.

But we were not bothered: they are ignorant people who don’t understand advantages of electric power.

The end of our stay at the construction site was approaching. Suddenly, I was told that someone from the LETI administration called to the main site Krasnoboisky Power Station and asked to release me from work.

This call was initiated by my family. They thought that before start of new course in the next year, I had to have rest. Therefore, they bought me a pass to the house of

rest and insisted on my early return .I was told that if I want, I can leave, while the rest of the students will stay for a couple of weeks. The serious dilemma bothered me.

On the one hand, we were told that we were going for 1 month, so I would have been free to plan the rest of the summer for my vacation. From the other hand , we were asked to stay for 10 days to finish the job. Our team consisted of dedicated people which created a cohesive team, where everyone knew his functions. We used to work gladly and relaxed in the evenings, taking a little alcohol , singing, and joking. To leave this group prematurely seemed to me very

an unethical act as well as desertion or treachery .Therefore, I decided to stay till the end of our assignment with others students.

Our work on the linear branch ended and soon we were thrown on the main site of construction in the Krasny Bor, where the work consisted of the canal digging.

We were placed overnight in peasant

huts, where there were hordes of cockroaches, which goes hunting at night.

In the middle of August, all the builders ,including me, went home.

The administration has realized that to complete the construction of power

Station either per month or one and a half month is not feasible. To replace us, the students of higher courses arrived. They worked the entire month of September ((Power Station gave an electricity at the beginning of October). When we returned home, the whole railway car was filled with students.

All the way to Leningrad our car was filled also with songs, laughter and jokes.

I remember popular old students song about a wife:

“ Bachelor life I wasted

I feel sorry for a man idle

And so I got

The young beauty-wife .... “

Then came the chorus:

“ He was a bachelor and I lived, by God, like a fool,

Not so now,

I have the house and his home

And happiness and peace “

The song ends with an unexpected verse:

“ I was idle until I got married,

Did not know what the hell, what a mad lioness

And what is a viper venom.

Well, I went through all these sciences,

I know what is the Satan:

I have for this very pieces, pieces, pieces

My legal wife .”

But on our return to Leningrad, the whole story Krasnoboiskiy Power Station did not end. Sometime in November after a victorious start of Power Station and a gala evening in the theater of Lenin’s Komsomol , the participants of construction were invited to an important meeting in the largest

Auditorium of the LETI.

At the podium ,where the institute's leadership was sitting the Representative of

Leningrad City Committee of Comsomol delivered his speech .

We learned that the leadership of the construction site of hydroelectric Krasnoboiskiy Power Station (and these

were senior students Lyubotyns'ka, Shidlovich, etc.)

exceeded their authority, ignored the Leningrad City Party Committee,

addressed with claims to the suppliers directly to the Moscow

Party Central Committee, thereby discrediting the Leningrad-

organizations .Our auditorium proposed to adopt a resolution

condemning the leaders of the construction site. But we voted

against the recommended resolution by a two-thirds majority vote.

We stood solidly for our management. Then, the Deputy Director of

LETI Sapozhkov delivered a speech. He was an excellent demagogue who knew how to force students to change their minds. He started his speech with the words:: “ We breathe the clean air, which was cleaned by three revolutions ...” . The second time after the vote the resolution was rejected.

This time majority of students voted again against the resolution.

Then Sapozhkov proposed to clarify the reasons why

many comrades voted against the resolution,which offered by Leningrad Komsomol City Committee. He said, that if the resolution is not adopted, the city committee of the Komsomol will dissolve

our Komsomol organization, and hinted to the exclusion of some students from the

institute .Finally the city committee of the Komsomol resolution were accepted .However, I voted against the resolution the second and third time.


The ratio of votes finally was reversed. Two-thirds of students voted for and one third of the idealists (including

myself) still voted against. The official resolution passed, the construction manager were convicted and removed from all Komsomol positions.

Idealists received a lesson of realism: in real life the compliance to subordination is much more important than some

generator for Power Station. There is hard to tell if this lesson provided

some benefits for idealists.


Kronshtadt

After the second year of the studying, male students from all faculties, supposed to be trained as sailors at

naval training facility at Soviet Naval base Kronshtadt. Kronshtadt is located on the island Kotlin close to Leningrad at Finnish Bay. All students were placed in the sailors barracks .The barracks were full with two storied beds.

We would get up at 6 a.m, washing and cleaning beds.

Then we supposed to march to the cafeteria. While we were in the cafeteria, our commander, a naval sergeant, checked the beds for cleanliness.

He tried to find out small bends in blankets covering .If he noticed the slightest dent, then the whole bed including the mattress turned upside down.

You discovered the overturned bed after returning from the breakfast and in a couple of minutes remaining until new formation

you was obligated to make bed again .If you are not

able to do it immediately you would get an order to clean premises of barracks .The new job would

to be performed in your spare time in the evening. Usually, this new assignment included cleaning the toilets or washroom.


After breakfast, we marched again under the command of

Navy Officer Alidin to the Kronshtadt Anchor Square .

There until lunch time, we were forced to perform attributes of drill

Training .It seemed to me at that time that it is an absolutely pointless drill.

At lunch time, we marched again to the cafeteria. The dinner was served on lunch time. It included soup and porridge. Twelve students were seated at the table. The soup pot included some pieces of meat. But how to divide, say,7 pieces of meat between 12 people? Very simple . One guy turned away and the other guy, who pouring out

the soup out of the pot, scooped a spoon and asked: “ Whose spoon is this? “

The guy who turned away did not know whether the spoon contains meat. He called someone a name: etc. Some guys very lucky, some were not so lucky, but fairness triumphed.

After dinner we marched to the tactical drills

through the city and finally the road went through fields, woods and hills .As soon as we located our commander, Alidin raised us and forced us to attack on a potential enemy.

The other platoons were more lucky: they had more flexible commanders preferred to stay in defense . However, our platoon

would be in offensive each time. We went back through the same road. Of course, we were tired.

The only way to remove tiredness was to start song. My friend Mark Minz started a song .He was an old soldier and knew how to make a soldiers life easier. Once, when we barely dragged his feet, he suddenly began to sing with

trembling, bleating voice:

As I got a letter from my beloved,

I will recall the native land.

And lit cigarette, and smoke rings

Flies away your sadness ...

They all joined him:

Oh tobacco, tobacco,

We intermarried with you .

Vigilantly patrols staring away.

We are ready to fight ...

Somehow fatigue disappeared and our steps synchronized with

stress of the song.

By that time I sang as an amateur and, encouraged

by Mark, I also start to sing popular songs at that time.

These were songs dedicated to so called, the struggle for peace.

Here should be a little diversion . The Soviet Union

under Stalin's leadership conducted a particularly aggressive foreign

policy, trying to subdue as many countries as possible under

control .This year (1951) Stalin instigated a war in

Korea. He intended to add South Korea to already Communist North Korea. Simultaneously, the Soviet Union conducted outreach

campaign in defense of peace, portraying all of his opponents as

arsonists of war. This propaganda found supporters in

the ranks of the left intelligentsia in the West, those people whom Lenin in his time called “useful idiots” . These leftists included even scientists and philosophers as Joliot-Curie, physicist, philosopher Bertrand Russell,

writer Louis Aragon and many others. The Communist Party of

Western European countries, generously subsidized by the Soviet Union,

also actively supported this campaign .An anecdote of that time:

One person asks the other: “ Would the war happen? “ What followed was an

answer: “The war will not happen, but if there would be such a tremendous struggle for peace, soon

not a stone would left “. Of course, all Soviet composers simply had to write songs about the struggle for peace,

many of whom were good songs in themselves, but played a role in the indoctrination of the population.

I knew a lot of these songs and often sang in the marches:

Children of different nations,

We dream of a world we live ...

Platoon pick up the refrain:

This song begins to sing youth ,

youth.

This song is not stifled, is not killed, is not killled,


Or another song:

Give me your hand, The remote Comrade We stand beside you ...

And the Komsomol songs:

Trumpeters sounded the alarm,

Platoons in shape to fight,

We were planning for the long way

Komsomol’s brave battalion

And refrain:

Goodbye, Mama, do not worry,

Kiss a parting son .

Goodbye, Mama, do not worry, do not be sad,

Wish us good luck!

In my repertoire there were many other songs.

We returning to the barracks in a hurry for supper,

and after a supper we had to fulfill orders regarding premises cleaning. (for me it was a wash room).

Then finally came one hour of personal time . There is always someone to play a joke. Among us was a great guy, Boris Solntsev, very smart and a handyman. However, he was very shy, and he did not have a sense of humor. For example, our joker and clown Slava Kozlovsky came over to him and said: “ Boris, I received a letter from the Leningrad ‘s girls “.” And what do they write? “- asks simple hearted Borya. “They wrote that since you left, whoring in Leningrad became much less “.. Boris face blushed and he yells: “ This is absolutely not true, I'm not interested! " His reaction delighted viewers and some of them start to tell: “Boris, do not be shy, tell us about your affairs, we are your friends!” In the end, baited Boris runs into the other end of the barracks under a burst of laughter of “friends”. At 11 pm retreat is beaten .However, to sleep still was impossible until midnight because this is the time for anecdotes.

The story tellers continued in barracks and caused

big laughing .Of course, only obscene

anecdotes were told ,I heard no political anecdotes .At 6 am

we have to get up again, and a new day is started. Sometimes the tactical

drills were replaced by walking on boats or hearing lectures.

We like the lectures sitting in the front ranks and

slept sitting up, eyes closed, and in the back rows students side by side lay on the floor.

And so, day after day. Later I realized that the daily

training routine of soldiers or sailors has a profound meaning.

We must bring all many sided people to a common denominator.

All new recruits must automatically perform any orders

of superiors, without hesitation, regardless if the order is correct or

not. Therefore if the full alert is declared during night, then you must,

as a Russian General Lebed said, jump out of bed get dressed, take arms and only then wake up. This

state is achieved and in religious schools, where daily

prayers and chants form the individual seems to him as

a contact to Supreme Being. Daily routine worked well .If, for example, Muslims instead of regular praying five times in a day

change this to the one-time, then gradually people start to doubt

about the Allah existence .Therefore, no relief in this case for

Muslims possible .I suspect that more than 600 commandments

required to comply to religious Jews, have the same

original target .So, repeating the same ritual many times every day

generates consciousness of identity in the group of peoples and make easier for the leaders to control the group .

We stayed in Kronstadt only one month,

and were very happy

when all of us were loaded onto a barge and sent back to Leningrad.

After 5 hours of sailing in our barge moored near the Tuchkov bridge,

I have only a small backpack and came home in the evening of some day in August.


Pushkin destroys love


To the beginning of the third year of studying some time elapsed and I decided to go somewhere on vacation. In Leningrad, the Palace of Labor existed, which housed offices of different

trade unions. There on the bulletin board in the lobby some ad’s about the sale of burning permits to rest homes and

tourists itinerary were attached. I bought a ticket to the radial touring

route, which meant that we supposed to stay in one place making trips to some remarkable sights .The center of this tourism was village called Pushkin Mountains .In the beginning of 19 century

the great Russian poet Pushkin had country house in this area.


Tourists center was located in the picturesque


area, where


Pushkin spent a significant part of his life. Village Mikhailovskoye,


Svyatogorsky monastery, Trigorskoy park-all these names are closely


associated with memory of Pushkin. I was settled in a tent with three


guys from Moscow .The first 2-3 days consisted of tours, lectures and


visits to museums . The weather was great.

I met a guy


from Leningrad, who also, like me, was somewhat fed up


with formal programs. Therefore, we decided to skip official actions.


There was a boat station on the narrow, but fast-flowing river Soroti.


We took the paddle boat and sailed through the river a few miles downstream.


There we reached our river Sorot confluence with the much wider river Velikaya. We found a place for swimming and sunbathing and stayed there for a while. After that rest we start to row upstream. I remember problems in returning to base.


In one spot we have to pass the destroyed in the war railway bridge. Once we even overturned, moving through this place, but all ended well.


In the evenings music played, the youth danced, many sorts of games were played. At that time many girls


seemed me as beautiful. But my attention was stopped at


haired girl with long braids .She was approximately 17 years old. Blue eyes, slender and average height makes her very attractive.


She was constantly in the range of athletic-looking guys, something


animatedly chatting and I realized that I had no chance


to get acquainted. Suddenly, she came up to me, inviting me to


dance, and we started to talk. It turned out that Olya (her name), is the daughter of


employee of the Leningrad Pushkin Institute. Her mother conducted


some kind of scientific work regarding creative works. Therefore, Olya stays whole summer in Pushkin area. The next few days we met in the evenings and


talked about Pushkin and poetry in general, we are sitting on benches


on the bank of the river etc. Soon the hour of parting has come because my tourist pass come to finish.


Olja invited me to meet at 7 am on the day of departure at


Trigorskoye park on a bench, where Pushkin met with his love Anna


Kern. I naively asked Olya: “ Where is this Kern bench? “


My question shocked her .” Do you not know where the bench Kern is? “


“Yes ,I do not know, and, in general, what is the problem?. Why are you so amazing? “


The answer to me was a long pause, then she said:


“I am disappointed in you”.

After returning to Leningrad, we have


seen several times on inertia, but love has passed, like another Russian poet Yesenin said “ Love passed like smoke of the white apple”. Later I understood her feelings.


She felt that she finally found an intelligent guy who


share her delight with Pushkin (she grew up in a family where


Pushkin was like God), but this man was


ordinary slob as others .He visited Trigorskoy park and did not know


where this famous bench located! For her this discovery was terrible.


           In one of their stories the Soviet writers-humorists Ilf and Petrov describe the Soviet


poet, who is requested by the newspaper to write a poem about love.


Unfortunately he was not able to write anything because of absence of inspiration. But suddenly in his sleep he found great versus. He


jumped out of bed and writes these versus .In the morning he reads:


“I remember a wonderful moment, when you appeared next to me..”


Then he remembers that he somewhere already heard these verses. Of course,


Pushkin wrote the same verse before him! Shocked by this discovery,


he exclaimed: “ Such a blow from the classics! “ (Pushkin was considered by Soviet official as a classic poet).


I could share the same words: “ Such a blow from the classic! “



                          WE IMPROVE AGRICULTURE


In 1951 Communist Party started another campaign to improve collective farms. One of a party bosses uttered, that our troubles with the lack of products happened because the collective farms are too small. Several collective farms to be merged in a large one to increase agricultural production output.


As usually Komsomol participated in this actions.


It was advertised in the LETI a trip to the rural area of the Leningrad region for 1-1,5 months of summer vacation. From our


faculty 42 students went to the Vyborg district, to the collective farm


called “Pioneer”. (before the war, it was Finland, and after the war Finns were expelled and Russian peasants from central Russia moved). I remember the exact number of volunteers, because I did a lot of photographs, and on our return, each participant received


identical photo album .For several days, I printed a 4200 pictures. We were given in abandoned house on the outskirts of the Finnish countryside, where we settled down beds and organized temporary dormitory.


Boys and girls were placed on mattresses stuffed with hay in one


room. Our job included building a barn and piggery for large collective farm.


We used the bricks from the abandoned old Finnish houses.


Sometimes we had fun crushing brick walls of these houses.


(Apparently, the passion for destruction laid


in our genes). Then, on the construction site the girls cleaned the bricks


of the solution, and the guys helped masons: preparing cement, solution ,brought the necessary materials (photo 15). Mechanisms in this construction did not existed and were


replaced with a wheelbarrows, a stretchers and hands. In contrast to the construction of


Krasnoboisky Power Station a working day was normalized: at 5 pm


masons left and we joined them .Also, our team earned


some money which were used for improving our food supply ,mainly alcohol, which was possible to buy in local store. In the evenings, after a delicious dinner and a glass of brandy still a lot of time left for games, swimming in the lake, searching for berry and gooseberries around abandoned Finnish houses. When it gets dark, we lighted up a bonfire, baked potatoes, drunk alcohol and sang songs.


Getting experience in the previous construction, I did not feel particularly tired.


I remember only two unpleasant events .The first one -


kitchen duties. To help a girl-cook every day, we leave the boy


(kitchen guy).The responsibilities of kitchen guy were very diverse:


wash the dishes, bring the wood stove to furnace, bring a lot of water


steal on the collective farm garden carrots and many more things.


I was surprised when most of the girls-cooks wanted to have me


as kitchen guy .I understood this later. Moe idealistic attitude towards girls not allowed me to refuse any work.


Another guy may refuse to do something or reply: “Do it yourself”. I was very convenient kitchen guy for cooks, who was not able to refuse any orders .


This behavior leads to the fact that you will be used by someone. However, at that time I did not realize it.


Another bad point was that I and three other


guys were transferred to skidding timber. The cut off trees supposed to pull off from deep forest to the open area where trees would be loaded in trucks.


We supposed to help collective-farm peasant with a horse


drawn in uniaxial carriage .Our task was to clean


felled tree from branches and load the heavy end of the log on


front of the carriage. After that a guy managed the horse to apply her power and drag a log from a deep forest. When log is brought to open spot we would take it off carriage and lay it in stack.


It was hard work. We did not like also that collective farm’s guy come to work only by 9:00 at


morning, and, consequently, the end of the workday was supposed to be 6 pm .


As long as we get home for dinner, only scraps left, and


almost no alcohol .We complained to our boss about this situation, but nothing changed.


Then we decided that the next day we use the fact that the man is not appearing in time and leave this area completely. So in appointed day


we, as usual, appeared in a clearing with piles of logs about 8 a.m.,


but, being convinced that man would come again much later we were ready to come back.


When we ate the sandwiches for lunch, there was


distant sound of horse carriage .We listen and understood that man would be here by 9 a.m.


Psychologically we were not ready to


work that day, but the carriage wheels inexorably approaching.


What should we do? The way to home was blocked by the guy with horse because road ended at clearing place.


One of us Oska Kotusov had a bright idea.


He cried: “Let us run! “ And four of us rushed into forest.


After we run through fallen trees1500 feets, we stopped and heard


that collective farm’s man arrived to the clearing spot and calling for us. But out retreat was impossible.


Making his way through the undergrowth and fallen trees along the forest, we went back to way to home.


Arriving home, we reported to boss that the man did not show up, therefore after we waited for him for over an hour we left. This time we were lucky, and the next day we were sent on quite a decent and normal soil improvement


work not far from home, so for dinner we came home


almost the first ones.

While we live in the collective farm “Pioneer” many songs and even plays were created.


The songs were written on the topic of the day:


                   “In the evenings on the river different things happen


                   Sometimes upside down in the water Mintz flies ... “


Or:


                   “ In the evenings on the river, I'm cleaning potatoes


                    And below Sapozhkov collects crumbs ..”.


(We called Sapozhkov a stray dog fed from our kitchen .As reader might remember Sapozhkov was deputy director of our Institute)

Using standard paper’s expression we could say:

“Tired but happy we returned to Leningrad”



                      ENLIGHTEMENT of RURAL PEOPLE



My visits to the countryside were not restricted to summer time. In January 1952 during the winter vacation break a


ski sports section of LETI organized a ski trip to remote


district of the Leningrad’s region. The Comsomol committee decided to give political meaning to this event.


Therefore it was announced that


we go for propaganda trip, and our aim is to educate an


ignorant local people. I use to skiing well


and decided to participate in the campaign. To do this I had to overcome great resistance of my family. They warn me about


possibility of frosts, starvation and other dangers and surprises.


Of course ,these were fears of decent Jewish parents, but I stood firmly.


Our ski group consisted of 14 students. We rode on a train to station


Mga, located on the North railway, and after that we were skiing all time. Everyday we ski 15-20 miles. All food and supply we bought in Leningrad and carried with us in backpacks. As soon as we came to destination of each day (some village) our boss asked a local Chairmen of Collective farm to organize our overnight staying. Usually, it was 2 or 3 poor peasants homes where we ,at least, warmed up and slept during night on the floor. After brief rest and hot tea with sandwiches we went to ,so called, club. It was usually a barn, where peasants get together. In many villages no electricity was available, so for lighting kerosene lamps were used. For local people our arrival was important event like arrival of artists. (photo 12,13). When people gathered in “club” our head Lazar Shidlovich delivered a report regarding of inter-


national situation and bad intrigues of imperialists of West Countries. After the report he asked


whether are there questions .It is interesting for me that people everywhere asking only


2 questions: 1.Where is Hitler?(The leader of Nazi Germany) 2.Will the next war happened?


These questions require clarification. Although Hitler committed suicide in April of


1945, and his body was burned, the Soviet press and radio at that time did not told his population about this event. Probably, Stalin wanted to use scarecrow of Hitler, again. Sometimes even in official papers you could find hints that Hitler had escaped, and somewhere he would have seen.


On the second question Stalin himself answered with his usual demagogues style.


Shidlovich could only repeat Stalin’s words : “ The peace will be


maintained and enhanced if people would take the preservation of peace in their own hands and will defend it to the end .A war may become inevitable if the warmongers will be able to entangle with lies peoples of the world and plunge them into the abyss of a new slaughterhouse “.


The senselessness of this answer is evident .This is the same thing, as to ask weather forecaster, will be tomorrow rainy day or not. And you are getting the answer: “If tomorrow will be a


sunny day, the rain will not happen, but if thunderclouds gather,


then the rain is possible”. However, rural audience patiently listened


this stupid answers and no more questions were asked.


When an official part of meeting ended concert began. It opened with


songs, played by the author of these lines under the accompaniment


of our accordionist Laszlo (photo 14). I did not spoil listeners with a variety of


repertoire . Usually I sang song of composer Mokrousov of semi-


Island Rybachy:



                       Farewell, rocky mountains,


                       In a feat homeland calling,


                       We went out into the open sea,


                       In severe and long journey.


                       Waves moan and cry


                       And beating on board the ship,


                       It is melted in the distant fog Rybachiy


                       Beloved our land ...



Then followed a popular song of composer Soloviev-Sedoy



                        In the mist disappeared dear Odessa,


                        Golden lights


                        Do not be bored, darling brides,


                        Sailors go away to the blue sea…



The audience listened grimly, without an explosion of


applause.


Then a guy from our group artistically read an excerpt from


Sholokhov's novel “Virgin Soil Upturned”, about the adventures of his old man Schukary. He red very well, even we, who every day listening to him, could not refrain from laughing .But audience this time did not reacted too.


Then the girls played folk dances.


The show end with the song of famous composer Dunajevs'ky about fight for peace .All our group stood on stage and I sang:



                           Friends and girlfriends,

 We live under the sky of different latitudes


                           But we are all students and we are all young


                           And we look up boldly forward.



Then our whole group created a chorus of hoarse and husky voices because the cold weather and winter wind:



                              Go forward, my friends, for peace and happiness,


                              We are against those who threaten us with fire!


                              Let the song of students matures and gains strength


                              Everywhere on this Earth.



After the concert Laslo played accordion dance


melodies, and we mingled in the dance with the local youth.


       Our route took place partly on the southern coast of


Lake Ladoga along the channel, dug back in Peter the Great time. At the time of war this area (village Kobona) was an


end point of the ice road of life, which save many Leningrad’s


peoples from starvation . The local villagers showed us


cemetery, where hundreds if not thousands Leningrad’s people , were buried .These people died after they already


escaped from the blockade. They died, being


unable to withstand overeating when ,finally after


dangerous trip through Lake Ladoga they found a lot of food. Their starving bodies perceive a large amount of foods as poison. Therefore many people have died already at the free


territory.


After a total of 200 miles, we came to the another station of


Northern Railway Voibokalo. Here we got on the train and returned to


Leningrad in the early February. Nobody met us with music,


our temperament was unnoticed. As an exception we got a


sign” Tourist USSR” issued by the Committee of Physical Culture of the Soviet Union.


                                Destroyer “Impetuous”



My naval specialization includes radio control boats at distances. In the late thirties the Soviet Union, attempted to build a remote controlled torpedo boats which were able to send torpedo under remote control. We studied the electrical circuits of


these systems and the obsolete designs of 15 years ago. Nevertheless these drawings were kept secret even in middle fifties. It was usual Soviet paranoia about security.

After the war, the Baltic Fleet received as trophies a German battleship

called “Target”. It was a large ship with a displacement of 13000 tons and was being used for the training of sailors and artillery. While exercises were conducted, the ship was almost completely empty

of the entire staff. However, the special computer was developed by designers of the ships. Therefore, this ship “Target” could response to artillery fires and perform many other commands (over 300 commands) Of course, computers at that time were very primitive because they were built on electro-magnetic elements called relays.

Usually this ship could be controlled from another ship located at some distance from “Target”. This control ship was called driver-ship.

In the Soviet Union, radio control boats did not get wide

proliferation: in fact,

why create a complex and expensive remote control system to save

lives of the cheapest material- sailors?

But captured from Germany ship was partially in use-

at that time.

So, in the summer of 1952, 45 guys with three groups of our faculty

were sent to the naval practice, which was supposed to be conducted on

the battleship “Tatget”.

The administration of the LETI naval department sent us to the Navy to train at the base of the Baltic Fleet in Libava (Latvia, which at that time was a part of the Soviet Union). We all

housed in a freight car, a boxcar, like the one

in which I rode in evacuation .Our car was attached to military echelon. Our car was standing for a long time at different railway

stations, while our car was waiting for the composition of new echelon in the right destination. Therefore, we went to Libava 2.5 days.

In Riga, our train was set at the remote railroad truck, far from the city.

But our commander said that the stoppage would continue for at least 3 hours. I and three other guys decided to watch the famous city. It was very early morning at 5 a.m. We walked through sleeping outskirts of Riga, and returned back to the parking area of the our car

in two hours. But to our horror, the car was missing.

We began to think “what should we do?” How we can catch the train? Whom

shall we ask for help? It was a dangerous time of Stalin’s dictatorship, we could easily be claimed as deserters.

Suddenly we saw on the east side of the railway, the freight train was moving. When the train approached, we saw with joy our car. We frantically waved to an engine -driver, but he waved with hands. However, he somewhat slowed down the train.

Meanwhile, our students in the car saw us and got prepared to catch us. The floor of freight car was on the same level as my chest

therefore to jump was impossible.

Four of us spread along the truck on a distance 50 feet of each other, and when the car floor turned out to be next to me,

I raised my hands. Immediately, four strong arms

grabbed me by the hand and dragged into car. I hurt my right knee, but, thank God, no fractures happened .The main goal

was achieved: we were are again on the train.

When we finally arrived at the Navy base of Libava, it became clear that our ship “Target” left to the sea for training drills.

We were placed on the ship-driver destroyer “Impetuous”

His commander was, to our surprise, the Jewish man,captain of the second rank Rabinovich.

We were given forms of very dirty sailor's robe, but also

given a piece of simple soap for those who want it washed.

I washed my robe and from the next day, I wore a relatively clean uniform.

But many guys chose not to do this dirty work, motivating

this that sailors are young and healthy men and there is no danger to get disease through dirty uniform.

Maybe, they were right, no one became sick.

Here also the standard military routine was strictly enforced. This time it was the for ship clean-up. Each guy was assigned twice daily to cleaning of different parts of ship. Due to everyday cleaning the ship was shined.

Nevertheless of purity, each Saturday was declared as a big clean-up.

during which even more shine was added to an already clean surfaces.

Most of the day was spent in the wardroom, where we supposed to study

electrical circuits of control ship “Target”. Your appearance

on the upper deck to breathe fresh air was punished

by boatswain, who immediately puts you back to clean-up work.

The food ration was good, contrary to the previous Kronstadt navy training. I remembered everyday cherry compote following a normal dinner.

But while we were in wardroom beneath the cover of the electrical circuits drawings, each guy was engaged in

his favorite activity: playing cards, chess, writing letters, or for

lack of books, recollections.

A masterpiece of world literature then were considered satirical

novels of Ilya Ilf and Yevgeny Petrov,” The Twelve Chairs”, and

“Golden Calf”. Some of their fans knew by heart all the

pages .One of these men was a student of our group named Sasha Gelb,

who could recite chapters from novels .I also knew by heart

all the separate pages, so we could recollect a lot of pages. In my view, the genius of these novels is that the authors have successfully applied the method of official Soviet propaganda to the artistic work. The communist propaganda shouting about the great

construction sites, high-rise buildings, labor successes of the Soviet people,

as an evidence of a happy life in the Soviet Union, but

all negative phenomena, like the drunkenness , thefts, laziness has become the norm of life.

Corruption remained invisible behind the luxury facade .Ilf and Petrov for quite permissible and entertaining

plot of the treasure hunt or blackmail of an underground

millionaire painted a bleak and cheerless background along which

described events took place .Exactly this background, where drunkenness,

theft, deceit, greed and stupidity flourished with lush

color, and represented the true picture of life in the Soviet Union.

That is why many subsequent movie adaptations of these

novels did not cause me anything but irritation because

on the screen subtext ideas disappeared and the only thing left was the plot line.

Many readers saw in the novels

only the main plot and nothing more.

However, if you see somewhere in the company who

includes in his speech expressions like: “Be firm-Europe will

help us” or “ Passionate woman, a poet's dream” or “Take a deep breath- you excited” or “Do not tell me how to live my life”, you feel a certain kind of spiritual connection.

These expressions presented a password which recognize people close to you in mentality.

I remember one day during lunch, Sasha Gelb cited one of

classic phrases: “Thoroughly chewing your food you help

society”. (This slogan was posted inside the home for old women in

City Stargorod) On that someone wittily remarked: “This activity

exhausting your help to society.”

Anyway, time passed by, the ship “Target” returned from drills, but we were still on the destroyer, to which we already got accustomed to. Our

study included only a couple of trips to ship “Target.” (photo 16).

At the end of our stay on the destroyer, we were ordered to draw up on the deck. The officers of the destroyers gave farewell speeches.

Even Boatswain participated in the farewell..

But after greeting “Students!” he could not collect his thoughts.

So he paused his speech, after which the only words he found were obscene expression “... your mother! “

We almost fell down in laughter. He was a great guy,

... but the boatswain! We were driven on the small boats to the opposite shore of the Bay

from where a street car went to city Libava. We saw a street car standing on the end of the circle station. However, when the distance of the street car remained around 100 feet , the street car driver recognized us as being Russian. As a result of this, an empty tram immediately start moving. We waited for the next street car for 45 minutes. The Latvian population hated Russian people as occupiers at that time. Under the invitation of my friend Mark Mintz, I spent a couple of days in Riga in the apartment of his relatives. This was the first time in my life when I became familiar

with the pure European city .Especially, I was

amazed that the old buildings in Riga ,which looked freshly painted.

Comparing it to Riga, the Leningrad buildings were covered with a layer of soot.

It seemed for me that my life is just at the beginning stage and I would visit Riga many times later.

However, in real life I visited Riga only twice (this is an Odessa joke): the first time and the last one.


Anti-Semitic official campaign


While I learned technical subjects and helped to build communism, very disturbing developments in the country took place.

The press, radio and television opened heavy campaigning against the “American- imperialists” who wanted to start a new world war.

A lot of mud was thrown to at a small state, Israel, which according to Soviet propaganda also wanted to start a war with the Arabic countries.

It was absolutely clear from the old time that if a government would like to unite people around its power, the first thing you need to do is to find an “enemy of peoples”. (Hitler ,for example considered Jews as an enemy of the German nation).

I would add to this that to best effects enemies should be external and internal. The Soviet government used the same old method. The American imperialists and Israel represented external enemies and internal group of people, the Jews, were internal enemies.

In August of 1952, the entire Jewish Anti-Fascist Committee, which was created at the time of war with Germany, and included many prominent writers ,scientists and famous people of Jewish culture, was shot.

Only Academician Lina Shtern was imprisoned and survived .

Lina Stern was considered the largest researcher in the field of biology . At this time Stalin seriously believed in his greatness and tried everything to facilitate the research in the field of human longevity . Of course, he wanted to prolong his own life .

Therefore he expected that Lina Stern will help him in the achievement of this goal. (Of course these facts were learned of many years later.)

The same year political trials were conducted in Eastern European countries which were controlled by the Soviet Union. Even the top party and government officials declared as spies and agents of imperialists. After the kangaroo court, all the people, who were indicted were shot. This comedy of the court reminded me of a similar processes of the years 1937 -

1938 in the Soviet Union, were accused people were quickly shot. Also as in 1937-38,

all the defendants willingly confessed to their crimes and this recognition was taken as the only proof of their guilt.

I should add that non-recognition of guilt led to terrible torture ,

breaking everyone .In December of 1952, the last of the series of kangaroo courts were conducted in Czechoslovakia. Several former leaders

of the Communist Party and government were convicted and shot.

Many of the convicted and executed people for these processes

were Jews because Jews have always played a big role in all

leftist movements, including the communist movement.

Therefore, these trials were accompanied with anti-Semitic propaganda.

The apogee of anti-Semitic campaign happened on Jan. 13, of 1953 .

This day the main newspaper of the Soviet Union “Pravda”

published an editorial titled: “Assassins in white gowns “. This editorial said the great conspiracy is disclosed among conspiracy among the most prominent physicians of the Soviet Union. They wanted through incorrect and improper treatment to kill the Soviet Union and Communist Party leaders .

Also, the physicians were trying to kill the Soviet high military Command. All these men by that time passed away of natural causes (from drunkenness and gluttony-Y.K) .

The “Pravda” paper hinted that these villains intended

in the same manner to send to the other world our dear Comrade Stalin.

The group of accused doctors contained mainly Jewish names,

In particular, the chief physician of the Red Army Vovsi, Professor Ettinger and many others .As an exception, only Professor Vinogradov, who was the Stalin’s personal physician was included as Russian. This article also reported that the investigation of all the criminals acts continued. The kind of impression this article made on Russian people who always believed in government official statements can’t be easy to imagine. It was Anti-Semitic triumph, because they always

warned that you cannot trust Jews. Ordinary people

were scared to visit or contact Jewish doctors. In some cities, people

took revenge against Jews. Sometimes Jews were thrown from streetcars and buses.

(Our family did not believe a word of this medieval

accusation .Uncle Zodik once told me that Lenin described

Stalin’s behavior as follows: “ This cook can prepare only very spicy food “. This accusation of Jewish doctors was another spicy food.)

After January 13, the usual in such cases pandemonium would start:

official authorities organized protests at all enterprises and

institutions where resolutions were approved with requirements to kill all accused peoples. Of course, all resolutions included words of love and devotion to great genius Stalin. Similarly to” Pravda” all other newspapers, began

daily publish articles about some abuses

embezzlement, theft, deception. The hero of each satiric story was, of course, Jewish man .To avoid any doubts that the villain or scoundrel is a Jew, a complete name, middle name and surname, was written. For example,

Yakov Abramovich Blyumshteyn or Aaron Boruhovich Rabinovich.

My aunt, by this time was a candidate of medical sciences .She was kicked out of the institute of

occupational diseases on the grounds that she has no

medical diploma after 25 years of experience. Some unknown administrator invented a way to get rid of the Jewish

Doctors at the medical facilities, while respecting the letter of law. Many Jews came to study in medical schools after the

Bolshevik Revolution .At that time, these people had Jewish names in their passport. In the first years after the Revolution, many Jews changed their names for everyday communication to Russian names. Their friends and colleagues at work knew them through these Russian names. The same Russian names were included in their medical certificates. However, officially their internal passports still included Jewish names. These discrepancies did not create problems for many years. However, in the year 1953 personnel departments of the state medical facilities started to request from Jews to prove that they had

a medical diploma. Until January 1953, this problem usually was solved through the people's court.

The court judged the cause with the involvement of witnesses and issued an official paper that the person named on the medical certificate and on

the passport is the same individual .But after January 13, 1953

the judge of People Court’s of our district told directly to Aunt Zina that he received an order from the Supreme Court to not accept these applications for consideration. The circle was closed. You could not prove that medical diplomas belongs to you,

In accordance with “humane Soviet legislation,”

people health is above all else .Therefore, individuals without a doctor's diploma

could not treat people .These legal decisions gave administrators an

easy way to get rid of Jewish doctors.

At the same time, the state media distributed a rage and hatred against the “killers in white coats “, demanding for them a speedy severe punishment.

But in early March, the State radio suddenly reported about serious illness

of Stalin and the newspapers began to publish a daily bulletins

about his health.

On March 5, 1953 the “great leader and teacher”, “dear and beloved” Comrade Stalin to the great grief of all “progressive” mankind, finally, passed away .The grief of Russian people was boundless.

Three consecutive days only funeral music played on radio.

Many people sincerely wept, thinking that after Death of Stalin something terrible would happen with the Soviet Union.

At Stalin's funeral in Moscow, the police could not hold the huge crowd wishing to say goodbye to the “greatest genius” of all nations. Therefore ,hundreds of people were crushed by roaring crowd . After all, all victims of Stalin’s terror, tortured in prisons and concentration camps, or shot in the basements of the KGB, or whoever died of starvation from the organized by Stalin hunger and many useless victims of war could not express their real feelings. They were like pawns removed from chess boards. But whoever survived these terrible years considered Stalin a God.

In our family the news of the death of “a friend of all nations” was greeted

with optimism .I and uncle Zodik decided that situation in the country could not be worse.

And we were absolutely right . Immediately after the Stalin’s funeral the tone of the media has been changed.

The mention of the upcoming trial of physicians disappeared

and stories regarding “Jewish crimes” were also vanished .The newspapers returned back to the usual boring topics of preparation for the spring sowing and the labor achievements of the Soviet people . In mid-March, the same judge who a couple of month before

refused to Aunt Zina in considering her claim of ownership

her medical degree, told her relatively frankly that he had now received the Supreme Court permit once again to take such

case. (The court ruled that the diploma belongs to Aunt Zina, but she

did not attempt to recover their former work and switched to a

teaching job in the medical school).This experience was not harmless for her and three years later, she died from

liver cancer before she reach 57 years old).

On April 4th of 1953 all Soviet newspapers published

official communicate . The Soviet people were informed that so called

“plot of Doctors” was fabricated by the enemies of the Party and State. KGB used impermissible methods of investigation to get doctor’s confessions. These enemies are arrested and physicians are (the survivors-Y.K.) rehabilitated and released .The main guilty man was announced some small fry, officer of the KGB Rumin.

It was a black day for all Jewish haters .Many of them still waiting

some kind of refutation of this communicate .But their expectation did not justify. What happened behind the Kremlin wall? At that time we knew nothing.

Only much later after 25 years the real picture emerged.

Stalin intended to hold a trial of the “doctors-murderers

in white coats” on 10-12 march .Doctors should have been

hanged in Moscow with a large gathering of peoples .After that, according to his script, each large Russian city should detect a similar group of doctors-killers . The kangaroo trials should be conducted over there. After the doctor’s executions, Jewish people

who live in large cities of Russia (Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev etc. )

should be evicted and transported to the Far East where there formally

existed a Jewish Autonomous district .To achieve this goal, barracks

were built in this area and on a remote railways trucks of Moscow and Leningrad hundreds of freight cars were awaiting passengers. When one man of Stalin’s circle doubted that

the barracks would be able to accommodate all the deportees, Stalin

replied: “ Who said that everyone should get there? “ He planned organize along the route of trains

supposedly spontaneous, popular meetings of Russia people, including lynching of Jews. The police should stand aside and not interfere with the just reasonable rage of Soviet people. Stalin wanted to organize mass

murder of Jews in the way by an angry mobs.

Also, Stalin was a good producer .The request about

the eviction of Jews was supposed to come from Jewish Intellectuals.

An appropriate letter from a group of Jewish intellectuals to Soviet Communist Party and government had already been prepared and was waiting for disclosure.

This play was planned to carry out by a “wonderful Georgian, an expert on the national question” (according to Lenin).

But providence interfered in this play , and Stalin,

went to a better world. (It certainly ,the Stalin’s death was speed up by his faithful companions, in particular, by the Minister of Internal Affairs Lawrence Beriya This story in details is described by Avtorhanov Book “Mystery of Stalin's death”).

Returning to my memoir , I would say that these storm clouds hanging over the Jews, still not yet felt in our institute .The lectures went on as usual, I felt no anti-Semitism inside LETI.

However, a couple of idiots from our faculty rushed to Moscow for the Stalin’s funeral, and they ride to Moscow in the vestibule of a railway car among the huge influx of people .But it is still their own business.


WE ARE GETTING JOB ASSIGNMENTS


In the Soviet Union there was a law by which every student

graduated from an university or an institute got state

direction to work where his profession was needed. (Private enterprises at that time did not exist, therefore, all enterprises were owned by the state.) To distribute future engineers through different organizations

a special committee of representatives from various ministries arrived in our institute in the May of 1953.

Naturally, this, so-called, distribution, led to typical Soviet hassle.

It is far better to work in scientific research institute in Leningrad

than in the construction of the plant in some Siberian small city.

The differences of living in Leningrad or Moscow and in a country side were tremendous at that time. It included many things, as food and merchandises supplies ,cultural environment etc. Briefly, when I come back to Leningrad from Siberia, it was for me a very similar cultural shock as I felt much later when I returning to Leningrad from Europe.

The mentioned committee met under

the chairmanship of the Director of the Institute Skotnikov in his office.

Everyone was summoned personally .Soon we learned that most

of the students were offered the Leningrad Scientific Research or

design institutes. I was called one of the last and by that time I formed a picture of available vacancies. I thought that

I also would get a referral to the some Leningrad’s

enterprise. In my opinion, whatever the criterion of distribution is used, for example, grade average (I was among 6-7 students of our group) or Leningrad passport registration, which allowed me to live at home and not pretend for a dormitory (that was also serious problem at any time in the Soviet Union), I actively participated in all students construction projects and I was active Komsomol member.

So I did not worry about assignment. However, five students before me were

suggested very suspicious Construction sites near Irkutsk, but as

Ostap Bender( main hero of mentioned by writers Ilf and Petrov) I would not catch bad odds.

However, when my turn finally came and I entered the Committee office, I also unexpectedly was suggested Construction site under Irkutsk .This offer stunned me and I refused to sign in the paper where my agreement was needed. I wrote that I did not agree, which led to indignant tirade from the director of the institute, who accused

me almost of sabotage. But by this time Stalin was dead

and the authorities showed some liberalism.

Therefore, I knew that I realized my right to disagree, and nothing they could do .I was right.

But administration of Institute raised campaign against dissenting students through

Komsomol organization, they invited even the newspaper reporters.

The newspaper published an article about all 13 dissenters.

The main person mentioned in the article was my friend Mark Mintz. {He was one of the best students of whole faculty).My name also was mentioned. However, the paper did not change my dissent. However, despite my dissent, my assignment still was left in papers. At the end of meeting I asked the representative of the Ministry of Machine Building, what kind of work awaits us on Construction site next to city Angarsk. He said that over there the Plant of Liquid Fuel is constructed under the personal supervision of Comrade Beria.

Comrade Beria was at that time Minister of the Interior (he was deposed and executed a month later) and his personal supervision meant that the work is performed by prisoners. 6 students were distributed there (all Jews).

A year later, while on a business trip, I met an engineer

of Leningrad Design bureau. His name was Omelchenko and he

early in 1953 was on a business trip in Angarsk on the same plant where I was supposed to work. He said that on arrival to Angarsk, he was met on railway station with

four suspicious men in quilted jackets and trousers and was asked let them to carry his suitcases. Omelchenko told them that he is an engineer who came on a mission to the oil-chemical plant and that no valuables were in suitcases .Then men deliberated and suggested: “ Then buy us a liter of vodka! “ “I had no choice and I bought them vodka”, concluded Omelchenko.

As a rule, many workers of this plant were prisoners of concentration camps located in this area. However, foreman is free person. If workers like the foreman he is OK but if somehow they do not

like him , they play cards, and the loser would be execute common sentence. On construction site it is not difficult to perform. Sometimes, they used for this purpose knife, and there was even easier way.

At that time, no one carried hard hats on the construction site because of their absence. Therefore, during the working day some metal bar may accidentally fall on your head .

A trauma was considered as an industrial accident which often happened on construction sites . Afterwards, no suspicions and investigations took place.

Even a couple of years later when I worked at the Power Station construction site as a foreman, sparks from welding or molten electrode fell on my head though unintentionally. Local doctors even suspect cancer.

Thus, all Jews, who got assignment to Angarsk, instinctively

realized a sense of danger and understood that better do not go there.

The only exception was a miserable and unhappy Yasha Krupkin, who went to this destination, but his boss there quickly realized that

he would have a lot of trouble with him and freed him from the assignment.


A Throw to the South


Bright spot in my life during this period of time included the

tourist route on the mountain of Crimea in June of 1953 .The participants were guys and girls from different faculties .The route

was on foots and every man carried a backpack weighing 40 pounds Everything needed for five day life in wilderness we carried in backpacks. This trip was organized under the auspices of the sports society “Science”.

Our itinerary started in the Crimean capital called Simferopol where all tourists gathered. At that time to get train tickets from Leningrad to Crimea was not easy. Therefore everyone used its all skill.

I participated in a group of 5 people (3 guys and 2 girls) ,who were

able to get tickets on the train to another Crimean city Evpatoria. We decided that between Evpatoria and Simferopol was a very close distance ,therefore we will use some local train over there.

This was first in my life journey to the south.

Being on the train, I felt like warm summer Ukrainian evenings envelop you contrary to cold summer evenings in Leningrad.

We ate a lot of fruits, like cherry and apricots, bought from Ukrainian women on railway markets . We arrived at Evpatoria on the day preceding our departure from Simferopol , so we had a day of rest in advance.

It is natural for those who arrived from the cold in Leningrad,

to spend whole day on the beach of a Southern resort city.


We settled on the beach and immediately rushed to the still cool

Black Sea .The sandy Evpatoria beach is one of the beautiful beaches on the Black Sea, whose waves were gently licking the shore,

catching small stones and shells .At that time, I thought that my life is still ahead and that I would been on this beach many times. Alas, such a possibility would not occur.

All day we swam, sunbathed, and then again went into the water. Nobody felt danger.

Somewhere around 4 o'clock in the afternoon we began to notice how we were burned on the southern Sun. We hastily dressed, but somewhere we had to spend the night, as the local train to Simferopol departure at 8 a.m. next day. We decided to stay on the beach .The night was terrible: I was thrown in hot and cold shivers

apparently my body temperature increased. We lied on the beach covered with blankets, It became absolutely dark, only sometimes

the border guards searchlights crossed the beach . They looked, as usual in Soviet Union, for spies and boarder violators . Luckily, they did notice us. As soon as it became dawn, we jumped up,

put on the charred shoulders backpacks and headed to the railway station.

Three hours dragged us on the local train to Simferopol, where the first

thing for us was to go to pharmacy to buy cologne, and carefully rubbed burned shoulders and backs .The pain became more bearable.

In Simferopol, we joined with the rest part of the tourist group. Pedestrian route started from Bahchisaray. Every guy carried a backpack about 40 pounds. Backpacks were packed with

food for 5 days, mostly canned goods, cereals, sugar, bread,

personal items, including blankets and sheets, and some guys behind

carried tents for four people .The first day was the most difficult one. We finally were ready to go only around midday.

It was hot sunny day. We are not quite accustomed to this walk, therefore we

quickly tired, It is compounded by the pain from backpacks hanging on the burnt shoulders .Soon we approached the foot of a large

mountains, and our instructor said that at the top of the mountain we will halt and have a rest.

This way to the top of a steep hill was memorable for a long time. Sweat poured through our faces like rain .It seemed that, one more step, and the heart would stop.

I damned the a day when I decided to go on this trip.

But all guys and girls around me were scrambling with clenched teeth. Probably ,similar

feelings were experienced by rowers of Roman galleys, but compared to them, we were free people and in front of us loomed the rest on

the top of the mountain. Later, many tourists recognized that this first

rise was extremely hard. Finally, we reached the top of mountain. There was pleasant shade over there and a refreshing wind. Some guys were trying to

unload the backpack faster than it should be done, laying canned

food on a spread for lunch .However, our instructor established a right order of food discharge from backpacks.

After the rest, we descended into the valley and went through the wooded area, using narrow paths. We walked along the slope of mountains. At the end of the first day we came over to the famous Crimea Canyon. At the bottom of Canyon we saw a stream winding between the stones. We came down the Canyon and at the end of day organized our first overnight stop.

In some places the stream was so small that you could jump over standing on stones. However, in some places it formed deep pools with crystal clear waters. We were tired and decided to take a bath in these pools.

As soon as you plunged into water, heat, covered your body immediately disappeared and in couple seconds you were feeling a

burning throughout the body for another reason: the pool water was a extremely cold and icy. You are forced to jump out of the pool.

But we got good refreshment.

Our instructor determined the iron rule: When you come over to a place to stay overnight forget about rest until all tents are up and until fire wood is brought for fire and the evening meal is prepared.

This was just the usual method to discipline a group of tourists, which worked very well because everyone knew his own responsibilities.

(photo 18,19,20,21). Over the next days, we walked through the forests on the Canyon’s slopes.

On the fifth day we left the forest thickets and after very a long ascent reached the summit of Mount Ai-Petri, where the store of the sports community “Science” was located.

After spending the night, finally in a room, and getting food for another five days walk,

we went on our new path along mountain’s pastures .On the right side of our way far below we could see the Black Sea and twisted down from the Ai-Petri serpentine way. At the end of this part of our way, we came down from the mountains to the coastal plains of the Crimea, right on the beach of the city Alushta .Finally, we were standing on the beach of the Black Sea. By this time, we were used to hiking difficulties and did not notice our fatigue.

Our food supplies were exhausted but we still had several coupons to eat 4 days for free at a cafe in the beach of Alushta. This possibility , of course ,was used in full.

I remember long queues at this

café tables covered with sticky oil cloth and a myriad of flies on the tables.

And for the night we were given the territory under the pyramidal

cottonwood trees, where we set our tents up for the first night. The next nights we slept without tents because the nights were warm with complete absence of humidity. After four days of eating in the café, we were on our own. Upon completion of our tourist itinerary, a group of two guys, including me, and

two girls, decided to continue the journey as amateur tourists .

We bought tickets on the luxury passenger ship to move from Yalta to Sukhumi. Since we were very restricted in spending our money, we bought the cheapest tickets on ship deck .It meant that we could place ourselves everywhere on deck but not in cabins.

The luxury ship, which was captured at the end of war from Germany, sailed between the Black Sea’s seaports. This ship included swimming pools,

restaurants, concert halls, movie theater, soft chairs and sofas.

It was pleasant for us to discover that, despite

our lack of cabins, as deck passengers, we had access to anywhere on the ship: all the doors were open .This was contrary to usual conditions in any of the Soviet offices, where you found that most of the doors are closed.

Sukhumi, met us at the pier with heat and humidity. We smelled a lot of southern food but we had a shortage of money. Therefore, all our nutrition in Sukhumi consisted of bread and tomatoes, bought at the local market.

As amateur tourists, we came to a local tourist camp site,

where we were kindly offered a place to sleep under a tree for 2 rubles for night.

Sukhumi tourist base was the final destination of dozens of several tourist itineraries.

After difficult climbing mountain’s routes, the tourists

supposed to rest 4 days on the Black Sea in Sukhumi. However, we were independent tourists and we could not count on official tourist base arrangement. Therefore, we rented a cheap small verandah from a local family for several days. As mentioned, Soviet satirists Ilf and Petrov in similar case: ”if we all lie on the floor, a little space still left.” The next day we went to the beach. I and another guy swam, leaving our girls to watch our belongings. However, when we returned, we found only girls and backpacks in place. My expensive camera disappeared .The girls argued that they did not see anybody. It was clear that professional thieves were at work . That same day we went to the local police to fill out an application about the theft. Going into the police station, we were surprised by the absence of policemen .

We went through whole office and in one backroom we found a man in uniform, who peacefully slept on a bench.

We politely woke him up. When policeman finally sat at the table,

I told him about my problem.

He shook his head ,.wrote down my name and said:

“Do not worry, we will find your camera”. I felt some guilt from the fact that I woke up a good man .

The same success I could get if instead of the police station I would ask for help in the located nearby agricultural office .

the nearby Trust Zagotzerno.

In Sukhumi, our group broke up .Three guys, including me, Berman and Friedman, decided to move North in the direction of Russian resort Sochi. We boarded local trains with itinerary Batumi- Rostov. The train stopped at every little station and was filled mostly with people without tickets.

We were not exempt from these people since we kept the few remaining money for the tickets from Sochi to Leningrad.

On the way to Sochi, we stopped for one day in Gudauta and Gagra

And examined briefly these resorts and swimming in the Black sea one last time.

In Gagra, we again boarded our train, of course, without a ticket.

But this time our luck changed. Soon our passenger car was

blocked on both sides by the controllers who began checking

tickets. We were approached by a dark, lean Georgian with large

black mustache. He demanded to show our tickets. We honestly confessed, that we had no money for the tickets.

He called his Assistant, and talking on Georgian language they were solving our fate Finally he said on Russian: “Give me your passports! “ We were forced to give him our passports and he left. It is necessary to add that in the Soviet Union, passport was always part of the person, because without a passport you, in general, do not have personal identity. Therefore, we could not leave without passports and after consultation, we send Friedman

to negotiate with the controller. He left and we nervously awaited him. To our surprise, he returned very soon and brought our passports.

He said that as soon as the controller saw him, he

immediately gave him back passports with the words: “ Guys, I did not know you are Jews.

I am also a Jew, people here do not like us, so take away your

passports and try do not be caught again “. Fortunately, no more ticket control happened till our arrival to Sochi.

In Sochi we arrived in the evening and went to the tourist Centre , where we ask to help for stay overnight.

We were offered to sleep for free in Centre director cabinet .There was sofa, desk and three chairs in this small room.

table and 3 chairs .We played lottery ,and I win to sleep on a desk.

It was not so bad. It was better than to sleep in Sukhumi under the tree.

In the morning, after a regular meal of bread and tomatoes, we headed to the railway station, not stopping on the Sochi’s beaches.

At the station, of course, the situation was as usual. All tickets to the Leningrad train were sold.

But we are standing at the counter in the hopes of a miracle .The luckiest guy among us was Sasha Friedman, therefore we

sent him to negotiate with some railway official in a uniform.

What Sasha told him is hard to say, however, suddenly cashiers

reported that they can sell five more tickets in passenger

car, but only to students or tourists.

We did not believe our happiness. With last money we had left, we paid for the tickets.

We raced to our car since before the train departure there was ten minutes left. The car conductor said that no seats are available, but we can occupy the top luggage benches in any section of car . Berman and I settled in the compartment, where the lower shelves were occupied with nice girls. Sasha Friedman settled in the next compartment.

The train started on schedule, and pictures of the Black Sea coastline

ran back.

Girls were students of Leningrad’s colleges, returning back to Leningrad.

The next day we were singing along with them:


The cars are running between stages

And the song continues,

And our car almost collapsing

From our songs.

All the ugliness remained in Asia,

We see the Admiralty building spire,

And see the gleam of its in his fog of Nevsky

Through the Asian heat and dust.


Onboard acquaintance had some continuation .We met in the company of these girls on the November

Holidays of 1953. Berman soon even married to

friend of one of our traveling companions . I also

met one girl some time .She graduated from the University, and

was trying to get married as soon as possible .I did not even think about marriage at that time.

Therefore, when I felt some pressure from her on this question, I decided to run away.

A love between us have not arisen, and the separation took place without mutual regret.


The beauty and charm of the South was captured in the song:


“ There, the Black Sea, sand and beach

There easy life enchants us ..”


We returned home, as if written in the official language,

with a feeling of deep satisfaction.


The prediploma practice


We had the pre-diploma practice and supposed to work on the graduation paper. I was sent to the practice in the design office

of great Kirov’s plant .The instructor of my graduation paper

was a serious, thoughtful and searching for new ideas Engineer

named Cherny. He was approximately 55 years old, and he usually was sitting in the office at the end of the workday .His group designed

hydraulic systems of automatic speed control of turbo-pumps.

He got an idea to try to replace part of

regular mechanical structure with the electric elements and see whether this will improve the quality of the control system.

This electrohydraulic control system speed design

became the subject of my graduation paper .The calculations reflected that Indeed, using a some of electrical components, made it possible to

improve the quality of control system. My project represented

a theoretical calculation of control system .To prove this on practice

required considerably more time .Therefore, Cherny proposed me

work in his design office. I gladly accepted his offer, but I had to get rid of my appointment to Irkutsk construction site.

Cherny asked the Chief of Bureau Starostenko to write a note to the

Director of Personnel of the Kirov’s factory with a request to

leave me to work over there. I received a reasoned letter from

the Chief of Design Bureau Starostenko and came into the office of Personnel Director .(I need to say here that Kirov’s factory was very big enterprise, which employed approximately 20,000 people, therefore the personnel Director was definitely of KGB man in high rank).

When I entered in a large room, I saw a man of 45-50 years old with a brick face and small eyes and, undoubtedly, an ardent anti-Semite.

He looked briefly in the Starostenko’s letter. However, he did not ask me a single question and began to explain to me that a young specialist must go to work by Ministry appointment, and I have to forget the request of Starostenko. (I knew at that time to him was extremely easy to cancel my Irkutsk appointment. He needed to make only one phone call to the Ministry of Machine-building). But I exited his cabinet empty handed.

Meanwhile, my graduation paper was completed ahead of schedule.

The Kirov’s plant gave my paper good review which protected me from the critics of institute teachers who were not very knowledgeable with the specifics of the my paper.

I received the highest grade on the defense of my paper. However, I still did not have get diploma with honors.

To obtain a diploma with honors, you need 75% of all grades to be excellent

but I had about 70% of excellent grades. But it did not have any significance in my case.

The remaining time before the defense of the thesis I used to help

Yasha Krupkin, who was a very unfortunate fellow. He was one of three children, whose mother, a Jew, a doctor at the kindergarten, who was exhausted to give all children a high education . But Yasha was a very slow person and he was not able to get diploma. Technical high education was the last thing he needed. Several days I and another guy Derevskoy (our manager on Krasnoborsky Power Station construction site) went to his living spot at the Leningrad outskirts. We helped him to write graduation paper . However, after we finished this job, Yasha instructor from the our institute wrote some comments. Next day supposed to be diplomas paper defense. So,for

Yasha to Search for us again was uncomfortable, therefore the night before defense he burst into the dormitory, where several guys

from our group lived, asking them about escape .These

guys told us later, that they could not learn from Yasha about teacher demands. Therefore they offered him to sleep on someone’s

bed, while correcting the draft of his paper as they considered correct. Next day Yasha still got positive grade.

As I mentioned before, he subsequently

went to Irkutsk construction site, but even there managers

quickly see who they sent to and immediately released him from his appointment.

After defense of graduating papers in late December a week of continuous alcoholism in restaurants started .Perhaps, it was the continuation of some

old student’s tradition. It was considered an improper behavior to miss the visit

to a restaurant and even more rude not to drink over there.

On January 6, 1954 in the auditorium of the Institute, we were awarded with our diplomas .After that we were entitled to a month's leave, and then had to go to our assigned

workplace.

At the end of the month I went to Moscow to the Ministry of Machinery trying to change my assignment.

I referred to the fact that I live with my mother who survived whole Leningrad’s blockade, and she is in poor health. Therefore ,she needs permanently my help. I talked to very pleasant man of Ministry.

He said that there is all-union Trust of Control Systems who manages Irkutsk construction site and branch in Leningrad. He advised me to apply directly to Trust.

I found an office of Trust in second floor of an old wooden house in Moscow.

I knew by that time that better to avoid personnel departments everywhere.

I wanted to see the Trust manager, named Karibsky.

He was tall handsome man age 45 years old. (It immediately came to mind a phrase from the “12 chairs”: “ social lion and lady-killer “)Later, while I was working in his Trust, I have often heard his name in connection with various rumors.

Contrary to expectation, he treated me like a human being .He said that in

Leningrad, they have a branch called “Sevzapteplokontrol”, where engineers are needed as well, and that he has

no objection to my assignment to Leningrad branch. He called to the

personnel department and instructed them to give me a referral.

Departing from the Trust, I carried in my pocket following paper:


“ To Director “Sevzapteplokontrol” comrade Drozd:


The young specialist Kheyfets Yury. for the inability to travel to the Irkutsk construction site for family reasons is sent to your

disposal.

Manager of the Heat Control systems Trust Karibsly.”


It was success .Although the nature of the work in this Trust was similar everywhere , but I did not have to register my passport as departed from Leningrad individual. I would be considered to be on long business trips. It was also very important because “Sevzapteplokontrol” did

not employ the staff of the concentration camps.

Thus, due to this serious success, I returned back to Leningrad, and on March 4, 1954 my first day of working life started.


Chapter 5  POSTGRADUATE STUDY



Trust “Sevzapteplokontrol” was located within a 25 minute walk from my home. It occupied the old Church building, which was built in the 18th century. After the revolution of 1917, many churches were converted to meet the need of industries.


When I started to work, the ground floor housed the assembly hall, where  electricians built control panes and installed instruments before sending these panels to the plants, where the mounting and installation took place. In Soviet times, next to the Church,


a small three-floor building was built, where on the first floor the administration of “Sevzapteplokontrol” was accommodated. The second and third floors of this


the building were occupied by the Design Bureau (PCB-12), belonging to the same ministry as the installation company. Several people from our institute release were sent to work in PCB-12, but there were no Jews among them .The Communist Party line made their views apparent by reducing the number of Jews in scientific institutes and design offices. Pretty soon, due the Party


and Government decisions to accelerate the industry automation, the design office of  PCB-12 hired more employees and occupied the 2nd and 3rd floors of the former church building.


Whatever it was, for me, getting the job


within walking distance from the house was a big achievement.


          Head of the mounting shop Andreev took me in a small


office, and said: “ As an engineer with a diploma, you should obtain a


superintendent position. But the problem is that your institute


education have absolutely no connection to our


work .If I send you somewhere as a foreman now, there would be tremendous problems because you don’t know how to handle this work.


Therefore, we'll send you on internships for several months


to our best superintendent Grachev .You would learn from him all the tricks and hidden things of the superintendent’s job .His mounting site is


located in the Ukraine city,Gorlovka”


I was ready to work on business trips: it was much better


than to leave Leningrad completely  because in case of any business


trips, I would not need to  extract my internal passport.


The entire first month of my work I was dangling in the repair


shop, trying to repair some devices, although this work was not in my duties. In “Sevzapteplokontrol”, almost all the work took place at mounting sites .Therefore, most of the workers were assigned to different mounting sites in any part of Soviet Union.


Between the business trips, workers in anticipation of new assignments were simply sitting on the corridor’s benches umtil midday and disappeared in the afternoon .The office administration turned a blind eye to this situation. At this time, I liked a girl, who worked at a repair shop, but my early departure prevented me from developing some  relationship. In early April, I left Leningrad


in the first of my life business trip. I took a ticket on the train from Leningrad to the famous resort, Sochi, and I had in my hands a boarding card with the inscription “Sochi”. (This gave me the opportunity to boast in front of former LETI students, working now in PCB-12, that I leaving on a business trip to Sochi).


In fact, my destination was a railway station Nikitovka in Donetsk coal basin.


On 4 April of 1954 on a warm sunny spring day, I get out of the train


at the station,waiting for my luggage, which I needed to deliver to Grachev and  tried to get a lift to the Novo-Horlovka.


(At that time, there was no bus traffic over there ,


and I was warned that any travel was to be made threw hitchhiking .)



                                          Gorlovka



After several unsuccessful attempts, I managed to stop a truck heading in the right direction for  me which was a city of city called New Gorlovka. I paid him 3 rubles, and he dropped me at the nitrogen fertilizer plant.


I called Grachev on the intercom. He was not on his place


and for couple of hours when he finally appeared. It was a warm spring sun in the garden at the plant entrance. I did not see Grachev in Leningrad, but I recognized him, when I saw a man who was coming to me out of the entrance of the plant. He was little man with a round, wrinkled face, thinning hair and small narrow eyes.


We welcomed eachother and I gave him the assigned luggage. He said that the day will pass to my registration (obtaining


pass) and that he would try to organize my lodging .He asked me


to wait him in the same place .In an hour he returned, saying that I will live in a worker’s dormitory of Enakievo building trust in the room where engineers and technicians are accommodated. However, he said that only in 2-3 days will there be a spare bed in this room.


Before that I would have to live in a nitrogen fertilizer plant workers' hostel in a newly constructed building .I was somewhat scared because all my ideas about the working class emerged only from the course of Marxism-Leninism. And I did not understand how to behave in this type of environment .


After the plant registration and getting security clearings, Grachev escorted me to a nearby building and helped me to


get a bed in the worker’s dormitory. He himself lived in a one-room apartment in the same neighborhood .Unloading my belongings and walking through the surrounding area, I returned to the room and with some concern expected the return from work my new room’s neighbors . However, my fears were not realized because the neighbors were not semi-literate savages, but quite decent guys who had graduated from school or college and worked as operators of different  technological processes. One my neighbor even invited me to visit the neighborhood and showed me the location of the cafeteria, post office etc.


At the local cafeteria at that time it was possible for only 5-6 rubles to get a very good lunch, which included even a mug of beer. The next day I received a


pass and I showed up before Grachev for full readiness for labor


deeds. It seemed to me that my arrival had caught him unaware


of how to keep me busy. Therefore, he organized my workplace at a table in one of the shop offices and instructed me


to rewrite some papers .This same routine operated the same way for a few days.


Finally, it become unbearable for me and I asked him to give me some normal work .He promised, and also said that the question of my relocation to Enakievo building trust dormitory had been settled and I can immediately move over there.


This new dormitory was located 4 km from the plant in the village


Vorobivka and was represented by several long single-story barracks.


Entrance doors are located at the ends of the barracks, rooms inside the barracks opened to the corridor. There were approximately 15 rooms on the each side of corridor. One of the rooms was defined for engineers and technicians. All auxiliary facilities including washbasins located, of course, in the backyard. The Building Trust workers, who lived here did not resemble the plant's workers, with whom I lived several days. They were young guys, recruited in Western Ukraine to work as laborers at construction sites of Donbass Region. The recruiters, as usual, promised them high salaries and good working conditions. In reality, the salary was scanty, but many people were illiterate and to understand what they are talking about was  extremely difficult, because they expressed themselves in a barbarous mixture Ukrainian, Moldovan and Russian languages . Superintendents of construction works cheated them easily and exploited, but they were not able to defend themselves,


My boss Grachev kept his word, and after few days of my arrival, I had to perform my first engineering task. I had to check an installation, debug  and put into operation an automatic power controller, designed to  control level of water in a boiler on the chemical plant Power Station.


To begin with, I had absolutely no idea about boilers operation.


Strictly speaking, our institute has prepared engineers in an electrical instrumentation, and not heat technology engineers .


Another Leningrad’s Institute (Polytechnic institute) prepared specialists in heat processes engineering .


So I received an assignment , which did not  corresponds to my specialty. But now it was late and useless to explain differences in engineering profession to everyone. I understood that I must perform this job and that's it.


I started to study the instructions on the controller, which I had to tune up.


Scarce knowledge about the boiler I learned from the story of Russian novelist Kuprin(” Moloh”).From this story I knew that


the worst thing for me is to minimize the water level in the boiler steam drum. Grachev, leaving me alone with the controller, said that the first


thing I need to do is to blew up  instruments tubes. I did not understand what tubes he had in mind but to ask him about this was very uncomfortable for me because I was afraid to reveal my ignorance. Gradually, indirectly, by talking to workers, I realized that he had in mind.


Not going into all technical details, I would say that in the process of adjustment, I have done all possible faults in this case. The only consolation for me was that I did not repeat my errors. This automatic controller was very needed for the boiler plant. In absence of operating controller they need to keep a man on top of a drum boilers in a terrible heat of surrounding air, reaching up to 120 degrees of F .He had to manually adjust the water level in the drum.


At the end of each day, the head of Power Station Mintz came over to me. He correctly and was consistently interested in how I was doing and what conclusions I drew from my faults .Once I felt that the breathing regulator was no longer responding to the water level change in the steam drum, I told Grachev. He bent down and started to look at something on the floor. I did not even realize what he was looking through .Then he straightened up and said: “You knocked out the mercury from the controller. Look, all the mercury is on the floor .” I looked closely and saw that shattered into tiny barely visible grains of mercury blended with cement dust on the floor.18 kilograms of mercury


was driven out of the controller because I erroneously opened


communicating with the boiler valves and handed a one-sided pressure to the controller. I was ashamed but had to admit my errors.


    The chemical plant that I worked for was used for a lot of process instrumentation, therefore it has a special shop with instrumentation people who maintained the normal functioning of instruments.


Grachev gave me a note to the head of this shop with a request to


help me to reload new mercury into the controller.


The head of instrumentation shop signed a Grachev’s demand and asked a specialist on mercury to go with me and pour it into controller


Finally, after monthly troubles, the water level regulator start


to operate correctly. I exulted. A recorder, fixing the water level in the boiler drum showed red straight line.


But cautious head of the Power Station Mints did not remove an


observer of water level for 3-4 days.


fearing some future problems from the automatic controller.


And he was right .When I came to work one morning, I saw that the controller was turned off, and an observer of the water level was back upstairs.


It was found that during the night shift, the controller stopped working, and luckily, the maintenance peoples noticed it and prevented the


decrease of the water level in a boiler. The reason was in mechanical break-


down of the connection between the controller and the main water feed valve.


This valve suddenly blocked the flow of water to boiler. After the repair of this connection, there were no other problems.The cautious Mintz ordered the remove of the water level observer. Then another similar controller was installed for the other steam boiler, which I tuned-up for only 1 week.


                  I established good friendly relations with the Leningrad’s


workers, who performed many jobs on Grachev site. There were three men from our company who worked for Grachev. One of them was blond with blue eyes Vasya Mironov. He looked to be an intelligent man and could easily pass for an engineer or teacher .


He bought a camera, which was at that time not widely used and I taught him all the photographic processes .Some evenings we often spent time at the park, where he photographed strolling girls, then a week later on the same site he gave those photos. He earned some decent money doing this .The other two boys, Gene and Misha were simpler, but since the main topic of our conversation was still the girls, I also had something to discuss with them. On Saturdays at the end of the day, our team gathered at Grachev apartment, where his wife, permanent or temporary, I knew not, prepared salads, potatoes and other simple snacks .We consumed all these dishes with a tremendously big appetite after drinking a couple bottles of vodka. I was brought up in intellectual circles, where many things were hidden, or vaguely hinted. Therefore, I was very impressed by the frankness and openness of my new friends. After of vodka all my companions


seemed seem to me as my best friends.


I remember one case, that I mentioned above, where I knocked out mercury from the first controller. To replace the mercury, I went to the head of the maintenance shop


to get his signature on the paper signed by Grachev. Before this visi, I had never seen this man .I stopped in his office and found him sitting at a table and talking with other people. I approached the table, stopped and waited for the end conversation. When the conversation was over, I was just about to open my mouth to explain who I am and what


I need from man sitting at the table but he surpassed me and instead of greeting me said:


“So what? Are you making love with our Galya? "He used the other purely Russian


word, but for political correctness, I omitted it.


(The shop secretary, pretty, slim girl 25-27 years old, spoke to me several times while I was sitting in the shop office, rewriting the paper.)


I was somewhat shocked by this kind of greeting and


hotly deny that this is not true .But the boss simply


said: “ Well, okay, get healthy! “ The Grachev requirement he signed, even without inquiring why I need mercury. The Grachev request was quite sufficient for him. At that time, I did not understand the reason for this confidence to Grachev. I understood this only a year later when I became also a superintendent.


And my story with Galya did not even start. She had a child, but no husband and she flirted with me, obviously alluding to continue


relationships. I was educated in  official communist morality that


love is unique, it can not be squandered, and so on. She soon realized that I could not be her lover and turned her attention


to our worker Gena. He understood immediately her wish and in a week moved to her apartment, where he lived until the end of his business trip. I baited  my elbows


but it was apparently to late .Gena was a nice guy, However, he suffered from bed-wetting, and next to him


in the room it was impossible to sleep because of the perpetual stench from his bed.


But Galia, apparently, was not discouraged. That's how my upbringing has brought my first humiliation( not the last one.) Another similar incident occurred about a month later.


In the evenings, after a good dinner in the cafeteria, which included a mug of


beer and 150 grams of vodka, we went to a nearby Park, where music played and guys and girls were dancing on a dancing site.


I and my coworkers Leningrad’s  workers acquired some


popularity among local guys. Some of them considered the acquaintance


with us as a sign of prestige.


Soon we had a few “friends” among the local guys. One of them, Lenya, was the driver of the head of the Construction Trust. For us, this acquaintance was profitable because he had in his disposal  on Sundays the Trust car GAZ-51.He often suggested to us to get some rest on the lakes on Sundays. The lakes were located far away from our dormitory and because of the absence of a city transportation system, we were not able to reach the lakes. We went swimming, sunbathing, eating and drinking


over there and, in general, had a good time.


(photos 22,23,24). Therefore, Vasya photographed Lenya and his girlfriend free of charge Once Lenya came into our dormitory. I was still upset about the my failure with  Galya and I said to Lenja:


“Lenya, can you help with finding a woman?” Lenya briskly inquired: “Do you want woman to make love?”


(He used, of course, another word). I confirmed.  He thought a


little bit and said:” Ok, I will do it” .


I've already forgotten about this conversation, but once on a dance floor, I met Lenya with his girl . I saw her before and I knew her as Lenya’s girlfriend.


She was a cute skinny brunette, and she worked as a nurse.


Lenya took me aside: “Listen, you are asking me about girl.  I have brought her to you.”


I was shocked (I was thinking that he would introduce me to someone, and then gradually we move our relationships to an intimate phase). “ But she is your girl “- I said. “So what?” replied Lenya. “I talked with her regarding you, she agreed. Take her into a bushes in


the park ,not far from dance floor. there is convenient place over there.”


I wrote already that I was in reality very shy person. I hesitated and did not know how to avoid this offer.  However, he understood my hesitation in his own way .”So what's the matter? You go first one, then


I will come with her.”


I remembered this episode to show what kind of friend I had. Lenya was very simple, uneducated guy, but he was ready to give me his own girlfriend.  Soon after this day, he told me that Valya (the name of his girlfriend) asked why I refused to go with her.


Interesting, that later Lenya was imprisoned for murder and was released under the amnesty of criminals in the year 1953 (after Stalin’s death).


The people released from camps according to amnesty were not


allowed to live in large cities. But in the Ukrainian Donbas’s coal basin, where I worked at that time, many former prisoners were allowed to live.


Now I would like to describe my roommates of Engineering


room in the workers' dorm where I lived. A small, approximately 16 square meter room, had one window and door to the corridor . The furniture consisted of four narrow beds with metal metallic mesh, a small roughly hewn table and three chairs. Next to each bed a small bedside table stood, and on the wall hanged primitive copies of Russian artist ‘s Shishkin landscape.A bed, located right from window belonged to the engineer Vogel.


He was a man of 50 years of agea and wore glasses and was bald. He lived here permanently, working in the Yenakiyevo Construction Trust .Why this middle-aged man had no place to live, except this dormitory was difficult to explain. However, I did not


ask him because of delicacy. He didn’t have a girlfriend, so every day, returning at night from the cafeteria , I saw him sitting


on the bed and reading book up to 10 p. m at the light of a dim bulb.


He was irritated by even minor things, and he broke down on any small case. For example, a loudspeaker was installed in the corridor just in front of our room. Whole translation network, of course, passed all sorts of propaganda, and even on the Ukrainian language. Vogel was irritated by these broadcastings.He often ran into the hallway to turn off the radio, but someone from the construction workers site turnedon the loudspeaker again.  Once, I with another neighbor, a guy of my age Igor Zuev gave him new idea: to break the wire connected to the dynamics, but do it cautiously in order to keep the wire’s isolation in whole. Vogel was very glad with this idea, he snuck at night to the loudspeaker


and implemented this sabotage .

As a result of that action, the loudspeaker was silent for three days


and we were triumphant .However, soon someone repaired the loudspeaker wires, and forced broadcasting started again.


The other case had some political nuance with it. Once, when I returned


from work, I found the picture in our room was replaced. Instead of Shishkin’s landscape, a portrait the General Secretary of Communist Party Khruschev was hanging there.


It was a simple paper poster of Khruschev, but in frame. When Vogel appeared, he became terribly angry, took the portrait and threw it into the corridor . At that time,


Khrushchev ascended to full power in the Soviet Union.


Perhaps, some Party leader in the Trust recommended to the dorm administrator to hang his portraits in the rooms. Soon after we throw away his portrait, an administrator of the dormitory appeared in person in our room. He asked us :


“Why, comrades, you refuse to have Khrushchev? " Fearing that Vogel may be irritated and saying too much, I said:


“ We are not abandoning the portrait, but looking at portrait yourself, it's very disrespectful


to Comrade Khrushchev to hang his poster which has dirty stains, traces of cobwebs, and, traces of flies on it . Bring us this poster in good order, and only then will hang it..”


An administrator carefully inspected the portrait and become convinced that all what I said was true. He said finally that we are right and that the portrait is really dirty and must be cleaned up. He took


portrait away. Probably, he was not able to a find better poster for us and our previous landscape was returned. (I'm sure that these portraits were stored in a storeroom, where they became dusty and stained and only after the ascent of Khruschev to Power were the portraits dragged from the dust).


      Already mentioned by me, Igor Zuev, a technician  from Kharkov, who was sent to work in the Enakievo Construction Trust, settled on the opposite side of Vogel’s bed. Igor was a calm and poised guy.


Once, when I and Igor were on a dancing site, some local drunken guys touched us thinking that we had taken their girls.


Igor was able to calmly explain to their leader that we never intended to get these girls and that we are interested in the others girls who came here after graduation from colleges. Boiling passions gradually calmed down, and then Vasya Mironov photographed these guys and in a couple of days gave them, of course, free pictures .At that time, cameras were rarely available, and the presentation of photos was seen as a gesture of peace-loving, like smoking a peace pipe among the natives of Polynesia. After this event, the ocal


guys accepted us as their own, and no conflicts arose from that point on.


Unfortunately, Igor often went home to Kharkov on Sunday,


so that I sometimes missed his good advice.


My bed was situated to the left of the door, and in front of me


was an empty bed .I was told that it belongs to an elderly


man by the name of Roslyakov, located in the long-term treatment in hospital. Approximately, in a couple of weeks after my arrival in our


room, a young man occupied this empty bed. He was Georgian Zurab Mheidze and was sent to work in the construction trust after graduation from Tbilisi College.


So far, he was given temporarily a place on Roslyakov’s bed.


His arrival was interesting. First of all Zurab brought a couple of bottles of wines, and I and Igor drunk for new acquaintances.


For the next several days after his arrival Zurab literally


threw money in the cafeteria , where alcoholic beverages were


selling with a great variety and accessibility (photo 24: Zurab, me in the center and Roslyakov).


But soon he spent all his money as he said. I wanted to thank him for his generosity, and invited him to dinner after work in a local dining place close to the chemical plant.


He agreed and I paid for the good dinner, which included, as usual, a mug of beer and 150 grams of vodka.


The same thing happened the next day, then this procedure


became systematic .When I came home from work, he was always waiting for me. We walked into the dining room where I dined and wined Zurab.


He swore that he never had a better friend than me, but he never offered to pay for dinner.


He promised that when he would return to Tbilisi, he would send me a parcel with the best


wines and when he gets the money, he would repay me. Of course, I did not remind him of his debt to avoid being considered a miser.


This situation continued approximately 1,5 months. This charity had


affected pocketbook and I decided to talk seriously to Zurab. But at this time another incident happened. Once, I came home from work and found Vogel in very excited state.


When Zurab went out of room, Vogel told me that he was


convinced that Zurab is a thief .Vogel that day received his salary and he kept banknotes in the inside pocket of his jacket in the wallet. When he was in room, Vogel took off his jacket and went to the toilet located at some distance from the building .When Vogel came back, Zurab was in the room, Vogel counted the money and found a lack


of one banknote of 100 rubles. He was absolutely sure that only Zurab took this money. If some stranger entered room at that time, he would be taken whole wallet.


I also remembered that recently I also lost note of 25 rubles,


lying in the back pocket of trousers. (I thought that accidentally I lost it).


When Zurab appeared in the room, Vogel straightly told him


that he is a thief. I stood silenced. Then Zurab appealed to my supposedly friendly feelings towards him and wonder how I could


believe such slander of my best friend. Finally, Vogel summoned an administrator of dormitory and demanded removal of Zurab from our room.


The administrator transferred Zurab to the one of worker’s room. Of course, after such a discovery, my dinners with Zurab ended .Pretty soon Zurab somehow disappeared from  dormitory. I learned that he went home to Tbilisi although as a young technician , he had to work at his destination at least three years.


I think that by using the stolen Vogel money, he bought a ticket to Tbilisi.


And his debt to me also disappeared.


    The famous writer Maxim Gorky's wrote a story which titled “ My


comrade “. It describes the time at the end of 19th century, when author Maxim Gorky strolled through South of Russia.


While he was in Crimea, he met a young Georgian man,


who introduced himself as a son of Georgia


Prince, who lost money and  heading on foot to Tbilisi.


Gorky also was walking in the same direction, so they became fellow travelers. While they


travelled, Gorky earned some income, fed and watered his companion, and at the crossing


through the Kerch Strait even saved his life .The travel companion promised Gorky golden mountains as soon as they reach Tbilisi, saying,


that the prince would greatly reward Gorky for helping his sun. Finally, they


came to Tbilisi. A Georgian come over to big house and said that in this house lives his friend from whom he would borrow clean clothes, because he could not show up to his fathers place as a beggar.


He promised to bring new clothing for Gorky too. On his request, Gorky was awaiting him on a street. After waiting a long time, Gorky came over close to the building and learned that the house had a pass through a yard on another street.


I remembered this story because the behavior of Zurab as two drops


of water similar to the behavior of the Georgian Gorky “friend”.


But while we were friendly, Zurab mistakenly gave me address of his grandmother in Tbilisi. I decided to write letter about Zurab and send it to this address, because I had nothing to lose. I describe Zurab’s behavior and his debt to me. I did not expect a response .However, to my surprise, I received a letter, written by his grandmother.


His grandmother, according to the letter, was an intelligent woman, she was scared and


outraged that I was so rudely asking him to cover debt, but being itself a woman of honor she is sending money to me. (Soon I got the requested amount of money).The letter was permeated with contempt for me, because I dared to doubt the honesty of her lovely grandson. (I did not mentioned in my letter the stolen money from Vogel).


A Couple months later, Zurab unexpectedly come back. Somehow, he failed to stay and was forced to return here to get release from work.


I did not talk to him . He


lived in a room with construction’s workers, earning money as a sharper in cards games. Soon he left forever.


                  But the adventures of our room did not end.


One day, when Zurab left, and I just came from work, someone insistently knocked on our door. I opened the door. On the room threshold stood a guy from the next room of our building :” Take your’s old man, he's lying in a ditch *- the guy said, waving his hand in vague direction .” Which the old man? “- I asked, not understanding what was going on and why we need to take care of some old man . “Well, you might not know that he


slept on this bed “- guy replied, pointing to the former Zurab’s bed .


I realized that he is  talking about Roslyakov, who lived in this room


before my entry .Therefore, I, Igor and Vogel, the three of us, pulled


Roslyakov from the ditch, dragged him into the room and laid him on the bed. Of course, Roslykov was deadly drunk.


He was dirty, unshaven man, completely bald, with a paunch.


I would give him at 62-64 years old. He worked as an engineer for


work at security of Construction Trust. Vogel warned


me to be careful in my conversations, because, as a youth, Roslyakov


was definitely connected to the secret police.


Needless to say, this neighborhood was not very nice .Roslyakov discharged from Hospital and has received some vacation money and, of course, drunk as a pig.


I tried not to communicate with him, that was easy, because Roslyakov was interested only in eating and drinking .


Each day he came home from work, bringing a quart of litre of


vodka and some canned foods. He sat on the table and started his dinner. Vogel, irritated, looked at at him, but usually was restrained. At one time, Vogel’s patience ended. Roslyakov brought wrapped in paper, some salty small fish. He sat at a table and knocked over a glass of vodka, loudly chewing over every small fish, rolling his


empty meaningless eyes. At that time, I was not there and Igor


later told me what happened. Vogel silently looked at Roslyakov bliss and suddenly exploded: “ Stop it! “- shouted Vogel. Roslyakov paid no attention and continued


with his dinner. Then Vogel cried again,” I told you to stop!” on


what Roslyakov quite calmly responded: “ Who are you? “


Word by word and real fight began. Igor called for help from the guys


from other rooms and with difficulty, they parted as fighting men .To separate them, they put chairs in between them.The next night  was very restless.


Each of the rivals suspected another one in some treacherous designs.


Vogel was in the best strategic position, because when he was leaving the


room, he passed Roslyakov’s  bed  and could easily knock him. Fortunately ,soon Roslyakov broke his leg and again was admitted to hospital. We breathed freely again.


In May of year 1954, we celebrated a great historical event: the


three hundred years anniversary of the reunification of Ukraine and Russia. The communist propaganda was trying to convince the world that only reunification with Russia saved the Ukrainian people from foreign invaders. (Organized by the Bolsheviks


in the thirties famine, which killed about 5 million


Ukrainians, of course, the propagandists did not remember). One day a huge demonstration of workers were organized in Gorlovka. People passing next to the tribune on which embracing Russian and Ukrainian men stood. The folks were happy and looked forward to a great drunkenness. On this occasion, a lot of scarce food


products and different varieties of alcohol were delivered to shops.


In the blocks where plant workers live, it was difficult to meet a sober people, more difficult than finding a needle in a haystack. I and my new friends were no exception to this rule.


In June, Grachev transferred me to work on Gorlovka machine-building plant, which was located at the center of city.


Now, I needed an hour and a half of time to get to work. It depended how lucky I was . The substantial part of my way was to stand on the railway crossover and  hitchhike until some truck driver decided


to pick me up. There were huge fans for coal mines .These fans required strict bearing’s temperature control, because failure of the fan


in the mine would lead  to catastrophe .The Leningrad’s Design Bureau


(GSOKB), developed special equipment to control the temperature of bearings .These instruments were send to Gorlovka for testing. To test these devices at the Gorlovka plant GSOKB sent on a mission engineer Omelchenko, whom I already mentioned.


Grachev signed with GSOKB contract to provide


technical assistance in testing. The technical help in testing and personnel training was carried out by me.


I unpacked devices and checked their calibration. Then I installed devices on the panel and connected temperature sensors to instruments. I was given an electrician for help. After then, the large mine fan started to run and the special Commission verified whether an increase of a bearing temperature would stop overheated bearing. (overheating created artificially by adding sand into the bearing).


Grachev rarely appeared at the factory, and I worked independently, closely with Omelchenko. This work did not cause any problems for me. Finally, the Factory Commission approved the design and test of GSOKB instruments. Of course, a special party was organized in the dining room of the plant, where this event was celebrated.(I would like to mention here that at most cafeteria of Soviet enterprises


beyond the usual room for the workers,


there was a back room for engineering and technical workers, as well as, in general, for guests to the plant from the Ministry or the Regional Party Committee .Over there were


flowers placed on the tables and white tablecloths were used and waitresses brought the best wines and appetizers from the plant administration storehouse) .I was an important man in this testing and therefore


I was invited to the party. Of course, Grachev could not  miss such convenient case to eat and drink for free and he arrived as well. The party ended very well without over any drunkenness and fights.


        While I was working at this plant, I met a pretty blonde who worked as an operator of overhead travelling crane. She was called Julia. She, like me, lived


in the hostel, so the our meetings were possible only in a neutral


area. But where you can go with the girl at the center of the Donbas coal mines ? Sometimes you may go to the movie theater, but mainly to the city park (photo 25,26,27),


where you could find shady avenues and inconvenient benches .We spent a lot of time in the park, and once even whole night from Saturday to Sunday . Ukrainian had warm summer evenings and nights contributed to this.


How would I say my favorite writers Ilf and Petrov, “the weather favored to love.”


        The Donbas has always been a high crime area and talks of a robbery in broad daylight could be heard .


Robberies were happened even on the factories territory.


However I was lucky in regards to this problem, thank God.  Returning home, sometimes in the morning, passing through the wasteland,


looking barely visible in the darkness the way, I have not met suspicious guys. Sometimes, after work, I did not catch a ride,


and used the Gorlovka tram, which eventually brought me to a railway intersection from where I had to walk around 3 miles. The local trams were used  not as a transport but a place of communication of local people. A tram could stop at some store and passengers


waiting for the driver and the conductor to buy herring. Once a tram stopped for half an hour, and I saw that the driver was taken out of the car and some people guided her. A local grandmother sympathetically commented: “They guided her to subscribe to government bonds.”


Indeed, in 1954, Khrushchev followed a


Stalinist tradition of “voluntary” subscriptions to the state


loans, and, saying this more simply, this subscription even more reduce the people’s low state’s salaries.


    Summer time passed quickly and my business trip came to an end. In early September, saying goodbye to Julia and hoping for the continuation of ours relationships, I left Gorlovka and got on a truck ride to the railway station Nikitovka,


where I got on the first train for which I got a ticket. It was a


train following Moscow. In Moscow, I  punched a ticket to Leningrad,


and in the remainder time before the Leningrad train departure I wandering around the Moscow.


I remember a beautiful warm day of early autumn. I went to the movie theater in the Hotel “Metropol”


where the documentary film: “ Throw Indonesia” was playing. I remember being struck by the beauty of the melodies heard:


                “ Warm seas washed beaches


                and ancient forests covered the soil ... “


I thought that Indonesian music is the same as the cacophony of


Chinese music . I understood that this is not true.


My mood was good, as after a successful battle fight .When I arrived in Leningrad, I received the letter from Vogel's, he was telling me about his conflict with Igor Zuev . He wrote that I was the only decent man, whom he had seen in their environment, and all other people are rogues and scoundrels . He predicted for me a brilliant future. As for me, I was sorry for this man. He certainly was not a villain, and scoundrel , since the latter do not remain without living quarter in old age.


I wrote him a warm letter, but I was not intended to be involved in their squabbles.


My “bright future” once again sends me to a long journey.



                                    Lysva (first coming)



When I returned to Leningrad and appearing in my organization,


I was again given idle time on the corridor bench.


I, like other assemblers workers


between job assignments spent working hours sitting on a bench in the hallway and listened all sorts of worker’s baizes .After lunch, the bench became totally


empty, as people quietly disappeared. I visited my institute's classmates and


realized that none of them plunged into the thick of the simple peoples, as I did .All my classmates worked in research institutes or design offices, where they were under constant leadership of small and big bosses, and performed work, similar to the institute coursework projects. In early October, I was invited by the head of the shop Andreev.He said, that our company is opening a new assembly site in the city


Lysva ( Perm region) in the new turbo-generator plant. It is necessary


to mount instrumentation and controls for the first boiler of the plant


Power Station.


He offered me, as a man who passed the working test in the mounting site of Grachev, to go as a superintendent to this site.


I agreed, actually, my consent was not needed. The job is a job. Absolutely anything about the pitfalls in this future assignment was not mentioned, and I, in general, know nothing about those. My briefing before the first trip consisted of 2-3 words.


I was given three small books, called “ Price list for


installation work “ numbered 8,10,12 and was told that I have to charge our work on these price tags, I have to give invoices to the customer. Also, I was presented


thick grimy book with pages of permanently twisted into a roll blueprint . This was a book of worker’s tariff’s ,which I had to use to pay worker’s hourly rates .He also said that the salary, which I pay monthly to the workers, must not exceed


14% of the cost of performed and accepted by the customer our work.


My customer invoices (forms for which customer accepts the work), I had to send monthly to the office in Leningrad, and the our salary will be paid to us through post office money transfer forms. He warned me also that every worker on my site should confirm that they aware about the work safety instructions, and I need to have their signatures regarding these items. If an accident  happened to someone on the work side and if I have no his signature regarding safety instructions, I would be imprisoned.


On these encouraging comments the head of the our instruments installation shop finished his parting words. Also Andreev introduced me to a shabby lad, and said that he is a mechanic of 3(lowest) grade. His name was Peter and he would help me. (Actually, Peter from the first day turned into a burden for me. I regretted to take him, because he almost able to do nothing)


So, in mid-October 1954, the next day after the flood in Leningrad, we were sitting in a passenger train on the route Leningrad Sverdlovsk. The train run through the North


railroad, the same route, which in the year 1941


I was sent to evacuation, and many of the names of the railway stations were familiar to me.


When we arrived to city Perm (then this city still wore


name of Molotov), we, as requested by Andreev, brought the box of materials to ”Sevzapteplocontrol” local installation site in the small city Zakamsk close to Perm.


So, we stopped in Perm for one day and surprisingly we got room in the Perm’s seven-story hotel .(Later I learned that in this hotel during the war, lived a long time the world-famous psychic, prophet of the future and reader of others' thoughts Wolf Messing). The next day we drove to Zakamsk ,then crossed on a ferry across the cold waters of Kama River and met the superintendent of this site. He invited us to the best local restaurant over there and showed us local sights. It is remarkable this was clearly not a tourist but industrial town. The next day we were discharged from hotel and took the local


train to Lysva, which located on railway between  Perm and Sverdlovsk. There were two tracks on this distance: one track was a standard railway line used for passenger trains following Sverdlovsk and Siberia. The another track, located to the north of main line, was single one and was named mine’s track. However, exactly on this railway line,


approximately 150 miles east of Perm located station and city Lysva. This city, like many towns in the Ural’s area, was built around the steel smelting plant. The plant began to work in the 18th century and originally belonged to famous industrialist


Demidov. Of course, the plant’s open-hearth furnaces and other


equipment were upgraded several times. However, the location of the plant in the middle of the city bordered on all sides by streets with rustic log


houses remained unchanged.


Our train arrived at Lysva in the evening. It was dark around. I put my suitcases in the station luggage room and began to wonder where to spend a night. I was told that the largest hotel in the city belonged to metallurgical plant and it was located in the city canter. We walked there, accompanied by a guy, walking in the same


direction .He showed us a “hotel”. After the good hotel in Perm here


hotel looked completely different. A long barrack type one floor building, windows covered with shutters. Inside this building was warm, but, of course, no vacancy .We remained seated on chairs near the administrators window because we had no other place, where we could go. We are sitting this way about three hours.


Finally, she took pity on us and organized two folding beds


in the hallway.


We were happy and slept till dawn, the most important thing was that


it was warm inside hotel .The next morning, we went to the place of our destination which was the turbine- generator plant, located 4 miles from the


Center of city . In this travel, we were joined by another man, who lived in the


hotel. He was an engineer of Leningrad’s design institute and came here because there were some design problems in the plant Power Station. When I asked him when he was supposed to go back, he replied: “In  3-4 days “. At this point I became very jealous of him.  This man in 3-4 days would return to civilized Leningrad, and I have to spend many months in this remote dirty vicinity.


Finally, we came to the plant. I called to the director of plant and


explained him who I was, he ordered to give us passes and invited to his office .


The plant director was a tall portly man about 42-45 years old.


His last name was Balkov. He said to me: “ Yes, we need to make installation of instrumentation and automation on the boiler #1 of our


Power Station. Time before starting boiler #1 is very short. We already negotiated with the Perm’s organization about this installation job.”


          At this point, I really wanted to tell to the director, that I have no objection if he would decide to invite Perm’s organization. In this case, we would simply depart this city. But I thought that if he goes this way, I would look bad in my own organization. Therefore , I  was silent. Balcov  continued: “ Once you have already arrived, then go ahead. Three weeks for you is enough to finish the job? “


      With the same success he could ask me if 3 weeks is sufficient


to learn Chinese language .Maybe during this time I would learn two character of the language, not more .Therefore, I said that 3 weeks for the Instrumentation installation is not enough , that job could take at least 2 months. (I secretly still


hoped that the director would send me away with my timing schedule and would invite Perm’s organization, but this action, to my great regret did not happen.)


“ Well, said Balcov, start work and we'll see later “.He invited to the office the chief of department of Capital Construction Reutov, introduced me and asked him to


provide dormitory for me and my worker. After that he rose from the chair, implying that the audience was over.


                      STRUGGLE FOR SURVIVAL



Reutov found and handed me several design books regarding


mounting instrumentation on the boiler #1.He also called the housing Department requesting to arrange housing for us. The turbine generator plant was a new enterprise, and some shops of the plant were still built at that time. Right next to the plant workers living quarters were two and three story brick houses being built.


Among these buildings was a two-story U-shaped house .The first floor of this house was occupied with a post office, grocery store and barber’s shop. In middle of building


wide, carpeted staircase led to the second floor. Climbing up to the 2nd floor, the visitors entered a large, bright lounge where there were 3 sofas, table with chairs, phone in the corner and a side table with music player. The lounge was separated from the central stairwell with a metallic fence. Right and left of the hall stretched corridors,on both sides of those touching on both sides of the corridor were rooms .The rooms were designed for two people, but there were even some rooms for one person. Each


room had a sink with hot and cold water, which seemed a great


luxury at that time. At the end of the corridors, visitors turned to the right or left and found out showers and comfortable restrooms. On the second floor also a small kitchen existed with a gas range. It was clear that the building was built with comfort in mind..


This building was the property of the plant and was used as a housing for young professional people destined to work at the plant as well as for people on business trips, like me.


And then I made my first but perhaps biggest mistake. Under a contract with the factory I, like a superintendent of contractor work, had the right to have a separate room for myself. But I still was very shy person and I thought that it is not nice to my worker Peter to separate me from him. (Of course ,a separate room was not available at that time, but my request  would be fulfilled later).Therefore I did not request a separate room for myself . As a result of this Peter and I occupied the one room. And then stretched a chain of my errors. We arrived at the assembly with almost our bare hands and nothing else. Except for a small box with tools, we had nothing to work with. To organize an assembly area, you , at least, need a lot of tools, as well as pipe benders, arc welding aggregate , acetylene generator, for which, in turn, you need calcium carbide and oxygen etc.


Of course, you need room for the new workshop. I had the right to receive materials from the plant warehouse, which included ,mainly, pipes ,cables.


The cost of these materials I included in my volume of work and our Leningrad ‘s office paid for materials. So these materials became ours.


(Interesting that when I was filling forms out for monthly volume of work cost of these materials was included again but as our materials.)


I do not want to bore the reader with a description of production problems.


I will only mention that these problems had nothing to do with my engineering education, which I got in LETI.


I began to scrutinize the books of design, not realizing that


at least, half of the design drawings could safely thrown away.


Only instruments were supposed to be bought according to project specifications.


The special boards and panels for instrument placing were


not ordered. I understood that these panels we would have to be built on a plant. I understood also that design of instrumentation was absolutely not consistent with the boiler design. The installers of  the boiler did not see in their drawings some indication about, the instruments . To illustrate my complete ignorance in installation job I would give the following example. According to my design specifications I wrote out the requirements to get materials from stock. This list included about 100 items. All these requirements, I also signed in the plant department of construction. But when I came over to stock a stock keeper looked at me as if I was crazy.” Where did you get all these things from?”asked the stock keeper?. “I took this from my project .” - I said .” But I have nothing of these items in stock” replied stock keeper. Later  I learned that he had 4 out of requested 100 items.


“ And what can I do? “- I asked. The stock keeper was very surprised.


“Do what other contractors are doing! Take whatever is available and start to work”. This was very good advice!


So I slowly started to learn the reality of life , even in conversation


with a simple stock keeper.


I called to the Leningrad  office and reported the situation to Andreev. He


promised to send me an experienced team leader who would help expand the work and professional locksmith for the production of a control panel on place.


The first days after my arrival, I walked through the plant and met with


employees of the instrumentation maintenance shop .They were good guys and the head of the shop, Kamensky Peter,  an excellent guy offered me even a table in their shop. So I got an office space expanded with papers and drawings. Although the plant Power Station was not in operation, but the head of Power Station Kozhevnikov was sitting in cabinet. The future engineers of the Power


Station, young guys, Oleg and Slava were bored to death from idleness since the boiler was not yet started up. Kozhevnikov chose a room for my mounting site –an auxiliary


boiler equipment room.


It was a good room, but extreme chilly at this time of year. No heat was available in whole Power Station.


And the next room, occupied by electricians was warm. Because


they used a homemade electric heater .


I asked them how they built a heater .The guy explained to me that this it is simpe. Take a piece of pipe, wrap it with  asbestos sheet, and roll around the ordinary steel wire. Fix wire clips on the ends, connect the wires, and a heater is ready.


“Only do not turn on this heater in an ordinary electrical network.”  he explained . Pick up a low-voltage wires outside the Power Station building.


I asked my working man Petya, who looks after me like a dog :” You can make this stove? “ He did not reply. I realized that there was no useful job he could handle.


But I was not allowed for a long time to walk and look around. After three or four days of my arrival, I was invited to the plant director's office for a the builder’s meeting .


The heads of all contractors engaged in construction of boiler #1


were present on this meeting. On the agenda of the meeting is the topic of the start-up  of boiler number 1. Director demanded that General contractor (construction  trust) explained us how things are going. He said that his trust is working on schedule, but another contractor main installer of heating equipment) prevented him to finish  the start-up job for a several reasons Director turned to the main installer of the boiler, a thickset man of about 50 with a weather-beaten red face and narrow


Tartar eyes: “ When you start testing the boiler? “ This man


unexpectedly for me said: “ I am ready tomorrow, but the absence of


Boiler instrumentation prevent me to do it. The instruments installation company( It means only me) did not provided me instruments taps which I should cut into the pipes .” Then attention of all peoples switched to me .Director appeals to me: “ When you give him what he needs? “. To win some time I mentioned


about two weeks. After my words thunder and lightning fell on my head .


“ You breaking down the start up of boiler # 1 and whole Power Station .-shouted the director. “I will telegraph your ministry if in two days you would not provide the main boiler erectors your instruments taps.” My attempt to explain something was not successful . It appeared that delays in my work extremely hurt the start up of the boiler.


The chief boiler contractor sat silently looking insulted from my terrible behavior.(For instance, he would test the boiler tomorrow if I would give him instruments taps).


I'm by nature a very responsible man in any work and the idea


that I could fail the first serious case in my life would not let me sleep in the next night. The next day I picked up the design drawings for the mentioned devices and understood that these instruments taps to be fabricated in the plant mechanical repair shop. I wrote the order to the mechanical shop and attached drawings for fabrication.


In several days, I was again invited to the contractor’s meeting


at the directors office. The same people were sitting on the long table. The chief boiler installer again knocked on me: “The instrumentation contractor


does not give me their taps! “. Director again appealed to


me: “ Why you did not fulfill the decision of the previous meeting? Today I will be telegraphing to your boss!”


But my advantage is that I'm learning fast .This time I was prepared .


I replied: “Your mechanical repair shop does not comply with my order,


I gave this order several days ago.” Director grabs up the phone and call the Chief of


mechanical-repair shop :” Why you did not fabricate instrumentation taps?” The Chief of mechanical shop  replied that the reason for the delay is specified material for these taps In accordance with drawings, a very expensive steel grade 80 is needed , and in the shop this type of steel is only available in the pigs with a diameter of 100 millimeters.


He could not grind down the entire pig to make a tap with diameter of 40 millimeters .Director appeals to me: “ Could this material be replaced by the usual ornamental steel 3? “ I answer that I could not


permit this because the device must withstand high temperatures and pressures .Then  director yells into the phone: “Do what  you want, but those damned instruments taps to be fabricated as soon as possible.” The main boiler installer again sitting with a blank face, as if saying that he would be happy to start the hydraulic testing of the boiler, only I am tying his hands.


I was educated among intelligent people and I was taught that the saying the truth is one of the best human qualities to have .So, it  was strange for me to see how solid


men at the meeting were trying hard to find fall guy  to avoid be blamed for all their problems and get away easily. I was used as a


such fall guy at least at the beginning of my new assignment. Nevertheless, nothing would have saved me from the first failure: in fact, my assembly site has not yet been organized. However,  I survived as the Red Army near Moscow in 1941. I was saved , like the Red Army in 1941, due to heavy freezes .


In the  boiler room, the temperature was approximately minus  20-25 degrees Celsius which is what forced the builders and installers contractors to stop working .The main problem on the meetings was how to provide heat to the Power Station at least to heat up the air to plus 5-6 degrees Celsius. Someone had the idea to put the locomotive on access roads close to Power Station and run a temporary steam line from the locomotive to Power Station .Of course, this job required time, and heating the assembly platform has become a major subject of discussion at meetings. Temporarily contractors forgot about me. I still was waiting for the arrival of an experienced team leader.


or I organized a workplace for my companion Petya and found some primitive work for him.


At the end of the month I had to close the order on him to get him paid. I wanted to pay him no more than 500 rubles.  I decided to fill out his order honestly .I opened the book of the rules and rates, given to me in my office. I was terrified. If I filled out honestly, his job would earn not 500 but only 50 rubles. In order to  pay him 500 rubles,


I had to show in the order form  that he made 5000 brackets for cable support and in fact he fabricated only 40.


I had the first time to write false information in his order form. (However, even 500 rubles he considered very small payment). Here, I would like to distract from my history, and talk about this side of Soviet reality, which I realized later.


The builder of the Soviet State Lenin has written somewhere, that labor productivity is the most important effect of new socialist system.This means that, if we consider that


socialism is a more advanced system than capitalism, the labor productivity under socialism must not only be above productivity under capitalist system but continuously increasing .But real increase in productivity at any enterprise is not an easy task: we need new machines, new technologies, new organization of work etc.  However, an increase in each year labor productivity is forced on any enterprises because of strong demand and countless directives of the Communist Party and governments.


Therefore, the bureaucrats found a sure way out of this situation:


lower prices of labor reducing the cost of producing parts . If you lower the fee for a manufactured item, then working for the same salary should produce more items, and  that would  increase his productivity. Just fine! No problem with changing equipment and technology. For example, the mounting sites remains unchanged probably since the days of Russian czars. If with the original input tariffs, somehow reflected real work, so for years of “increased productivity”, these tariffs have become totally divorced from reality and represented complete fiction.


And later, while I continued work as superintendent, I receive each year from the Leningrad’s office requirements on the introduction of such a date


discount factor for all rates in the above-mentioned book.


In early November, the head of my worker’s team arrived. He was an experienced man, named Kukushkin, a


strong man age 45, who worked on many mounting sites. With his arrival, the work on my site quickly started.


At this time in the dorm room I still shared a room


with Kukushkin. Kukushkin immediately decided how we will lead the cable and pipe routes and advised me that the available stock materials we could quickly use .I equipped my mounting site with more tools ,got a welder, and I ordered a new acetylene generator from plant stock This generator was needed for the welding of instrumentation tubes. Almost simultaneously with the arrival of Kukushkin Leningrad’s office


sent to me several workers from mounting sites, located close to my one in Ural. I only managed to arrange these new peoples with dorms. Soon after arrival of Kukushkin another important worker locksmith Stepanov arrived from Leningrad. He was mechanic with high qualification, specialist in manufacturing control panels .He came with his wife, also named as a locksmith of low grade in our “Sevzapteplocontrol”. I managed to


agree with the administrator of the hostel on a separate room for this family .I met them in the evening at a railway station. Being unfamiliar to these people, I asked the station administrator to advertise on the local radio about a place where I would meet them.


I am awaiting over there. Then I see that a handsome man in a good suit and tie is coming towards me.


Stepanov was looking as one of teachers of my former institute (LETI).


His wife stood to his side, protecting suitcases. I took a cab and brought them to their new home, where I gave them the keys to a comfortable warm room. The next day Stepanov came to the plant and I organized work place for him directly in the factory shop around cutting steel sheets machine called the guillotine. He needed this machine for cutting steel sheets.


I ordered the  necessary materials from stock and Stepanov started to work.


Meanwhile, I was looking for electricians  who were able to wire control panels after its fabrication. It was recommended to me that a couple of local guys from Lysva may work. (I had the right to hire and fire workers. I filled out forms of personnel records and sent it to the Leningrad office, where these people were included in official documents)


For better or worse, the work on my mounting site started. Finally, a mechanical-repair shop fabricated instruments taps and, the Power Station engineer with Kukushkin marked places of the cutting the pipes  for instrument taps.


Then I told to the chief installer, that he can begin


to install taps. But he was busy with more serious problems. After my suggestion at least one week passed, until he ordered his welder to do the job. This way an argument that I was delaying their job could not be used . Kukushkin helped me very well because he had a lot of conversations with the workers of the main boiler contractor. He explained to me that they had a lot of work before  they start to test mounted pipes.


Soon, I myself began to understand the boiler contractor volume of work : in general, it looks that the boiler and pipes


on the spot, but if you take a closer look, you would see that somewhere the air box


suspended in the air, no boiler fan installed, somewhere the coal  mill


is absent etc. Kukushkin taught me to different mounting


cunnings .Here is one of those: For instrumentation, we needed some


small tubes ,which are good in high pressure and temperature. But the same tubes were used for main products of the plant (cooling systems of turbine generators). Therefore


I was assigned the requirement only on a small amount of tubes.


Kukushkin said to me: “ Do not worry, take the 100 meters, and place


it in workshop .These tubes stacked in open storage at the plant territory. Therefore, this part of warehouse is not on guards. I and our guys will approach the morning for half an hour before dawn, and we would carry from the warehouse more tubes. These tubes immediately would go to the field for instruments installation and would be hidden in a secluded place .”


I agreed with this option, and this action was fulfilled. Some


time later, a Stock keeper of factory warehouse come to me and said: “Someone stole tubes from my warehouse, now there is a shortage of tubes for main production.


I was blamed, but what I could do, how could I guard an


outdoor storage? I know that you got 100 meters of tubes.


Be a friend, lend tubes to me, later I would return to you .”


I told him: “OK, you're a good guy, you  helped me, so


half of tubes, I'll give you back “. He was very happy, taking 50 meters of tubes. That is how this worked. In late November, it was time to sign individual working orders Despite all the tricks, I could not meet the quota allowed for salary. Then I cynically decided that the main thing for me not to offend


Kukushkin, because he was very important man for me and the rest workers are not so important .Therefore, I mistakenly paid Kukushkin


1600 rubles, and the rest of the guys got, approximately 700 rubles, while they used to earn 1000-1200 rubles at another mounting sites.


None of my explanations about the tariffs reached them and they knew


that for the same work before they received much more .They wrote complaining about me to the Leningrad office. (Thank God that they did not knock me on the head with a steel bar). What they wrote, I do not know. As a result of this complaint, the district engineer come to me in December, He was a man responsible for the all Ural.s mounting sites .His name was Sergei Vorobiev .He was an experienced installer, and, perhaps, he was the only man who talked to me honestly, without fog and hints.


He said that I would not have to worry about having to stay


within the wages quotes, because I am the young superintendent, and the whole shop would cover my overpayments.


He also advised me to boldly


close the monthly volume of work, which supposed to be signed by our customer-turbine generator plant.


“Write more performed works, do not worry”, he said to me .”The worst thing which may happen is that yours jobs performed would be evaluated by bank, which pays our invoices .This happens very rarely when there is an intention to fire a superintendent”.


He recommended to me to pay some wage to the right person as


a chief of the plant maintenance shop  for instrumentation and control.(I finally realized why


Grachev had very comfortably life in Gorlovka, he paid salary to the instrumentation shop boss in exchange for his help in everything).


His visit opened my eyes to the many things about which bosses are not talking about, but which are extremely important to be successful. In December, I did not hurt anyone of my workers, when calculated their salaries.


Meanwhile, the problem of heating the Power Station building was temporarily solved


The plant director again focused on the timing of the launch of the boiler #1.


Director pressured all contractors and installers, but the pressure on me weakened: they all saw that the my mounting site started its operations across a broad front.


But in order to push the installers to work harder, the director called boiler’s adjusters


from Sverdlovsk .They studied 2-3 days the construction situation on Power Station, and they produced a large list about what else should be done and what is not. They brought this list of deficiencies and rework to the meeting of contractors. (In America, this list is called punch-list). And, of course, a timetable was drawn with deadlines no more than one week to fix). This happened in late December.


But on Dec. 25 something which I did not expected ,happened .


I have already said that I was very glad with my hard-working Kukushkin.


But that day he went to work a little earlier, but when I came to the Power Station, I could not found Kukushkin, and most of my


workers.  6 people have disappeared without a trace, leaving only one guy.


For me this was the hottest time when adjusters were sitting on my head!


Soon all became clear .After a long break in the alcohol supply


to our grocery store on this day people learned that vodka is coming today to the store in anticipation of New Year. This news was brought to the plant  and my boys run away from their work to the grocery store .The rumor  was correct. Vodka bottles were delivered to store. I went back to the dorm for dinner and found appalling picture in my room.


The table was placed against the Kukushkin bed.


The table was full of bottles and under the table empty bottles were placed. On the table also were bread, sausages ,cheese and canned food. I heard drunken shouts, the noise, and room was in tobacco smoke. Part of my team (Stepanov and his wife)


were not with them, but in the workplace they were also absent. I was noticed and with loud cries I was invited to share drink and meal. I realized that at this time is useless to talk to them.


I left the room, closing the door and began to think what to do. I was absolutely unprepared to this event. Even the district engineer Sergei Vorobyov did not warn me about this possibility. My first thought was


to call to the Leningrad office and ask to send other people, but after


thinking over I rejected this idea: it would be at least 2-3 weeks, until someone comes, and there is absolutely no guarantee that behavior of new workers would be better.


Rather, there is  a guarantee that new workers would also be drunkards.


Therefore, I decided only to wait for ending of hard drinking.


At that time, I did know that Stepanov with his wife drank in his comfortable room. Later I learned that his wife took a job in our office only to deter husband from drunkenness . Unfortunately for me, this drunkenness happened at the time when adjusters of boiler #1 are sitting on my head and when each hour of lost work time extremely hurt my ability to perform their punch list demands. I went to instrumentation maintenance shop and stayed where till the end of workday .When I came back home my room was empty, but in terrible chaos .I sat on the couch in the lobby, reading a book. On the night Kukushkin appeared in my room, muttering something unintelligible, and urinated on the room floor.


Then, as if a something jumped into his head, he took a towel


and began wipe out a puddle .Briefly, 3 days and 3 nights I stayed


in a cage with an animal and I had nowhere to go. In response to my attempt to talk, I met a missing eye and muttering .


Under his bed he hide away a couple of vodka bottles .He remembered this bottles used them to drink vodka at night hours.


Unfortunately, no vacancy was available at this time in dormitory and I had no possibility to move out of this room. The next morning, the administrator of dormitories complained me that


my people became violent . A problem was that


my Stepanov, apparently drink not enough under the influence of his wife. He grasped  telephone in the lobby and began to call police.


He told police that he had caught a spy. The spy was none other than my worker Gosha, who was sent to me from the another mounting site of the Ural area.


You should have seen this spy: a typical country guy,


not able to connect two words, but drinking less than others workers. Possibly that was a reason that Stepanov, who was brainwashed with the spy mania in 1937  thought that Gosha was a spy. I took away the phone from him and said to


policeman that my friend drink too much vodka and that police not need to be worry.


They understood me and laughed.


          The new 1955 year was approaching .Because of all new problems fallen


on my head, I knew no one and nobody invited


me to meet a new year. But to go away  somewhere out of my room


was necessary .Therefore I went to the railway station and bought a ticket to the local train to Sverdlovsk.I


decided to visit this main Ural city for one day and in the evening of the January first I would


return home .So, the night from December 31st  1955 to January first  I slept on the second-class car of passenger train. (Looking ahead, I would say that this year 1955 was very good for me, when I had more fun ahead than in others years). It is possible also that,


quiet night in the New Year's Eve provides a happy next year.


On the frosty day, I was hanging on snow-covered Sverdlovsk, going for heating in a cafe or a city stores .This city, where in the year 1918 whole family of last czar Nikolay the second  was killed by Bolsheviks, did not impressed me.


However, in my next life, I never had a cause to re-visit this city.


  I returned to Lysva in the morning of January 2nd


      My workers gradually began to rebound, and on January 3 work on my mounting site started again. They were a little bit ashamed because of drunkenness and they assured me that the lost time would be made up.


In reality, 2-3 days they worked longer on 1-2 hours and that was it. However , I was glad for this attitude.


In January, the situation in the Power Station got out of the permanent crisis .Stepanov fabricated the main control panels and I hired a local electrician Lysvensky guy Boris Bukreev for panel wiring. He was able and decent guy and did not drink. I could not be more happy with his work. Gradually, I began to reduce the number of workers, motivating that the works volume decreased . I reduced the number of workers from 11 to 4. I warned the already mentioned above Lesha (“ Spy “), that he would could go home Although he was one of the signatories of a complaint at me, suddenly he miserable begged me not to send him home, and keep him here another 2 weeks .I did not understand the reason for such a request. He was not needed for work performing anymore. Another worker explained me the Lesha request very simple.


Lesha picked up some women who awarded him with minor sexual disease .


Therefore, he went to local medical facility for treatment .He needed  two more weeks for treatment, which included shots. Of course, he could not appear to his wife with this disease. When I learned about his situation, I agreed to his request not to send him home . But if the guy is listed on your site, then you must to pay wages for him, which means that I was forced to write false items in his work orders .


Finally, my work on the boiler#1 came to an end by January 25. Director appointed special commission to test operation of boiler.My instrumentation part of work was ready. Now the interesting thing had happened, but usual for Soviet planning.


Suddenly, it became clear that the boiler could not operate as projected because the plant production shop is not ready to receive a lot of steam from boiler. Why this “discovery” was not known in November of 1954? But, this is Soviet way of work organizing.


So, boiler was tested with throwing out the steam to outdoors.


During the test steam with a deafening roar


escaped from the pipeline that passes through my working shop in the atmosphere. We breathed a sigh of relief when the trial ended.


Then, finally, I was able to look around and noticed the another


side of life .



                    THE OTHER SIDE OF LIFE



By my nature I am an individualist . For me, it is inconvenient to share


room in a hotel or hostel with a stranger.


But in the Soviet Union, this was the norm, people everywhere


should feel your “friend's” shoulder.


Even when Kukushkin drank tea instead of vodka, to share room


with him was not an easy thing .I would have to participate in long


conversations on the topics not interesting me, and at night to sniff


flavor of his socks, which were drying up on the heat battery.


Kukushkin was very pragmatic, cunning and he understood well the rules of the game in the Soviet life .If he would be free from typical Russian disease (hard drinking) from which attacks he suffered from time to time, he could well


save money and become relatively wealthy even in the Soviet


Union. For instance ,once we were talking about the construction


of country cottages (when it was very popular). I spoke in the sense that it is a very expensive enterprise .But Kukushkin answered: “ Of course, if you would buy all the materials necessary for the construction from the state . I would do this differently.


Visit one or two cottages construction sites .Ask the truck driver to drop you at your place truck of bricks. Or talk to a superintendent, they have an acceptable standards in the breaking and losing materials, and you get a bricks for a fraction of the state price. The same thing covers  logs, slate, pipes and other materials . Everything should be done smartly,”- he concluded .


This words of wisdom reminded me of a story which told me uncle Zodik .While he was employed once time with Academy of Forestry, Uncle Zodik had good relationships with an old professor ,who was working there before the revolution .This professor told my uncle Zodik the following story: “ Winter of the year 1921. Leningrad is in hunger and it is extremely cold outdoors .Intelligential people supposed to help to new Soviet Power.


I was assigned to guard a large firewood-yard in the city.


Among the middle of the night, I heard a knock of horse cart .I see in the dim light that a man in a cart


climbs down from his seat and approached me.


“ Well, old man, let's load firewood”.


“I could not do it ,because  firewood is the state property and I protecting  it.”-I answered.


“You did not understand, stupid old man. I'll pay you well!”-said a horse cart man.


“No, I can not do it .These firewood is not mine’s. I am guarding this


State property.”-I replied.


This response puzzled man .He looked at me very


strangely and said:


“-Well, you old fool! (He says this to the old professor).


Did you not understood, how necessary to live now? Very simple.


Every individual has to use whatever he is guarding, that is the fact of life. "-said the man.


The professor had finished with the following words: “I only later


realized that the mouth of a simple peasant expressed the true formula of socialism: "Every man should use whatever he is guarding, that is fact of our new life."


(As opposed to the official gibberish slogans).


            So, Kukushkin well understood that rule of the game in the Soviet life .I also learned from him a certain practical lessons.


But despite these lessons of worldly wisdom, I tried as much as possible


get rid of my room neighbor.  Sometime in early February a small


tiny room off the kitchen was released, and I moved  there immediately.


The length of the room was 4 meters and the width


1.5. I was very happy. The room had the bed, bedside table, chair and a hanger on the wall to the right of a door.


This room had a small window and a heating battery .Suitcase with my things I conveniently placed under the bed.


I was triumphant: the first time in my life I had a separate room!


I immediately began to think how to use this great acquisition.


Shortly before my moving to the separate room, several girls  moved to the hostel .These girls have graduated from college in the city Ivanovo and destined to work in Lysva on the turbine generator plant.


I got acquainted to one of them Lyuda Shevyakova.


She was short little plump blond with


pretty, coquettish face. I thought that my new


living space will facilitate the development of love.


On Saturdays in the lobby radio played and tenants dancing. The young professionals specialists, working on the plant and living in a hostel felt  mutual sympathy between guys and girls and did not invite into their company outsiders, such as me .They celebrated ,of course, the New Year but I was ignored.


Once in a Saturday evening I sat alone on the couch, watching


dancing couples. Unexpectedly, someone approached me and sat down beside me on the sofa. It was a thin man of above average height with a shock of black hair and with regular features . After greeting me, he said that he arrived only today


from Odessa from the graduation of the Institute . He will work on our


Power Station as an duty engineer .I introduced myself, saying that I too working at Power Station, but from as a contractor .Viktor (the name of my new friend) lit a cigarette and asked:


-“ And how things stand here with the  female problems? “


“They are available”, I answer.


-“Do you have someone specifically? “- asked Victor


“ There is one girl, "meaning Luda, I replied.


-“Who is she? "asked Victor


-“A young specialist”-, I replied.


"And, of course, you want misuse the young specialist?”-continued he.( In Russian this sentence sound very humoristic ,because newspapers and radio many times repeat the same phrase that young specialists must be used in accordance with their specialty) I like this man and soon I invited  him to


my room  to drink for an acquaintance.


On the table a bottle of port appeared, cut cups,


sausage, bread, cheese .We drank, and I told him about the situation in the Power Station and hostel. Viktor was, contrary to me, extremely sociable person.


We returned to the lobby, where dancing continued, as friends.


At this point, a girl raised throw a stair .She was a neighbor in Lyuda room. She was called Valya, and she was a slender blonde with an average appearance .Although she was only 23 years old, but her face show signs of decay. Probably, she had not very good skin, so she looks a little older. Viktor drew attention to her:


-“ Who is that old horse? “


I explained .He thought and said: “ We can arrange party for four


persons in someone room”. I realized that with such a friend I no longer would be bored.


Viktor Shagumov has a specific sense of Odessa


humor, he could draw comic masterpieces from almost any


situation. One morning while I walked through the plant territory between Power Station and administrative building I met Victor. He greeted me absolutely seriously:


“- Have you heard the news ,Yury? " asked he.


” No  ,I heard nothing.”


“Our Power Station exhaust stack to be removed.”


-“ How come? Why?” (The constant alterations were normal on Power Station )


“An enema will be place to our Kozhevnikiv ! "concluded Victor .”


Kozhevnikov was the chief of Power Station, he was very narrow-minded person ,only Communist Party


membership card put him in a group of peoples suitable


to manage any object, whether baths, dining room, club or


Power Station .He showed  complete incompetence in engineering and served as an object of ridicule of subordinate engineers, mostly


Viktor’s .Couple years later this type of leader was


brilliantly displayed in the movie “ Carnival


night “.


Once, a Party meeting of  the plant, would have to allocate


an engineer to work at the collective farm.(It happened within the next campaign of the agriculture improvement.)


Victor was a member of party. While he  coming back from the meeting ,I asked him how things are going.


“- The problem is very sharp . Or I am going to agriculture or


you would left without bread! “- he says.


Among the gloomy unsmiling serious Uralian Victor


produced some excitement, capturing not only the women, but men also .I saw that Victor is often walked at the plant accompanied by a group of men, and someone was holding an open notebook.


It was an impression that big boss walks through plant


with his entourage and sycophants look into his mouth, trying to


write the authoritative sayings .But Victor was not the boss,


he was an ordinary duty engineer of Power Station .Interesting that he was saying jokes with a very serious appearance


which impressed listeners .He invented nicknames for many acquaintances. The group of young people, living in hostel, and ignoring me, and then ignoring Victor, he called “chapel” .  One of guys, Friedman, who rarely appeared in the dancing hall among  the youth ,he called a “ghost “.By the way with the arrival of Victor some breakthrough occurred in ranks “chapel” .One of girls


named Lena Krongauz often began to appear in the hall and talked


with me and Viktor .Lena was an interesting personality, with good


sense of humor, she has devoted to the history of our hostel and she new all plant’s rumors .She was born in Vilnius, she studied at the Leningrad’s Finance and Economics Institute and worked on a plant


as economist . It was interesting to communicate to her because she was much more intelligent and smart compared to others girls. But we did not notice the woman in her: she had a cumbersome


figure, long nose, weak eyes and face of a ferret.


The idea that Lena is a woman simply did not come into our heads.


But she thought differently .As I realized later, she laid eyes on me.


On March 8( Woman days celebration), it was tradition to give presents to women. Thinking that Lena and I are friends, I gave her a bottle of good spirits called “ the Red Moscow” .In a few days later I found a bottle returned to me in my room .At first I did not understand, and later I linked the behavior of the Lena and my flirtation with Lyuda Shevyakovoy. Returning a gift to me Lena expressed


its protest. I would say that I was not seriously discouraged and I gave the same gift to Luda while tried to see  Lena more rarely.


          In my room sometimes appeared Luda, though our relationship did not go as far as I wanted .Sometimes after working day I, Victor and chief of instrumentation maintenance shop Kamenskiy, who was a great guy, organized a party in my room. I hired Kamensky as a  temporary worker in our organization, and paid him some money. Therefore he provided me every possible assistance.


Once, I remember it was Sunday, March 18, I got up early in the morning


and took a cab to the house of Kamensky .He promised to take me for a winter fishing.


We come over to the lake, drilled holes, I was given


a short rod with bait without the float and explained when


I need to pull out the fishing rod. However, I was dressed pretty easy


(Leather coat and rubber boots with felt insole}.


The frost was about minus 25 degrees of Celsius .Soon I was frozen  to the bone and my hands, in general, stiffened .Conducting two hours in the cold was more than enough for me.


I gave back to Kamensky his fishing rod  and shamefully fled, almost not feeling my legs under .Later my fishing has been the subject of jokes.


I just did not realize that my clothes are suitable for short transitions between the warm buildings, but absolutely inadequate for winter fishing .Fortunately, this fishing had no consequences for my health.


                      BRIGHT SIDE OF LIFE



    The spring of 1955 brought a refreshing breeze, scattering musty


    atmosphere of the Stalin era. The newspapers and


    radio moderated the tone on “crimes” of American imperialism and


    Israel. The blame of capitalism, of course, continued, because Soviet propaganda could not survive without it.


    However, some extreme expressions disappeared  and instead these emotions papers became not so abusive .A theme of rootless


    cosmopolites completely disappeared from the arsenal of Party propaganda .


In the Soviet literature appeared a trend of criticism of


previously main required style of Socialist Realism.


Using this trend magazine “New World” in December of year 1953


published a sensational article about sincerity in the literature .After


this critical essays, followed several others, where the authors, who writing in accordance with ideas of socialistic realism were butchered. for instance, Marietta


Shahinian, Babayevsky and other Communist Party writers. These publications confirmed  that the, so-called , literature of socialist realism, has no connection with real life. (But I grew up on this literature and for some time I took it seriously. Socialist realism is a style which has its purpose the furtherance of the goal of brain- washing of soviet citizens, picturing real life not as is, but how it supposed to be under socialism and communism).


But the main event in 1955 was, of course, a process of rehabilitation of victims of Stalin


reprisals, few of whom were still alive. For the vast majority of repressed peoples the rehabilitation papers were not needed, because they were in the better world.


All of these global problems was not interested for my new


friends in Lysva, including Viktor. I am not recalling  a single conversation where someone would have picked up one of these problems .It was  not because people still were afraid to talk about these things . Simply, past, and future somehow escaped from the their way of thinking .Their all interests have focused on the present time and the future was represented in their minds in the form of a minutes of meetings, which usually established deadlines of start -up some apparatus or structure. All ordinary conversations included different topics: the factory gossips, women, motorcycles or cars, fishing and hunting and, of course ,sport.


Interest of most peoples was very simple .For example, for a long time I stayed in the instrumentation maintenance shop over working hours and played with Kamensky and two other guys domino. Whoever lost the game would have to crept under table to the delight of the winners .


If Victor as an Odessa man ,often ridiculed Chief of Power Station Kozhevnikov, but from the Kamensky and other guys of his shop I never heard criticism of their superiors. The main Electric Engineer of plant  was a man from Azerbaijan Agamaleev.


He was ,of course ,a member of Communist Party. This did not prevent him pray in his office like Muslim praying , facing the East. Apparently, he believed that to be a member of Party is good, but Allah also must not be forgotten.


Lenin and then Stalin apparently believed that the history of communist


experiment turned all people into obedient robots. They created folks without personal opinions and thoughts.


And they were almost right.


    In the spring of 1955, when the organizational period of creating my mounting site  was over, I cut my team more than in half


getting rid of the non- productive workers..


    And then I realized that my job has some advantages


compared to any other.


First of all, I had no chief. My chief was in Leningrad and he was interested only with my monthly reports about volumes of performed works.


      Secondly, there was no rigid work schedule for me.


I lived within 10 minutes walks from the plant, so I could after


lunch go home, to sleep a couple of hours, then come back to the factory at the end of the working day .Usually I went to the instrumentation maintenance shop where I could found out about peoples looking after me.


        Thirdly, I had a respect on the plant, as a chief of


independent organization.


        Fourth, I had the right to hire of any person, filling in a form and sending it to Leningrad. For instance, I decided to hire Kamensky and gas welder Pashkin from the plant mechanical shop for temporary work on my site and paid them 400-500 rubles a month in addition to their main salary . Thus, there was some degree of freedom for me .I kept my site payroll within the prescribed 14% of volume of work under. To do this, I sometimes artificially increased volumes of work performed my team.


The most important thing was that I could create a team of


good workers by getting rid of  lazy, stupid and rogues.


In any other Soviet enterprises it was extremely difficult if not impossible to get rid of unwanted persons.


(Eventually, I became a worthy disciple of Grachev. )


      As I wrote above, work on the boiler № 1 stopped, and I transferred  my entire team for installation of instrumentation to the another plant shop.


{In this workshop impregnated windings of turbine generators would be covered with special resin ,which called  compound .A lot volume


of steam under high pressure was needed for this operation) Preparing to this new job I studied the project of automation of this shop and found out that  it was overly complex and cumbersome.  I showed to the compound shop operating engineer my project


and asked him allocate the minimum instrumentation necessary for the job.


He said that he needs 30 pieces of manometers and


thermometers .I asked what he thinks


about the electrified gate valves, which still does not


bought He told me that part of the required management


valves will be supplied with extended wheel for convenience


and that the electrified gate not needed.


My conversation with him reduced the amount of my work in two or three times.


At the upcoming working meeting of contractors I have come


well prepared .When director, as usual, began to demand


start this system in one month, I asked him:


-“ To mount the gauges I need seamless steel


tubes. They are not available in storehouse .They have only copper tubes for high pressure .Do you mind if we use copper tubes? “


(Copper tubes were almost 6 times more expensive ,then steel tubes)


“Take any tubes, just finished job in time, -"replied the director.


Having secured at least a verbal consent, I ordered from the warehouse


expensive copper thick-walled tubes, hired temporarily a gas welder, and work quickly started.


It was very beneficial for me to take an expensive material, because of cost of materials included in my reports about volumes of work. But accordingly to the Soviet state's point of view it is bordered on crime .


    In year 1937, such cases are categorized as economic counterrevolution .But time was different now. Kukushkin reassured me, he will cover the tubes after installation with black lacquer and no one ever guess what material is under lacquer .But he did not have to do this, because after the


beginning of the compounding operation tubes were covered with a thick layer of soot, dust and resin.


Because I had a good relationship with chief of instrumentation maintenance shop Kamensky he helped me in another problem. There was shortage the oxygen cylinders on the plant. I need several


cylinders for pipes welding. In addition to my oxygen balloon Kamensky provided me containers dedicated to instrumentation maintenance shop.


And he not only gave it to me, but still forced his boys to bring the 80-kilogram cylinder to the mounting site.


So, in general, things on my site were going very well.


To finish the story about the transformation of a quiet, modest,


shy Jewish boy in venerable construction foreman I would


tell one more thing. According to the project specifications, I had the right to receive several liters of alcohol.


I did not try to use this possibility, recognizing that by this way


I would help Kukuschkin and others  to start a new booze.


But Victor  advised me to get alcohol only for our own consumption. This was a big mistake. I ordered in accordance with established order,


1 liter of alcohol, and tried went to sign this request in the plant department of supply.


Guy who was in charge of this material refused to sign, sending me to head of supply department. This man also refused to sign my request, saying that the plant’s director or chief engineer would have


sign it. I went to the chief engineer cabinet .He was a former Leningrader and worked before on large Leningrad’s plant.


He asked why I need alcohol .I started to talk about instruments cleaning etc. He replied that for this goal is well suited aviation gasoline, and he is ready to give me


liter of gasoline. Then, looking at my elongated face, continued: “ Tell me honestly, you want to have a drink? “ I said that, of course, the workers are demanding.


W”Ok”,said chief engineer “so, be it, get half a liter, it would be enough for you, "said chief engineer signing the half of amount of my request A warehouse storekeeper looked at me as a


wolf and threw me a half-liter bottle. I did not understand reason of his irritation I thought that maybe he had some troubles.


Later, a guy in the supply department , who was in charge of alcohol, met me into the corridor of office and asked: “ Why did you go to the chief engineer? You're still young and not understand how it works. You have to request one liter and I would sign this request under one condition. You are taking only half of liter and another half of liter you supposed to leave in the warehouse. That’s it”.


I promised that and next time I would do this way. About our conversation the chief of supply department learned,


because next time he signed my request without problems. A storekeeper was extremely polite when I said him that I would take only half of liter. (The reason for such change in attitude were very simple. Accordingly to papers my organization got one liter of alcohol. Thus these people from supply department without problems can use another half of liter for their own pleasure.)I then realized that I broke the main Soviet commandment:


“Every man use what he guards  and enjoy it. " After all, I wanted to deprive the poor store clerks and his superiors of their share of alcohol , although they had every right to


use alcohol for themselves.


                    END OF THE FIRST TRIP


Cold Ural’s Spring was coming to an end .The days lengthened


and more cultural events became possible. However all cultural institutes located the 7-8 miles away from our home in the city center and, as I wrote above, the center was formed around the old metallurgical plant.


The main cultural center of the city was a club of this plant .It was pompous building with columns and all sorts of architectural vignettes. This club attracted fans of cultural pastime concerts and guest artists, as well as young people ,interested in good buffet and dance evenings.


Once, Victor and I got  invitations to one of these concerts . But we had transportation problem. Although  the turbine generator plant was connected to the center of the city through buses,


but the schedule of this transport was unavailable.


However, cunning inhabitants of our village have developed some


Sixth Sense, which made it know that a bus is approaching . They just looked out the windows, and, if they saw a black crowd at the bus stop, they knew that the bus is close by. Passengers were squeezed hard in the cold small bus and this way we drove to the center of city .From bus stop we have yet to walk about 20 minutes before reaching the club, but this was insignificant. Concert and refreshments were quite good.


Amateur orchestra played dance motives. I got acquinted with the typical Ural’s girl, blond with blue eyes and a mop of fluffy hair on a pretty head and bushy forms. We agreed to meet on the next day, Sunday to go to movie theater. To this date I should walk to the center of city,  because  the bus was unavailable . But I was young and an enthusiasm helped me, therefore I walked whole distance.


I am awaiting my girl, but she is not showing up  .Suddenly, just before the beginning of movie I saw her .She was embarrassed and ask me a pardon.


She explained that her parents do not allow her to meet me.


But she still came to tell me about it. At first I thought that her parents are anti-Semites .But after mature consideration, I realized that probably their decision based on my personality, because I was a man like an alien for her parents environment .The girl graduated from a high school, and like all parents, they tried to get her a man of her circle and therefore they not allowed her to hang out with some suspicious visiting engineers, who live only temporarily in their city.


At that time some  the Ural province  people still retained the Puritan tradition, and the city had still followers of old sect  of Old Believers, as I learned later .Perhaps, her parents were followers of Old Believers sect.


Another cultural center of the city was a theater. It was of courseaa very mediocre theater ,but citizens or “the natives” how call them Victor, were not dragged on to this type of art.


Then someone from the city administration struck a


great idea: to sell beer in the theater buffet .Beer at that time


was considered to be very deficit product .Therefore the thirsty


citizens dragged to the theater, but to get to the buffet, they need to buy at first a theater ticket .


After buying a ticket and drinking a  pleasant mug of beer, you can relax in a chair in the theater auditorium . In addition to that some play is going on the stage.


However, our cultural excursions were short lived.  The main problem was the absence of buses after 11 p.m. Therefore ,we had to walk back home or take a taxicab.


            After the May holidays the same situation as before the New Year :at a construction site you would see a lot of  bosses and very few workers.


However, this time I was not worried about the crisis in the work


schedule .Approximately, by 5 May Kukushkin was out of hard drinking and resumed to work.


Again, he  promised to make up the lost time and he works couple hours of overtime  for the next 2 or 3 days.


In any case, the volume of work for our team reduced and in mid-June it became clear that it was time to go home.


Soon I send Kukushkin to Leningrad’s office and lay-off local guys worked for me.


I got a ticket to direct car Lysva-Moscow, and after


organized by Viktor warm farewell , left the city, where I


comprehended the rules of the game of Soviet life and found


good friends. Some scenes from this period


Life in Lysva imprinted on the photo 28,29,30.


Victor signed me my traveling certificate. The chief of the plant construction department Reutov  signed  paper about completing the instrumentation installation job on the boiler #1 and in the compounding shop.


I did not want to forget Lysuva  and preferred after vacation to return to the same place .Therefore, I asked Victor to send a telegram in late July to our office that Lysvensky turbo generator  plant wanted personally me come back


for installation of the instrumentation and automation on the boiler number 2. I feared that if I will hang around for a long time on the bench in the office, then I would be sent to some new place .I figured out that for a month I am going to use my vacation


then 2-3 weeks is legally possible to stay on office bench,


Therefore ,I decided that if a telegram comes in late July, the boiler number 2 would be awaiting me. It was correct calculation.


  The chief of shop Andreev, was somber and unsmiling man by his nature. He reproached me that an act of completion of works was composed badly .In addition to the sentence which state that work is finished, I would have added  that no claims to our company exist. I agreed that he was right and promised to avoid such blunders in a future.


                      My trip to Caucasus 



A few days after my return to Leningrad, I red


an ad on the board at the Palace of Labor.


This time it was a tourist permit to the Caucasus,


It was a bus route, beginning in Vladikavkaz and runs through


Caucasus mountains to Tbilisi. I had to decide immediately about buying this tour permit. I did not hesitate and bought this permit. After 2-3 days of the inevitable stay in the stuffy passenger train I arrived to Vladikavkaz . Our group was composed from young boys and girls.


The main part of group were young teachers from central Russia, escaped school for summer vacations. I remember a couple of pretty young girls from central Russia.


There were also several people - Leningrad and Moscow residents.


At the tourist center of Vladikavkaz the evening dances were held in the open site. I remembered very popular at that time Cuban and South American songs. The tour was organized well. We spend couple day in the dusty, hot Vladikavkaz (at that time this city was called Ordzhonikidze),and  at dawn we get on open bus and rode in the direction of mountain range, which means South direction.


Inside the bus people , of course, soon all became acquainted.


From close contact with Victor I caught his


Odessa-specific jargon, so that one girl said: “ You must be from Odessa? “. To which I replied that the only contact with the inhabitants of Odessa, I had due to my friend Victor and through my favorite writers Ilf and Petrov. The girl noticed then that I am good pupil .Besides an Odessa jargon, I learned from Victor his ability to organize with or without cause all sorts of parties.


Later I was so successful in this activity, that I converted almost each evening to some kind of party. This was easy to organize, because on each night stop  there was a small store with abundance of wines. Therefore, some group of young guys surrounded me similar to group of people around Victor in Lysva .


Our bus drove into the heart of the Caucasus mountains .A skillful local driver sometimes maneuvered on the edge of sheer cliffs, or passed under the overhanging cliff above our heads, by some miracle still holding out on a massive body of the mountain. The road sometimes became very narrow and our driver missed an oncoming car on very close distance.


When we drove uphill the old bus strained on the rise.


First large stop-Kazbegi, which is a mountainous village at an altitude of 2000 meters above the sea. Here was not hot, rather chilly . From tourist hotel window I saw snow-covered peak of one of Caucasus biggest mountain Elbrus. In a tiny local shop we stocked several liters of Kakheti wine, and invited girls


to celebrate supposedly my birthday. Thus, we made picnic at


outdoors.


The next day we hike to glacier. We walk through some mountain villages,


gradually we passed the last village towards mountains .Beyond mixed forest, we entered into pinewood . As we went further pine forest thinning,


and the slender pines turn into curved pines. We went further.


Beyond the forest we see blooming alpine meadows . Whenever you look you see an alpine flowers . Here became more difficult to breathe because of the less oxygen in the air. Also, it became chillier.


We thank our guide because he insisted that we should take special jackets. We continue to go uphill. The meadows alternate with tundra and in front of our way we see some white area.


This is a point of our destination ,a glacier. Around us were mountains covered with snow and ice . We were standing in the valley between the mountains on


the glacier at 3500 meters above the level of sea.


After some  short rest and taking the pictures (photos 34.37) we began our way back, and gradually descended in a hot day.


          Next stop for the night was the village Pasanauri in the forest


zone of mountains . Before coming to this village we drove through Krestovy Pass through Caucasus mountains range. Very impressive superhuman beauty, gloom and sense of worthlessness of people before the grand forces of nature . From the south side of the pass the road went directly to the ancient capital of Georgia, Mtskheta.


This city is situated at the confluence of major rivers in Transcaucasia


Aragva and Kura (photo 35). The great Russian poet of 19 century Lermontov wrote:



                      A few years ago,


                      Where, merging, and


                      Embracing as two sisters,


                      lied rivers Aragva and Kura ,


                      A monastery was located.


                        And today a pedestrian sees


                      ruins of  gate


                      And the tower, and the church vault.



In this monastery, a hero of Lermontov's poems Mtsyri tormented.


The monastery  was built in the years 586-605


after the adoption of Georgia's Christianity.


I thought about  living in this place as a prisoner.


It was not easy life,


despite the magnificent views from the mountains to the city


and view of merging of Aragva and Kura .But nevertheless, better live here in Monastery- then to be imprisoned in Soviet’s concentration camps.


In Mtskheta, there is also a Catholic cathedral, although not as luxurious as the European Catholic churches.


Then our route passes through Georgia, where we spent 2 very hot days. We use the Tbilisi funicular to get on the mountain of David , wandered through the park


on the mountain of David and  sitting in cafeteria .But the most interesting itinerary was a tour to


Pantheon. Here the great people of Georgian history were buried.


We were lucky with our local guide .He was an elderly, intelligent


man, very emotionally telling us about the events of the past.


In the pantheon, the famous Russian writer Alexander Griboyedov, who served as the


Russian ambassador in Iran, is buried there. He was torn by angry Muslims mob in the year 1829. (this sounds very modern: Muslim fanatics have always been savages). On his tombstone was an inscription


from disconsolate widow:


“ The memory about you is immortal for the  Russian peoples,


  But for what reason my love to you survived yours  death! “


His wife, Princess Chavchavadze, was only 16 years old, when her husband was killed and she did not marry again all her life.


Our guide told this touching story of love


that everyone's eyes filled with tears.


            And then our itinerary went through the small town of Gori, which had misfortune to be the birthplace of the greatest criminal in history of mankind, Joseph Stalin.


At that time the  Khrushchev's speech on 20


Party Congress with expose of some Stalin’s crimes was still ahead. Therefore, the rout through Gori was not canceled. The town itself was not interesting. Very few  plants, green grass


almost not visible, sewer channels flowing along the streets and filled with a suspicious muddy water . Naturally, we visited the house where the “great man was brought to the world”


and we were photographed against a background of his birthplace house. (photo 36).


But for us the main attraction of Gori was the wine cellar.


The spacious sitting in the cool basement where fat old Georgian had several barrels of wines.  He brought the questionable purity rubber tube, attached it to barrel, opened the clamp and poured whole glass


with cool sour wines. Alcohol scarcely felt, and we drunk glass after glass as lemonade. (glass of wine cost only 0.2 of ruble ). But gradually, after the third glass I felt easy


hopping, and after five glasses I felt no less drunk than after


glass of vodka .After six glasses, I rounded off, and we went


to our tourist base. On a way back I fell in love with Gori, a town


already seemed nice, and people around were very nice.


      The next day we went to the final point of our


route to the Black Sea coast city of Batumi, the capital of


Adjara( autonomous republic, part of Georgia).


The last 4 days, we were left to ourselves .There was only on


excursion to the nearby bamboo grove, where I


felt himself surrounded by a multitude of ski poles, but still with


leaves . The remaining days, we sunbathed, swam, rode a boat on


relatively little populated Batumi beach. We were lucky with weather, although this region is known as high humidity area with a lot of rain.


By this time, our large group to provide several  small teams. Our team consisting of four persons (me, my new friend Igor and two girls), and we felt ourselves on the southern sun freely and lightly.


But finally our vacation was over. After three days' journey north to second-class passenger car, I again found myself in my Leningrad’s office . As the reader would remember, I would again to spend my time on a park bench in the hallway were hard workers spent time between the trips to objects.



                          LYSVA -SECOND COMING



Workers sitting on  the corridor bench mentioned in conversations rumors about superintendents and foremen . I was convinced that I also got a grade in these conversations. I think that grade was not low, because some experienced workers asked me about of possibility to be joining to my team. I understood why attitude to me substantially improved.


First, due to all sorts of tricks, I was paying workers more


than other foremen . And secondly, and most importantly, I, unlike others, did not require my workers to give me overpayment of their salary. This was a usual tactic on mounting sites .On my site I flatly refused to even discuss such proposals coming from the some of my workers.


In late July, a telegram arrived from Lysva plant, demand  my arrival to start works on the boiler #2. Because this telegram was inspired by myself, I knew that no urgency of this work existed .I dismissed some workers request to join me in Lysva, because  I decided that better for me to have an “old friend” Kukushkin , whom I knew, than two new workers .The same argument is true also in family life: the old woman with all its tricks is a known entity, and a new one yet would bring new fads and frills. For Kukuschkin the big reason to go with me was his personal problem, because at spring in Lysva he moved to a some local woman apartment and now he was returning to “family”. In short, in early August, I again ride a train from Leningrad to Sverdlovsk .


(By this time I was promoted to the rank senior superintendent.)


When I arrived to Lysva, I found out that my tiny room was occupied. Therefore, at first time I would have to live with some


businessman .But soon Victor told me that his roommate is leaving and I moved to his room # 18.


My former passion Luda, of course, happily changed me


with another suitor, but I was not very upset.


Victor and Slava Avdeev (also an engineer of Power Station) almost every day at summer went to the city park in the center of Lysva. The reason was simple :at summer time


the theater as well as theater buffet were closed and beer buffet moved to the city park .I also adhere to such pastime


and usually in the evenings we sat at the tables in the park.


After four beers mugs, which I foolishly salted with salt, I felt quite ready


go to the dance floor of city park .The dance floor, like a magnet, attracted youth of Lysva . Different types of girls were on the dance floor. You could find a prostitute ,but  I hated them.


But somehow I always treated them in disgust, I felt that


proximity to them it impossible for me. I was looking for a pure girl. I returned home late and sometimes followed


with new acquaintances .


Once in the park, I met a very pretty girl approximately,18 years


old. She had good manners  and was able to listen more than talk, she smiled in the right  spot of conversation. To add to this graceful figure and nice legs and


allalluring bust, it becomes clear that I wanted to continue our acquaintance. Galja (as her name) had another


great advantage over many others girls : she lived alone, her parents


were separated and lived far away, because her mother and father had a new families . Her parents did not very worried about


her upbringing. She was working


on the metallurgical plant in the die shop . Galja said me that her mother was a very simple woman, and her father-intelligent man, he was a skilled worker (photo 33).


Where did it come from some sort of her intelligence? Victor


said that sometimes luxurious flowers are grown on the bad soil .A disadvantage was only then that Galya lived very far away from me.


Even from the city center I had to walk half an hour along the metallurgical plant fence to reach her home.


Chilly Urals summer ended, dark August nights begins , and I had to walk to Galja’s home in complete darkness,


only illuminated by splashes of fire from the plant.


        But my personal life occupied only part of my free time.


The rest time was dedicated to manufacturing process, which


demanded total concentration of my time and effort.


I organized a small but effective team, which, in addition, to Kukushkin included two local guys who have already worked with me. For gas-welding works, I, as always, hired the gas welder from


the mechanical-repair shop Pashkin, with a salary paid to him


through shop budget. I added to his salary additional 400-500 rubles monthly to make him interested in works for me. Therefore ,  Pashkin preferred to work on my mounting site to any others orders.


In September, finally, the question arose about the start-up of the boiler number 1 in the permanent operation.


The consumers now very ready to get the boiler’s steam. The plant Director again called companies who tune-up boiler and auxiliary equipment’s . For three days  they climbed over the boiler, getting even into the steam drum. As a result of this inspection a multi-


page report appeared about the faults, which should have been


removed before start-up .Many items applied to me. They demanded the installation of a some additional devices ,not anticipated in boiler’s design. However, they insisted to perform all their demands ,based


on the rules of the Power Station’s operation .The requirements of adjusters considered as a law. The missing devices could have been taken from the second and even third boilers which were not installed yet. Because the boiler#1 was already


pressure-tested, so the extra taps for new devices


could hold only high quality welder. I found this welder in another organization, arranged for his good payment and in over time he welded with help of  Kukushkin the new instrumentation taps. Kukushkin installed steel valves on taps, and thus, the continuation of work on installation of impulse lines and installation of devices now was not depend on the work of the main contractor of boiler #1. This time I was an experienced superintendent  and I realized that we would finish our part of the new boiler works before others contractors do . In


some 2 weeks, my work has been completed, and the main installer


was still dug in adjuster’s punch list .According to rules of exploitation before boiler started operate  the complete test of all systems have to be conducted .This test to be continued  72-hour .For me this demand meant that the absolute


all instrumentation  must work immediately. And such miracles of nature usually do not happen. Contrary to this demand only devices for measurement temperatures and pressure operate correctly, all rest instruments did not worked. Tune-up of instrumentation was done mainly by Kamencky with his workers from instrumentation maintenance shop .I also got a lot of abuse, because it was my  fault when instrumentation tubes were blocking up. Those things happened all the time. For example, the welder performed some job, before starting the boiler, sitting inside the boiler drum .To seat inside metal drum comfortable  he placed as a sheet of asbestos .Afterwards, of course, he forgot to remove asbestos. At the start of boiler pieces of asbestos were blocking up  impulse lines of my instrumentation gauges, which stopped to operate. The big mate,of course, came down on my head, because  all instrumentations related to myself. The great Russian writer Solzhenitsyn in a one his story referred to hard-working


Russian woman, as a righteous soul, without which there is no city or village exist..


To paraphrase his saying, I would say that Kamensky was such a guy


with gold hands. Without such peoples no plant would operate. He tune-up one device after another one, using sometimes methods  ,which only he knew. When steam pressure in boiler reached


to 50 atmospheres, one of our valves failed. Invisible


stream of superheated steam with a heavy whistle  roared around.


What could I do? To stop the boiler to replace the valve, and then


to run again?  It would take at least two days and it would undermines boiler testing .Kamensky Petr Afanasyevich


found solution .He asked an engineer to lower the pressure in the boiler as much possible without stopping it, he took a new valve and placed it at the end of curved tube, approximately, in one meter length. When pressure in the steam line dropped to 25 atmospheres, he removed the old


valve, avoiding the jets of steam and started to adjust to the same spot the new valve in the open position, so that the steam rushed into the curved pipe.


Kamensky at that time moved the end of the curved tube and jet steam burst out of


end of tube, but does not hit him. The new valve was installed and steam whistle stopped.


I was a witness of other unusual solutions found by Peter Afanasievich Kamensky in difficult situations, but do not want to overload my story with technical details.


Kamensky was 10 years older than me, the vast majority of men of this year of birth were drafted to the army and killed during the war.


But, perhaps, his work at the metallurgical plant, freed him from the Soviet Army draft . Probably, plant administration realized that the plant could not operate without these type of peoples.


Anyway, after several difficult days, the boiler was launched


In operation, steam began to enter the heating system and went to the production shop.


Viktor and Slava Avdeev finally began to work as engineers of Power Station.


All contractors, including myself, moved completely to the boiler #2 work, and , excluding the start-up of boiler #1, I come back to Lysva at a relatively quiet time.


In the my new room was Viktor’s mandolin, which he brought with him. Viktor gave me a demonstration lesson, after which I began in my spare time to extract some sounds .Soon I learned a good idea how to select the melody of popular songs familiar to me (photo 31). Next to our room lived a young guy, an engineer named Lesha .He lived alone in the room and sometimes


he invited me and Viktor to share dinner with him .After dinner,


accompanied, of course, with drinks, we tried


even organize an ensemble of folk’s instruments: Lescha strumming of the guitar, I was trying to play on the mandolin, and Viktor something strumming of balalaika, appeared from nowhere .We simultaneously sang quite decent songs, like this:



            In Moscow, in a remote area,


            Twelfth house from the corner,


            Beautiful girl Tonya


            Lived accordingly  to her registration…



After drinking  some alcohol  it seemed to me that


our band sounds better than some of the ensembles on the dance floors of provincial cities . Sometimes in this room appeared


neutral listeners, as Lena Krongauz and she had a very


bad opinions about our ensemble .Lena said that our


music would be welcome by African tribal savages. To be objective I would say that she was, probably, right.  (Pictures 31,32,33 related to the end of 1955).


            Once we had visited Galya together with Victor, and she invited her girlfriend .I remember that Galya said about her boss that his name is Shtanishkin( in Russian this means also underwear) and  who clearly was not indifferent to her and tried to persuade her to be nicer with  him . Victor each time paraphrased  Galya words: “ How is your friendship with “ underpants”? “ “He is Shtanishkin”-, laughing answered Galya. The next time Victor asked seriously:” How is your friend “drawers?” Galya again with a laugh corrected him.


Harsh Ural’s winter only started. Coming to visit Galya even once a week, and at the same  evening go back to my home became more difficult .In this city nobody had ever bothered to clear the footpaths of snow .Therefore, a few miles I had to go on the snow, or if there was no snow, then on an icy path, slipping, stumbling, and sometimes falling down .These problems did not justify with  good Sunday dinner, kisses and hugs for twenty-three years old guy . On this reason, my love slowly began to fade as the light of candle .Besides that, I met a pretty little brunette from the new party of young technicians .Her name was Clara, she graduated from the Kuibyshev Institute and worked as an engineer . Clara became a frequent visitor to our room .The other guest of our room almost daily was Lena, it probably was the only person with whom it was interesting to talk both of us. Viktor called conversations with her as soul-saving talks. As I wrote above we ,unfortunately, did not see her as a woman.


          By the way, I have never met before a man on whom women and girls were falling like flies to honey. Victor was such a man. He was asked once what is his view on women.


Victor replied:


“ I treat women like vodka: I do not chase for vodka ,but I am not running for it.”


But he like to exchange a few words with many representatives of fair sex, he joked, or just a chat. Therefore, his attitude could easily inflame the heart of the woman and , sometimes, led to tragic


consequences .Once Victor did not slept at home, going to the


Lysva’s girlfriend. The next day I asked him:


“How was your yesterday's success? “


“Yuri, what are you talking about? The only possible thing left to me is two times to piss.”  And Victor continued :


“I remember the day when we met, I saw a some skinny slender blond passed by , which I call an old horse, and you said that she was neighbor of yours friend Lyuda? “


“Yes, I remember”, I said.


“Why you do not invite Luda with a neighbor to us for dinner? “


I said that with Lyuda I do not have anything in common, but if Victor wants to explore the old horse, then I will invite them. Next day the two girls were in our room. Lena


knocked on our door, but, feeling that we are not alone, ,


retreated, making a contemptuous grimace. After supper, I and Luda left the room, leaving Victor and Valya the two of them .Then once again we repeated this dinner.


I know for sure that , all what happened between Victor and Valya


was limited to kissing, undressing and hugs .However, these actions changed Valya completely .The quiet  country girl she turned, as the song goes, into “the volcano of passion”.


Being narrow-minded, she decided that she received the right to control Viktor’s behavior. Not becoming even his mistress, she began


knocking on our door and demanded a report where and with whom he was yesterday, and etc. If Viktor in the evening was not at home, such questioning were addressed to me.


Of course, for Valya Victor was a prince from a fairy tale, but for


Victor Valya was an accidental  adventure .She remained in the solid


confidence that Victor, despite his betrayals, would still prefer her because she was a pure girl and saved her virginity for future husband. She could not understand that for


Victor her innocence gave no advantage over


others. (to me at that time it was of great importance, but not for


Victor). Therefore, soon Victor began to avoid meeting with the Valley, often asking me to work as his intelligence. When at evenings he went out from the orphanage, I checked, not whether Valya is  waiting him in the lobby.


Somewhere in November, Victor met a pretty slim local lady, her name was Vera, she was divorced and lived with the child


in a separate house. (Victor also was divorced, his child lived with her mother in Odessa). Victor told me that Vera insists that


intimate relations between them can only be after the wedding.


I understood that Victor wanted to move out of dormitory to avoid seeing Valya. The wedding took place simultaneously with celebration of New 1956 year and was held in the Vera’s house . Many peoples and Vera’s relatives were invited.


The table was excellent, as could be possible to organize at that time . The deficit products were not seen, but table was covered with home fare: savory mushrooms, pickled


cabbage, cheese cakes Siberian pies of every kind and


naturally, Christmas goose and roasted sucking-pig .Of course, there was abundance of potatoes in all forms .Main decoration were represented with bottles


of vodka and other spirits and local brew. The empty bottles immediately were replaced with full bottles . The audience quickly got drunk, but as far as I remember, everything went pretty well, because no fights happened that characterize Russian marriage .At the dawn Claire dragged me to my room, and I sank into a heavy dream. Whole day on Jan. 1 passed for me as in fog .My head pained unmercifully, and I thought that I began to go down the wrong path of Kukushkin.


The same evening, my gas welder Pashkin, come over , also


drunk, and brought 2 bottles of Champaign .He wanted to thank me for good money (he received a salary from mechanical workshop and an additional 500 rubles a month from me). Among the working class I was considered an intellectual man . Therefore,


he felt that to me more appropriate to drink Champaign .I drunk a bottle of champagne, with him, but for my head this did not help a lot. Couple words about Pashkin.


He worked on my site, and he was very glad , I was glad ,because he performed my job and the mechanical shop was pleased that I kept him  full-time busy and that his work was included in


implementation of the shop quota. For me that was very important because I  had almost free of paying salary to very qualified welder. Everything went well until his coworkers in mechanical shop suspected some violations. Russian people are always very hurt and offended if a neighbor earned better money than he does.  .Someone from mechanical shop dashed off a paper to plant manager, in which he asked to explain why Pashkin earned too much money from me and from the shop. The plant director, conveyed this paper to the chief of capital construction Reutov .He invited me and asked:


“What are you doing to us? "We'll help you to carry out your work, and you  are taking money from us. He meant my monthly invoices, which I sent monthly to Leningrad’s office and which were paid by the plant from the funds assigned for Capital Building. I pretended to be naive, saying, that such arrangement continues even since the last year .Reutov was a good man, he just laughed at my explanation and said:


“We do not mind him working on your site, but pay him from your’s budget, not from ours ” .Instead of 500 rubles a month, I would have to pay Pashkin 1800, which was very hard on my budget .However, work on the second boiler was approaching an end, in February, a boiler № 2 was accepted for exploitation , and my work in Lysva come to an end.


      And my personal things also evolved very fast .Victor disappeared from the dormitory after the wedding and I left so far alone in the room 18.


But one day (this was in the end of January) there was a knock at door .I


opened  the door: on the threshold Calja stood in her best dress. She was very charming and cute. Very delicately and gently she asked me why I had forgotten her, maybe she had done something wrong. (nothing like the persistent aggressiveness of Valya against Victor).


The former feelings immediately stirred in me. The clean virgin girl awakened in me a stronger passion than Clara. I promised that I will come next Saturday, if I could stay with her


on Sunday .Galja  agreed and so began a new phase of our love. But every time we met, I reminded Galja that my work is almost finished, and I must soon leave, but I promised that I will come again,


when the last boiler #3 would be installed .She replied that she would


wait me if we get married (she said, sign it), but if not, she will not promise me to keep faithful .I knew that before she met me, she was meeting to a guy whom she sent away after meeting me. The thought that after my departure she


would be with someone else, caused excruciating pain, and


I did make a great mistake ,once promised to sign the marriage certificate, before my departure.


I'm painfully pondering possible consequences of this step and


came to a disappointing conclusions .My family, of course, would be outraged, in their view, my actions in relation to the mother, her brother and sister were terrible, I would be ostracized. (For an American reader I have to explain that in the Soviet Union only state apartments were available and to get this apartment people were staying in line for 20-30 years. To rent even a private room in a multifamily apartment would cost me all my monthly salary. Briefly, the only place,where I could live with Galja –my family rooms)


.To explain them that Galia is a unique flower grown on native soil, was absolutely impossible because  we spoke  on different languages. I was still trying to do something . I wrote a detailed letter to Aunt Zina (I thought she was more open-minded person, than others, and she came out at one time married to a simple Russian


person). In short, I thought that if someone would understand me in my family, it's Aunt Zina. She received my letter somewhere in the middle February, when she was very seriously ill, but according to my mother words , my letter shocked her and only make worse her serious condition. The prospects of living together with Galya been good only if I stayed permanently in Lysva .But for me were no work there.


My guilt complex in front of my family for being so indifferent to their problems and creating for them unacceptable situation also took place.


On the other hand I promised to Galja that she would be my wife.


I could not break this promise because of my


complex integrity, as well as the fear that Galja may be in the arms of another man.


But the end of my stay in Lysva approached .I would have to take  a decision .On February 25th I believe it was a Saturday, I came to the Galja, and she “pleased” me with the words:” I already picked up a leaflet in the registry office.” (REGISTRY-city department for registration of marriages, deaths and births).


We filled this paper for the marriage registration. She promised me that this procedure would be hidden from everyone till my departure. Then, after 2-3 months, when I would move to another mounting site , she would come to my place.


Galia readily agreed with everything, she needed only to get registration of marriage as soon as possible.


The next day, February 26 was a sunny frosty day .I had to


fulfill my promise, my family was far away and an answer to my letter


I did not receive. The office of registration was open, despite Sunday. At that moment I thought that it was not too late to escape. I was in the position of a man going through a swamp, where each next step being sucked you all deeper, and a way back was blocked.


When it came our turn, registry clerk, who was a gray girl of


indeterminate age, took our completed questionnaires and asked for our


passports .Without a word, she slapped the stamps in the passport, then we signed our names in a big book. All this


procedure I performed thinking that I would keep Galja for myself. We came out of the registration office as the husband and wife. Galja was extremely happy (she was only 18 years old) and she did not notice my depression .Contrary to our agreement she alerted about the event all her relatives whom I have not seen before the same day.


Luckily, she had not many relatives: the grandmother, who lived near Galja and her Dad with his new family .Her mother lived not so far from Lysva ,  but ,probably, she found unnecessary to worry about such thing.


On the day of registration we were invited by Galja grandmother. She lived alone .We drank tea with homemade jam and listening to her grandmother stories .She had some education, spoke correctly, questioning me about my future plans and gave some advice.


And at the end of this week, I think, it was March 2, Galja’s father organized some celebration of his daughter marriage. His apartment, was located near the dormitory of young professionals, where I lived. I invited nobody of my friends, because they did not know about this event .Only 10-12 people totally unknown to me were present .Galja, of course, knew these people .She wanted that her marriage would be similar to other people marriages. She did not ask my consent, by even if she asked it would be hard to me to say no. After all, she is my wife and wanted people to know about it .She brought me to the apartment ,where her father lived and I first became acquainted with


my father in law .He was a man approximately 40 years old, with small features .It turns out that he worked for turbo generator plant and was a highly qualified worker .I drank with him couple glasses of vodka


for the introduction before the general feast


and my frame of mind improved. He asked me few questions, but more he talked about himself .He previously worked at Lysva metallurgical plant where he had the exemption from the draft to the army.


On the table were the usual household snacks, canned goods, potatoes and


Then came stewed meat . The wife of Galja’s father


brought new dishes. I and Galya were sitting at the end of the table, the guests mingled for me in one person. They shouted “ Bitter!. “,as usually accepted on Russian weddings.


We got up, kissed each other and drunk .Soon I was so drunk that somehow broke away from reality .I thought ,that  it was fantastic dream .However, then suddenly I noticed that this situation is reality.


Ambient people looked very nice for me, and I began to believe that everything will be fine in some miraculous way: Galja will join me in Leningrad, and everything will have the happy end. The heavy doubts that gnawed at me in a sober condition, disappeared.


Somewhere around 12 p.m. guests left, and I and Galja were put to sleep in the common room, and I immediately fell into a heavy sleep.


In the morning I and Galja  said goodbye to her relatives and left. I stayed in dormitory because of its closeness .The next day I received a telegram from my family: “Ride


immediately, Zina is dangerously ill “.I signed up at the plants acts of completion of works, not forgetting to include the phrase no claims to


Sevzapteplokontrol . My workers have already been dissolved the previous week. The nearest railway ticket I managed to find was on march fifth.


Of course,I had to fly, but this kind of


transport while almost never used in our organization at that time.


I did not even know where the nearest airport located .Lysva


did  not have airport ,so I had to  get off the train in Perm and look for the airport.


Then this alternative did not even occurred to me. I said goodbye to the young wife and reassured her that the our separation will not last more than two months,


I left Lysva .Hard anticipations of future conflicts and the uncertain future depressing me .Now it was complete contrast to the optimistic mood of my first return from Lysva last year.


And what happened to the other heroes of my story? Upon my return to Leningrad, I received a letter from Lena Krongauz, in which she described in detail events happened after my departure. I am using her words:


“The next day after your departure Room № 18 emptied .Only wind-swept and there could be heard the groans of the defeated hearts.


Meanwhile , rumors of the Victor’s marriage rolled around the plant.


Finally, it reached up to the one girl who was destined to be Lysva’s Juliet. (Meaning Valya , whom  I, unfortunately, introduced Victor). Apparently, she was absolutely not prepared to


perception of this news, for her it was a sudden terrible


shock .When she heard this news, she grabbed the first thing that came under her hand (it was nitric acid, as she worked in the chemical laboratory), and made several swallows .She was taken to the hospital, where


she died in terrible pains .I heard that before her death she requested that Victor would come to see her, but he categorically refused to do it . Because each case of suicide is  to be investigated, Victor was called to the investigators as a man who forced  her to commit suicide. However, medical examination found that she was a virgin, and therefore charges against Victor were dropped. After all,


there is no law that someone has no right to poison himself, if he has such a desire. “


These were Shakespearean passions flared in the provincial Lysva. Valya could not realize that her innocence in the eyes of Victor do not give her advantages over other women .Victor and I did not know that she had obstinate character .Therefore, when all of her hopes for Victor collapsed, the world in her eyes set upside down. Then she did this terrible thing.


C Chapter 6: FEES for naïveté


In the sixties I watched an interesting Polish movie.


The young man low-key appearance bitterly asked


father, why girls just fall on his handsome, athletic


friends who simply abandoned them soon . Why girls did not pay


attention to him? .”Would he ever have a girl? “

To which the father replies:


“ Do not worry, you will have a girl, simply, unlike them, you would have to pay more .”


Then I thought that this answer of smart father is fully applicable


to me.

Now I return to my narrative.


On March 8 in the morning I showed up in our Leningrad apartment. Aunt Zina passed away on March 6, and in the room on a dining table


the gasket was placed. Humiliations, which she suffered on workplace speeded up her death.


When a relatively quiet period began in her life ,she


suddenly was diagnosed with the liver cancer .This disease spread up very quickly, it took only 3 weeks till her death.


Aunt Zina did not took even sick leave, the first time she tried to


ignore the pain, and then took 10 days leave at absence.


Her last days were accompanied by very severe pain, and sitting


at bedside her brother, uncle Tsala constantly pricked her with painkiller- pantapon .This injection gave a short relief, once, between injections, she asked: “ How long could you live on pantapon ? “


           My mother and uncle Zodik were terrible suffered with grief .I already wrote that in our family


all slippery , unpleasant and tragic problems ignored, these problems seemed to have no right to exist.


The same attitude was related to fact of death .They never talked


about it and never thought that this event would be mandatory in the future for everyone .They pushed away these thoughts,


as a child pushes the spoon with bitter medicine .Their everyday conversations and thoughts were fully immersed in the petty worldly affairs of present time. Therefore, the death of someone close to them became an unexpected calamity, from which for years they could not forget .Also, they never thought about purchase in advance a cemetery lot. More than that .Aunt Zina had some savings in the savings bank, but made no will . Only for 2 days before her death uncle Zodik asked her to sign a paper similar to will. However, at this time the Aunt Zina hand left some scribbles, which did not look as her signature . After her death it would be necessary to prove that these scribbles is her true signature .They did not think in advance about the imminent death which is awaiting everyone..


I was met with great restraint, no questioning, and of course I decided to postpone discussion of his marriage to a better time.


They did not know whether or not I married .They know that


I wrote the letter to Aunt Zina . A game of silence continued. A few days later, on Grand Avenue I


met my cousin, Vova, who stopped with me


aside and asked what the story happened to me .I answered honestly. He replied that if the marriage certificate is not issued,


it is not so bad .I said that I got stamp in my passport and I am quite


seriously consider her as my wife .I assumed that this conversation


became known to my family, although no questions was addressed me .


         In my native organization I was accepted well, and they sent


me for a month and a half to work on the Power Station in the Kirov district of Leningrad. One of our foremen worked there, and I was instructed to tune up the automatic shut down system


of the new turbo generator.


I found very strange every morning procedure to join the flow of conventional


Leningraders , riding trams to and from work. Each morning I


walked 10 minutes to tram number 31.My assignment was simple and depended only on myself ,no workers needed.  Unfortunately, my health was affected by the consequences of poor


nutrition during the business trips. My mother took me to the doctors which did an x-ray of the kidneys and found 2 stones in the right and left tubes between kidneys and bladder. I was told that a surgery is needed to remove stones. I decided to wait and see what happens next.


         I asked Galja to write me on demand to


Post Office, located on Grand Avenue


close to the Tuchkov bridge. I passing this post office, coming back from work.


At home I prepared all the time for frank conversation.


But soon I got from Galja the first letter .I would say that no


arguments of my mother or uncle Zodik, or other relatives would not have had


to me such influence as simple Galja’s letter .I red the letter


and was shocked . O, my God! It was an illiterate childish bubble, chicken thoughts , written with scribbles.


I am not talking about spelling mistakes. The grammar for her did not exist .This letter


could write only a girl with three grade education .And this girl is my


wife? If I had ask Galja instead of walking miles to her house to write


me a letter, I would not have married her.


I began to realize that I committed terrible fault .But what to do now?


The serious talks with my family I decided to postpone.


I bought a dozen of different good books, sent them in the package


to Galja and asked her to read them as soon as possible.


I was as a drowning man, who grabbed a straw, grabbed a hope to develop her thinking and outlook through reading .But that was the useless case.


If she loved to read, then she would read before .Now I remembered


that, in her apartment, I could not see any book. The first time I regretted that for the Ghalja I broke with Clara, which I saw reading all the time.


Each time I anxiously visited post office .If I was told that there were no letters, my heart felt lighter, and when a girl in the window throw me envelope, my heart sank, I did not even opened it immediately.


And the content of letters corresponded to her mood . In the first two letters Galja vowed to love me and asked when I would pick her up, then later she switched to blaming me and accusing me in cheating. I wrote her that marriage was a mistake and offered to divorce.


    I must say here that at that time the Stalinist laws were active. These laws supposed to strengthen the families. Therefore, a divorce procedure was very complicated .At first you have to print add in the newspaper about your intention to get divorce .


Then the divorce case would be heard in the low level people court. After that hearing the case would submitted to higher city court. Only the city court could make a decision and confirm a divorce .But in addition to these problems one serious problem existed. If I initiate divorce case I have to go for whole procedure to city, where my wife live, in our case to Lysva.


If another party is against divorce a court hearing would not happened.


The only hope I had that Galjia is attractive girl and she would found


someday another potential husband. I personally felt myself


guilty, because my love was crumbled on the potholes of real life . I was also at fault, towards my family because my behavior destroyed their hope that I would marry someday on


intelligent girl from a Jewish family. Instead that expectation I was going to bring a provincial Russian girl, quite uneducated, as it turned out,


 Meanwhile, among messy emotions and personal problems which I described ,the most important event after Stalin’s death


took place. I mean 20th

Congress of the Soviet Communist Party, which happened in the beginning of the year 1956.


The special report on this Congress was delivered by the First Secretary of the Party Central Committee Khrushchev. The report was not published in the press


and was red only at the Party meetings, in local districts of Communist Party .As a strict rule these meetings were attended only with members of the Communist Party or Communist Youth organization. It meant that only these people ,whom Communist Party could trust, will correctly understand Khrushchev’s report .

In general, the Party attitude to the peoples was similar to relations between strong father and teenage son. The son is not supposed to know about career of father, who performed the Communist Party order


to expel peasant families from their home to Siberia, because these families were considered too reach accordingly to socialist standards. Or maybe a father earned his awards and decorations, when he was placed behind the front lines of Red Army troops


and used the machine guns for killing soldiers, who trying to escape


heavy enemy fire and retreating.


Who knows how his son would react? It is possible that he would


despise his father . Better to avoid telling him about some facts of his father biography.

The Khrushchev's speech reading was held in the premises of Zhdanovsky


District Party Committee .This beautiful mansion located in the north-


western end of the Kirov avenue near the branch of Neva river.


Uncle Zodik, as the best teacher of mathematics in our district, was


invited to this reading .I also joined him, but I was not


sure that they let me in . Actually ,I have problems with my admission.


As a result of my cool attitude to the Soviet


power, I did not get Youth League registration at the place of my work. It was


very easy to do, because I did not even know where and in what


facility a secretary of the Youth League organization worked. I also


never looked for him .However, somewhere in 1955 there was an registration of Youth League members and exchange of member’s cards. I still have the old gray card .I had to explain to control clerk that I had to stay for two years in business trip and due this reason I had no possibility to exchange my membership card. He advised to someone but they decided to let me in .I and uncle Zodik settled in comfortable armchairs and prepared to listen.


A middle-aged man with a brochure in


red cover, checked the microphone, cleared his throat and began to read.


Khrushchev opened the curtain on the endless cycle of Stalin’s crimes on his way to personal dictatorship .The most part of the report contained a description of the massacres of honest, idealistic communists.


The report cited a letters written by people, thrown in


jail, in which they swore allegiance to the Party


and Stalin, looking at their arrest, as some sort of sabotage against the Soviet State.


(How can you here not remember words of Soviet poet Mayakovsky “If you would put in a museum a weeping and crying Bolshevik the visitors of the museum would watch this for whole day, because nobody never see a weeping Bolshevik .”) But the arrests and reprisals against


millions of non-party peoples , a mockery at the peasants, so


called the elimination of the reach peasants, the destruction of the


associates and friends of V.I.Lenin -all this was not mentioned in the report and remained hidden.


The reason was that Khrushchev himself was , like others members of Politburo Communist Party, guilty in many Stalin’s crimes.


He was involved in these crimes, but


perhaps to a lesser extent than another Stalin’s friends .Therefore


his anti-Stalinist trumps were designed as a weapon in fight for power.


The former members of Stalin's Politburo (Molotov,


Kaganovich , Voroshilov, and others) were excluded from the leadership of Party soon after the Congress. But even as little, as


Khrushchev told was very impressed like the bomb explosion .The


auditorium consisted mainly of men of middle and old


ages. For these people, Stalin was almost God, or at least


God’s manager . They trusted him, they justify any


hardships and deprivation and his explanations of the world situation was for them as God’s words. Many of them believed that Stalin and motherland are the same thing.


During World War II soldiers attacked enemy


with the words: “ For the Motherland, for Stalin! " (Today, Arabs


Terrorists are going to die shouting “Allah Akbar”, which means:


“God is great ", so that the psychology of blind faith is identical in people with undeveloped critical thinking)


So, older people understood that the holy flag,


under which they fought all their life is a symbol of millions of


innocent victims .It meant that his whole their lives went to rack and ruin, it meant that the “king is naked”.


Their reaction is probably resembled the reaction of 16th century Catholics, who read anti-papal appeals of Martin Luther.


The auditorium which listened Khrushchev report, roared, groaned and in eyes of some people were tears.


 About that time of the Great Terror poet Nikolai Doriso later


write:


                It was a time of violent contrasts,


                It was a time of beginnings of socialism construction.


                We song “ Marsh of Enthusiasts “


                And the sad, heavy requiem for those


                Innocent, on the night taken away from their home.


                Peoples disappeared without a trace.


                That was the time for us, young people to love


                Our country's “freedom” and labor.



But I and uncle Zodik were well prepared to accept


Khrushchev's speech, because we long time before were firmly convinced of the Stalin’s Crimes.


However, some naïve thought still occupied my mind. For example ,I believed that if in the struggle for power after Lenin's death, Stalin’s opponents would win (Zinoviev, Kamenev, Bukharin etc.) then life in the country would be much better. However, no reason to consider a subjunctive mood in politics.


Of course, the fanatic with Asian mentality as Stalin, converted whole country in his slaves.


Usually, the people with Stalin’s mentality ruled the Muslim world. Unquestionably, that without Stalin, such massive repression would not be happened. But later I realized that the Lenin’s October Revolution of 1917 laid the groundwork for future dictatorship. Democratic development of the Russia after October 1917 was impossible .If not Stalin, so it would be another dictator, perhaps the military one.


But the power of the Stalinist clique represented a worst-case scenario to Russia after the October Revolution.


Khrushchev's speech opened eyes maybe to 10-15 percent of Stalin’s crimes


This report was only a tip of the iceberg. (For the full


picture I would recommend my reader to read a great manuscript of Russian writer Solzhenitsyn under name “The Gulag Archipelago”, which is translated to English.


But even with this limitations , I and uncle


Zodik experienced, speaking to official language, a sense of deep


satisfaction .While we returned home uncle Zodik impressed me with stories


about the terrible 1937 year, stories, what all his life he was afraid to talk about.(see chapter 1).

In early May, my boss offered me to go work as a superintendent


in a new facility. It would be necessary to install instrumentation and control on one boiler of Power Station. This time I need to go to the southern small city Klinzy, Bryansk region.



                                    Klinzy



May 14, of year 1956 was a spring-like warm day . This day, I went


to a new destination - Klinzy ,


located, approximately 80 miles east of Belorussia city Gomel.


I reached Klinzy late at night, went to the city hotel


where I spent one night .The next morning I went to the Power Station, where I supposed to work. At this time, my experience working in Lysva was very useful .I demanded from our


customer a separate room for myself, as head of contract’s works.


But they did not have dormitory .They offered me a room in a private


house .The room was small, but bright, it had separate entrance and it took a 5-minute walk from Power Station .I agreed, unpacked my simple luggage and began preparing for the arrival of teams of workers.


In about a week 5 workers arrived, and I prepared for them


area of activity, so that no one to be inactive . Here, there was no rush and a scapegoat is not yet searched on the contractor’s meetings.

The place around was very picturesque .Power Station was built on the bank of a large lake.


The sandy beaches and boat station were part of picture and


on the opposite shore you could see the pine forest. Here is the summer of central Russia


came into its own, it was warm, without exhausting heat.


My workers also lived in a private apartment, all 5 people in one


large room, fortunately, not very close to me .I immediately established to rule to get half of liter alcohol each week, saying to man, who was in charge, that I will sign for one liter, but half of liter I would leave in stock.


This approach worked extremely well here too. Without extra words


my demand was signed .At that time all Saturdays were still working


days, but Khrushchev shorten the working day on Saturday by two hours.


My workers anticipating a joyous feast in this day .We collecting money for snacks .They bought sausages, cheese, sauerkraut, cans, they cooked potatoes .If we were lucky, we could get herrings from a local grocery store.


I came to the worker’s room and solemnly put up on the table a bottle


of alcohol. That action cheered the entire company. In addition to my alcohol


vodka or vine were bought too. Sometimes I did not participate in these libations, but each


Saturday I gave them a bottle of alcohol . It was a sacred thing.


On Sunday I took a bus to the center of Klinzy and hung around over there .Sometimes I was joined with one of my workers


Eugene. He tried his best to play as an


intelligent man , he used old-fashioned politeness .At the acquaintance to woman he


always pronounced the same thing with a smile:


“Eugene”, but not Onegin (the hero of Pushkin novel “Eugene Onegin”) .


We went with him to the best city cafeteria , where at that time we could freely order 150 grams of vodka before lunch . They served,


for example, Ukrainian borscht and beef steak with


fried potato . Of course, service corresponded to the Russian average


level: the waitress, carrying the soup bowl, dipping into it big


finger with not very clean nail . But we did not complain .I thought that her finger had been washed down by other soups, so it was relatively clean ,when she kept it in our soup.


After the lunch we went to park .Over there the


loudspeakers were installed, which called up Youth volunteers to go to Kazakhstan for the development of virgin lands.


(At first, they eliminate all working men in the villages during the war with reach peasants, but now, when there is not enough bread in the country, they decided to plow new ground, and to do this to use the enthusiasm of Communist Youth League peoples.)


One night someone knocked at the window of my room.


I looked closely: one of my workers Petya asked to open it.


I let him in, and he told me that he was afraid to sleep at home, because my other worker Gosha wants to kill him. At the daylight Petya luckily missed a piece of pipe, which was thrown by someone from boiler upper platform .He looked up and he saw a grinning Gosha. At this evening Gosha


told Petya that he gave a pledge to kill him .With my experiences with


working class, I realized that this is serious matter .Gosha previously was imprisoned for murder and calmly could kill someone .

I do not need the murder of someone on my site .Therefore, I kept Petya next to me till the end of night and told him in the morning that when the workers leave room and would go to work, pick up his


things and immediately go to the railway station .I recommended Petya to take closest train in either direction (Gomel or Moscow). So he did, and potential murder


was stopped before it happened .Later I learned the reason for such Gosha’s hate. Petya was miserly man, he never drank ,he did not lend


money etc. Usually these type of people are not loved among workers. Gosha usually was without money in a three days after pay.


After that the snack bar attendant ,of course ,a woman, fed him


in credit .Petya once said to her: “ You should not feed him ,because you will not get money back.” These words became known to Gosha and he promised to deal with Petya. The rest part of this story I described above.


The city Klinzy was located in west part of Russia, where before the revolution of year 1917 Jewish people were permitted to live.


After the beginning of war Nazi troops occupied the city and those Jews who failed or unwilling to evacuate, were killed, as it happened


everywhere in the German occupation zone .After the war some Jewish people come back. During my


stay there, I think that 5-10 percent of the population were Jewish.


Once, on the dance floor, I acquainted with a girl, and arranged to meet her next day.


The following day, Sunday, I come over to her home, but still expected her on the street. I was waiting, but nobody come out .I decided almost to leave, when suddenly


from the nearest home a lean man of 45 years old run out, and waving his hand, inviting me to come over .I came over to him. He said that he is the father of the girl, with whom I got acquainted .He said that he would not let her met an unknown man but instead he invited me to his house. At home her Jewish parents offered tea and conversation began about myself,


who I am, where I came from, where I work etc. I always made a good impression to the parents of girls, it happened this time too.


Seeing that I am not a loafer, girl's father allowed us


for a ten-minute walk .After walk I quickly left and never again I tried to see this girl.

Compared to the local Lysva’s population Klynzy’s residents were different ,they were


less open and less well-disposed.


At the Power Station, as usual, was a laboratory of instrumentation and automation, to which I worked in close contact . The chief of laboratory was lean short man about 45 years old ,named Melnikov. He had some education, he was a teacher before, therefore he


could talk not only about business.


An adjustment and repair of instrumentation he knew well .But I was struck by some of his internal fear.


For example, the Chief of the turbine Shop comes and said: “ One of pressure gages on turbine is out of order. It need to be replaced” . Melnikov complains that no one of his workers is available right now and he would send someone soon. “As soon as Petya will free, I'll send him.” (Petya-his


Assistant Chief, was a very nasty guy because his


relative worked in the KGB).


“And I need it now”-, continues to insist the chief of turbine Shop.


Will you do it now? Or I'll call the Chief of Power Station.”


“Yes, yes, of course, I will do it”- muttered Melnikov, he postpones


his own work, takes the tools, pressure gauge and leaves.


His timidity could be explained by several reasons:


he was not a Communist party member, he stayed on this German’s occupied territory during the war, which putting a stains on a person's biography, but also he recently married and had a baby. Therefore, he was afraid


for his work position .To find good job in Klintzy was almost impossible. In some conversations to him I realized that he understands the true side of Soviet socialism, but also knows that in order to survive, he must be silent.


Besides Petya, in the lab a young man worked, wearing military


uniforms without insignia .He told me that he served in the rank of


first lieutenant and while he was in army, he married there on a waitress of local cafeteria .


Once, returning home from a business trip,


he found his wife in bed with another officer .Without hesitation, he


emptied his revolver into the head of this officer .Later military court was held.


He was lucky that he escaped with only a demotion and dismissal from army . He, of course, knew very little in instrumentation repair. I am sure that Melnikov hired him accordingly to someone's request . The laboratory included also a young woman ,who processed instrumentation diagrams.


These were all laboratory peoples. It is not easy with such personnel to maintain instrumentation and controls on several boilers and turbines.


Somewhere in the middle of August my work was coming to an end. Start-up of boiler was scheduled in November.


I agreed with Melnikov and Petya that they would tune-up instrumentation and control on new boiler, because I was under impression how Kamensky brilliantly performed similar job in Lysva.


But as I understood later, it was mistake. I had to invite tune-up peoples from our company. I decided to help my company to get a profit from boiler start-up. I calculated that between August and November I would have a treatment in the hospital, then after two weeks seek leave I can come over to Klinzy again in November. A couple of days before my departure to Leningrad I experienced the strongest kidney stone attack.


I could not find space on the bed, where pain is less.


I asked other tenants of my landlord’s to call emergency medical help. .An elderly Jewish doctor arrived.


He invited me to go to the hospital, but I said that I know the cause


of pain, and in couple of days I'm leaving to Leningrad and asked him to make me an injection to relieve pain .He made me injection of morphine .


After that pain gradually began to subside, and I fell asleep.


The next day was a strange sensations - my legs were as cotton wool. . But pain has not returned.


What about Galja? Her girlfriend invited her to leave Lysva and go to work in the Ukraine. The two girls went to Dnepropetrovsk and start to work over there on construction site. I felt guilty for her fate and periodically I was sending her money.


Once, while I was in Klinzy I received a letter from Dnepropetrovsk, written with unfamiliar handwriting.


The letter was written by Galja’s girlfriend .She wrote


that she outraged with Galja’s behavior . While I sending her


money, she walks with the men all time . I could not believe everything what her friend described. But, of course, partly it was correct.


And anyway, what a girlfriend she is? The Russian people usually envious and pity if their neighbor lives better than they are.


Galja’s girlfriend asked me not to send money to Galya ,


because everything she spend on amusements. By this time, my feelings for Galya chilled, and I was not jealous .The danger for me included a possibility that Galja would get pregnant from someone and would have a baby. In this case I would have to pay alimony till her child would be 18 years old. So, I somehow should thank Galja for the fact that she is not gave birth to a child. If she decided to have a child, even in case of divorce, I would have to pay alimony 18 years for somebody’s child. Although, I understood that she was not worrying about myself , she simply did not want a baby at that time.


                      In Leningrad, the hospital’s physicians recommended me undergo a surgery to remove a


stone located below the right kidney .The surgery was set at October of 1956. Before this time I took a vacation and


went to Truskavets, small sprawling wooded


hill town in West Ukraine .Truskavets famous for its


mineral springs with special water, called


Naftusya. Some people said, as always in such cases, all sorts of miracles happened as this water washes away and dissolves the stones. In any case, to drink


healing water before the upcoming operation was useful, even


more useful to do so after the operation, but I got a vacation in September.


In Truskavets were many sanatorium, where mostly working people were treated. They received free or


almost free passes to the spa through the trade union organizations of factories and plants .The rest visitors, including myself, simply drunk mineral water. Among these people majority were Jewish, because Jewish people cared about their health much more than Russian people.


On paths of ancient park there was a path ,where


obese men and women, proudly bearing their bellies .


They fluttering, keeping in his hand a special ceramic mug with water. The resort pavilion, where mineral water could be pureed in mugs free of charges, was


located in the center of the park and was always filled with peoples.


Once when I was sitting on a park bench, one skinny red Jewish girl sat down next to me and began to say me


some sort of nonsense, to which I do not really listening.


Gradually, she moved to the jokes, telling them one after another. Masha , who was the name of my acquaintance, was, approximately 28 years old. She knew hundreds if not thousands,


jokes, mostly on the Jewish theme, and it coincides with my sense of perception of humor. Next day she began to share my solitude. Later one more guy from Leningrad joined us, he was a dental technician named Nahum.


He also had a great sense of humor .When three of us walked


through the park, all the problems disappeared somewhere, and our jaws tired of laughing.


From main pavilion on the shallow valley a paved path winding. At the end this track was transformed into a forest path .If you pass on this path a couple of miles, then you would see a beautiful forest lake, 300 feet


in diameter .This lake was overgrown with reeds, but in one spot high sand beach was located .September of that year was warm,


sometimes even hot .We took with us sandwiches and water Naftusia, and spend whole day on this almost deserted lake.


               But the fun soon ended, and it was time to return home. Masha was a Muscovite, and I asked her to resend my letters to Gala in another envelope to make look that letters coming from Moscow, because I wanted Galja not bother me for some time.


Masha faithfully fulfilled this task.


               In early October I was taken to hospital on Krestovsky Island,


which hosted the first for me (alas, not the last) surgery. Instead the general anesthesia doctors gave me a spinal


injection, so that the lower half of my body did not feel pain. A stone, located in right ureter, was removed.


After the operation I was told that 10 days I should I lie in bed,


without trying to get up.(this is contrary to modern views that after surgery you would be forced to get up from the bed next day). When I finally allowed to stand on my feet before discharge, I could hardly stand and could walk only a few steps without gasping for breath,


I and my mom underestimated the fact that for me to start to walk after 10-day lying in bed move was very difficult.


I remember that when I leaved the hospital, I with big difficulty reached the tram stop.


Getting off the tram at the Grand Avenue, I could barely drag himself to my home .But in accordance with labor law I had after hospital two additional weeks of vacation ,which I spend at home. Gradually, my strength returned .

At that time important


international events have occurred that made me forget


about my problems. The twentieth Congress of the Communist Party of the Soviet Union with his anti-Stalinist disclosures of Khrushchev's report led to a revival anticommunist movement in Poland and Hungary. In Hungary this movement has gone farther than Soviet Communist Party wanted: the Stalinists were expelled from


Hungarian Communist Party, the government was changed and included reformers, led by Imre Nady. These events jeopardized communist supremacy in this country.


At the same time the Soviet leadership was involved in the Cold


war with the United States and NATO .Therefore, Khrushchev and Politburo of Communist Party would not allow the weaken the Soviet occupation of Hungary and Poland.

I and Uncle Zodik daily listening foreign radio stations, such as BBC(Britain) and Voice of America. Therefore we knew of real situation in Eastern Europe ,not only from Soviet disinformation.


We rejoiced when the rebels in the Hungary released Budapest


from the Red Army and the dropped a statue of Stalin from the pedestal.


We also were bitterly upset ,when on Nov. 4, our radio broadcast


reported the formation of the so-called Provisional Revolutionary Government headed by the Soviet puppet


Janos Kadar . Red Army crushed the Budapest


uprising, no one helped free the Hungarian government,


despite his desperate appeals for help .The government of


Janos Kadar was installed in Hungary by force of Soviet Army.


The ideas of freedom and justice were crushed again.

My work gave me the opportunity to choose my next work destination. The same happened in Klinzy . It was a possibility of further work in November ,because at that time boiler supposed to start-up and 72-hours complex testing of all instruments


should began. I thought that it is


a good idea to take this job for our company because it (this work)


did not require a lot of time, well paid and could be performed


by the Power Station instruments people in the face Melnikov and Petya .I could, of course, to invite servicemen from our office, but they used to get high salaries .Besides that, I thought that after finishing work in


November and returning in early December in Leningrad, I'll be insured


from further trips till the New 1957 year . Melnikov and Petya


agreed to my proposal, because ,anyway, they would have to maintain these instruments later, so I thought that they would do their part of job


well .So in early November, a telegram wired to our office with a request to send me back to Klinzy .


When I arrived in Klinzy again, I immediately registered the temporary employment in our firm for Melnikov and Petya, sending sheets for personnel records to Leningrad office. Later I understood that I did mistake. I did not foresee only that Melnikov and Petya, though they were good instrumentation guys, but they worked very slowly. Therefore I had a very hard time at all constructors meetings, because officially and technically I was responsible


for instruments adjustment and integrated testing .But at this time I had some experience how to handle these meetings. I protected myself similar to method which was used in one miniature of famous Russian Humorist Arkady Raikin .


At the operational meetings when I was asked, when all devices


will be tune-up ,I answered. “ To-morrow”. They put down my words in minutes of meetings. To-morrow a new meeting is taking place. I was asked again: “ Why devices are not working? “ I refer to some instruments which working well . A meeting entered a new date to finish the job. Next day I admitted that


Melnikov and Petya did not cope with the job, and therefore I requested from our office to send additional servicemen,


but this requires a couple of days before their arrivals . (Actually, of course, I did not request anyone ).


What they supposed to do? Again, with strong words a new term


was written in the minutes of meeting .This way I won the time required for


Melnikov and Petya to complete their work .After couple of days, of course, almost all the instruments already working, which reduces the pressure on me . Couple days more and instrumentation testing was finished. That's how I earned something


approximately 20 thousand rubles (not for myself, of course, but for our company) in one month.


However, when I returned to Leningrad, I had hoped in vain


on gratitude. Everything happened to ordinary Soviet principle:


your initiative is punished. It happened that due to some regular


bureaucratic problems Melnikov and Petja would not get assignment as the temporary workers as I requested. Briefly, I owe Melnikov and Petya 900 rubles . Of course, I could go to the Director Drozd, explain the situation, play the fool, and he would have done something in this regard.


But I prefer another approach .I simply took nine hundred rubles from my saving and sent a money order to Melnikov. (At that time 900 rubles were equal my monthly salary).To my financial losses added another one, but I did not disappoint trusted me people , and I fulfilled all the terms of our oral agreement . My words for me were more important than money.


The new 1957 year approaching. In January I was scheduled for the second surgery to remove a stone from the left side .This second surgery would be much more difficult one, because the stone


located in an inconvenient place.


My mother and Uncle Zodik went somewhere to a meeting of the new year, and whole room left in my disposal.


In the last day of the old year, I


quickly assembled a small party. It included my friend Izya Khersonsky, on


whom I would discuss in more detail in the next chapter. (I met Izya at a party where happened not enough vodka and we together volunteered to go for vodka at the middle of night to the restaurant). I also invited two girls, which met in the summer in Zelenogorsk in dance ground . Somewhere around 8 pm I and Izya with a large suitcase went to culinary store and bought there all possible snacks. As a result ,the table was good .I was at home ,


so I did not restricted myself in drinks. The result was unexpected.


The next morning, January 1, I


felt that my stone from the left ureter


passed into the bladder, which allowed not to do a new surgery, and


made possible to crush this stone in the bladder.


My mother immediately called the hospital, but she was told to wait at least a week, until place is available. Whole week I had


to lay on the couch, avoiding sudden movements, because, otherwise


a stone may rushed to the exit, corking up outflow of urine.


A week later they took me to the same hospital.


At this time the operation took place without anesthesia. Doctor crushed my stone in the bladder .He introduced into the bladder of steel rod, bent at the end. When


this curved end was inside the bladder, the doctor split rod into


2 halves, one half sliding on the curved of other .The end part of the both parts of rod had teeth bared, like


electronic clamp crocodile .After that the doctor moved rod


surface in the bladder and tries to capture the stone in the mouth


of crocodile .As soon as he felt that the stone in his mouth, then the special flywheel connects the two halves of the rod in one.


The stone is being crushed between the teeth of a crocodile.


Roughly a minute of acute pain, and the rod removed from the bladder with crocodile caught in the teeth the remains of stone.


It was a great thing, because it was possible to avoid a major surgery


An hour after the procedure I walked through the ward, helping


other sick people .In a couple of days I was discharged in good health. I decided that my summer vacation to be again spend in Truskavets .I have to drink Naftusia to prevent further trouble of this kind.



                             Everyday miracles



While I was hanging in our office on the bench,


waiting for a new destination site in early February of 1957, I was summoned by the chief of shop Andreev . He said that one of the best adjusters of our company Drozdov, passed away suddenly and asked me to go on his site and finish his work. His site was located in Leningrad on the machine building plant named after Lenin.


I was not familiar with Drozdov, his death at age 45


of a heart attack was an ordinary thing in our organization,


many men went out of life in the years 40-45,because of alcohol consumption and consequent heart attack. In general, it was necessary, as during a war, to replace a dead comrade.


I arrived at the plant, went into the room, where Drozdov worked


and some sense of transience, and the absurdity of our lives seized me .Everywhere I saw scattered papers, drawings, addresses, phones, his plans for February and March .It was impression that person, who worked here, left for five minutes and would come back asking me what I'm doing here. So, at first, I have to work as investigator, trying to find out at what point his work cut short.


Nobody, of course, could bring me up to date, I had to understand


what he did, what he finished, and what is not. He worked on the automatic adjustment of fuel valves at open hearth furnace.


I started gradually getting involved in his problems.


To some extent, we build our prosperity on other’s people bones.


If Drozdov had not died, I would go back to some remote district


for instrumentation mounting. However, I got a job for a time in Leningrad, continued to live in my apartment with my family and went to work, as all dcent people using trams, but, unlike most of people, I


could go home before the official end of the workday, just when I wanted .Of course, I did not abuse this possibility . This free life lasted short time .In early April I was called to the office ,because


a new head of the shop Chubar was appointed instead of retired


Andreev . Chubar said that our company do not need the Lenin’s factory job, because we only losing money over there .My task is to adjust whatever is possible (automatic


transferring the valves on the stove).The rest part of project is based on experimental ideas, not confirmed in practical applications, so we as mounting organization ,not obliged to implement it.


But to get out of this work we have to organize a big meeting


with the plants peoples and project designers (ironically he called the Chief of


Project Department: “Professor Rodzianko “), where we have to


prove that the project is experimental, and we, as mounting organization, do not perform experimental works.


To help me, he gave me help - young specialist by the name of Pushkin.


Subsequently, Pushkin was promoted to high position, and he was made the chief engineer of


Trust “ Sevzapmontazhavtomatika “. But he began his career on my


site, checking the operation of limit switches.


We were thoroughly prepared for meeting .We visited even


“Gipromez”, main institute, of design and construction of the metallurgical plants in the Soviet Union.

Soon a meeting was held. We proved with facts the drawbacks and absurdity of the project, except schematic for transferring of the fuel valves. The designers, including “Professor Rodzianko” , were looked as beaten dogs .They have nothing to argue, except that they put into the project ideas of a scientist, whom they could not get to the meeting.


It was decided at the meeting to limit the work on setting up


automation of transferring the valves based on furnace temperature.


This part of the work I done relatively quickly.


It only remained to hand it to the customer and get the corresponding


paper .This turned out to be difficult.


              To demonstrate the efficiency of automation I gathered on the furnace platform whole group of plant officials.


I turned the adjusted factory automation and they saw how valves changing the direction of fuel and air from one side of furnace to another based on the furnace bottoms temperature difference. Approximately, in 10-15 minutes the new transfer of valves happened The operation proceeded normally, as expected.


After the demonstration I invited attending people


to sign the act of acceptance this system into operation ,but the people gradually went away. Everyone was afraid to take the responsibility to sign the document.


Then I choose another approach .The senior shop electrician was


a man who ought to be responsible for the exploitation of new system. He was a Jew 50 years old by the name Ber .He liked to drink, which paved the way for agreement.


I invited Beer in a pub, where we split


a bottle, and I listened carefully to his story about his life.


When he finished I said to him: “ You understand that by some way I would pass this system to you. Therefore, let's agree: I put another bottle, and you sign an acceptance protocol.”


Ber thought, but his desire to drink has exceed his doubts .He agreed, I immediately put paper to him and Behr boldly signed.


The next day I arrived at the factory, and began to collect more signatures on the paper.


Now everything proceeded very smoothly .The chief mechanic of this shop, when I came to him, only asked: “ Did Ber signed?”


I showed him the signature of Ber . Then he put his signature.


The shop manager, seeing the signature of their electricians and mechanics, without a word placed above his signature .The whole plant mechanic and chief plant power engineer signed without words, seeing the signature of employees of the shop.


I did not even go into the office of chief engineer of the plant, handing


the act of acceptance through secretary .He, of course, approved the act, seeing signature of his subordinates.


The next day I was in my company office with a signed formal act of acceptance adjusted system into the exploitation.


The long work on the Lenin’s plant was over. Chubar decided to send me immediately for vacation, and in June 1957


I went again to Truskavets.


Again I started to drink mineral water, walk over the hills and forests play games in a chess club.


Shortly before my


departure, I sat on a bench next to a pretty


girl with a big mop of hair, a narrow, intelligent face


and good waist .She was around 25-26 years old and she was the type of girls which I liked.(Photo 38)


I asked a few questions, and we gradually


start talking .She was also from Leningrad, and she lived


not far from me on the street Zverinskaya .Her name Nina, surname Dubytskaya, she was an architect who worked in the project office. She arrived in Truskavets , accompanied by her mother, because of some kind of kidney disease. We remaining few days in Truskavets where we often met, and one day we went on bus to Lviv, (Lviv –the big West Ukrainian city, which before the war was part of Poland). It took up to 3 hours get there. Among other things, Nina wanted to visit the old cemetery .It was ,in my opinion, strange desire for a young girl. But we went to the cemetery, looked old monuments and tombs and walked in the shady alleys of park .Was it simply


professional desire to admire the design of cemetery monuments, or a vague presentiment of what is not through long time expecting her, I do not know.


Upon my return to Leningrad, we start to meet each other again. Nina


lived in a multifamily apartment in a room with parents


and younger sister .As an usual thing in Soviet Union,4 people live in one room. I also had very


limited possibilities to bring the girl into my apartment, only


when my mother and uncle Zodik go somewhere .

After a workday we often went to the Maritime Victory Park, where


I usually bathe first, and then we wandered through the alleys.


              In mid-July I was called into the office by Chubar and he asked me:


“Are you not afraid of a beast of mounting and installation works?” I replied that I am not afraid this type of work.


“Very well”-continued Chubar .” There is a good appointment, to the resort city. “


“ It is necessary to mount the instrumentation and controls on the new boiler of Priozersky pulp mill.


“By the way, continued Chubar, in Priozersk’s pulp mill Power Station our former worker Gregory Semenov works .Hire him to work for you, and he, like experienced knowledgeable person, will be greatly useful for your job”. I willingly agreed .

Priozersk was at the distance of


5 hours train ride from Leningrad. It was former Finnish city, captured by the Soviet Union in the war. I have always loved nature of


Karelian Isthmus, coniferous forests, pine on the rocks, and, as sung


in the song: “ blue eyes of Lakes “.


And the prospect to get a room not far from Leningrad, too, attracted me.


Immediately after this conversation,I left for Priosersk.



                             Priosersk



In Priozersk I found Gregory. I liked him, and, as a former


employee of our company, he understood me very well .I filled out the necessary forms for his hiring and proceeded to the usual preparatory matters.


          But above all I requested from the construction department of paper mill a separate room, referring to the our contract ,which specifies the right for separate room to a superintendent.


I was given the excellent small room (12 square meters) on


the second floor of the former Finnish comfortable house. Next to the room was a bathroom with hot and cold water and normal


toilet .Ground floor apartment of this house was occupied by chief energetic of paper mill Levinsky, a man of about 48-50 years old, married on a relatively young attractive woman 30-32 years old .I heard this women was a former waitress. This couple did not have children. The Levinsky’s wife


played an important role in the unfolding events.


In general, everything looked fine, I called the workers from our office and began preparation for assembling works. Thanks to my experience with these type of work, I had a lot of free time.


A pine forest located very close to my house, approximately 200-300 feet aside. On weekends I travel to Leningrad, and once, in the last


Saturday of July, Nina came to visit me and stayed until Sunday. I explained her my situation with Galya in details. A case


of divorce at that time was in People Court , and Galia, it seemed, did not oppose this . We walked with Nina through the deserted sandy shallows of Lake Ladoga, jumping over fallen trees .A chilly winds and leaden waves did not cause a desire to bathe.


Nina red a lot and I was also very interested in literary matters.


I missed a Congress of the Union of Soviet Writers, because I at that


time was fighting for survival in Lysva .Nina brought


circulated among intelligent people epigrams on various Soviet writers, some of which are preserved in my memory up to this day.


The Communist Party sought to re-educate the common man and turn him into a cog in the Party machine that performs with enthusiasm everything what state and Party dictate him.


All the Party directives and instructions, were directed to this great goal .


Therefore, literature should be a Communist Party instrument ,which describes the such ideal from point of view of Party functionary . This type of literature called Socialist Realism, in contrast to


critical realism, which was used before the Revolution by the great Russian writers Chekhov, Tolstoy, Dostoyevsky and many others.


However, reading the works of socialist realism was very boring, because a reader feels the author’s exaggeration and lie.


I honestly tried to read a number of widely publicized works as a “Road to the ocean” Leonov’s,


“ Cavalier of Gold Star “ Babayevsky’s and a number of others. Although I loved to read, but it was painfully


difficult to wade through contrived novel plot .Obviously, the


talented writers in every possible way trying to avoid this forced method of writing. However mediocre and not gifted writers lived comfortable and their books were published in large circulations .


So, epigrams to the Writers' Congress derisively mocked


this audience.


For example, epigram to Babayevsky:


           “Not every diamond is of the purest water,


           Not all gold is bright and valuable

And your “Cavalier of Gold Star “


           Is nothing comparing to the “Golden Calf”

(The “Golden Calf” is very popular satiric novel written by my famous writers Ilf and Petrov.)


Or epigram to writer Vershigora, which in 1955 was criticized


for the fact that he built a mansion and lives as a land owner.


An article about him called “Behind the blue fence.”


At the same time his friend, the poet Vissarion Sayanov was blamed for drunkenness:


              “ Both friends had a problems

               But they used different approaches.


               Behind the blue fence lives one friend


               And under any fence lies another one.”



Or epigram on the General Secretary of the Union of Writers poet


A. Surkov:


               “ Then I see the General,


                 When he drinks the mineral,


                 When he would drink a natural,


                 Then I do not see the General. “



Poetess Margarita Aliger:


               “  Margarita all rich:


                 There are friends, success, honor


                 And chamber of mind

                 But ...


                 Chamber № 6 “


This epigram requires clarification.


At the end of the war, in response to rising anti-Semitic wave,


Margarita Aliger wrote a poem, which appealed to


world with a desperate plea to clarify about Jewish problem. Of course, this poem could not be published, because every sympathy to Jews was not allowed to pass censorship .This versus spread among the Jewish intelligentsia in writing.



              “  I want to ask Marx and Einstein

                They have a great wisdom.


                Maybe they discovered the secret


                Our eternity of guilt? …


                Everlasting smell of humiliation


                Lamentations of mothers and wives,


                In the death camps of destruction


                Our people are shot and burned.


                Answer me, in honor of the our tribe,



                Boys, missing in actions,


                Young men who died in battles!


The poem ends with these words:


               I do not know whether there is a voice of blood


               But I know there is a color of blood”.



For such lines in the Stalin era she could be sent to a concentration camp.


The epigram referred to Chamber № 6-( this name came from the story of Great Russian writer Chekhov, where smart, uncommon man was imprisoned by the authorities to the madman house in the chamber #6 .This meant that


Aliger could not be silent as other writers, but she criticized the Soviet system, which was very dangerous for her life.)


But this was a literary retreat.


The administrative building of the plant pulp mill


located in a pine forest surrounding the factory.


One might even think that this is the house of rest .This way it sharply


contrast to the administrative building factories in Russia,


surrounded only with burned down grass or clay, where the entrance is an asphalt track, on which are lumps of earth or dirt.


But Priosersk before the war was part of Finland(the Finnish name of city Keksgolm) , and former landscaping was still noticeable.


On August 7 in the morning I got out from the administrative office and could not believe his eyes: in the hallway waiting for me standing Galya .


It happened so suddenly that at first I thought, this is a dream.


I even wiped my eyes .However, everything was in reality .Galya stood in the corridor at its best


dress and a small suitcase in her hand .She even smiled and


looked very calm .I was surprised how pretty she is, turning from a provincial girl to beautiful


young woman .What should I do? I had no choice, as


invite her to my room, although I suspected that it could be difficult to get her later out .


I set a kettle, made breakfast, and Galya told


me about her adventures .From Dnepropetrovsk she returned home


to Lysva. Her relatives over there advised her to ride to my location and try to live with me together. She was given an address of distant relative of her father in Leningrad, where Galya could temporarily settle .She hoped to find me through address bureau.


However, the very strange coincidence happened, which simplified her search. Having arrived in


Leningrad, and having found an apartment there her relative lived, she saw under the bell surname Kheyfets. She thought it was some kind of person bearing the same surname.


But she found the apartment where my uncle


Adolph, brother of my mother and uncle Zodik lived. They too were terribly surprised when they


learned that Galja is my wife .They contacted another brother, uncle Zala , asked him where they could found me .Uncle Zodik and my mother at that time were in the house of rest outside of Leningrad.


This news about young woman looking for me and pretending to be my wife shocked my family.


Uncle Zodik and my mother returned in couple of days and they gave address of my company to Galia’s relative. Galja went over there and found out that I was in Priozersk . So, she arrived into Priozersk.

I slowly thinking that to do in this new situation. Earlier she agreed to divorce and I started this procedure in the court. Now her arrival could speed up this case and get divorce faster.


But now she changed her opinion. She did not want a divorce now.


I knew that if we start to live with as husband and wife, then no divorce is possible.


Therefore I did everything to persuade her to get


peaceful divorce, and for that I studiously avoided intimacy, referring even to my impotence.


She took my words at face value, but at this time our neighbor , wife of plant General Energetic Levinsky interfered . She did not worked, therefore she has nothing to do and she and Galja befriended each other very quickly.


Being all day together they hatched plots against me with


aim to make me surrender.


Against my plans also my youth worked. When young


available woman is lying next to the bed, sometimes I almost


could not keep myself quiet. My behavior, including rejection of intimate relationship brought Galia in a very nervous state: she said that she would commit suicide, as Valya in Lysva, that she could not


go back to Lysva because of shame, etc.


One day (this happened after couple weeks after her arrival) after our big conversation Galya ran into the bathroom and I heard


through the wall of water splashing, crying, and some strange noises. Soon she entered the room, and I noticed that her face turned pale, her body was shaking and she began vomiting. On my questions, what you have made she only sobbed, saying that she decided to release me from herself and I do not need to divorce her. She began to turn blue, and her condition worsened.


I ran to a neighbor, because she had a telephone


and asked her to call an ambulance .Soon two


ambulance arrived, one ambulance came from the plant’s clinic, and the other one from the city.


I accompanied Galya to an ambulance .As always,


for any incident there were many curious viewers, because


in this town not often two ambulances taken away a young


woman . People talked, throwing at me


meaningful looks .Our neighbor, who become Galya’s


friend, fussed here too. The ambulances left, and I tried to


comprehend situation .For me a light at the end of the tunnel, which meant divorce, disappeared and the future is unknown again. In addition, I had even some hatred of Galya. I thought that my


attitude to Galya is not so bad to justify attempt of suicide. Contrary, I fed her, I bought her all clothing she needed, including a winter coat.


I did not beat her, I did not blame her, and acted too


intelligently .The only thing ,which I did not wanted, is to live with her.


She was not entitled, I believed, to have such reaction to this, because many people get divorced without problems and hysterics. Besides that ,although she was saying that she loved me, I do not understand how one could be so disgrace to loving person .In the eyes of whole paper mill I became


a villain, who led his wife to the suicide attempt.


Therefore I did not went with her to hospital .I thought that if


Galya as a result of her action would be disabled or, God forbid, die, then I would easily put in jail


on charges that I brought my wife to suicide .


Levinsky’s wife and Galya’s relative ,who is living in the apartment where my uncle lived,


obviously would testify against me. Against me also would work my Jewishness. However, on my side only my words.


With such thoughts in a couple of hours, I went to the hospital.


The hospital was located 5 miles from our village, in the center


of city. Entering the building, I saw through a glass door of


one of the chambers Galya , who was sitting on the bed, no longer


crying and looking quite not badly .Then the chief doctor


saw me and asked: “ Your name is Kheyfets? “


(Galya used my last name). I said that I am Kheyfets.


“Come to my office, "said the doctor.


He asked me whether I was related to Vladimir


Kheyfets, with whom he studying in the medical college. I said that Vladimir is my cousin.


Then the doctor smiled and said:


“ Do not worry about your wife. She drank not acetic


essence, but diluted vinegar, nothing special happened.


But we immediately made her wash the esophagus and stomach. This procedure is not pleasant, but she had to agree.


So, just in case, let her spend the night here, and in the morning,


I'm sure you'll be able to take her back “.The next morning I arrived by taxi, took Galya from the hospital and brought home.


I understood that divorce is now useless to think about and I must change my behavior .At the end, is she my wife or not? Why


I, too, must suffer at nights next to a pretty woman?.


I threw all the previous considerations, and from the first night after


her return from the hospital between us revived intimate


relationships after eighteen months of separation. As Russian poet and singer Vysotsky said later


“I and you immediately began to live without fear of adverse


effects .” Immediately Galya has changed, she became quiet, flexible and calm, no hysterics happened.


On Sundays we went to Leningrad, where I


stayed at home, and Galya in the apartment of my uncle, at her


relative .In my family no specific conversations about this situation happened , only uncle Zodik warned me that I should not register her in our living space, because in this case, all three of us


after my divorce would be in one room .Although Galya himself did not understand these things, but her relative will taught her.


She was talkative social


woman, who knew all gossips and rumors and she was a member of the all kinds of house’s committees. She was perfectly aware where to complain, where to play the card of an innocent victim and others things.


She led Galya to judge of our district. (Incidentally, it was


the same judge, who in February 1953 denied the Aunt Zina


to confirm her medical diploma). Galya later reproduced me


content of this conversation .The Judge heard her story and said of like this: “ Why do you want this dirty Jew, divorce him,


you are a beautiful woman, you would easily marry a good Russian


guy .” (Galya said that it never occurred to her that Jews are different, she thought that all people are equal). I trusted her that she is not anti-Semitic ,at least in the described time. Galya’s cousin asked the judge to force me to register


Galya in my apartment, so that after a divorce she would have her


room in Leningrad. The judge replied that he has no right to force


me to register Galya, he can only try to persuade


me on this from humanitarian point of view. So this conversation with the judge had no continuation.


         The rumors about me, as the torturer of his young wife, went to the factory.


I was even invited to interview by the chief engineer of the plant.


I did never before seen him, and he had no relation to my work But, as a Communist Party man, he felt obliged to intervene into


conflict .However, in the time of our conversation, the tensions with


Galya were all ways off, and she was quiet .He asked me about assistance in solving conflict.


I said that the incident is over, but if someone likes to drink vinegar,


that is his personal problem.


Life became a more or less normal .I went to the factory and


Galya tried to cook some dinner, but, basically,


swirled with Levinsky’s wife .My work approaching to an end, and I


calmly explained Galya, that in early December, I would have to move


out from Priozersk. She understood that she could not live in my family.


At some point, she said that she was ashamed to return to Lysva


and she would stay in Priozersk. For this intention she would have


be registered in Priozersk and get a job .To find work in a small


city has always been very difficult, especially, because Galya did not have even school education .But I asked Grisha Semenov, who lived


in this city for several years and had asked him to do something (for a fee, of course). Grisha was soon reported that for 1000 rubles Galya


can be registered and get a work in a bakery at night shift. Galya agreed. I, as usual, sponsored the event.


Galya went to work .Her job included the bread distribution to


coming wholesale buyers .Unfortunately, at night only soldiers came


which military subdivisions located on the Karelian Isthmus. They behaved arrogantly, mattered, badgered Galya. Of course, to work a night shift is not easy. Galya survived only 2 nights, saying that she no longer would go there .The already paid money were, of course, lost.

   Soon Galya became pregnant and she probably thought that now she may return to Lysva until I get a new appointment.


On that note, we agreed. I believe that for her to come to her native city being already pregnant from the lawful husband, was not shameful.


Before her departure, of course, I bought a lot of clothes for her,


so she left


in early December with great suitcase .Of course,


there were tears at the parting, but no hysterics.


A few months later I received a letter from her that she realized that


life with me will not be happy, therefore, she had an abortion and asked to send


money for divorce. I understood from the letter that she met


a guy who wants to marry her.


I think it was the same guy who was with her before


she start dating me.


The end of the story is following .In May of 1958 Galya came


in Leningrad, stopping again at her relative room. At that time our new case for divorce is considered in court.


We easily passed the People's Court, and in a few days Leningrad’s


city court supposed to be happen. This court I remember for a long time .All speakers poured


mud at me, blaming me in all mortal grievances .In the Soviet judicial system still Stalinist appointees had main role.


Anti-Semitic and unfair nature of this performance was evident


to any person from audience .I was blamed for everything, what happened with our marriage and I was shocked with absurdity of insults. (Many couples quietly divorced,


but I was not given this chance). Natural anti-Semitism of my


Judges was multiplied with our social inequalities,


where I looked to judges as a rich and prosperous, and


she as a poor and unfortunate victim of my crimes.


I wanted to reply, but then I recalled old Russian saying, “do not bring beads before pigs! “


My goal was to get a divorce, and they could not deny it. Galya with her relative also sat in silence with a look of insulted


innocence. (It also angered me, because she knows that I do not


such a villain, how they portray me, but she said nothing).


In the end, I was awarded a fine of 800 rubles for some “damage” to state and they declared me and Galya divorced..


Paying a fine the next day, I received a long-awaited paper.


The next day I seeing Galya at Moscow railway station. The farewell was quiet ,without tears and kisses.


As said a poet “The lilac mists floating above us


and over the car the Arctic Star hanged”.

I made a fault move on Feb. 26 of year


1956 at Lysva registry office, and managed to get out from this nightmare only in May of year 1958 .Did Galya love me? The answer to this question is no.


But she liked to be the wife of an engineer, not important who would be on this place. Therefore, she used to sell her


sexual attractiveness to get a good husband. She found a buyer in me. She did not understand my difference from the others men . She just listened to a woman's advice: “ It is your husband, you've got it all rights on him.” But in essence she was a cold person.


In December, I returned to my office in Leningrad .Rumors of my personal problems in Priozersk reached my office.


However, nobody was surprised by this. The nature of our work, when the installers cut off


from their families, led to the creation of similar temporary families. Sometimes ,a worker coming from the business trip to his wife and later his another “temporary wife” came to the office to look for her husband.


The deputy of the chief of our shop


Mokeev, in fact a good man, trying to figure out


why I do not want to live with Galya. His argument was very simple


“ If Galya was not a virgin, when you got married, I completely understand your wish to divorce, but if she was a virgin, so it is your moral duty to live with her .”


The new head of the shop Chubar reorganized the trust,


creating a group of servicemen and reducing assembly works .I was


enrolled in a new group as an engineer adjuster .This group headed by my friend Leikin.


But this type of job also included constant travels,


although for shorter time .I wanted to settle down and live


in Leningrad, and work like everyone else, from 9 to 5, returning daily


to home. Besides that I worked in government’s assignment more than 4 years and therefore I had the right to resign at any time.


However, my search for a new job was seriously limited, as we said then, because I was disabled man of fifth group disability.(It was joke which meant that I am Jewish. In internal Soviet Passports was point #5 where ethnic of owner of passport was stated. )

People from personnel offices looked at me very suspiciously , and, they offered something


a grass-root level position with a salary of 25 per cent less than I earned. After some job searching I realized that the only


opportunity for me to move to a decent position is to join


to the Design Institute “Proektavtomatika” located in the same building where “Sevzapteplokontrol”.


The Director of “Proektavyonatika” Peter F. Sinitsyn


graduated from the Military Mechanical Institute in the thirties , worked in factories, then he


went to Communist Party job .In the year 1953 he was appointed as director of the project institute .At that time Sinitsyn still believed


that his duty is to improve the quality of projects, which had many


drawbacks .For this reason he tried to recruit people with field mounting experience. So, I was satisfied to these criteria and I was


recommended by my former coworker Fima ,who worked now in “Proektavtomatika”.


I went to see the director, bypassing the personnel department.


I told him who I am and what I can do to improve the quality of projects .Sinitsyn offered me a position of


senior engineer with a salary of 1,350 rubles monthly.


I agreed, and resigned from our office accordingly to my own will.


They could not force me to stay, because I was at that time relatively free person.


My friend and boss Leikin only asked me: “ Are you deserting? “


I replied that he had correctly understood the situation.


January 16 of the year 1958 was my last day of work in “Sevzapteplokontrol,”


And in the couple of the day when I became 26 years old, on January 18, year 1958 “deserter” from the labor front start to work at the Design Institute.


Chapter 7. The road is twenty years long (1958-1978)



                     RELATIVE FREEDOM



There is a physic’s law which states that an electric current


approaching the point of branching, moves mainly through path with minimum resistance. I left Trust “Sevzapteplocontrol” and found myself in a position of free choice.


Design Institute of Industries Automation, after my


installation and mounting experience was easy job for me, because I used to work with instrumentation systems and as result of this I had low respect to authors of these project’s drawings.


Director of “Proektavtomatika” sent me to a department ,which designed automation for the mines. The main design institute of this branch of industry was All-Union Design Institute “Gipronickel”.


Our department received the assignments from “Gipronickel” on design of the mines automation .


However, none of the engineers of the our department visited even one mine. I was surprised, because it is difficult to understand ,how you can release a good design, if you had only vague impression about the mine operation.


The head of the department was boorish middle-aged man with a


very red face, although he was not an alcohol drinker . He was called Vladimir M. Skvortsov. He was a narrow-minded man


who liked the simple soldier’s jokes . If humor


was more witty, he did not understood .I remember that someone in his presence said:


“It is better to be rich and healthy than poor and sick” . Skvortsov


wrinkled his eyebrow and began to think loudly: “ Why is so? You should say: “Better to be poor and healthy than rich and sick. “


A few months later I was able to convey to his mind the simple


idea: to produce good projects, you should at least


familiarize yourself with the level of automation, which exists now


in mines .He finally agreed with me, and I led a delegation of three people (it included two young


women engineers Nelly Berlin and Nina Medvedev), directed to the


Ukrainian mines of Donbass and Kryvorizhzhya to familiarize themselves with existing automation.


Our trip lasted three weeks . Nobody, of course, expected our arrival over there. Nevertheless we were always greeted friendly,


everywhere we found at least one person who was involved in automation, and he gladly flattered to the Leningrad’s engineers about his achievements. The most painful impression we got from visiting a coal


mine in Donetsk .We were dressed in canvas overalls and rubber boots


and together with the miners, we squeezed into the cage of the elevator, which then rapidly moved down .Even I felt some sense of weightlessness.


We stopped on one station(it called horizon), on which part of the miners came out ,and again we rushed down.


On the second stop on the lower horizon, our guide led us out of the cage.


We were in a dark cave, where somewhere hung dim lights.


Water was seeping from the walls and water gurgling under legs .We went


in single file along a narrow track on which the rolling trolleys with coal moved.


We had to bend here and there, to avoid overhanging black


pieces of coal . As we went around 150 feets our guide asked if we want to go to the active area where the miners manage to get coal .I said,


that we are interested in automatic exchange of trolleys in the elevator, and the


process of coal mining is not very important for us. We come back to the elevator and watching, how trolleys with coal are loaded and empty trolleys unloaded. After this observation we have risen to the surface with great relief.


Few years later, I attended an evening performance with poets in the famous Leningrad’s club . I remember there the versus of the working guy, the poet, who worked previously as a miner. I recalled his  lines:  “ I work as a magnate ... because


                   I am working while I lying.. “


He was referring to the work of miners in the pit, kicking against the rocks of coal over his head.


I do not know whether is there even more difficult and dangerous work on earth than work of miners. A human being is not a mole, therefore it is unnatural to him to live and work underground. The frequent accidents in the mines took big tolls. Even in the Soviet Union, where, human life is not valued highly, there was a special Mountain Rescue Service.


We visited three coal mines, but only once we went down to


mining working level .We mainly learned the automatic exchange of trolleys on the surface and schematic circuits of lifting machine.


A very serious problem for us was a dwelling. No hotels were available for us, because all hotels had sign “no vacancy”.


We were placed in a miner's dormitory that reminded me barracks


of Gorlovka, which, by the way, was incidentally located close to these mines.


In Donetsk we managed to get a single night in the central city hotel, but we had to pledge that the next day we would free rooms. However, we needed to spend 2 nights in this hotel ,


because the third night I planned to spend into a train in a way to another big Ukrainian city Krivoy Rog .But, returning in the evening to the hotel from the mine, we found our bags thrown into lobby. An administrator said that they expected foreign delegation, and we must get out of hotel.


What to do? We remained seated in an armchairs in the hotel lobby.


Somewhere around 9 pm the administrator told us that


foreign delegation would not appear this night, but nevertheless


director of hotel demanded to exile us .I asked the director


home phone, who turned to be a Jew with a last name


Shvartsman. I called him home, and presented myself as representative


of the group of business travellers (other than us, in the same position was still about 10 men), and said that we all intent to write the collective letter to the central newspaper “Pravda” complaining the hotel attitude to the Soviet people .He replied me that we have signed paper, where we agreed to leave the hotel this evening and he would show this paper with our signature for his defense.


I said him that formally he might be right, but


in fact, this is a mockery of


the Soviet people, especially, if the rooms in the hotel


would be empty all night. (In fact, at these more or less liberal times


Communist Party criticized officials , who violated rights of Soviet peoples. It turned out that the Soviet people have some


rights). The conversation with director was over. In couple of minutes the Administrator


in the window called us and said that the director allowed us to stay


in the hotel the additional night. This was a great success. I correctly


calculated that a Jewish director could be frightened.


The next evening, we were sitting in the second-class car of a train to Krivoy Rog, which was a center of raw ore mining .This was ordinary city center with bleak postwar architecture of buildings, covered with reddish dust.


But the Krivoy Rog basin already was relatively developed area.


Trolleybus lines connected the city to small settlements around


mines, located at a distance up to 50 miles..


We went to the famous mine under name “ Giant .” This was


mine, visited by many delegation. Many papers were written about automation level over here which was higher than at other mines. Therefore our arrival did not surprise mine’s administration. We were placed in decent hostel, in rooms for two or three people .We immediately decided that all we need to know about the ore mines we would learn here and no more trips are needed.


We spent several days at the mine.


We went down with an guide and visited various mine horizons .It was absolutely no common with dreary horror of coal’s mine. Bright lights lit


extensive dry tunnels, were trolleys with iron ore rolled. These tunnels rather, reminded us the Moscow underground .We saw


a dispatching center with blinking lights, acoustic


alarm systems and even cameras that were used in those days


very rarely.


We acquainted also with automatic surface trolleys exchange.


A comfortable hostel in which we


lived without limitation, was very important in our decision.


We unanimously decided to finish our trip at the ore mine “Giant.”


After three weeks of absence we returned home.


Interesting the reaction of our department head Skvortsov after


our returning .He did not inquiring what we have seen,


what level of automation there exist today, he only


asked me a question seemed to him very humoristic, nodding in my companions: “ I think you had every morning a task to pull them off the bed for their feet ?”


That was it .No interest to essence of our trip.


He was interested in the levels of mines automation , like in the of last year snow.


But the institute “Gipronickel” was aware of our trip and they


arranged a special meeting in the chief engineer office. Aproximately,15-17


people were present. I told them what we have seen,


answered their questions , and they thanked me for


interesting information.


                In our institute all the heads of department were peoples of Skvortsov’s type,


with small distinctions .At that time I did not understand why this is happening.


I understood this later. I am going to return to this in subsequent


chapters.


As an exception to the departments heads, perhaps, was the chief of the secret fifth department Peter Lazarevic Fleyshman. It was possible , that in his younger years he was a good engineer. At described years he was 45-48 years old .He always slouched, which probably reflects his humiliation acquired during the work


in the thirties. This was a method of survival in an atmosphere of repressions.


(If you walk with head held high, then you're too independent, perhaps you're not one of us).


To say that he was a reinsurer means to say nothing about him.


He taught his subordinates to cover every trifling solution throw ways


of coordinations and approvals .When I have to enroll in Proektavtomatika director Sinitsyn asked me , in which department I would like to work. I called the fifth Department, referring to the fact that 2-3 people from our institute have worked there. Thanks God, that Sinitsyn did not want to increase the percentage of Jews in the closed department and sent me to another department.


My position in the “Sevzapteplocontrol” I would compare with the novel writer in the era of socialist realism .He is not forbidden


to write what he wants, but only within the allowable framework of censorship.


In the “Proektavtomatika” I was free, as a senior engineer, to take


some solutions, but I had to align them with the many supervisors: the team leader, senior specialist, department head, chief engineer. This is similar to situation if the writer was forced


agree on the contents of each chapter with the Ministry of Culture.


But if I, God forbid, would be sent to fifth department, I would have been in the position of the writer, who needs coordinate with the authorities each point and comma in each chapter.


But, in general, design work for me was very calm .You have to issue


projects with five per cent ahead of date of planned project delivery to customer. This was mandatory action to get bonus for the project release.


Of course, all these dates were planning in advance.


The most important point in my new job was that at the end of workday all working problems successfully shaken out of my head, freeing her for a more pleasant plans.


Vanished from my view, while Galya was in Priozersk, Nina Dubytskaya again reappeared on my horizon .The Leningrad’s summers of years 1958 and 1959 have unusually many bright sunny days. As a rule, Leningrsd’s weather is perfect in working days, but on weekends raining and chilly. However, these summers were exception of this rule and we enjoyed nice weather on weekends too.


For instance on Saturday, still sunny clear day with a golden sunset


destined perfect weather on Sunday .This happened week after week in July and August. While I was a student, I enjoyed of-town sites of


Karelian isthmus . In large or small company, we visited the beaches of the Gulf of Finland, climbing


sometimes almost to the forbidden area not far from Finnish border. The peculiar beauty of the different lakes, surrounded by pine forests, reflected in the mirror of the lake’s water. (In Soviet Union these areas were considered a state property and, therefore, people understood that nobody cares about this beautiful land)


Unfortunately, even at that time quite a few tourists with tents and huge backpacks located at night on the lakes beaches


and freely make camp fires.


After the departure of tourists a lot of traces of wild civilization were left: cans, paper and other debris, as well as broken trees and bushes.


So any tourist in a traditional Russian boorishness


mocked with nature as he could, without fear of consequences.


Thus, even at that time many nearby lakes areas were too dirty.


We are looking for a secluded clean beautiful place.


I knew at least two such places.


One place was located about five miles from the village of Gorkovskoe .


(At that time rental of tourist equipment was available ,but by ordinary


Soviet way. I had to rent a tent for one night from Saturday to


Sunday .To implement this simple action, I had to rent


a tent on Thursday, as Friday and Saturday no tents were available.


Returning rented equipment I could only on Tuesday, because Monday a rental company takes day off .So, instead of paying only


for one day, I had to pay for five days ). Usually


we boarded a train from Leningrad to Vyborg .After couple of hours we reached station Gorkovskoe. (Formerly the Finnish name Mustamyaki). The sun already tending towards


horizon, while we walking five miles along the road to the village.


On leaving the village the road went left and we continued to go through path between gardens and field .The path expands, then narrowed and we saw a deep forest in front of us. The forest was silent because no birds inhabited it. We walked another 2-3 miles,


until, finally, the pines were thinned, and among the trees in the valley, we saw a mirror of lake water. More couple of minutes of walk, and we are on the sandy shore of


Lake Gorkovskoe. Throwing our backpacks on the sand, immediately plunge ourselves into a warm water. Except us, nobody is on the beach, just somewhere in the distance on the opposite side of lake we saw the cottages of summer camp.


Refreshed and setting up a tent in the forest higher up, we set


fire and started our meal .We have feelings of complete isolation from the all world . Nobody bothered us at night, except owl cries.


Next day we saw a few human figures in the half of mile from us on a shore in a place where the wide road goes to lake.


But our bank was uninhabited. On Sunday we


went whole way back to railway station , trying not to miss the train from Vyborg to Leningrad.


We returned home sometime around 10 pm on Sunday.


This journey you will not go every Sunday, because this was far away. I also knew another interesting itineraries ,which take much less time. For example on the Saturday or Sunday we ride on a train to the city Sestrorezk, located on the coastal line of Finnish Bay. Over there almost all passengers went to the Bay, but we we're going in the opposite direction.


Soon we reached the bridge across a lake bay.


It was a dead-end of a large lake under name


Razliv. Here a raw boat station was located.


We rented a row boat for the day, putting into the boat


all our belongings, and I felt like the owner of


an Individual vehicle .(Photo 11). After passing a narrow neck of the lake we


turned out on a large lake. In the distance on the opposite shore you could see the narrow strip of forests and sand beaches. That was our destination. I paddled across the lake in the intensive rowing. It took me over an hour to reach that beach .Finally, we find yourself on a completely deserted beach, surrounded by a strip of rare reeds.


Behind us thick forest was located, which totally closed us from the outer world. If you cross throw the forest around one mile ,you would find a highway, which was built from the station Razliv to Lenin’s small museum. In the July-August of 1917 Lenin was hiding in this area from the Russian Provisional Government (Later, in October of 1917 he was a leader of revolution).


The buses with visitors often used this road. However, we never saw a single person on our beach .Whole day we spent in this secluded


area .( no doubt that in 1917 it was absolutely unpopulated spot, but very close to Petrograd.)


By the evening we went back to the boat station .On a way back very often heavy wind aroused, when we reached open surface of the lake. Our boat was jumping over the waves, and waves sometimes lashed over board. No matter what wind I stick to the course to a narrow part of lake. Inside this part of lake even powerful wind did not felt.


Usually we came to be boat station near the closing time .After returning the boat we walked through city to railway station.

Nina did not fall in everybody concepts of beauty.


She had minor facial features, small mouth and lips, and only


nose seemed to be more than proportionate for such face .I liked it because it transformed her face from typically Russian to non-Russian. I liked her little hand with long music fingers, which had a shade of aristocracy .Nina could be mistaken for an Italian or French, but not Russian (photo 38).


Actually ,as she said, it was a lot of blood mixed in her: Lithuanian, Polish, Russian, and even a quarter of Jewish blood .But this mixture of genetically different ethnicities, unfortunately, contrary to popular opinion, did not produce health for her. I liked in Nina her spontaneity and sincerity


and sometimes she was a playful girl .


Nina and I communicated easily as an author of lyric song said:


“ Then we were young and talked about beautiful baloney! “


There was no need to control what you say, any rubbish


listened without resentment and hysterics .She could also say


for example,:


“If I had nothing to lose, I would have tried other men. “


But these were empty words .Her close friend Leyda, which whom Nina spent two weeks in a House of rest, told me later:


“ Every night in the House of rest dances organized, there were many young men, I call Nina to get fun, but she did not want to dance, she just remember you, and siting with her head bowed “


In contrast to Galya Nina loved me.


In winter especially difficult to find places to meet each other. In the Soviet Union all hotels followed closely to official morals, so if come to hotel with a girl, they will demand the marriage certificate or marks in passports. More difficulties happened because I could not


bribe the hotel manager, which made our chance to


getting a room in the hotel hopeless. Probably my mom and uncle Zodik surprised to see that I started to be


heavily engaged in their cultural activities. I bought them tickets


in the theater ,or at worst, to movie theater .My mother liked it, she willingly attended theatrical performances and good movies.


Uncle Zodik did not really like theater ,but for the sake of my mother, he also joined to the cultural excursions.


After they left, Nina slipped into my room .Our neighbors , even


mentioned above Kapka, seen, of course, Nina. They understood situation, but they did not exposed me.


On the autumn of 1959 Nina accidentally became pregnant .She said about this only to her mother, because they were scary to tell her father about it.


Her mother recorded her to scheduled abort .When she


came to a medical facility on Vasilevsky Island, a nurse said her:


“ You are 27 years old, when you going to bear child?” Nina had a good profession, she was an architect, but Soviet Union


with tremendous lack of housing did not allow her


withdraw from family, and get a room even in multifamily apartments. Therefore, she chose abort .In a few years, somewhere, since 1962


begin construction of private apartment houses and then at least for many peoples this seemed as the end of the tunnel. But in 1959 living


conditions were absolutely terrible.



At first time I seriously contemplated a marriage to Nina.


However, when I introduced Nina to my mother, she quickly pursed her lips and stopped talking to me .She definitely did not like Nina . I was still had a sense of guilt to my mother and uncle Zodik for all their


experiences in connection with my first marriage .Because no housing was available to me, I had to bring Nina to my house .I was peace loving person, but I again would have to bring in the apartment of my parents a woman, whom they dislike. However, in addition to this problem another reason also existed.


I met Nina in Truskavets, where chronically ill


people are coming for treatment. A trouble was that she and I have, in principle, the similar disease (renal stone disease). This means that our potential child probably will inherited this disease also. Why ,knowing, in advance ,that child with high probability would be sick, to bring him to this world?. These were approximately my thoughts at that time. I did not talked to Nina about it, but I felt guilty in front of her also. Although I did promise her nothing (I told her that I was married, as it was true


in reality), but still I felt sorry for her.


Over time she realized that our break is inevitable, but she was not able to make the first step .Once, she told me: “ When I would go to Truskavets, again, I would come on that bench, where we met


and spit three times “. But I had to do the decisive step .


Actually, I dared not to open an explanation, so


I just did not cowardly call her .Nina called me ,


I promised to call back later and did not call again. That's it.


She understood everything and never called me again.


Several years later, after some difficult conversation with my


new wife, I wanted to learn something about Nina. I called


to a reference service in order to find her phone number by name.


In response, the telephone operator somehow hesitated, then asked me:


“How do you related to her?”

“ Just a friend " I replied.


“She died in late 1963”, came the answer.


I could have hoped for anything, but not to this message.


I found Leikin, my friend through several years .


He eventually married to Nina's friend Leida .


Through him I learned that Nina had died not from their old disease,


but from the brain tumor . This was completely incomprehensible, as


she never complained of pain in his head.


But now I understand a reason of her death. It was, as it accepted to explain now, low self-esteem, she felt that her life is complete failure


Breakdown with me on the background on her younger sister


marriage and her closest friend Leida marriage caused the cascade of negative emotions and these hopeless thoughts have led to real tumor. The medical science then and now knows nothing what causes brain tumor. If this is true, which is unproven, I also unwittingly contributed to its death .It could be also be ,that her fate was inscribed to her at birth.


            In September 1960, I and my then friend Semen Leikin went vacationing to south resort city Sochi, located at Black Sea. September was closely to the end of summer season, when the heat is not too exhausting.


In Sochi there were several usable beaches .On some unwritten, but


well-established rule city beach Riviera was visited,


mainly, by families of Russian’s small cities. You could see


over there men in big black shorts, produced annually with Soviet Light industry in large quantities .Or you could see, at seemed to me at that time, old age women in standard black brassieres and black swimming trunks. Almost no young people were on this beach. However, approximately 1,5 mile south from this place the Seaside beach was located ,where mostly young peoples from Moscow and Leningrad bathed and became sun burned .On this beach a lot of girls concentrated with long


manicured nails and a good figures .They strolled along the beach path, casting a hawk's eye on potential buyers of exposed beauties. A further south, probably in half a mile from the seaside beaches, another beach was located ,called Vereschaginsky .It was surrounded by a ridge of stones and placed


north and south of sandy beaches. Unfortunately,


near the water shallow sand and pebble ended, as


 everywhere in the Black Sea coast. To get to the depth


where you can swim, you had to tread carefully through


smooth, slippery stones .South from Vereschagin beach almost bound up with him, was the last Sochi beach .


For some reason this beach was named Svetlana.


Usually I and Semyon settled down on the Seaside beach.


But one day, a few days before my departure, Semyon was sick


and went to the medical office .I went to the beach myself .For some reason I decided to stay this day on the not crowded Vereshchagin


beach .It was sunny September day .Coming from the sea after swimming


I noticed a girl in a blue swimsuit from the popular at that time stitched compressed material .She had good figure ,


brown hair and beautiful legs . Also , I liked the lack of vulgarity in her appearance.


She was on the beach with a girlfriend .I started to think how to


get acquainted. It was always difficult for me .At the moment ,when the girl was walking to the water, I caught up with her and asked


some normal stuff, such as how you tanned? or something of this


type .I knew that it is not matter that you ask ,because important only a girl response .If she contemptuously turns her back, or even did not looking on you ,you have no chances .But in this case, the girl


coquettish smile and reply, making it clear that she is not against


continue a conversation .After few minutes I went to the place where


she and her friend were lying on the beach .I learned her name, a girl named Nina, she is Leningrader,


engineer, recently graduated from the Institute of Refrigeration Industry.


We talked about this and that, then the girls left, not forgetting to say that tomorrow they will be on the same place .Tomorrow I came with Semyon ,all got acquainted, I and Semyon sat on the couch,


and joking about something .Somehow in the conversation Nina mentioned, that her mother also an engineer and her name is Bertha Solomonovna .I did not even


believe my ears, because Nina was not looked Jewish.


On this day, in parting, I asked her phone number .Because there was nothing where I could write the phone I scribbled this number on a flat stone, putting the stone in my pocket.


A few days later I left, and in Leningrad I gave her a call, and we started to meet each other. There were some meetings with the trips to the theater, concerts and cinema.


Nina talked about her dysfunctional family .Her father Konstantin Kuznetsov belonged to Russian breed of idealists, who believed devoutly that The Communist Party never erred .He was type of man similar to my Uncle Fyodor ,he might respond to questions about fluctuations in the conduct of Party’s line this way: “I wavered with the party .”


Before the war he graduated from Military Mechanical Institute , and soon he was transferred to the Communist party work .He was also a good engineer, that allowed him after the war to return to engineering


profession in the secret design bureau to develop


new arms .Soon he was promoted to position of Chief Administrator


of large department. Nina’s mother Tiktiner Bertha Solomonovna also graduated from the Military Mechanical Institute, where she met


her future husband .Nina was born in July of the year 1937. It is difficult to imagine two more different people than her parents .From the one hand, absolutely devoid of humor man, firmly believing in the party, as in God, unable to think critically.


On the other hand, a clever Jewish woman, originally from


Klintsy, good communicator and with the ability to please others. She was intelligent and had a strong will, greed and pettiness.


But in fairness I must say that Bertha Solomonovna characterized by a strong sense of duty .After the war she


did everything to save her husband , who had severe


disease-brain tumor. At this time method for radioactive treatment of tumors only started ,but proved to be very effective for Nina’s father.  All of the conflicts in this family were for money .Nina’s mother thought, perhaps not without reason, that her husband hiding part of money .The disgraced scenes occurred almost each day. Sometimes, her mother called their children


Nina and born later her brother to participate in the dispute,


without understanding what a serious injury it inflicts to children’s souls.


When there was talk of expulsion of the Jews from Leningrad , his father seriously trying to convince 12-year-old daughter to stay with him, not with her mother . This conflicts had huge influence on very vulnerable and sensitive soul of the daughter. Nina become neurotic, inclined to hysterics person. Once, she was treated at a sanatorium for nervous breakdown . I learned this later, but I also felt during our meetings, that the character of Nina is far from easy.


               After the break with Nina Dubitsky I started seriously thinking about marriage, I was already 28 years old, and good, sexy , attractive Jewish girls was extremely difficult to meet.


I thought that I met Nina as my fate.


In June 1961, Nina once again went with a friend to Sochi .She invited me


to go too, but at that time I still cling to my independence, so I decided to go to the Crimea at the same time .I spent whole week in Crimea where I felt loneliness among many vacationers.


I thought then, why I'm hanging here, when I was waiting by my girlfriend in Sochi.


In a comfortable ship, returning from a voyage in the Mediterranean Sea, I crossed the Black Sea from Yalta to Sochi.


I found Nina, and the remainder of the holiday we spent together.


Upon my return to Leningrad, I realized that my destiny is already almost settled .I am saying “almost”, because it was still necessary to introduce Nina to my family. One day this meeting took place .Nina came with her mother, Bertha Solomonovnoy. Nina’s mother made excellent impression on my mother and uncle Zodik .She was an


intelligent woman of our circle, and even a Jewish.


Nina was mostly silent, and if she was alone, without a mother, whole


impression would be different .But at this meeting, despite my fears,


full understanding emerged. The question of our residence was settled easy. My mother and uncle Zodik invited us to live with Nina in one of ours two rooms.


Now the train of my life approaching to the next station rapidly .On October 28, 1961 in the register office of Dzerzhinsky district Nina and I registered our marriage .At the same day Nina loaded her things on the taxi and I took her to my apartment .The period of adjustment to a new way of life started, and this period was not easy for us.


What a fantastic conglomeration of coincidences and unbelievable


matches lead to the birth of human being! We think about almost


impossible events in life, such as winning a million in a lottery .But this event becomes almost a regular one in comparison of circumstances preceding birth of human being. If I did not accidentally went to Sochi while Nina vacationing there, if my friend Semyon did not go to the clinic for


inhalation, if I had not decided to go to Vereshchaginsky


beach, I would not have met Nina .But this is not at all .In order the our daughter Irina was born, the child should be conceived in a certain day and hour. At other time of conception would be another child .I am in no doubt that the same chain of accidents


preceded my birth and the birth of Nina. It looks that


all people who dwell on the Earth have won this chance, how negligible this chance would be.


And how many the unborn potential persons lost their chance to live?


This number is extremely high and hard to imagine. Perhaps, these births seeming to us as a chain of accidents events hiding some unknown pattern?


Maybe some invisible intelligence prejudge our destiny


and our behavior? In any case, our brains are accustomed to get easy explanation of the events of our world, however, we do not know is this explanation true or not?


We sure that in the universe conscious life exists, if not in our galaxy, in the parallel worlds . It is possible that through an indefinite number of Earth years, we would reborn through chain of accidents


In the opposite corner of the galaxy, separated from us through millions


light years. (Light year is the distance that a ray of light passes over the earth's year at a rate of 181,000 miles / sec.)



                           FAMILY LIFE



              Life of the author of this manuscript went


on .The famous satirist Emil Crotky once said:


“Marriage is the peaceful coexistence of the two nervous systems.”


And it is absolutely true, especially if one of the nervous system is normal and stable, and the other person is supersensitive and open


to external influences . The first day of Nina's moving toward my apartment, our life yet has not been organized, but we had to start our independence from my parent’s life. I suggested Nina take dinner in the dining room at the corner of Pioneer Street and Grand Avenue. Accordingly to Soviet's standards, it was very good cafeteria .I often went there myself, when, no dinner was available at home.


However, Nina, visiting this cafeteria, plunged into depression, then she explained me that there was a terrible smell (normal to


the smell of the Soviet eateries ), aluminum spoons and forks are fatty


(How could it be otherwise, if all the dishes just splashing in the one tank


of water), and that she was so disgusted, that a piece stuck in his throat.


It seemed for me that before that, she was fed exclusively in best


restaurants of Leningrad ,like, “Europe” or “Astoria” .My mother showed an exceptional tact, in every way to help Nina in all


difficulties of a young wife, unobtrusively offering her assistance .


Sometimes, Nina was depressed for quite incomprehensible reason


She was not able to get out from state of depression, until I would bring her out of through warmth and affection. If I would not do it, then the next day she becomes even gloomier , and if I will ignore this day too, then on the third day she did not want to return home after workday.


We behaved in accordance with another aphorism of mention above Emil Crotky:


“ First, you could not object her for fear that she was not used to live in new family. When she became pregnant you could not object her because a baby could be nervous, when she fed the baby you could not object her for fear that milk disappeared, and finally she got used to it. “


But despite all these fads, Nina was a sensitive, kind and deeply decent person .Such her qualities manifested


fully later, after my mother's death, when Nina was the main manager


of our family. Uncle Zodik was very fond of Nina. In his picture of peoples which he divided on good and bad Nina occupied very good place and


uncle Zodik loved her.(Photo 39) After the wedding, according to Soviet law, a three-day holiday was given to us .


Nina and I spent a marriage journey in Leningrad’s suburb Zelenogorsk .At that time it was quite a comfortable hotel


located on the shore of the Gulf of Finland Bay.


The middle of November is not the best time to relax, but we


could get a room on the right of legitimate husband and wife . Zelenogorsk was still good resort city for us, because, the institute's friend Nina's lived here. In Nina's life her girlfriends always played a large role. He best girlfriends were


Tamara and Sveta , but everywhere, where she worked, Nina also accumulated several girlfriends .She took


to her heart other people's sorrows and joys, gave advices and with the liveliest interest she got used to long soul-saving talk on the phone.


Her mood always getting much better, when she planned some


party on different pretexts .I would like to mention Nina's good


organizational skills.


But in early 1962 series of events began, which badly affected


our normal life. Although I had just turned 30 years old, but I was still young, Nina was 25 and we were far from the perception of the inevitable end of life of loved one (and our own).


My mother regularly held gynecological examinations .She visited a


gynecologist in November of year 1961.But something still bothered her, and after March 30 my mother


visited famous professor in the Military Medical Academy. After this visit, she returned home in a good mood and told us that the professor found only her enlarged spleen, but no other serious problems .We were very glad, but in the same evening my cousin Vova called me, he himself was


a medical doctor. He asked me to come to their apartment under the pretext of some important message .I immediately visited him, who lived close by. He suddenly informed me about


terrible news: the professor suspected that my mother


had cancer of ovaries, and that the chances for her recovery


vanishingly small .In the Soviet Union for reasons of humanity


doctors usually hide the terrible diagnosis from the patient, explaining


to a patient that nothing serious to his health .This hiding of real diagnosis coincided with an instinctive desire to live and the patient began to think that he would soon be cured, and that surrounding him sick comrades in hospital are really very gravely ill. I remember that Vova said me while I was stunned by the terrible news, that often even the medical doctors are dying , not believing what they have cancer, so great is a human life instinct. I shared this news only to Nina, It was impossible to tell the truth to my uncle Zodik, he was very fond of his sister .If he would knew the truth, he could not restrain his feelings and would pass his feeling to my mother.


And then began a few months of treatment. My mother was sometimes


in hospital and then at home etc. She did not felt pain, but fluid accumulate in the abdomen .It was urgent to go to hospital in July .At that time my mother found out that Nina became pregnant and, despite all his ailments, my mother was happy.


Apparently she had long dreamed of grandchild .The last time I saw my mother in August in the oncological hospital at Stone island .She was making plans, to move with uncle Zodik to our little room and give me and Nina biggest room.


She told me also that because of frequent obstruction


doctors told her that he would have an operation on the withdrawal of the rectum through the abdomen (colostomy). She walked with me through the park, and I could not anticipate her close death.


I visited mother on Friday. Uncle Zodik saw her on Saturday .


On Sunday we planned to come to hospital all together. I knew that decisive moment approaching ,but I thought that she would live a month or two.


At Saturday night, Nina and I even went to some


a party to her friend on work .We come home late, somewhere


about an hour of the night, in good mood .It never occurred to me, that at that time my mother was dying in loneliness .What she felt, what were her last thoughts at this moment, we could not know .I could only be sure that, if the mother became aware of its end,


then before leaving, she wished us happiness and good.


The Russian poet Yevtushenko put this thoughts into words:


                “ I wish that in the last my hour


                  when my eyes are closing up,


                  the people behind the wall still laughing.”


Sometimes, at 6.30 am I and Nina woke up with desperate knock on the door.


Uncle Zodik was in insane conditions. He did not know


the truth about the mother’s state .He was completely lost, crying like a baby.


He was awakened by a phone call from the hospital and dispassionate cold voice asked: “Are you a relative of Kheyfets? “


“Yes”, answered he, did not understanding what it all about. “Take away her things, she died this night.” That was all.


If the grenade would explode near, it does not shocked uncle Zodik how these formal cold words. He did not realize what it was about, and, rushed furiously pounding door to our room. When he finally, came to his senses, his first impulse was to inform his brother's family, located at this time at his summer house in Lembolovo. The Nina’s friend from her work had a car and he kindly agreed to take us to the Lembolovo , about 40 miles from the city, where we lost our way and finally we found a summer house. Then we and all relatives returned to Leningrad.


The usual Soviet bureaucratic procrastination of obtaining


death certificate, search of a place in the cemetery and the organization of funeral took the next couple days. My mother was buried on the Jewish cemetery in relatively good location, but nobody thought at that time about additional places next to her for her two brothers.


Our family has been reduced to three but in the near term it


would again increase to four.


At the family council, we decided to do everything possible and non-


possible to exchange our 2 rooms in a communal apartment to separate private apartment, and get rid of our neighbors. Nina excitedly insisted on this because whole her life her family lived in the separate apartment and she hardly understood the need to live shoulder to shoulder with other Soviet people in multifamily apartments. I fully shared her view and an uncle Zodik also joined us. (For American readers I should explain that all real estate in the Soviet Union belonged to the state, so while living in state housing man could not sell it or buy it .The only possibility left was to exchange your apartment to another state apartment. However, all forms of cash supplements in process of exchange considered unlawful. So, as usual, in the Soviet Union, you must dodge and find some loopholes. ) And from September 1962 to June 1963 all of my creative energies


and abilities were aimed at the realization of this plan .As usual, at first I did a lot of stupid things. I remember that in response to our add, someone called and offered a separate apartment in Avtovo


(Southern District of Leningrad) in exchange for our 2 rooms and firmly required that we should be the first visitors to look his apartment .All three of us, including pregnant Nina and slowly moving uncle Zodik went to look an apartment.


The road to this place took an hour and a half.


Finally, we enter an apartment .What did we see? Two highly-related


rooms in a multifamily (!) apartment .We are indignant: “ You said by telephone that you have a separate apartment! “


The owner replied “ Look, this is better than a separate apartment, because the next room neighbor is honored man Navy captain of second rank.”


 Half an hour ride back home .I understood that strategy of looking an apartment should be changed to avoid wasting of time. I developed some algorithm to this search. that included 10 questions on the phone, and only after getting acceptable answers I decide whether or not there is reason to look this apartment . Several months it was my main evening job .

In October of 1962 a missile crisis occurred, which threatened to start


thermonuclear war between the USSR and USA .If , God forbid, it would


occurred, then our existence would be terminated and all of Leningrad’s


apartments with their tenants would turn into a gaseous state.


The cause of the crisis was boorish behavior of the Soviet leader


Khrushchev, who thought that he is stronger than the American president Kennedy. Khrushchev installed the Soviet nuclear missiles on Cuba at 90 miles from America’s beach.


He thought that aiming these missiles at American cities,


he can put pressure on the young American president, forcing him to be afraid of Cuba. But Kennedy did not yield to pressure. He demanded the withdrawal of Soviet missiles from


Cuba and announced a naval blockade of this island .After that actions Khrushchev


decided to give up and promised to withdraw missiles from Cuba. This promise he performed later. The insolent Khrushchev was retreated .Under all his insolence Khrushchev did not want to self-destruction of Soviet Union. In general, people of different ideological views could somehow get agreement, if they share the natural desire of people –to live in peace.


(I am not talking about same fanatics, willing to die for the sake of reaching the promised paradise ,to whom any negotiations are useless and whom should be destroyed like mad dogs. )


             April 23 of 1963 Nina called me at work, saying that in her opinion,


a labor begins. I phoned to our friend Igor, who worked as a doctor in


the best pediatric hospital in Leningrad.


He came to us and advised me do not rush to call


taxis and wait for more intensive labor .Then it can be possible to drive directly to the best clinic, and this clinic would accept her. Otherwise, Nina would be directed to any maternity clinic .I followed his advice . I called a taxicab and drove Nina to the best clinic, when Nina had very frequent contractions and hospital could not let her go to other facility.


It was 3:00 p.m. Approximately at 6 p.m. I called to


the clinic and they told me that Nina gave birth to a girl weighing less than 3 kg. Igor soon called me and said that everything is in order, the child is normal. Even before going to the hospital Nina said that if


she give birth to girl she wants to call her Irina.


I agreed .So, on April 23 Irinka appeared in this world .On April 30, I with my mother in law arrived by taxi to the maternity hospital and after long-awaiting we Nina was released.


Finally, Nina came with a bundle, of which


tiny face looked. We arrived to the apartment of Bertha Solomonovny on Ryleeva Street 6. We drank a bottle of champagne to the health of


mother and baby. The Berta sister Sofia Solomonovna came, and


began swimming baby in the small bath .I supported the baby’s head


with hands. I remember, Aunt Sonya said: “ My God, from this tiny body a human being will grow up! “(Photo 40)

The couple of next months, Nina lived in her family private apartment. Without doubts, she was there much comfortable than in our multifamily apartment. I spent nights at my home. But after the workday I visited daily Ryleeva 6 to launder diapers, and then


walked an hour and a half with baby carriage .Their courtyard was paved with large cobblestones, and ,while I dragged the baby carriage through the yard to the asphalt covered street Ryleeva, Irinka’s head hung like a pendulum in a wheelchair, but she did not interrupt vigorous sucking tea or milk from the bottle.


Usually, I pushed the carriage to the Tauride Gardens,


where we walked .Once, I met my former acquaintance other there.


She also carried baby carriage. We rolled our precious luggages in parallel courses.


         In my battle for the apartment I suffered one defeat after another .Couple times suitable options collapsed at last moment .I realized that I am doing


absolutely right thing, not allowing Nina and Uncle Zodik to visit a potential apartment. Nina moved thoughtfully in every more or less suitable apartment, and arranged the furniture in it, and then after failure she went through hard feelings.


        Once, it was the beginning of April, a woman called responding to my add .


She said that she has a good two-room apartment near the park of


Forest Academy and that she divorces her husband and


may even go into one room in a multifamily apartment .I realized that this is hint at a possible additional payment . I went to see


her apartment and I was delighted .About the best apartment you could not even dream. The apartment has high ceiling in brick building ,which was built in Stalin’s time.


This building was located in beautiful place, near the old famous park. It was necessary at all costs to negotiate with this woman .She watched our big room and said that, subject to surcharge, she is ready to move.


I had to hold her in my version, at least a couple of months, until I found a room for her ex-husband, who before was a teacher of Forest Academy, but now an alcoholic .She agreed to the amount of


1400 rubles (after Khrushchev's zooming prices 10:1 my


monthly salary was 170 rubles). And then I started to look


room for her husband .He wanted to stay in the same district .I found for him and his daughter, a beautiful bright room in a nice house .


He looked this room and agreed to move there.


But this room was occupied by a family of two alcoholics with two children.


So, I had to find a room for that family .I found much worse room on the Lenin’s street on the basement of big building and with full absence of sun. I stimulated them to move there with 450 rubles (poor things, have never seen that kind of money, because it was unbelievable deal for them, you could buy on these money 150 0.5 bottles of vodka).


My experience with alcoholics in the previous job was clearly pertinent . In this room on Lenin’s street an old couple lived, to whom I suggested to move to my second room .They watched my room and understood clearly that my sunny room on the third floor is much better than their damp basement. They agreed immediately to move and they did not asking for surcharge.


So, a coalition of those who wish to exchange rooms was ready. But it was not simple to implement this exchange in complex bureaucratic environment .We had to obtain permission from Leningrad’s municipality .To get this approval whole teammates had come to the city council and


explain the exchange to a special commission . (Commission on the exchange was supposed to


identify whether illegal additional payments applied or not.) We have designated the day of examination, but before that I have instructed my teammates how they should speak to the commission about the reason for exchange .Any careless word would


disrupt the difficult exchange scheme .I was lucky


that the teacher-alcoholic, was just released from the hospital and at that time he was still sober. But he, apparently, heard rumors about surcharge ,which his former wife is getting, and right before our call for a commission, he began


request money from me .He approached me and said, “ Do you think that you, a Jew, smarter than me? I am not a fool .Pay me, or I cancel whole exchange. “


I replied that, of course, I will pay him ,but only after commission meeting. He agreed .During the meeting, all participants behaved correctly with great dignity and explained the reasons for exchange that they improve their living conditions.


(Their behavior reminded me the visit of Russian great writer Maxim Gorky to the construction site of navigation channel on the North of Russia. He asked workers ,who were prisoners of concentration camps ,how they fed and what salary they are getting. They replied to Gorky how they were instructed by KGB, and Gorky understood that they never had a better life than on channel construction.) Briefly, we convinced the commission


that all exchanges done for reasons of improved housing. No catch was found .We obtained approval for exchange.


I went then to the alcoholic-teacher, took him by the arm,


and we, as best friends, went into the entrance of a neighboring house on the Fontanka.


I understood that he still was a fool, or maybe it was unbearable to him to drink.


I gave him only 75 rubles, and he was happy. (He might request


much more, I could not prevent the collapse of the exchange after


approval of the commission). Finally, I have appointed suitable day for all moves. But still was serious problem .How transfer a large sum of money to wife of alcoholic .If I give her money before she moved she could refuse to move at the last moment and I would lose her apartment and money.


Because of illegality of surcharge I would not be able go to court .She could also be in fear that if she moves, and I move to her apartment, I would not pay. What can we do? I was advised to do the following .In the Soviet Union people were holding savings in a savings bank. An account could be opened other there payable to the bearer, that is, any person who show savings account book, could get money without showing identification card . But this saving book had hidden nuance. A special control ticket attached to the book, which must be stored separately .To get money from this account you have to show both saving book and control ticket.


I told to former wife of an alcoholic teacher that the day before the move I'll give her savings account to the bearer, not mentioning about the control


ticket, but I took her promise do not withdraw money before I moved to her apartment. She promised to do that.


However, she rushed to the savings bank immediately


after receiving saving book .Of course, she did not get money .She called me in great agitation and hysteric .I said that we have to talk. I met her. I explained fool-woman that she had violated our


agreement and went for the money before I moved to her apartment. I said that as soon as I move into her apartment, I would give her a controlling talon .Before that happened, nobody could get money, because State secures it .My


calm voice convinced her, and the moves went orderly.


Some remorse I had had in connection with the fact that I


stuffed alcoholics, hard workers with children from a good light


room in the dark basement .But what to do?


Is it not the whole life, where the welfare of one being built on


inconvenience to others? They even did not thought that I can


deceive them and cheat them with money .I came to him after the move and honestly counted them 450 rubles .They were happy, even invited me to the table, but I thought that I don’t need a further acquaintance with them .


Thus, on June 10, we with uncle Zodik turned out to be in a beautiful, though neglected apartment in a nice area


of Novorossiysky street, Building 30, near the old park (photo 42). And in a couple of weeks after the repair of the apartment


Nina rode couple days later with Irina, which by this time was 2.5 months. As far as I can remember all my life I lived in a communal apartment, where every neighbor in the kitchen does his job, not paying attention to the other: one neighbor prepares dinner, another washes linen in a through, and a third washes the feet in a single sink with cold water.


Inside toilet, kitchen and hallway up to 4 bulbs installed, as each


neighbor had an individual electrical network and meter, because nobody want to pay for used by your neighbor electricity . The division of gas accounts for gas was a headache and scandals, because the gas meter was common for whole apartment .For high-principled reasons no one wanted to pay for a neighbor, even if it would be only cents.


Uncle Zodik considered the communal apartments diabolical invention of Stalin, to accustom people to the future communist society, which Stalin had promised to build. (Inside the concentration camps, such society already has been built.)


And after all the inevitable close contact with the so-called


Soviet people of low cultural level and, of course,


anti-Semites, we suddenly find themselves in private family


apartment, which was a great happiness, for which no payment was adequate. (The money I had inherited from my aunt Zina, my mother and uncle Zodik.)


There remained a significant problem: the apartment had no telephone,


and the building was provided with phones long ago, so the chances of obtaining new telephone in our apartment were extremely slim.


We had to use unusual ways to get phone.


There were three such ways .The first one-


search for knowledge a person in a high level of Communist party or KGB.


We had no such acquaintances, therefore this way was out of question. The second way-to


bribe some high rank people of the phone company to get phone. This way we could not use because we did not find reliable intermediaries to whom give a bribe .Without intermediaries in this matter you could be yourself imprisoned.


The third way arose from my understanding of how the ordinary


Soviet bureaucracy operate .The chief of our district phone center absolutely does not care about Kheyfets also


as Ivanov, Petrov, or other guy,seeking installation of phone. Therefore,


any walk to the his office , or sending letters gave the same result.


They respond that installation of phone is “ not technically possible “.


Then Kheyfets (Ivanov and Petrov did not think about it) suggested the idea


to organize construction of cooperative telephones at the expense of


subscribers similar to started recently cooperative housing.


But this idea, send directly to the Chief of our phone district


would not get response because he does not need an additional headache.


Therefore, Kheyfets sent a letter detailing


this proposal to the central newspaper of the Soviet Union “Izvestiya”. Soon the answer came to me that my letter was forwarded for response to the Leningrad City municipality .Later I get reply from Leningrad’s municipality that they, resubmitted my letter to the Chief of the phone district center to answer. Now he was force to give me an answer, because at that time Communist Party conducted campaign against bureaucrats who do not respond to the initiatives of ordinary citizens. ( He knew from my previous letters that I will continue to appeal any reply). So he just decided to get rid of this disturber of the peace by very simple way .In 3-4 weeks after my letter, I received a reply from the telephone company .They informed me with notice to install the phone in our apartment .Our joy knew no bounds, and the my chosen way was absolutely correct .My uncle Zodik was extremely pleased as the phone for him remained almost the only means of


communication with the outside world . The phone was installed in our apartment in May of 1964.


In general, the first three years of living in an apartment on the Novorossiyskya Street were probably the golden period of our marriage with Nina. (Photo 41,43).


Nina was generally calm, she did not work and was completely devoted to domestic affairs and Irinka’s education. Nina sometimes felt pain in area of heart (I think it was an ordinary neurosis), but nevertheless she did not


lifted weight greater than 3 kg. Therefore, Irina did not used to be carried on hands and while she was 11 months she bravely climbed through stairs to the fourth floor of our building . Igor Kogan, MD


pediatrician, said that in the Leningrad’s climate child, to avoid


rickets, should be hold around five hours outside. Therefore it was very useful to have a balcony. In any weather, even in the winter, we


thrown away on balcony the baby carriage .The mouth of a child was sticking to a bottle with warm tea. (An empty nipple, as a pacifier, Irina strongly


pushed out of his mouth and began to scream.) When bottle is finished we replaced it and the child slept well in the open outside air approximately,3 hours each day. Starting 1964 we rented summer houses for


three consecutive years, in Zelenogorsk, where uncle Zodik , Nina and Irina lived and where I spend my vacations..


In 1965 we acquainted with our summer house neighbors next door. These were nice people Lida and Stas Chudakov, who became later our close friends.


(And their little daughter, Olya was the first Irina’s girlfriend). On summer


of 1964 Irina said her first word and the word


it was not Mom, not Dad. Being sitting on a chair in the slider,


Irina suddenly noticed that the slider had small hole and something looked out through this hole.


This is so surprising to her that pointing at her foot,


she said: “ Finger (Palchik) “. This was the first word. Then other words came.


The situation in our family has deteriorated, when Irina was 3 years old, she got to kindergarten, and Nina went to work in accordance with her profession- design engineer .But at first few words about kindergarten.


          Right in our house a kindergarten was located, referring to


Forestry Academy .The problem was that our family had no relation to the Academy .However, uncle Zodik in the year 1915


graduated from the Imperial Forestry Institute, the predecessor of Forest academy .He had a diploma of Imperial Forestry Institute, issued to Kheyfets Zodik Izrailevich, Jewish faith .


I thought that in the year 1966, this diploma


was a relic, which may be seen interesting to the Rector of Academy.


Uncle Zodik wrote a petition with request about accepting his granddaughter to kindergarten and went to see a Rector .He showed him his diploma and said him that in thirties he also worked in Academy.


Rector remembered the names of some Academy’s employees,


repressed in these years, and he expressed


some human sympathy .He said that kindergarten


is administered by the local union committee, and not by the administrators, but he can


ask the local union committee to grant the request of uncle Zodik.


On the uncle Zodik’s petition he put a resolution asking for the possibility to satisfy his request .The union agreed to accept Irina, and through this indirect way Irina was admitted to a good kindergarten.


Nina started looking for a work, which she clearly did not want, because she already accustomed to the situation of housewife .One circumstance could leave her in this position, where she was: the second child .But her


views did not differ from those of many other educated women with a standard set of arguments:


“I must live for myself, not for the child, I have to work and not be


a housewife etc.” .At some point, these views cause a rift.,


When Irina was 3 years old, Nina even told me that sometimes she wants to have a little baby .She hesitated on this problem and I regret that at that moment I did not supported her.


At that time, I did not understand why you need a second child, which would bring only new problems. I never had brothers or sisters and did not understood Irina’s loneness in the future.


So, at some point Nina hesitated, but I did not want to change our


well-established status .Therefore, short time period to increase family was lost, Nina went to work, and new worries pushed this


idea out of her head.


After three years of Nina’s homework to find jobs to her was not easy task. The situation worsened by the fact that her specialty-


Mechanical Engineer corresponded to her abilities the same way as to my abilities corresponded a profession of seller in meat department of grocery store. Her “smart” parents committed yet another stupid thing, sending her to the Institute of Refrigeration industry.


At that time it was common opinion that anyone could get any profession.


And in the early period of its work at the Institute “Lenzhilproekt”. Nina more or less was able to handle this work, because she has provided overall design, no construction drawings. (They designed exterior elevators for the old buildings of 6 floors or more).


And in 1966, with help of some acquaintance it has been possible to


Nina to get a job in the design institute “ Lakokraska”, located within


25-30 minute walk from our house. Her position - Design


Engineer .At first site this was a good position. But next 2 years


become very difficult for all our family .A reason is that


Nina simply had no space imagination which is absolutely necessary for the Design mechanical engineer. Sometimes she did not understand what she needed to draw .She brought home daily drawings of paint cameras and asked my help .I am also not good in spatial drawings.


A long and painful thinking, about what is appeared in


a certain section of the drawing, then I draw a sketch, which Nina would draw to-morrow. It was not always right, and when the boss made rude comments, Nina became very nervous and came home very depressed, blaming all who fell under her mood .By the nature of my work I had only to read mechanical drawings ,but never designed those.


I knew some skilled mechanical designers and respected them .


In the aluminum-magnum Institute (VAMI), who was a customer of our projects, some designers VAMI were grandmasters of this profession. One of them, Petrov, draw all sections and plans of industrial plants so easy and correctly, what he definitely had a great space imagination. But for Nina design drawings represented a great problem. This was not because


Nina was stupid .Contrary to this, she was very smart and capable in other things ,she would be a great programmer, teacher


or even a good electrical engineer. But she simply was deprived of space perception, like many women.


When we realized that this work is not


for her, we began to look for other possibilities .Nina’s friend Sveta helped her to get a job in the Technical Information department of Research institute. (Due to Nina’s Russian name Kuznezova and her written in passport ethnic background “Russian” to get new employment for her was not very difficult) .


This new Nina’s employment brought the good relief to whole our family.


It was already the year 1968, the year of “ Prague


spring “.


But even before that, in the year 1967 two very important events happened.


In June of 1967, began the so-called “ Six-Day War”, in which


tiny Israel has successfully repelled the attack of several Arab


countries trying, as usual, to destroy the Jewish state.


The Soviet Union was, naturally, on the side of “ progressive “


Arab countries, led by ruthless dictators.


From Soviet newspapers ,of course, we could not understand what is going on in reality.


All newspaper information about this war was an absolute lie or, at best, half true . The Soviet Union at that time desperately fight Zionism. (Zionism is a nationalist Jewish political movement that, in its broadest sense, calls for the self-determination of the Jewish people and a sovereign, Jewish national homeland. Since the establishment of the State of Israel, the Zionist movement continues primarily to support and advocate on behalf of the Jewish state). However, in some Soviet official papers Zionism and Anti Semitism mentioned as separate conceptions and stated that the Soviet Union is against Zionism and against Anti-Semitism. However, ordinary people did not see these distinctions .The wars of Arabs against Israel in the brain of a Russian man was a continuation of the eternal struggle with the Jewish dominant influence .But at this time I had a portable transistor radio which I bought in Siberia during business trip. Of course, Soviet KGB heavily jammed the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) and Voice of America broadcasting on Russian languages.


But varying the time and place of reception, it was still possible to


avoid howling jamming. During this war, I almost lost sleep ,


following the development of events . After the brilliant victory of


Israeli troops, I have good feelings for long time.


I shared this joy with few people with whom it was possible: only with very close friends and uncle Zodik .

In September of the same year three of us spent a month vacation in Abkhazia.


Somewhere midway between Gudauta and Sukhumi there is the forest gorge, which connected to the sea through narrow and shallow mountain river Myussera, where approximately 20 summer houses were built.


Originally it was planned as a dwelling for service personal of Stalin’s summer residence. But that time in the summer these houses were occupied by Pioneer’s camps . Because by September 1 children returning to the school these houses were empty. In this warm climate 2 months of decent weather and warm sea still left .Two enterprising Abkhazian decided to make money for themselves .They arranged for September and October in these houses some kind of Recreation center for grieving over the warm sea Leningrader’s and Muscovite’s .The cards of admission were relatively cheap. (60 rubles per person for one term). I bought these cards for three of us, and on a fine September day, we boarded a plane to Sukhumi.


We arrived late at night, took a bus from Sukhumi to this place, get


sets of bed linen and housed in one of the houses.


The next morning we looked around, and we were very astonished . You can imagine the state of the camp after the departure of children’s .Doors were


torn or hung on one hinge, glass in most windows was broken,


on the floor plaster, debris, garbage .The stench from the courtyard toilet reached our house. In the dining room of whole subdivision one-man worked. He was a director of camp, he was also a cook and waiter,


some guy only helped him to wash aluminum cookware. Menu was standard-lamb with a macaroni each day. However, lamb was somewhat become foul .I did not react to the smells, but even I smelled a rotten meat at the entrance to the dining room .On all complaints director replied: “My dear, you see what beautiful is the sea and


a forest, what a wonderful nature around! Food is not that important around this beauty and good rest here! “He was right: the stunning beauty everywhere .Almost lonely seashore covers with large and small stones.


You have only cautiously enter the water without slipping on a wet stones. A great swim, rest on the waves, swim away without restrictions and it seems that all the warm Black Sea in your power.


No exclusion of inscriptions. (In Odessa, for example, on the beach


there was an inscription: “to swim further than everyone is forbidden”.)


You could walk along a narrow strip of beach along the sea for a few


miles, nobody would meet you. Walking around of the mountain, the your feets in some spots are still submerged to sea .


You could see on the North the contours of the north Cape Pitsunda


where Khrushchev built large condominium and Rest area. On top of these mountains thick forest was located.


Once, in the afternoon, I went from the valley to


these cliffs to photograph great views, and was shocked with beauty of mixed forest oaks, maples, beeches, hazels, hornbeams, and many unknown trees.


Earth was covered with a thick layer of yellowish-brown leaves. Suddenly, something caught my attention .I bent over and saw a mushroom.


The real white mushroom looked at me .I looked around, and saw the colony of white mushrooms, growing as groups, as we used to see poisoned mushrooms.

The seeing a lot of great mushrooms in one spot was unexpected


for me .I took of my A-shirt shirt, tied it down, and formed a bag which I filled with white mushrooms .When I come home, my unexpected gain shocked our neighbors –Muscovites, so that they immediately


rushed through my steps .

We dried mushrooms on South sun and brought home to Leningrad. We also collected a lot of nuts .Our diet was supplemented also with fruits, purchased from a local peoples. Therefore, we did not worried a lot regarding rotten meat.


This year for Irina was 4 years old(Photo 41) ,but she was very afraid of water. It was very difficult to drag her into the sea, because she preferred to play in the sand on the shore, while her


mother playing cards with other vacationers .Once, we noticed that


Irina is very lethargic and fell asleep on the sun.


We immediately left a beach, I carried the child on my hands to the bed, where she fell asleep and


slept for almost 24-hours to the next morning .We only succeeded in


awakening her couple times and force her to drink water .Then she fell asleep again.


We decided not to touch her and give her plenty sleep, because this way her body was recovering from overheating .On the next day, thanks God, her health came to order.


When the day of departure came, we were taken to the Sukhumi airport for a day before of our scheduled flight. We had to spend a night on the airport chairs .Suddenly, Nina heard on radio, that before departing to Leningrad a plane TU-104 still has several free seats. But this plane was already in airdrome and we had to


run to it .I understood nothing, while Nina commanded: “ We have to run!”. Catching Irina, a suitcase and a backpack, we rushed to the plane. We came over to the plane at the time, when boarding ended. We are permitted to enter the plane and arrived to Leningrad late at night. We took a taxi to our apartment after 2 am.


Uncle Zodik did not expect us at this time and he did not open apartment door for very long time.


Finally, he let us in ,Nina asked why it took so long to


open .” I thought it was some kind of gangsters “- replied Uncle Zodik,


I thought, they would leave .” “But they did not leave,” said Nina.


                 In 1968 a refreshing breeze of liberalism began to penetrate the Soviet Union from Czechoslovakia . Inside the Czechoslovakia Communist


Party things began to change for the better: The


Stalin's leadership and the management of the state were replaced with new peoples,


such as the General Secretary of Dubcek and


President Svoboda. These people weakened grip of censorship, the media became more free in criticism .They did not abandon Marxism


and socialism, but they said they want to build a new model of socialism-"socialism with a human’s face “, based not on lawlessness, but on rights of individual , press freedom and freedom of speeches .This interpretation of socialism seemed to be very dangerous for Big Brother(Soviet Union), because the Soviet leaders believed that this seditious infection could spread to the Soviet Union, and undermine the lead role of the Communist Party.


(Actually, this thing happened


in the Gorbachev era 20 years later). The Soviet leaders did not invented anything better, than to invade Czechoslovakia in August of 1968 with Soviet troops and replace the leaders of the country and Communist Party . At this time I was an ideological and principal enemy of the Soviet system .I understood that, so-called, socialism, is in reality a dictatorship of a handful Party bosses, called the Politburo. The whole life in the Soviet Union was riddled with lies.


This anecdote of those times:


Lecturer makes a report on the progress of five-year plan of developing an industry:


      -A large power plant is built in the city A.

A replica from the room:


       "I just came from this city. No power plant is built there.


Lecturer continues:


       -In the city B a chemical plant is built.


The same voice:


       -A week ago I was there .No chemical plant is built there!


Lecturer explodes:


       -And you, comrade, do not need to travel, but stay here and read the newspapers!


The only source to obtain accurate information about events in Czechoslovakia, was British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC)


But with the beginning of the invasion to Czechoslovakia jamming of Western broadcasts sharply increased. In that year, a long warm summer continued through September. On Sunday September 6 we went to the Finnish Bay beach resort town Sestrorezk .It was fine sunny day, the water in the Bay still retained heat accumulated over the summer. Fifteen minutes to 2 p.m. I, as usual, turned on the radio receiver tuned to the BBC –Station .I knew that in this spot there was some kind of an anomaly: somehow the jammers of broadcasting did not covered this area. I clearly heard the true voice of my favorite radio commentator Anatoly Maximovich Goldberg. Suddenly I began to notice that peoples are gathering around our around our spot on the beach. Soon a circle of 10 unknown to me people standing next to me. They all stood silently and listened without uttering a single word .I scared,


because I could be accused with anti-Soviet group agitation . On the other hand, I could not turn off the radio and show my fear to these people. The broadcasting, which lasted 15 minutes, came to an end, and they all silently went away. Nobody pronounced a single word.


I was relieved and shut off the radio .This episode did not had consequences. Luckily, no KGB spy was among my listeners .It could be end in a different way.( My listeners ,as I could notice, were mostly Jewish, because this resort city Sestrorezk is famous with big summer Jewish population).



                                  OUR FRIENDS



My Ural’s friendship with Viktor has left some imprint on my character.I acquired unusual for me sociability of knocking up all sorts of parties .On one party, I met with


already mentioned Izya Hersonsky .As I mentioned, an acquaintance occurred on the basis of the joint march to a restaurant “Baltica” around 1 a.m. because all vodka in the house was over, and our souls demanded extra .This time you could buy vodka only in the restaurant that we have successfully carried out. Izya was a few years older than me, he managed to be at war in 1945. Before the war he grew up in a Jewish town, he knew Yiddish, he got no real education, but he had a rare quality: he was a great handyman. Later, after marrying, he made with his hands his own table set, which amazed visitors in his apartment.


At this time he worked at the plant № 5 on Petrovsky Island, where


torpedo and missile boats were designed and built. His outward appearance was typical Jewish, but many people, especially girls, felt that he is Georgian, because he had carefully trimmed mustache and slightly broken Russian language .He was very companionable fellow, and, most importantly, had a natural sense of humor .The another indispensable member of the my bachelorship was Samuel Rozhetsky, with whom I studied at the Institute on the same faculty. However, his group specialization was - gyroscopic instruments, which had mostly military application. Somehow he was the only Jew in group . After graduation, all students of his group, including himself, were sent to work on military plants and research institutes.


Samuel had natural athletic constitution of his body .Therefore ,to demonstrate this he at the first opportunity tried to undress from the waist up, whether we on the beach or on construction site .His drawback was shortness, making him not very popular with girls. Three of us formed a backbone of bachelor’s parties . Often another guys joined us: Luschikovsky Simon, he also was a graduate from our institute , my friend from “Sevzapteplocontrol” Simon Leikin


and others.


The first of us, who got married, was Izya. Once I met him at a tram stop with a young blue-eyed graceful girl with a mop of golden hairs. Her name was Ada. I was fascinated, however, I realized that I should not overstep the road of my friend .Ada or how we accustomed to calling her Adochka looked like a naive, sincere girl, who thinks that children are brought with storks. She was really so naïve at least on beginning of their marriage. She told that after the graduation of financial college, she was sent to work in a Vologda bank. Her colleagues there took care of her as of innocent child, they protected her from any corrupting influence. She had admirers, who treated her very gallantly .However, she married Izya . It was not so much her desire, but insistence of her parents who believed that Izya is the best guy for her.( Izya was very good in relationship with senior peoples.) He bought her parents gifts, listened patiently to the long conversations of her father, etc. Her father said that another son-in law he does not want. His daughter had to obey to her parents wish. The wedding took place on Saturday night in the cafeteria dining room, and was attended by every conceivable relatives to the tenth generation. Izya moved into an apartment of Adochka parents .She immediately became pregnant, but did not realize this long time .Izya told later that Adochka wondered why her belly is growing up .Izya replied: “ Do not worry, it will soon pass “. But, in general, she was unhappy in her marriage .As I realized later, Izya had some sexual problems, about which he was too shy to speak with friends.


Adochka instinctively felt that she loses something in the marriage, and it made her nervous and hysterical .They often quarreled, and sometimes I with Nina and Adochka’s friend Tanya with her husband, Misha Mirkin were invited to the Family Council for peace negotiations. The conversation boiled down to listening both sides, very emotional Adochka’s words were inferior to logical counterarguments of Izya . We offered general advices, but nothing change .This family had 2 girls, but in the end, when the Adochka’s parents passed away, Adochka found the strength to divorce, and stayed in an apartment with already ex-husband.


Our parties also often sided with friends from Zelenogorsk Lida and Stas. Sometimes ,other peoples joined. For example, closest friend of Nina from the Refrigeration institute was Tamara Kurkov, cute miniature brunette .She had a rare for a woman good sense of humor, which she ascended from her father, a Jewish man.


At that time she was married to actor of Children's Theater Volodya


Kurkov .Often other couples joined to our company .


           I would say that the Communist Party of the Soviet Union managing the people, realized very well, that the ordinary people must be constantly engaged in some great activity .Therefore, they done everything possible to keep people on a continuous stress, using for this the official states holidays, as May Day or Anniversary of October Revolution on Nov. 7 or Day of the Constitution on December 5th . By these dates all


labor unions in the factories, institutes, construction sites, and state farms assume the so-called socialist commitments, the main


the essence of which was the intention to work harder for the benefit of socialism and communism.


As we approach to the holiday, newspapers, radio and television were filled with reports of Party and government on the labor’s successes of the Soviet people. For instance, somewhere a blast furnace blow out,


in another place the record-milk yield obtained, and somewhere a record


grain crop, etc .If official holidays are not sufficient to keep people on


continuous labor’s strain , so birthdays anniversaries of great men were used. Thus, the Party Congress, in 1970, celebrated the 100th birth anniversary of VI Lenin, the founder of the Soviet State.


The whole year unrestrained orgy in all media continued ,regarding this event. The people encouraged to work harder to meet a great date with new labor successes.


     There was a lot of jokes on this subject, composed by malicious


Jews. (On the anniversary of the great leader the companies producing the different products ,like,


vodka, called the “Lenin RELEASE”, sausages “Lenin’s penis”


newlyweds are getting offer to buy a new bed, which called


“LENIN in bed with us”). However, the Soviet people are glad to any


reason to walk away from work and to have a pretext to celebrate. Therefore the anniversary of Lenin's also was suitable for fun.


Our family actively participated in preparation to celebrations. You had buy and prepare food in advance. I remember that Nina specialized on jellied meat. (the components of this dish - pork or beef feet- Bertha Solomonovna bought in the summer time ,standing a long line. This product was frozen in the refrigerator till holiday . Nina boiled this “feet” 8-9 hours ,after that liquid was poured out into plates and put into refrigerator .Nina demonstrated her talent as a manager in the parties organization. Alcoholic beverages are not glittering diversity, mainly vodka .Men were trusted to buy alcohol . At the end of the party, after the jokes, songs, dances, when men were at various degrees of intoxication, women in some mysterious way dealt with a monetary side of the joint parties, determining financial balance and who owes money to whom.


Next day I woke up with severe headache , and, as a rule ,only in


a couple of days after the libation, I felt myself normal again. Then, after a while we expected a party on new national holiday, or someone birthday.


               In the sixties, many organizations, including our “Proektavtomatika” were liberal in the preparation to the holidays.


For example, 5th November was the last working day before the holiday, which is an anniversary of October revolution celebrated on November 7th.


Naturally, no one worked .Someone collected money, another guys


were sent to stores, expecting others to lust before their appearance, somebody set tables and prepared music. Finally, somewhere by noon


messengers returned with vodka and simple snacks .It meant that celebration began.


After the first glass of vodka some barriers in conversation were removed and participants of lunch feel yourself freely. Music, dance, improved mood, and, of course, toasts followed one another!    But in the early seventies such activities, as office parties, were canceled .In “Proektavtomatika” rumors circulated that one member of Communist party (a Jew from the technical department of the Institute, a former colonel named Lerner), wrote complain to the regional party committee about the lack of discipline, and Director Sinitsin had to prohibit such festive libations. I cannot say is this rumor true or not.


(If this is true, then after this episode, it is difficult not to become an anti-Semite.) Since that time all employees before holiday left for home in gloomy mood.

   In addition to the friends of our age, I loved to talk to interesting people of older generation .One of these people was a friend of uncle Zodik since his living in the small Belorussian city Senno Stepan Osipovich Kozlovskiy. He belonged to few people who were very fond by Uncle Zodik. (I mentioned before that he treated peoples in white and black terms ,therefore ,he either loved or hated a person.) In the described time


Stepan Osipovich worked as a teacher of physics at the institute named Bonch-Bruevich. I remember how he talked about establishing the Soviet power in a Belarusian town of Senno after the October Revolution in 1917. The detachment of sailors arrived to the city and all the townspeople driven from their homes at a rally on the central city square. One sailor climbed on podium of the boxes .He was


girded with machine-gun cartridges .He said to frightened citizens that the old regime collapsed, and the people's revolution was triumphant. He advised how to live under the new regime, with the following


words: “Comrades, you have to know nothing! However, it is very important to inform new authorities about everything”.


And soon the new government appointee- a head of the department of the city education shot and killed an elderly teacher, who came to him with some request. No laws existed, and the new boss just felt that old teacher was a counter-revolutionary. With such people “a conversation” was short.


An interesting person was, the


cousin of my mother and uncle Zodik also Cesar G. Ginsburg.


This was a man with an atypical appearance for a Jew (blue eyes, light hair, straight nose) with intelligent manners.


I felt that I had with him a very similar interests: internal and external


policy, the British Broadcasting Corporation and Voice of America radio, and love to human history.


He was an engineer-hydrologist, for his participation in the construction of hydro- power plant near Leningrad he was given a separate apartment (large rarity at that time) in a special house for builders of Power plant.


Contacts to him were restricted because of absurdity of his beautiful


wife, whom my mother and uncle could not tolerate .I remember, once when I was still studying at the institute, he


invited me to his home to introduce me to his two daughters .Both girls were slightly younger than me and have exotic names: Susanna and Karina. Their appearance was quite nice, especially the elder daughter, which was blonde .But I was amazed with their behavior. Not embarrassing by my presence, Mom and daughter did not allow us to talk, constantly interfered with our conversation, insulted their own father, saying that he understand nothing. I found very strange that he suffered every day from rudeness and boorishness . I thought that if I would be in his position I would not tolerate such behavior. Probably, for this reason Cesar G. spent a lot of time in business trips. One of my coworkers Peter Smurygin, before he start to work with “Proektavtomatika” worked in the installation company and knew Caesar Grigorevich well. At that time, Cesar G., was Senior Engineer of Hydrological Institute, traveled frequently to


Kranoyarskuya Power Station and , used to say, accordingly to Peter words: “ Guys, I'm here resting with you “.


           After what I saw in his family, I did not have intentions to meet his daughters again. But, perhaps, the most interesting person was a a countryman of my mother and uncle Zodik Boris L.


Gurevich. In sixties, he retired, permanently residing in Moscow, but spent the winter in Leningrad .He lived in Leningrad, in his niece apartment, single butch women age 48, an engineer, coincidentally, she had also surname Kheyfets . Boris L. has been widely erudite in Jewish history, although he was not religious in the modern understanding.


He graduated before the revolution Agricultural Academia in Moscow. During Soviet times he worked in the


Supreme Council of the Soviet Union, and before his retirement served as chief


agronomist for the Far East in the Ministry of Agriculture.


       Among his stories I remembered a little known at that time the story of attempts to attract part of Jewish population to agriculture .


After Revolution of 1917 many professions which were used by small-town Jews, disappeared, for example, both wholesale and retail trade, or small craft.


Most of the Jews lived in established by czarist government special area located at west part of Russia, Belorussia and Ukraine.


The Soviet government in the early twenties


established a committee of resettling the Jews (OZET), which began


work on the establishment of Jewish agricultural communes in the southern part of Ukraine and Crimea .An assistance in the migration of peoples and in buying agricultural tools for them as well as in their education provided at the time by the international Jewish organizations. Besides purchasing and supplying agricultural equipment, they were giving


loans to peoples wishing to start a new life .Jewish agricultural settlements soon became famous .They produced not only grain, vegetables, fruits, but organized in their villages production of textile products, such as woolen blouses, stockings, socks and shoes .In the chronic shortages of consumer goods at that time it was a substantial additional income of Jewish communities.


  But the resettlement of Jews caused the intensification of anti-Semitism in Ukraine and especially in Crimea. The Russian poet Mayakovsky wrote at that time, responding to anti-Semites:


(“And here they are given the Crimea! At Crimea, there are the best of the palaces and rose gardens . So the enemies of worker’s class lied, but you should honestly look into the eyes of Jewish poverty.”)


In Crimea, the situation was clearly aggravated by hostility from the Muslim Tatar population .At that time the Crimea had a status of Tatar autonomous republic and her leader Ibragimov bombarded Government and the Supreme Council with demands to stop the resettlement of Jews.


The chairman of OZET committee was a Jew, Yuri Larin.


Larin was one of the companions of Lenin, he was engaged in economic activities, and he was a great visionary. (common to many Jews). He had an idea to move many Jews to the Far East in the area of small railway station Tikhonkya.


There is no Tatars over there , very few of the local


people and , in the opinion, of Larin, over there Jews can


easily create their autonomy. Boris L. particularly emphasized that


initiative to resettle Jews in the Far East belonged only to Larin and to a group of Jews around him, but not to the Soviet government.


Boris L., as the chief agronomist for the Far East, knew this area very well. It was very boggy terrain, where everything that grows, rot in September and October during the rainy season. However, once in 4 or 5 years there was no rain, the swamps dries up, and then the grapes are grown, and this time this area reminded Moldavia. Accidentally ,the OZET commission headed by Larin, arrived at the station Tikhonkya during this prosperous year.


They were delighted with the gold and the soft fall and felt that the best place for Jews is found .Coming back to Moscow, Larin, and the company submitting a proposal to the government, which was soon approved. This was a plan for the resettlement of Jews in the Far East .But now was a different time. In 1928, the state did almost nothing to help migrants and international Jewish organizations have refused to fund this new resettlement .For development of agriculture over there first should be done melioration.


No funds for this were allocated.


         As a result, people believing in the campaign for the resettlement suffered from hunger on arrival and living conditions were terrible, at best, in a hastily put together


barracks, and even in the dugouts. As a consequence of this, the outflow of migrants soon exceeded influx .Due to certain government pressure in the early thirties the Jewish population over there had reached at some point, 15,000-20,000, which allowed to call this area as a separate administrative territorial unit and call it the Jewish Autonomous Region. The station Tikhonkya was renamed to Birobidzhan.


This experiment failed .The only positive effect from this whole undertaking was the salvation of a certain number of Jews from German Army’s occupation in the year 1941.Many Jews


still live in the Far East cities: Khabarovsk, Komsomolsk, Vladivostok.


Larin died shortly afterwards, on his luck he did not live up to massive repression of 1937.


(His daughter, Anna Larina was married to NI Bukharin, whom Stalin considered as his enemy.) He was 20 years her senior and she passed all the sufferings and ordeals that are intended for the wife, of, so-called enemy of the people.)


The our friend Boris L. died in the early seventies in Moscow.



             THE LABOR IN THE SOVIET UNION IS EVERY CITIZEN DUTY AND OBLIGATION.


My story about my place of work- institute “Proektavtomatika” was interrupted at the beginning of the year 1959. I received the first


vacation leave after 11 months of working in the middle of winter .I spent this time together with my friend Samuel Rozhetsky in a rest home in Repino , which is located close to Leningrad.


Returning in late January to work, I was surprised to find


that I was transferred to another department in the same status as a senior engineer .This new department was involved in the automatic control of aluminum and alumina production , getting orders from


All-Union Aluminum-Magnesium Institute (VAMI). I was told that there is increase of orders in this department and I needed to strengthen the team, led by Boris Izrailevich Levit.


I knew Levit a little from conversations in the lobby .He did ironic remarks about some of our bosses .Therefore, I took the my transfer quietly .As I found throughout my twenty years of work at the institute, the struggle for quality of design, was directly proportional to the next campaign in the country as a whole, and inversely proportional to the actual quality of projects. By other words, the more we heard noises about the quality of the projects the worse, in fact, been real quality of projects. It requires some explanation.


The main design process was developed in the industry


branch institute. This Institute released a flow chart, which


became a bible for all other designers . We added to this process diagrams instruments and automatic devices


accordingly to the instructions of the branch Institute, in our case, VAMI.


We developed our functional schemes with automation based on the process diagrams designed by VAMI .However, we designed our project, as a rule, in a time, when the technological design was completed and was not subject to change.


But process automation is so closely associated with the technology that separation of the automation design and process design led to the absurd decisions. Later I worked in many American firms. Nowhere, I repeat, absolutely nowhere, design of automation is


conducted separately from the process design .Everywhere there was a single flow sheet with the already marked


instrumentation and automation .These drawing considered main essence of whole design and called Process Instrumentation Diagram.


Process engineer and instrumentation engineer were sitting, if not


in one room, so in adjacent rooms. There were


close relationship between these engineers . Often an instrumentation engineer suggests the change of process technology needed for automation. In this situation project design present a single organism, and assemblers of technological equipment had before their eyes the scheme with full automation and instrumentation. Otherwise, there is some sort of theater of the absurd.


Process technology is mounted accordingly to the drawings, where automation is not shown and then assemblers had to make modifications and changes


later, when process equipment already installed ,which is irrational and costly. I am not mention that some of the instrumentation is superfluous or selected incorrectly.


Here is another example. If customer wanted to


purchase instrumentation of high complexity, such as substance analyzer, level indicator or flow indicator, we completed special questionnaires for the plant, which supposed to be a manufacturer of this device. These lists contained data for the manufacturer, needed to build device .Usually, the filling of these sheets was delayed until the release of the design and relegated to senior engineer .And what a senior engineer is doing? He could fill in these sheets only address of customer. To fill out other data, he usually went into a branch institute where he asks process engineer to fill other questions. But process engineer already released his part of the project several months ago, now he is busy with something else, and he knows that serious filling of these pages will take him several hours of work. He no longer remembers the parameters of process or data required in the questionnaire. He looks at the unexpected visitor as annoying fly, which tears off his attention .Therefore ,he is trying quickly get rid


from the visitor and fill the data , as usually in the Soviet Union, from “ceiling”.


Data in questionnaires appear in the extremely rapid pace, an engineer of “Proektavtomatika” happily carries sheets and attached it to design .Nobody in “Proektavtomatika” validate these data or checked it.


The plant-customer is sending these data to manufacturer of device or instrument and then received the one ,which is not operable.


The customer laboratory of instrumentation tries to improve and repair the new instrument. In many cases this is not possible.


Then this instrument is taken to pieces . For normal organization of the design the filling of these questionnaires is the most important responsibilities of the instrumentation engineer during the design!


So, to put it mildly, poor quality of the automation projects already


has been structurally defined in the organization of a separate


specialized institute .As famous Russian satirist Mikhail


Zhvanetsky asserted that the pursuit of specialization


led to the creation studio for sewing sleeves to the suites


while the suites were sewn in another tailoring establishment .This is absolutely our scheme of design.


We sewed the sleeves separately from the suites, and at the same time desperately fought for quality of sleeves .Of course, even for sewing sleeves,


there were special instructions about the length of the sleeves, color


and grade lining, the number of buttons and etc. Also, the special checkers scrutinized performed work in accordance with sleeves design instructions .However the best sleeve often simply


does not fit with the suit, and sometimes the sleeves are of a different color and length.


As said one of my a friends this example is one of the grimaces of planned economy. To avoid a reader to be tired I do not describe many other problems ,like producing absolutely unneeded drawings, etc.


However, the described specialization allowed some students who take dropouts from the colleges, became ,for example, the chief of Department.


The only condition ,which supposed to be performed was to be


a member of Communist Party.


In a department where I was transferred, the head of department was a woman ,her name was Rogov.


Apparently, because of proximity to retirement age, she was


lazy and indifferent to everything .I never heard of her


discussing technical problem .After her retirement the chief of Department become a man- Sluginov Dmitry,


but he ,at least , was a civil engineer, although in alumina


production, he knew as much as I am in a dilution of Arctic foxes.


He had the serious defect because he was not a Communist Party member. This drawback forced him to bootlicking in an effort to


to please the director or the chief engineer .The head of “Proektavtomatika” Sinitzin


always selected the heads of the departments dumber than himself. He liked to arrange meetings ,where he blamed chiefs of departments for errors and drawbacks .After these meetings Sluginov organized meetings with team leaders and transferred the director’s blame to them.


This way he created a nervous environment.


Briefly, he worked as an amplifier, amplifying the authoritative


instructions ,although the best way for him was to ignore or forget director’s blame .A good chief of Department must work as a damper


which filters high frequency authoritative anger and passing only


the few important indications. But Sluginov was an engineer, who started work back in the late thirties. He once told me that he worked at the Institute of Gas pipes designs. Couple years before the war the first gas was delivered to Leningrad.


But immediately it was noticed that the flow of gas which comes to Leningrad is very low.


Engineers started to check what is the problem .They found an error in the diaphragm calculating which monitors the gas flow. The hole in orifice was much smaller than needed.


Nobody investigated the reasons for this, just


arrested the engineer, who calculated the diaphragm, and sent him to the concentration camp for the “economic counter-revolution ". “This way we worked at that time” he concluded,” it was not so easy like now” .Soon Sluginov retired and


the director did not find a suitable candidate for his place .In our


department then were two main specialists, which had jurisdiction on


technical design issues. One was already mentioned Levit, who was considered a specialist in alumina production .Another main specialist was Nesterov ,who was a specialist in aluminum’s production. Director Sinitzin consulted them about possible candidate for Head of Department position. Both of them recommended to promote to this position an engineer from our department .He was retired military officer Aniskov , almost two meters tall with large hands and legs .He was calm, responsible, silent man without ambitions and he was unable to intrigues .He was a member of Communist Party. Levit and Nesterov persuaded the director that better head of the department is difficult to find .Director after hesitation agreed. Aniskov became head of the department, and Levit, Nesterov and team leaders got years of relatively quiet life . Aniskov worked as a filter . Returning from


meetings with the director, he did not bring their essence to us and, while he was on a way to department, he forgetting what meeting was about. He was not cling to the Department Head position because he received a good military pension.


Therefore he did not attempt to promote department to the first places in socialist competitions, or in the stupid fight for the Red


banner, and other standard Soviet labors promotions.


Our department is dragged somewhere at the end of all indicators, but we lived quietly. Aniskov was a good man! I remember him working on mechanical calculating machine, called the “Iron Felixs.” He used a


calculator for getting monthly performance plan of department.


The big sheet of paper with mention of all projects


which had contracts with customers, passed from group to another group, and each team leader wrote down amount of money which customer should pay this month.


Aniskov calculated overall monthly plan performance of department.


He was always polite, he was playing the piano, and his main hobby was hunting with rifle and dog.


For completeness of the characteristics of our leaders, we can not forget the Chief of Experimental Department Svistunov. He was a sporty looking sturdy man about 50 years old, who in the past was associated with NKVD. He was, according to one friend of mine, a type of reinforced concrete manager, who has no doubts in the truth of the Party on everything. As many Soviet Party Leaders he was not in good relations with Russian language. Once he delivered a speech to peoples ,who were supporting local police in maintaining streets order. He put it this way: “ In our area, according to police report during the quarter there have been 10 rapes .We must, comrades, to take part in this! “.Once he met me after I visited German exhibition and attachéd a German emblem to my shirt. He said me:” Why you wear this emblem? They are fascists and you are praising them”. It was no sense to explain him that West Germany is not fascist state.

 My friend in the “Proektavtomatika” was Viktor Levshinovskiy .He was of my age, he graduated from LETI for a couple of years later then me and he was assigned to work in “Proektavtomatika”.He was of medium height, fattening, white-haired man, very talented


engineer, and phlegmatic by nature, but possessed a keen sense of humor and critical mind .I quickly


found a common language with him: I was feeling a sincerity of the person immediately after we met. We equally mocked fools-heads


and ritual attributes of the Soviet organization and institutes as meetings of Party members , plans of any idiotic actions, 1st May


and 7th November demonstrations, sports competitions, political information and political studying.


In this department the work was even more boring than in the department of Skvorzov


(At least over there you had to design electrical diagrams). Here we had to choose devices from scarce plants nomenclature in accordance with the process engineers tasks. There was almost no choice in the instruments selection, because if the plant produced the standard gauge instruments for measuring temperature, then no other competing plant existed .


(For example, later, working in America, I was surprised to see that


Soviet instruments just weak similarity to a multitudes of instruments, which are produced in normal capitalist country.


At first, a variety of manufactured devices in the USA is


in the hundreds if not thousands of times larger, and secondly, it took only 1-1,5 months to obtain even very complicated special instrument. .For example, working in a small firm in 1985, I had to buy


for our process 10 automatic temperature controller, which supposed to be correspond with two conditions: low cost and possibility of automatic electric set temperature from computer .I went through dozens of companies and found the cheapest (Rustrack) .The price was appropriate, but in their official catalog absent


devices with such possibilities .I telephoned to the company and explained them what we need .They responded that for a small increase of


the instruments cost they will built-in set point device. After one month all 10 regulators come to our mounting site.


In the Soviet system, the same process, even if it would lead to success, takes two years as minimum.)


I was concerned that in this situation in ”Proektavtomatika”, I would not only gain an engineering experience, but on the contrary, I will technically degrade .An addition to that, I was no stranger to the Jewish ambitions, and I wanted to stand out from the general


gray area of designers .These possibilities were presented to me in an area of officially endorsed inventions and rationalization .At first I and Victor Levshinovsky start researching innovations in the automation of alumina production, the topics for which we have borrowed from the plants questionnaire for rationalizations .


Special Bureau in our institute considered the given proposal and, if they found it


helpful, they allocated incentive award of 10 rubles of money from the Director’s fund .But later these Awards


stopped for the reason that the our institute was allowed to pay premiums only for improving the design instruments, for example, for the best T-square, a ruler or a pencil sharpener etc.


But at that time I was impressed by the example of my


college’s friend Mark Mintz, who worked at the factory “Vibrator “.


He produced plenty inventions in the field of electrical instrumentation.


I decided to test myself in this area, and felt that I could


generate some new ideas in field of instrumentation and in alumina production industry. Here my friendship


with Victor was very useful. Being lazy by his nature


and, therefore, not being a generator of ideas, he had an invincible


iron logic to crush my ideas .He pondered my


ideas, mull over it for a while, then weighty and methodically broke all my arguments .My ideas burned with blue flame.


But sometimes, after deliberation, he never resorted to the usual beating, he simply said:

“ Imagine, there is something useful there “. Then the idea was completed and we wrote the application to the Moscow All Union Institute for Patents evaluation . Of course, I performed paper work and Victor gave


advices .This way we received several copyright


certificates for inventions and, later, I felt that for me Victor


not even needed. I had to get some ideas the time for thinking over , during which all its shortcomings emerged even in my mind.


And a several inventor's certificates I received only on myself.


I understood well the technology of registration inventions in the Soviet Union and could, if wanted, to obtain more inventions certificates.


What is the practical result of this inventive activity?


I received 13 author's certificates (they are not implemented in the industry ,because implementation of inventions is another story .It is almost impossible to implement invention on a plant, if nobody from plant administration is included in the patent’s certificate). However, incentive bonuses from the Director’s fund in the amount of 40 rubles still were given to inventor . The moral satisfaction for me was also important.( Later after arrival in the USA, I found some descriptions of my Inventions in the English language Journal .I copied these descriptions. My first interview took place in April of 1980 with representatives of


Houston Company who came to Chicago to


recruit engineers .As an employee of the personnel department, they did not understand my inventions but took my descriptions to Houston, saying me that they would show my papers to professionals, and I might be invited to Houston for the second interview .I was not invited for the second interview, but I received an offer to join this company as a designer. I believe that reading my inventions description, they understood that this guy is good in instrumentation problems and there is no point in spending


money for a second interview in Houston .I was offered the position


of designer with a salary of 23,000 dollars a year, and it was relatively good salary in the year 1980 .While I did not moved to Houston, this invitation really supported me in a moral sense).


The negative side of my inventive activity was


that the relationship with my supervisor


Boris Izrailevich Levit hopelessly spoiled.


He also like I and Victor, was well aware of the absurdity and nonsense


of many aspects of our design activities .But he ignored these problems preferring to deal with his personal things at work time. Whenever he needed to do personal things , he left, writing in the log of local travel-VAMI (This institute was main customer of our department.) We joked about this. If Levit went to VAMI ,it means that he is involved in personnel business, which may include love affairs .I also used local trips to VAMI for personal needs, but less frequently and carefully, because I needed to


come up with a question or problem on which I want to go to VAMI.


Also I had to obtain permission of Levit , or head of department.


But as a senior technical specialist, he was very jealous of our inventions process. In accordance with his duties


he supposed to be inventor, and not I or Victor. Therefore, on the background of our inventions, he looked bad in the eyes of the administration. At least ,he ,apparently, thought this way.


Looking back, I see that I


made a big mistake: I went against the established rules of


game in which the your supervisor or department head is always included as an author of invention or paper.


Had I do this, my life would have been a lot easier .But I stubbornly


did not include Levit in a team of authors because of my ambitions and desire to show administration of “Proektavtomatika”


who is the boss in the inventions. Also I want to show that I deserve a better position than to work


under the authority of Levit .To change job and get a position in another organization was not easy for me because I was already the team leader and supervised team of 10-11 designers and these positions are not often available .Also ,I was Jew and personnel departments didn’t like to hire Jews. And I was not a Communist Party member, which also reduced my chances for getting good position in other organizations.


However, in 1961 Soviet government started another campaign for the automation of production and processes , and many industry branch institutes


expanded their departments of automatic .Accidentally, I learned that the Institute of


Refractories on Vasilevsky Island creates Department of Automation.


I had no acquaintances there. However, I and Victor decided to change our jobs if possible. I did not like to talk to the personnel department peoples, because my Jewish appearance always


evoked in these people desire to get rid of me immediately.


About this situation is an anecdote:


“We would have taken you, "says head of personnel, but we need


          employee with knowledge of higher mathematics.


         -I graduated from the Math faculty of University.


         -Very good, but you need to know the nuclear physics.


         -I also graduated from the Physics Department.


         -Great! "But the problem is that in Ashkhabad, we have


           the sponsored enterprise, so you have to know the Turkmen language.


         -I know him.


          -How long are you still going to make fun of me, dirty Jew?



The last question, of course, in the real situation is not pronounced, but situation is described accurately.


              So I called from the street phone booth directly to the chief engineer of the


Institute, introduced himself and asked for an interview. He appointed time for meeting .During the conversation with the chief engineer, I stayed confident,


talked about my installation and design experiences, answered convincingly


at issues and responded to questions of other people whom he invited.


In conclusion of the conversation, he offered me the position of the head of Group in the created new department of automatic . When I was leaving, he asked me if I am a member of Communist Party.


I replied negatively, but the chief engineer was not embarrassed


and added: “Ok, we would prepare you for party membership “.


           After this audience, I was very surprised. The first time


while I looking for the job (except “Proektavtomatika”) I was


appeared not as an outcast, but as professional engineer.(This new situation was somehow connected to Khrushchev report on 20th Party Congress ,where he exposed crimes of Stalin).

Before resigning from my


work, I called the Institute of Refractories to


ascertain whether the Director of the institute signed my application


about new position. To my surprise, personnel officer replied: “ Yes, your application is approved by Director


when you are going the start the job? “. However, when I wrote an


application in “Proektavtomatika” about my dismissal , I was invited by director Sinizyn and he long time


persuaded me do not leave the company. His arguments were logical. He said: “You have to understand that the your salary is temporary factor, and the type of work and your position in the institute is constant factor.” He had promised to raise my salary and promote to higher position . I still had a lot of pressure of my uncle Zodik. His main argument was like this:


“this company is good to you, sit down quietly and do not rock the boat”.


I'm not brave men, but somewhere deep inside me there are a certain adventurous thoughts.


Therefore, I hesitated for a few days, because it was interesting for me to check myself in the new conditions .But due to promises of the Director of “Proektavtomatika” I decided to stay.


Sinitsyn fulfilled his promises, and through


a couple of months I was appointed a group leader. Victor Levshinovsky who followed in my footsteps and also went to the Institute of Refractories, also decided not to risk and remained in the “Proektavtomatika”.He also soon became a leader of the group. Soon there was the division of plants for whom we involved in design .In my area of work two newly constructed plant were included. One plant located at eastern Kazakhstan, (Pavlodar alumina plant) and the another Achinsk alumina plant in Krasnoyarsk region. Another team leader Zotova Mary Tihonovna was responsible for alumina production plants ,located on Ural. Victor Levshinovsko got Pikalevsky plant, located close to Leningrad and Kirovobadsky plant in Azerbaijan .


             A few words about my colleague Mary Tihonovne .She was thin, almost continuously smoking and coughing woman of 48 in the year 1962. She belonged to the Young Communist ideologically, she voluntarily departed to the front in 1941. Her personnel life did not work out, she lived alone, but a few years of her life were brightened up by an intimate relationships with the chief engineer of the project VAMI Tulchinsky Mark Danilovich .It is difficult to imagine what feminine charms to subdue him by reason of their full absence. Probably, he liked her directness, unbending belief in a better future and her honesty .She was idealistic in her nature, and she was reading Lenin's books, as faithful Christians read Gospel or as orthodox Jews read Tora . Later, when I was working in another department, she said in conversation with me that she wanted to go to Israel, although she was Russian ,with total absence of Jewish blood . I replied that she should not idealize our brother-Jews, because there are a lot of bastards among us .Being unbalanced person, she made every effort to satisfy the plants peoples, designing the controversial ideas of complex circuits. (For example, using the phone on remote control for a set of numbers controlled electrified valves). Mary Tikhonovna enjoyed the absolute confidence of her friend VAMI Project Engineer Tulchinsky.


He, as our customer, signed up invoices about getting projects for 2-3 months before it supposed to be released, then the design drawings were kept on Zotova desk till design would be finished and mailed to VAMI.


She had a great relationship with Levit , because she was not involved in inventions activity.


Here I need to say that that Boris Izrailevich Levit


very skillfully maintained friendly relations with many colleges


in the institute and beyond it. He could come over to any man,


as his long friend and, most importantly, he was able to move quickly to a theme of conversation ,which is interested to a person he talking to. (I have this skill completely absent, for example, if I began to speak about a design problems I ended up talking to this boring topic, and not able to create a personal contact).

And he talked with one person about women, with another one about the cars, with a third person about hunting, with a fourth person about the diseases. For example, when he talked to me and being aware of my critical attitude to the reality he blamed mess in “Proektavtomatika” and much higher instances .This was art to maintain the image of


good guy and good friend .Also he liked to play on vanity of peoples.


For example ,he is asking me to temporarily give two technicians from my group to Zotova to help her with the design release .He started conversation like this:


“ You know, Masha is foolish and mentally unstable .She cannot plan anything in advance, she buried yourself in the details, and always has problems with project release. But you are planning very well, everything goes according to plan, no hurry. (This approach, of course, flatters me, because it emphasizes my superiority over the other team leader.


There is always some undercurrent of rivalry between equals colleges) But what can you do with this fool? Please ,help her with yours technicians, because of her mess the entire our department is suffering.”


After such a treatment it is difficult to refuse help .Other times he comes to Zotov and in a friendly conversation with her called me


as an idler .This was not only my observation .Victor Levshinovsky told me that Levit uses the same approach in conversations to him.


But let us be merciful to Boris Izrailevich.


When in 1972 I moved to another department, our relations have become normal since disappeared from his point of view, my activity, which irritated him.


In 1979, before going into USA, I came last


time to the personnel department of the Institute to get some paper and stood in lobby next to the personnel department .The employees of “Proektavtomatika”, who passed by,


pretend that they did not know me, because everyone knew that I was leaving the Soviet Union, and at that time we were considered a traitors of country .Only Boris Izraylevich approached me and asked what city I go, talk sympathetically as he could, and wished me success .Visiting Leningrad in 1993, I learned that Boris is no longer


alive, he died at a relatively early age of sixty from cancer. By the way, my friend Victor Levshinovsky also passed away approximately at the same time, not reaching sixty years old.


I also learned while I visiting Leningrad, that


Mary Tikhonovna Zotova, as well as her friend Mark Danilovich Tulchinsky also passed away at interval of 10 years. Unfortunately, the lifes and deaths are two sides of one medal.


             The main problem in our design work was directed by government organizations deadlines for plant start-up


and inconceivable cumbersome scheme of ordering


equipment and materials ,which exclude completely the possibility of


development quality design .For example, in the first


quarter of the year X it was required to give a working documentation on instruments and materials, which supposed to be submitted to instruments buildings plants to include in their plan of work on year X+1. How it was possible to develop the working documentation for the order of devices, if the process and instrumentation diagram is not ready yet and nobody knows what, in general, devices would be required? No matter what problems are, we had to issue right documentation. Therefore, the position of the designers has always been very vulnerable to criticism from the factory or the construction and assembly


organizations . The Soviet system of relationships in construction field between contractors has principle with which I was familiar from my installation and assembling work: “ The main enemy of customer is the designer and all errors are , his failings”. This way they divert the anger of the authorities from themselves in the direction of the designers!


If someone would sometime write a book about by what price the industrialization of the Soviet Union was achieved, there must be a chapter devoted to the Chief Engineers of Designs. Because at all construction sites these people kept a terrible fights with factories, customers and construction companies, which in the presence of high officials from the Ministry or without them, poured a bucket of slops at designs . The Chief Engineer of the project usually is called on the carpet to the Minister and he is threatened to be expelled from the Communist Party, if he would not immediately correct the situation. (I must say that for the Soviet administrators


denial of party ticket was equivalent to the civil penalty).


However, the Chief Engineer of the Project had almost no leverage on the design contractors .He is override with


approving mandatory schedules of construction and instructions of the Construction Committee. The Chief Engineer of the project had barely time to watch


the release of the projects in time .No disrupting of official schedule was for him the most important task.


Quality of projects was beyond his ability to interfere and the only relief for him was to create a so-called group supervision on construction site, which, in essence,


had amended design or already produced new drawings


during construction.


               But finding themselves between a rock and


anvil soon drove Chief Project engineers to the grave.


For 10 years of my work on the automation of alumina production


I worked with three VAMI Chief Engineers of the project only for my objects:


Strelnikov, Pavlov and Tulchinsky .All of them died from a heart attacks in the range of 55-65 years.



I too was later appointed


chief engineer of the project for the Pavlodar and Achinsk alumina plants .However ,in our specialized institute, this position has nothing common with branch industry institute ,like VAMI.


In December of 1963, I took my first of many visits to the construction of the Pavlodar alumina plant.


In the Soviet Union, the central core of management of the entire industry and economy of the country is planning.


Plans were made at all levels, from factory, designers and scientists


to the State Planning Committee.


The plans were worked out for different periods: from month


to quarter, year, five-year plan, etc. (It seems like story of Russian writer Andrei Platonov: a bureaucrat was


assigned to develop a plan for development of the city for 20 years.


Time given to him for this task-2 days.) Millions of people were involved in doing this, and if we add to them those who have corrected it, modify, adjust, reviewed and approved all kinds of plans, the total number of workers of bureaucratic socialism was growing like mushrooms.


So I was called in December 1963 for the construction of the Pavlodar alumina plant to attend a meeting to determine the estimated construction cost by year for several years ahead.


During the 18 years since returning from evacuation to Siberia, I forgot, what is the Siberian winter, and went on a business trip lightly dressed.


In Omsk, I had change plane to


Pavlodar (then small Li-2 planes flew), but because of the heavy blizzard these flights were canceled .I am a responsible person and I was afraid to miss the meeting .I was trying to find another way of transportation. By train you could get to the station Kulunda, located at 150 miles


from Pavlodar .On the railway station at the information desk a women told me that from Kulunda to Pavlodar there is bus route. I bought a train ticket and stayed in the warm car for 7 hours.


By midnight our train reached station Kulunda.


No one knew over there when the bus will go to Pavlodar.


Somewhere after two hours of waiting, around 1 hour a.m. I heard a rumor that bus to the Pavlodar is leaving .I bought a ticket and sat in the small bus which was standing next to station. I did not realize that


the bus did not has a heating .I understood this when I began slowly freeze to death, starting from my legs.


I looked at the passengers and realized my mistake: they are all


in boots, coats or quilted jackets .I had only regular shoes on


plastic sole and demi-season coat. Bus windows were frozen.


Breathing on the ice and rubbing the place with your fingers, you could


create a viewing spot in a window .It was snow-white desert around, no signs of habitation on the road as we drove through


the famous Kulunda steppe .Only , as said Jack London, white silence around .I could not imagine how


bus driver did not stray from the needed path and how he found the road among white field. We drove


about 5 hours and finally arrived at the railway station in Pavlodar.


I got off the bus while I did not feel my own feet and my body was trembling. (I did not guess about severity of this trip, therefore I did not buy a bottle of vodka for a warming on the way). The railway station in Pavlodar was overcrowded .People lying on the benches and on the floors .But in railway station building was warm .I found


some place on the floor, sat down and slowly began to recover.


Around six o'clock I was able to leave the station square and take the bus to the Central Hotel of Kazakhstan.


When I arrived to the hotel, the room, ordered for me, was not yet available, but it could be cleaned couple hours later.


I entered a room of Chief Engineer of Projects VAMI Strelnikov, who offered me to stay for a while over there.


Probably, something in my appearance startled


him, because he said that today, my presence at the meeting is not


needed. I could stay in a hotel and take a rest .In two hours later I got a key from my personal room. The first thing I did to sleep several hours .Next day I was able to report on the meeting preliminary cost of construction . After that trip, I repeatedly visited Pavlodar at different times of the year, but


this route is no longer choose .Usually I was waiting aircraft to Pavlodar


at the airport in Omsk, and once I even made an interesting summer


trip along the Irtysh river in small boat, called “Missile”.


It was a long journey, since the river


writhing like a snake, and often runs in the opposite direction.


But the greening of the river floodplain, reeds, shrubs, and algae species boundless steppe and the warm summer breeze calming


the mood.


         One day, I remember it was in October 1964, I, as usual,


stayed at a hotel Kazahstan . It was a lovely Sunday day,


plant was not working, and in the morning I went to breakfast at the buffet of provincial Party Committee,


Located close by. In this buffet I could also buy


scarce at that time products, such as cans of salmon or specific Kazakh marinated lamb tongues .Usually I


brought to Leningrad, the deficit products in the best possible


volume .To enter the buffet of provincial party committee, I was decently


dressed, and nobody asked me any pass . “Democracy” !


          Not the same thing in Leningrad, in main Party office (Smolny) you could not enter such easily.


Approaching the building, I saw a very strange picture .At entrance to building a truck stand , which was piled with taken out of the building Khrushchev’s portraits .I immediately realized that something very important happened.


Khrushchev was main general secretary of the Communist Party, and his portraits, of course, hung in every regional committee office.


I bought newspaper and red about his removal, allegedly, by his own request .He was dismissed, as usually, by his close friend and


subordinate Leonid Brezhnev.


It was clear that something has changed on top of the Party. Later I understood that it was done


even greater emphasis on strengthening the role of the Party, avoiding the Khrushchev


adventures in the domestic and foreign policies, such as planting corn through the whole country or the installation of missiles at Cuba. The phase, which started in life of the country later was called a stagnation time. The Communist Party in relations to the Jews


pursued the policy of the three NO:


“No” to hiring, “no” to firing and “no” to promotions.


I especially remember the trip to Pavlodar in December


of 1966. I, as usual, settled in the center of city in hotel


“Kazahstan” .The most engineers and designers ,arriving to the plant, settled closer to the plant in special settlement called


“Aluminstroy”, where they lived in small apartments .These people were mainly VAMI employees .In early December, an employee of our company lovely Georgian Tamara Tsotniashvili was hosted over there .She worked


in the Department of feasibility studies and gleaned in the factory


any figures to substantiate the effectiveness of automation.


(Remembering Ilf and Petrov called techno-


- feasibility study of the art on the verge of fictions)


The day of Stalin’s Constitution on December 5 approached and VAMI people planned hard drinking for celebration .To avoid harassment of drunken men Tamara asked me to go somewhere


with her to this evening .I invited her to visit me at the hotel


having determined that we spend time in the ground floor


restaurant . We came to restaurant somewhere around


8 pm, I ordered a good dinner and a couple of bottles of cheap Moldavian brandy .We talked, listened, even some music.


I could drink a lot of vodka and not be very drunk .However, I had no experience


with cheap brandy (4 rubles for bottle of 0.5 liter). When we went after the restaurant in my room, my feet stumbling, but as Tamara recalled later, I did not said stupid things .Tamara asked me to accompany her to the bus. The bus station located around the corner from the hotel, just 400 feets from the hotel.


I threw on my coat right on the shirt, put in my coat pocket a


room key, and we went on the street .It was not very cold


approximately -15 degree of Celsius, that for the North East Kazakhstan


could be considered a relatively warm weather. I boarded Tamara on a the bus and she departed.


It is interesting what happened next. Whether the frosty air effected on me, whether cheap brandy was terrible, but something crazy come in my head. I forget where I am and where I should go .Therefore I did not went into hotel, but went in the opposite direction .I remember that one-floor wooden houses ,ingrown into the snow, come to an end and open snow field lied in front of me, and somewhere in the distance,


through a field I saw flickering electric lights. The last thing I remember,


flashed in the mind, was the thought that I must get to those


lights .Also I remembered that the my path crossed some railroad


truck .That was it. After this I did not remember anything .Somehow, I lost consciences.


I woke up at the next morning .I was sitting in a hut-like


rustic bath, around me there were clouds of mist or vapor, but it was warm. Next to me three men standing and shaking me .They asked how I got here and who I am .My head was in terrible state, but the consciousness come back .I explain that I was in Pavlodar in business trip from Leningrad, living in a hotel


“Kazakhstan”. As a proof of my veracity I showed the key from


my room, fortunately, preserved in a coat pocket.


They were amazed: “This is 8 miles away! We were going to


send you a detoxification center, but we see a man is a decent, and we decided to push you here until you would be sober .”How I ended up in a village bathhouse, nobody knew.


I guess I finally just fell on the icy road, as evidenced by abrasions on my face. Some kind person brought me to this warm house, where I stayed till the next morning. Russian people


especially women, are sympathetic to drunken men and take care of them. I had to thank for my rescuing this unknown kind woman.


I asked the guys how to get to Pavlodar. They showed me directions.


I would like to get to the highway .”Stay there and vote! "they added.


So I followed their advice .It was already around 7.30 a.m. I stood for a long time ,but one truck stopped and picked me up to city. I was very embarrassed


that I had absolutely no money in my pocket, because everything was left in the hotel room. But the driver understood


my situation, and he drove me for free.


Two days after this incident, I did not show up at the plant and resting up in the hotel. Nothing particularly urgent was at this time, but they're calling to find out where I am at. Tamara also called and she said that I seemed to her not very drunk and that she had no idea that


I would not go back to hotel .I said that for the first time in my


Life alcohol has created the effect of the orientation loss.But I was lucky because all this adventure could end in a lot worse, if I did not met a good person at a critical moment of my life .I could easily be freeze overnight in the snow,


but apparently, my death in 1966 did not was foreseen by my fate.


On the whole, my trip to Pavlodar, with rare exceptions,


were not exhausting, and often create the opportunity for some extra rest, especially during the summer, when I


a couple of times visited


city park on Saturday evenings.


In Achinsk the relationships between factory


administration and designers took the character of war, which is not always hot, sometimes war is cold, but with a peculiar war victims.


Achinsk is an old Siberian town, situated on the main


Siberian Railway, 200 miles west of


Krasnoyarsk .Several miles from the city to construction site of a large alumina plant began, using a unique technology, developed by VAMI.


As a raw material for production of alumina here was used nephelin ore while worldwide for this purpose is used bauxite .The concern of the Communist Party and Soviet government to make the Soviet Union independent from the “bloodthirsty imperialists” compelled to seek its own, although not the best raw material for alumina production. From alumina (aluminum oxide) metal aluminum is smelted . Aluminum is widely used in various kinds of the military industry.

In the Soviet Union an anecdote existed describing the true 5


stages of any large construction (I am quoting on memory):


                1.Propaganda

                2.A mess


                3.Call all hands on “deck”


                4.Punichment of innocents


                5.Awards to not participated


This scheme went also on the construction of Achinsk plant . Before


the construction started ,Party and government ordered all project


organizations to provide permanent supervision on construction site. This was a serious problem for me .I had to prepare some person who would be willing to sit in


Achinsk many months if not years, otherwise, I myself


would have to serve time over there . Here I should appreciate the Ministry of Non-Ferrous Metallurgy, which included VAMI as a research institute and supervise all alumina plants. They conducted house-building in the city for workers ,who send there to work on construction site and on the plant. Contrary to situation on other construction sites in the Soviet Union people coming to Achinsk were getting relatively quickly governments apartments.


Therefore, sometime during the


one of my trips Jora Maximov (a former employee of VAMI, and now deputy of Chief Engineer of Achinsk plant)


asked me to leave the application for an apartment in the local union committee .I did so, not seriously thinking about consequences .In just a couple of months, the telegram has been received by the Director of the “Proektavtomatika” with the request


to send me to Achinsk to get keys from apartment .Director was


extremely surprised, because for him it was unexpected news .He called me and questioned me for a long time


about how would I pay the rent, and, most importantly, he wanted to know whom I will live over there. I replied that it was very important to create decent conditions


for our employees ,who supposed to be in business trip. I arrived to Achinsk, accepted


an apartment on my name, paid some little money for a couple of months of rent ( payment was at


government rates, something about three rubles per month ,while hotel cost around 50 rubles per month).


I got couple of beds in a factory dormitory, and sets of clean linen.


Then I returned home and began looking for suitable candidates to live there.


My first choice was Petya Smurygin, a former installer, a very sensible and intelligent guy .He willingly agreed to go there for several months.


But Petya had great disadvantages: he was lazy, he treated installers


badly, often sending them away instead of answering


questions, and, most importantly, he had a passion for alcohol .But I had no other choice and Petya went to Achinsk. As a good sign, a stream of letters from the plant to “Proektavtomatika” about design’s drawbacks, organized by Maximov, stopped.


The Petya’s salary was received in Leningrad by his wife .To fly to Achinsk and back Petya got airplane tickets charged through bank to “Proektavtomatika” account.

But once, I lost vigilance, and Petya on a trip to Achinsk got a plane ticket one way. It meant that for the return trip money would be sent directly to him.


      That's it! After receiving cash, Petya disappeared .He simply did never return from a trip, although we knew that he left Achinsk .One week passed, Petya still vanished . His wife come to me, I thought she is decent woman, an engineer, but in conversation with me she seriously said: “You know, Yuri Abramovich, I understand now, why Petya is not coming back”. I asking her, why .”Petya is a spy, "replied seriously his wife .I was shocked, because it was so terrifying to hear from the Russian woman that her 10 years husband and father of common child was a spy of horrible imperialism .


The brainwashing in Soviet Union went so far that a woman who sleeps with him for several years and has his child


convinced that he is a spy! That's really, how the Communist


propaganda robs the minds of people. (It reminded me of a similar


event in Lysva, but the guy, who called local police was drunk. However,this woman was absolutely sober).

But how we suppose to find Petya? Director of the institute requested the head of our department Aniskov as a member of the Communist Party, to depart immediately to Achinsk,


looking for him (thank God, I was released from this trip because I was not a Party member). To find Petya was not difficult. Arriving to Krasnoyarsk, Aniskov found Petya in airport .He bought him an air ticket and


brought Petya to Leningrad .Petya told me that his main error was that he did not have a return ticket with an open data .So ,when he received cash, he drank a lot, then he went to the airport manager, explained him the situation and asked him to help somehow .The manager told him that he would send him to Leningrad if he would work couple weeks on loading of the planes. Petya agreed .He was also a good chess player and in the evenings he played chess for money. This way he lived in


airport, he was lucky that it was summer. Anyway, I could not send him to Achinsk again.


He soon quit and went back to the assembly work, where, perhaps, he started again the hard drinking as majority of installation workers did.


But again the important problem was not solved .Whom I would sent to Achinsk? Sometime I flew myself and after my return back to “Proektavtomatika” complains temporarily stopped.


Soon complaining letters start arrive again.


        Jora Maksimov outside of plant problems was a great guy, he


had a sense of humor, he was a women’s lover, he loved cards games and, as any Russian, he liked to drink, however, always he drink in moderation.


Working in VAMI, he was the curator of our institute of automation, bringing to us


projects assignment, he was a transfer link on emerging problems. In general, he was engaged in idle talks .But he was a member of Communist party. Therefore, he accepted the position of Deputy


Chief Engineer of plant’s automation . In fact, Jora had a pretty vague ideas about the automation. But he learned very well rules of


survival in the networks of bureaucracy: blame designers everywhere, on each meeting. This way in the eyes of the authorities you will look good.


        At one meeting in the presence of Deputy Minister Jora, exposed so many design errors that


deputy minister interrupted him and asked sharply:


“ Why do you tell us this stuff here? And what are you


doing? All of this should be dealt with on a routine basis between


you and the designers, and you take away our time for nonsense! “ This was a blow for Jora. It was unexpectedly to him, so he stopped for a while helplessly slammed his eyes, trying to rebuild his speech on track.


Jora, stumbled and could not found right expressions.


Finally ,he finished speech , and ran away from tribune .After similar


speeches I was very angry at him, but he treated me


still friendly, on the human


level, we remain friends regardless of his statements on the


meetings .Once he even offered me to share his company in a trip to Angarsk ,where local plant fabricated control panels for Achinsk’s alumina plant . I was curious to see the city where I had to work in the year 1953 and where I did not go.


We were on the train in a warm compartment ,but


in Angarsk was extremely cold ,around -30 degree of Celcium with strong wind. I remember only the pines in residential area of city .By the way, Angarsk, was the eastern point of the Soviet Union, which I visited .

But in my institute the Jora’s letters about design problems undermined my reputation .Director wondered why, among all institute’s objects


only from Achinsk coming one complain after another.


My explanation that the whole matter is explained by plant administration, establishing an


atmosphere of war with the designers, did not convince him. He decided to send to the Achinsk plant an


independent from me, Inspector, an engineer of another department Hermann Fedin .He had to understand the origins of complaining letters from the plant and explain the existing situation to the director. This way on my construction site appeared an official


inspector. I knew that Herman reported to the administration , but I did not know contains of his reports.


He was a smart guy and he understood that blaming me for everything would be not good for his position.


I think, that he did not collect a lot of errors on my designs, because the director has ceased to call me for the Jora letters.


Finally, Herman was transferred to my group, and he has worked on


the Achinsk plant as representative of “Proektavtomatika”.But the presence of one


Herman was not sufficient .I needed to dispatch another


person .In my group worked young guy Boris Volodikhin.


He began working as a technician, he studied in the evening college, and gradually I promoted him .He was absolutely indispensable man in the summer when it would be necessary to allocate people to work in collective farms .Most of my group consisted of single or married women with young children, which for many reasons could not be sent to the farms.


          Boris was a good guy, but always with some strangeness .He felt offended when I was offering him a trip to collective farm, he felt that he was a scapegoat for whole group.


When I had to send him to the farm, I would have a


great difficulty: it was necessary to have a long time conversations, until he finally agrees to go with such look that he is doing a great favor to me. He was uncommunicative, as a man of few words.


What only I did to please him: I recommended him to different awards ,which administration gave to best employees on the occasion of Soviet holidays. He got many certificates, badges, medals etc. Any time when I was told to select a best employee, I put forward Boris Volodihin .To send him on a long trip on the Achinsk Alumina plant, I had to have with him the long and difficult conversations.


It would seemed to me that he should seize this opportunity.


He is getting decent salary, per diem, a separate apartment in Achinsk


with all the facilities at virtually no cost for him. Also he was likely to


stay in this apartment with another engineer Lena Bartashevich, overripe unmarried girl, even cute, if you exclude her bearish walk. And for all these benefits, I still had to persuade him!


Finally, he agreed to go other there and spent a couple of years in Achinsk.


Lena also agreed to go to Achinsk .Interesting that while they working in


“Proektavtomatika” Boris and Lena did not even say a word between them .However, living in Achinsk in the separate apartment, they quickly found common ground, began to live together as husband and wife, and Lena became pregnant .Soon the wedding took place in Leningrad, to which I was not invited. My good friend


Vera Chugueva commented this situation this way: “ They should be grateful to you, Yuri Abramovich


because you have organized their happiness, but they are not even invited you to the wedding .” I replied to her that I'm very happy for them, but for me the most important thing is that I myself do not have to hang around there all the time, and everything else does not matter for me.

Unfortunately, Boris had a significant disadvantage. In contrast to Pete Smurygin, who had no respect for the installers and sends them to the appropriate places, Boris Volodikhin rushed immediately to perform any claims, no matter how ridiculous these claims were .To separate the important claim from the insignificant one he was not able to do.(while you are working in the instrumentation installation there are questions, which disappeared later, if nothing is done).


Therefore, he was always overloaded with work above head .Even Jora Maksimov, coming to our institute, said to me: “ Well, you found the guy,


he works and works continuously, without smoke breaks! “


But for me the problem of continuous supervision on the construction site was settled .I could safely engage myself in other problems . The most important was to get our Ministry awards for introduction of new technology in our projects.


Our design institute also carried out work in accordance with the plans, which were drawn up in year X to year X+ 1.This plans approved by the Ministry (for our institution it was the Ministry of Instrumentation and facilities


automation). The plans for next year work were created in our institute and submitted to Ministry. Then these plans approved by the Ministry and send back to our institute for implementation.


This way of plan approval applied to each industry and to each organization in the Soviet Union.


All businesses in the Soviet Union had in its structure plan’s


departments, carried out the Party and government line on


Management economy . In such system of hard planning


any, even the initially very good guidelines of


Party organs, could lead to opposite results .For example, there is a decision to introduce innovations to plants designs. Who would argue with that? "Quite naturally, that our projects need to focus on the latest scientific achievements , new instrumentations and computers. We are not allowed to conduct our design work on the basis of technology of 19 century .


To encourage companies to use new technology, our Ministry allocated funds for the awards. (The prize pool of the institute is fully spent on the previously installed a small surcharge for


early release of projects .These surcharges, too, were a ridiculous anachronism, but I'm not going to stop there). Thus, we conclude that there was something to fight for awards funds from the Ministry. But you had to think about these awards in advance ,before you are preparing plan of work for next year. You have to do all necessary paperwork to include yours projects in the Ministry plans of new technics.


I performed all paper work and included in plans of new techniques all my projects of Achinsk plants.


For approval a plan on new technic


must be presented to our Ministry


which suppose to support a high technical level of


the projects and the cost-effectiveness of implementation of the project ideas. The plan should include the


calculation of premium for new technology and many other things .All these papers had to be


promptly send to Ministry . Our planning also may be considered in accordance with great


expression of Ilf and Petrov, “ Soviet planning is a work of art on the verge of fantasy “. This art


I mastered in a good degree .Finally, all the papers submitted to Ministry, and ministerial officials have included my projects in a plan of a new technic .When the project is released, there is time to make out paperwork for getting a bonuses .The most difficult task was to get approval by Achinsk plant


economic efficiency of introducing our automatic. Here was a serious problem. Any plant or factory was well aware,


that it could be in big trouble if it confirms


calculation of efficiency: an increase or decrease in personnel of the plant and other unpleasant things.


Many officials suspected that the attached calculation in spite of all its


“scientific formula”, in fact, could not to be trusted.


For the initial economic estimates data were taken from the “ceiling”, as widely used in the Soviet system a source of information (in other words, “bullshit”).


For me extremely useful was the fact that


the signature of Deputy Chief Engineer for automation Jora


Maximov was legitimately covered with the round plant seal.


Previously I agreed with Leavit, that 10% of my and his premiums I will forward to Jora Maximov .Therefore, when I arrived


in Achinsk, I showed to Jora economic effectiveness study, explained him situations with premiums and requested him to sign the first page of the economic effectiveness report.


After that the only questions posed by Jora was: “ Where to sign?” Returning to Leningrad, I made out all the necessary papers, which would


be sent to Ministry .To do this was a matter of technic .The only important thing was to ensure that typist printed correctly the


name of the head of our Ministry department. He was a hidden Jew, but to avoid be recognized as a Jew ,he changed one letter in his surname. However ,the typists did not pay attention to this and printed his name LEVIN, as much more popular. The comrade Levin, would be very offended by a Jewish surname Levin and could wrap up all the papers back.


Then I traveled to Moscow, where I delivered all signed papers to the Ministry's officials. These people understood nothing in the paper’s content.


One bureaucrat was surprised how the study of automation economic effectiveness was approved by Achinsk’s plant. He asked me: “ How did you manage to secure the signatures of the plant? ". I cheerfully replied that there are no secrets, just we worked hard and honestly and Achinsk plant recognized our good work. The bureaucrat looked at me with big respect.


After some time the premiums were submitted to “Proektavtomatika” and I had a hard time to share the pie between the institute’s departments and within


our department. It should be relatively fair money allocation ,because I, as Chief Engineer of Projects, had the final word on the size of a piece in this general entertainment .Inside our department I reduced the award to the lowest possible to Levit , what aggravated his hostile intentions towards me. I also took a very moderate bonus for myself, but sought to increase


premium to members of my group, though I'm not sure whether they have noticed it or not. Probably ,they thought that they get whatever deserved.


Anyway, the money were distributed , and I


began to issue papers to the next project for inclusion in the plan of the new technics.


All the enterprises of our Ministry were actively involved in pursuit of


prizes for the implementation of the new technic .Therefore, old and reliable instruments quickly discontinued and new and unreliable instruments replace it. Each instrumentation plant was trying to fulfill a new technic plan to get bonuses from Ministry. Nobody was interested about quality of new devices ,which also will be discontinued next year.


But we, as design company, were allowed to include in our projects only the devices ,which listed in catalogs of instrument’s plants . We knew that new products are posing new challenges


and it takes time for manufacturing plant to get rid from instrument’s drawbacks. But we had no choice but to use mentioned in catalogs devices. The manufacturer of instruments had no time and manpower to rectify problems with production quality because they also fight for the awards in new technic, which was given only for new developments.


And the year after next one, these new devices also were removed from production line and replaced with more new and etc.


This strong trend emerged with the launch of Computer Technology (Severodonetsky plant). As soon as we included in our projects new computer’s modules ,they immediately became discontinued and new, upgraded modules were advertised in catalog. Therefore, the first computer’s modules, delivered to Achinsk or other plants were


simply removed from production lines and their drawbacks do nor fixed .This race goes, year after year.


This chronicle problem of Soviet industry reminded a


squirrel in a wheel: the squirrel think that she is jumping from one step to another, so she is racing faster and faster, but the observer from the outside of cage viewed that squirrel stands on the spot, if not slipping back .

So, in general, a good idea to accelerate the introduction of new technology in production yielded bad results, simply because you cannot manage the industry from one of bureaucratic centers . Also because people are psychologically predisposed to moving along the line of least resistance and, particularly, if this moves paid dividends, why choose a more difficult and complex ways? After all, using other ways of work could hurt you and you could lose bonuses. As says a tourist song: “ The smart guy will not go uphill, the smart guy will go around a hill “


The bureaucracy of the Ministry almost had no connection with real life and their time was filled with a solution of its own internal problems.


As said the smartest politician Churchill :


“ Russian people successfully overcome the difficulties that they themselves created “.


After the overthrow of Khrushchev from his post as head of the Communist Party liberal breeze became gradually calmer and finally completely disappeared.


To justify the planned economic absurdities of food shortages and constant deficit of merchandises the Communist Party


desperately needed a scapegoats on inner and external politics.


The external scapegoat was always American imperialism, their provocations preclude thriving of the


Soviet Union .An internal scapegoat has always been Jewish people.


True, a progressive Marxist-Leninist-Stalinist doctrine still


based on internationalism, so it was difficult to directly call, as in the old days: “ Beat the Jews, save Russia! "


But the solution was easily found. If in Stalin's time the word Jew


was replaced with a “cosmopolitan”, but now the Party


propagandists come up with another term “Zionist “.The fierce


anti-Zionism included, as a rule, pro-Arab, anti-Israel propaganda .


Soviet propaganda lied, as usual, and ,as stated popular expression: “hang noodles on the ears of Russian people. “


People were inspired that only the machinations of the imperialists and Zionists (read: Jews) interfere with the construction of a bright future .And for simple Russian man, of course, the Israeli aggressors and Russian Jews were merged into one big evil.


Anecdote of the time draws a good result of propaganda:


        The police questioned the hard drunken workers, why they beat


        two Jews .They are explainuing their behavior :


         “We went with Vasya to pub .We drink half of liter of vodka.


          Radio reports that the Israeli aggressors occupied Gaza.


         We drank the second half of liter vodka .Radio reported that Israeli


            aggressors are close to the Suez channel .Then we drunk the third bottle. As soon as we got out of the pub, we saw they are already here!


            Therefore we hit them for all these things! “


At that time Jews were not allowed to emigrate.


The Soviet Union continued to be a country with


completely closed borders, and Communist Party was afraid to ease rules of travelling to West Europe and to the USA.


They thought that, in addition to Jews, many Russian people would be interested to go abroad. Many people wanted to leave the Soviet Union


and all nonsense about the “socialist society” as a worker’s paradise would be dissipated like smoke.


In the early seventies a group of brave people tried to


break the blockade and escape from the Soviet Union, capturing a small plane taking off from the airport at Smolny close to


Leningrad. The head of this group were Dymshits, Kuznetsov.


But the KGB did not sleep .They had an


agent embedded in this group, at a very early stage of conspiracy.


Therefore , all the preparations for the escape was under observation of KGB, and at the right moment, when the group was directed to board the plane, all people were arrested .The information about this unsuccessful conspiracy was published, newspapers angrily denounced participants as


traitors, and agents of imperialism. The toiling masses demanded


punish the traitors and blamed Zionists. All these people got long terms of imprisonment, and two heads of conspiracy were sentenced to the death.


Later under the pressure of world public opinion they replaced death sentence to long-term imprisonment.


       Around this time, in early 1971 I was sitting at my desk at the institute, thinking about my next invention .A phone on my desk ringed .My phone was not connected to the city phone network,


so that the caller had to ask for my extension .


The caller was unknown to me. He called himself as friend of my friend at the institute and said that he really needed


to give me some important information .I invited him to come


over to the institute, saying that I will go out to meet him at institute entrance .He flatly refused, arguing that he need to meet me somewhere on the street.


We did not agree .I did not like that man at the other end .He was clearly not an intellectual person, he spoke


some words with a sort of folksy accent .I knew what nobody of


my friends speaks this way, therefore is hard to say whom of my friends he had in mind. A few days later the call was repeated again. This time I was even more cautious and refused to meet with him.


After a while he started calling to my home .


Once the call came on Sunday, sounded very loud as if


he stood next to my house .He was rude and requesting me, immediately go out to get from him some important material. By this time I already suggested that the KGB may be wanted to take me on a hook.


Nina, who had heard this conversation, said that she would go along with me. But the guy wanted to deal only with me .When he felt that


all his idea to pull me on private meeting failed and,


breaks down, he said: “ Well, I'll tell you that is in this material.


This material is about your wife! “


These words finally convinced me that all this thing is a provocation. I knew Nina was adamant in its honesty and integrity,


therefore the words of some unknown boor guy to me only convinced me that he was a liar . I demanded that he


terminated calls and dropped my handset .He no longer called again. Already being in USA, I read in the newspaper “ New Russian Word “ about KGB standard methods to


compromise a person and catch him in their network .It was conducted a simple way.


In the Brezhnev rule a law was accepted about banning the storage and transfer of anti-Soviet literature .This guy apparently wanted to give me some forbidden material , and at a distance of 100 feet the other guys would grabbed me, as a man who transfer forbidden literature. (Or he could place forbidden drugs in my pocket). And then I had to prove in accordance of Russian saying that “I am not a camel!”.


I think that some intrigues at our institute’s gave me some hints regarding these phone calls.


I even had some suspicions about who was involved in this, but since it is only suspicion, I will not disclose it, because to discredit wrongly a someone is a serious crime.


In January 1972 in the morning of the working day the phone rang on my desk.


This time called the Director of the Institute Sinitsyn.He invited me to his office immediately .When I entered the director's office, I was somewhat


stunned, because I did not expect to meet there the chief engineer, his deputy and secretary of the Party organization, and chairman of the local union committee. Briefly, the entire set of the Institute generals was


present over there .Director said that the institute “Proektavtomatika”


created a new division to design automated


control systems in chemical industry .The head of new department will be Plusnin Oleg Ivanovich, an ardent sportsman,


favorite of director who promoted him to a department head . Director offered me position


in this department as chief project engineer or chief


specialist .I did not know Plusnin , the offer was very unexpected for me, and I asked to think about a day or two, before giving an answer.


          Undoubted advantage of this proposal was to get rid of


Levit. I supposed to be promoted to his level, but in another department. The disadvantages include the need for creating new groups from the new employees, who would be sent to new department by personnel. Also my impression of Plusnin was not very pleasant and I loosing freedom, because no business trips to VAMI was possible.  But I also got rid from trips to Achinsk and Pavlodar. Instead  these Siberian cities I had to travel to Moscow and Kiev.  After weighing all the pros and cons, I agreed to new assignment, and after a couple of days I moved to the second floor of our institute .To my surprise, nobody in my group wanted to go to the new department .Only a


senior engineer of Levschinovsky group Edward Tumoyants agreed to move to new department, where he became a team leader.


The new department was represented by a random bunch of people from different professions ,including humanitarian and engineers.


Established originally as


Department of Automation of offices work of enterprises, this department was headed by the crook Martirosov.


This happened because our administration considered that any person with Communist Party ticket is good for management job.


In this department there was a group, which designed forms of documents for circulating on factories and offices. The most interesting that there were customers who paid for this “work.”


But compared with my former department, this department was in a privileged position for two reasons:


a) it work expenses were calculated by


   real labor costs, allowing thrive and easy planning.

Projects of this department were not included in the title list of the plant’s construction and therefore our projects were outside of construction schedules.


Among, the very average peoples, who worked in the department, an exception was Kirill Vladimirovich Chemena, a man of 58 years old with good looks


emitting erudition and deep intellect .He was


very gifted man. He knew a lot of


languages ,he performed literary translations, he was interested in music and any technical innovations. His hobby was Chess and philately.


In late thirties, as a student of


Polytechnic Institute, he was part of a group of students, invited


to Moscow Institute to work on testing new types of armaments. This assignment saved him from the next war. His encyclopedic memory kept in mind the


a variety of different facts and events .His wife was an ambulance doctor, and Kirill brought us information about of all new accidents in Leningrad, which were not allowed at that time to be published.


Also, he could speak freely about the philosophy of Kant or Descartes or about transactions of a scientific society.


Then, in Leningrad, we just had a good relationship, but friendship between us did not arise.


Only after my emigration , when I asked him to help Lilya


with selection of stamps , and he willingly and faithfully helped her, our correspondence started and lasted until his death in the year 1985.We discussed philosophical problems of life and creation .His letters devoted to the nature of our existence, and ideas of the origin of universe.


His philosophical letters devoted to the nature of our existence, I am keeping in separate paper folder. Surprisingly ,his notes were absolutely free of any kind of envy and critic .If he would have lived another couple of years, he would come to visit the USA.


because his latest wife's aunt was living in Florida .Her attempts to visit her aunt were forbidden by Department of KGB, responsible for abroad trips.


This situation lasted until the death of ninety+ years old aunt, and soon Kiril died. I got a letter from his wife, who wrote that Kirill’s was cigarette lover .The constant smoking speeded up his death from cancer.


Such fate was intended to him. .

So, in January of 1972 I began the final phase of my work in


“Proektavtomatika” in the department that supposed to design automated control systems in chemical industries .This period of my life lasted 7.5 years until my resignation in connection with the filing of documents for emigration.


The more details is in next chapter.


Chapter 8



                          FAMILY TIES



On the morning of June 1, 1968 a passenger train drove from the Leningrad


to Vilnius, rhythmically rattling at the junctions of the rails, leaving behind a windows a continuous strip of fir trees, the swale and the sand slope on both sides of small rivers .Inside the train


reigned usual morning fuss .The conductor poured tea into unwashed


glasses, tightly inserted into metal holders.


Passengers deployed chicken, cheese, sausages and other food.


And in the stinky toilet, as usual, was very long queue. The queues have been an integral part of life in the Soviet Union, people treated them so tolerant, they make acquaintance with a some peoples standing in line and talking about their children , or in-low relatives. I was ,in general, unsociable man and for me the only possibility of


psychological recovery was immersion in my own thoughts.


I successfully did this, especially during the time of my inventions activity.


(However, sometimes ,this way of thinking lead to trouble.


So, once, while I was standing in line for meat a major conflict with Nina happened .I was in my thoughts and accidentally I


picked up from the seller not the piece of meat that was good, but another piece, not good one , for which I was seriously blamed by Nina.)


The conductor hastily sweeping the car with dry mop, raising


clouds of dust ,which settled on the passengers.


Soon train stopped


on the large Latvian station Daugavpils. (Before the Revolution, this located on the Western Dvina town called simply and frugally


Dvinsk). I with Nina and Irina got off the train. I, as usual, was


loaded with 2 large suitcases in hand and a backpack on the back. At the station we found a taxicab and went to our destination, which was located in 20 miles south from


Daugavpils. This was small Lithuanian town called Zarasai.


In this town we rented room in a cottage 3 years in a row from the same owners .Zarasai situated on the bank of a lake with a rugged


beaches, plenty of backwaters. Lake is overgrown with lilies and reeds, and small green islands .The largest island connected through the bridge with surrounding land .On the big island the city park and race-course were located. We lived on the outskirts of town next to


green lawn, from which the bridge to island was built. Close to us our friends in Zelenogorsk Lida and Stas also rented room in another house. Lida and Stas once studied together at the college . Short, but sturdily built Stas was in love with Lida, since that time of college.


Lida did not immediately respond favor to him, but soon she realized that a Stas is capable and gifted engineer and will be a great husband. By the time of our acquaintance they had been married for several years .Their daughter Olga was Irinka’s girlfriend, despite some difference in age: Olga was older than Irina for a couple years. When her parents returning to


Leningrad, Olga remained in the countryside with her grandmother Elena Solomonovna.


Elena Solomonovna was born in St. Petersburg before the revolution of 1917, where her father was an engineer and as a professional,


he and his family had a right of residence in the capital .She already belonged to


the generation of Jews who were grown up in St. Petersburg or Moscow and absorbed the Russian culture .She belonged to a real


Russian intelligentsia, the Jewish small town’s specific


features were missing in her . She got a good education .Adding to this her natural intelligence and deep understanding of human psychology, and it


became clear that I enjoyed to communicate with her. She told about the life of the intelligentsia in pre-revolutionary


St. Peterburg .Their apartment in old Petersburg was visited by many famous writers and poets .I remember, she told me about the visits of Corney Chukovsky, the very famous Russian children writer.


        Her daughter, Lida possessed tough, strong-willed character .I think that Nina was attracted by Lida for her honesty, straightforwardness and faithfulness,


which caused her sometimes create the enemies .Lida saw in


surrounding people more scum than decent people, and


in fairness, I must say that it was rare, when she was wrong.


Irina grew up as a very sociable child, always finding friends among children .In this regard Zarasai was no exception .Soon after our arrival


the nearby boys approaching to our home ,inviting Irina to play games. When I and Nina left, leaving the child with her grandmother Bertha we could not be more happy of the child, enthusiastically playing with their peers on the lawn near our house .However, in late summer her behavior was absolutely different .Nobody wanted to play to Irina, she took offense at all, and sat, distrustful alone .I and Nina could not understand what happened to our child .Elena Solomonovna just said:” Do not leave your child with Bertha “ . We realized later that Bertha was a bad educator, she always brought up in Irina a sense of guilt.


Her grandmother intervened in all children's games, accusing the children of dishonesty and deception .At the end of summer nobody wanted to play with Irina and she would force to stay out of children’s company.


In the following years we trying to avoid situations where a grandmother was left alone with Irina.


On the first day of arrival in Zarasai, I usually rented a boat from local resident’s for a whole summer time .This way we have an


opportunity to travel, as if we had their own car .On Zarasai lake few green islands were scattered .On the one of island you could see the house, and sometimes an elderly woman floating in a boat to this house .The local residents


told us that, at the time of independence of Lithuania( years 1918- 1940) it was a house of Latvian consul in Lithuania . Now his old wife still lived over there.


Why in the Soviet times, the KGB allowed a wife of former representative of independent bourgeois Lithuania live freely in her house, instead of imprisoning to a concentration camp, was unclear. The other smaller islands


were uninhabited . Only fisherman visited these islands , and because of strong wind you could find a lot of the drying fish on the fishing tackles.


If you sail to the opposite shore of the lake, which takes approximately around an hour of rowing, you feel yourself as a Robinson .We hid the boat in the bushes and thickets


cane, went ashore and walked to the side of remote forest .Only farmer’s fields were around and in somewhere in the distance you could see farmer’s houses.


Walking along the lake path we entered soon in deciduous forest, teeming with birds, bees, and other forest animals .Once we accidentally came upon a sunny


lawn, covered with ripe wild strawberries, which nobody picked up before us. We picked up cans and baskets with fragrant ripe berries for only couple of hours, and headed back.


If there was no desire to go into the woods, we were transported by boat to sandy shore of the lake, where we swimming , sunbathed and organized picnics.


Summer in this area of Soviet Union is warmer than in Leningrad,( on average, at 5-6 degrees of Celcium) ,which was also a big plus.


A disadvantage of a trip to Lithuania was the need to immediately on arrival to worry about a return ticket to Leningrad . For person, who did not live


in the Soviet Union, this may seem ridiculous or


just laughable .But this was our Soviet reality.


This region attracted many vacationers from Leningrad, most of which were Jewish intellectuals. Everyone had to leave at the end of


August, about a week before school days started ,which took place on September 1.


Retired military personnel were among vacationers. These people accustomed to the activity and giving the orders.


They organized an informal record on buying train


traffic tickets to Leningrad .You have not to forget


strictly at the appointed time to come to the so-called roll call.


Otherwise, you may be excluded from the list of peoples willing to get return ticket .These organizers came into contact with the heads of Daugavpils railway junction, which contributed to the end of August, a special train car with direct assignment Daugavpils-Leningrad .The car stood somewhere on the reserve track all day, and grandmothers with grandchildren loaded into this car endless jams, pickles, compotes and other food .At the evening this car was connected to the train Vilnius-Leningrad, and the next morning


vacationers arrived safely at the Warsaw railway station in Leningrad.


Thus, the initiative of Jewish retirees helped to avoid


usually scandalous and panic landing on a train at an intermediate


station when brutalized audience breaks into the cars on all sides,


blocking peoples in the car’s doors .In this situation even having a ticket does not much help.


          However, the long trip to the countryside had its own drawbacks.


Therefore in 1971, when Irina passed to the second Grade, we have decided to rent summer cottage somewhere closer to Leningrad .We choose on someone's recommendation a


village near Luga (Luga-small city, located 120 miles south of Leningrad).But over there another problems to be present. It was part of Russia and therefore,like in Russia’s rural areas shelves of grocery stores were almost empty.


With exception of milk, which could be obtained at a local farm, or potatoes, all other products had to be brought from Leningrad.


This trip took 3 hours on train. So I and Nina travel to this summer house every week. The village, where we rented a house ,was


located on the shores of Lake Cheremenetsky. It's so picturesque place that its shores occupied with vast lake tourist bases and Rest houses. The Rest house occupied the magnificent building, owned before the revolution by Prince Lvov, the first chairman of the Council of Ministers of the Provisional Government.


In the woods along the shores of Lake we found a lot of blueberries,


cranberries and mushrooms .But this time we had no our friends around and we spent time with our own family, even Irina with her


sociability did not find girlfriends, and staying with Nina’s mother


somehow became a serious problem .The reason of this was very simple.


Nina could not live together with her mother .Berta Solomonovna


without malice drove his daughter daily to neurasthenia.


Nina became irritated, frustrated by Irina and me, and this in turn


irritated me, we stopped talking, and for a long time an atmosphere in our family remained very unpleasant .When finally, we matured for reconciliation, her mother’s careless phrase again aggravated Nina. Nina understood well the source of irritation, but she


told me: “ I simply cannot tell my mother to leave us alone “. However, my mother-in-law did not notice anything wrong, and she sincerely thought that all of us having a good time.


This year in August, Nina left before me and the week later I rode along with Irina and Bertha Solomonovna to Leningrad .The big advantage over Lithuania was that there was no need to worry about a return ticket, take the suburban train and no problems .But in Russia you always may be involved in unexpected things. When I was in full load kit (2 suitcases and a backpack), next to me Bertha and Irina standing, waiting a suburban train to Leningrad , a station radio suddenly informed people, awaiting train,, that the majority of cars are closed for passengers ,because the cars were reserved


for the children and pioneer camps and would be loaded in the next stations. Nobody, of course, thought about people that are stuck at the station Luga and who simply bought tickets on this suburban train. Only one or two cars were open for these people. The panic started. People run along the train, trying to find unreserved cars. We too run back and for .We saw as a crowd knocked into one of the cars door. This door was open, but because many people were trying to climb at the same time, they're stuck in the door.


Then a powerful push of the crowd followed and, people were pressed into the car. Then happened another push from all sides of door .People were jammed again .Again a pressure of the crowd break through jam .I was soon in the middle of the crowd and with my suitcases I could only give up to the crowd onslaught . I could not make an independent moves. Finally ,I was pushed into the car. I did not know there Bertha with Irina were. When the train started, and little by little it was possible to get through ,I saw Bertha with Irina were squeezed in the vestibule of adjacent car.


Thank God, I thought that Irina did not knock down, anything could happen.


Later all of us could stand in the car together .And we rode to Leningrad, clenched on all sides, but fortunately inside the car.


          For the next year we are again


wanted to go to Baltic Republics. This time we rented a cottage in Latvia


near the railway station Aglona in the village of Somerset.


The nature around was similar to Zarasai , only less forests, more fields and only one lake, but a very large one . I also rented a


boat from a local resident, and we got freedom of movement.(Photo 46,47,48)


At this time Nina's best friend Tamara Kurkova with her husband, actor of the Theatre for Young Audiences joined us in their vacation.(Photo 44). Using the boat we surveyed all the hidden corners of a vast lake, and one uninhabited island ,where we even took some dried fish, which was left by fisherman’s .


In the evening we bought beer, and ate fish.


I remember, that this summer Irina learned how to swim


and soon we swam across the lake basin to a next beach .


After Luga’s district food deficit , we


were pleasantly surprised that rural shops in Latvia well


supplied with food and, therefore, we could have good nutrition


over there .


We decided not testing our fate and the next 2 years (1973-74) rented summer cottage


in the same destination, but in Lithuania, at the railway station Ignalina.


Ignalina located on the railway Leningrad


Vilnius, approximately 150 miles north of Vilnius .At that time


no nuclear plant was built in this area and neighborhood possess purest crystal air of pine forests, clear, transparent lakes, an abundance of mushrooms.


In April 1973, I went for a day to Ignalina and rented a room for whole summer . In the same house next room was occupied by an intelligent Leningrad’s family,


consisting of two elderly people and their granddaughter.


Head of the family was a teacher, who before retirement taught Marxism-Leninism .He was a believer in the socialism .However, they were good people on personal level and we soon began to discuss any topics, including the most discussed theme in Jewish conversations at that time. This was idea of Jewish emigration from the Soviet Union. At that time the authorities allowed some Jews depart to the unknown capitalist world .I sometimes raised conversations on this topic too, but I was met with strong resistance from Nina and our neighbors. They could not imagine a life without the Communist Party, the militia, KGB and Soviet government .But our neighbors had their friends Mark and Larissa ,who were fans of Ignalina and who knew every path in the surrounding forests . In them I found strong support for my ideas, because at that time, they have seriously planned their own emigration .(Actually ,they left the Soviet Union only in 1978). Together we easily smashed naive arguments of scientific socialist.


Somewhere in 1973, an unpleasant event happened. Probably, Nina felt some discomfort in the female


parts of body, so she was advised to appear to well-known gynecologist, a woman who also lived near us on the same street.(In the Soviet Union each person ,who needed to have complete medical evaluation should at first be accepted in a hospital. This was not easy task, because your district physician should give you direction to a hospital and then you have to wait in line till vacant place in hospital would be available .So ,many people preferred to have private physician’s consultation at doctor’s home. However, doctor at home did not have necessary instruments for medical analysis.) .The gynecologist agreed to look Nina at home .After examination she said that a few months later, Nina has to come to her again . The absurdity of the situation was that the doctor flatly refused to take the money for consultation .Then Nina bought a huge box of good chocolates, and decided to give this present to doctor. I was standing with this box at the staircase, pressed the apartment’s bell, but for some reason the apartment’s door did not open , though someone stayed over there.


What to do? We would have to send the hapless


a box of chocolates through mail .We did not think about it, and all


this ridiculous story soon was forgotten . Nina was very scrupulous and delicate person and she could not go to that doctor again. (Later I understood that doctor, perhaps, felt some swelling and decided to look again. Unfortunately, I realized this only much later) .


And in the year 1974 when Nina supposed to go to Ignalina for summer vacation her mother recommended Nina to visit another famous gynecologist. There were rumors about this doctor that he is the best diagnostic physician.


I remember that after this visit, Nina has returned in a very good


mood, as the doctor allowed her to go on vacation through the summer


under condition that after returning she would again visit him.


Summer of 1974 we lived in Ignalina with the old


friends and acquaintances .Once in August, Mark and Larissa took


us as to the forest area with vast raspberry bushes .


There, indeed, raspberries were grown completely undisturbed.


Filling the entire containers, including the stomachs, we on the our way home decided to bath.


Next day Irina had a serious cold-


although she was rarely sick .She had high fever at night time,


and Nina awake all night next her bed .Gradually Irina recovered .But Nina herself has feeling that her own illness is developing .I remember that in August, she asked me to feel the bottom of her belly.


Even my inexperienced fingers felt some swelling ,what it was


I did not want to understand .I reassured her, saying that sometimes even a cold gives swelling. Upon his return to Leningrad, Nina went back


to the same doctor ,whom she visited in June and ,who absolutely forgot what he told her in June.


But he was struck by the rapidity of tumor development and he said that she must immediately undergo a surgery .In the Soviet Union in medicine persisted even pre-revolutionary humanist tradition to hide from patient his true state of sickness as long as possible, so as not to injure the patient's consciousness of hopelessness of his disease. Very strange that this ruthless criminal-police regime, established after the revolution,


did not affect this tradition, at least in Leningrad and Moscow.


Therefore, Nina was fooling around about other women's diseases,


the word “cancer” was not pronounced .Usually, people by their nature always look for a cure and grabs any hope, given by doctor’s.


The surgery took place in gynecological department of the Smolninskiy district hospital .As usually at that time all-female organs were removed from Nina’s body. The next day I and Bertha Solomonovna were invited for


conversation with the surgeon . The surgeon said,


that the tumor was malignant, he had no doubt about it, although histological examination has not yet completed .He also said that he was not able to remove whole tumor, he removed only part of it.


He said to us that in his


opinion, Nina is to be alive only 2-3 months .I and Bertha were shocked . I asked the doctor, what about her state now, would she gets better?


He said that now she would still stand on her feet, and soon she will be discharged from hospital.


He said that no other treatments of this form of cancer, except a surgery


is available. Of course ,it is possible


to do chemotherapy, but for this treatment Nina is to be transferred into Cancer Institute and, consequently, she would learn her diagnosis.


In November of 1974 Nina was discharged from hospital .Professor Davydov,


who had watched her in the department of gynecology, said delicately


after her discharge, that in a couple of weeks she could meet with her husband,


which meant she could have sex relations .It would be much better if she did not know about this.


At the first attempt after her surgery an hysteric happened to Nina and she


was crying whole night .She realized that all her female organs were removed, and she is no longer female .This was the reason of her hysteric. It was absolutely impossible to calming her. My situation also was very stupid like I'm guilty in something .So, on the one hand, Soviet medicine showed humanity to patient ,but on another, most important situation, simply completely ignored patient’s personal life.


It would be much better if they forbid her sexual relations for a


long time .

In the early December in the Nina’s aunt apartment, a secret family meeting took place. Her cousin Sanya suggested to use still not


approved drug for the cure of cancer.


This drug was developed by a veterinarian doctor in Siberia .


Everyone of our family agreed that anything should be tried. Sanya got a monthly dose of the drug.


It was a white powder in small paper bag .Twice a day Nina had to take


this medicine. I had to persuade her to take medication without disclosing the terrible diagnose .Sometime in late December, Nina was supposed to appear again to the


gynecology professor Davydov. He was amazed: the tumor has decreased twice in couple of weeks. He said:


“ I do not know what you're doing but keep doing the same thing,


the result is good .”


The mechanism of this drug action no one understood, the only thing


I found was slight decrease in body temperature,


maybe this effect inhibited the tumor development .But shortly drugs


were over and get a new batch from the same source was


impossible .Then another Nina’s cousin, Leon Slutsker


began unofficially to produce this drug at his institute, and we got the


right amount from him. Since that time we did not have lack of drugs. The Nina’s conditions improved significantly.


In March of 1975, we bought her a ticket to the Rest home


in Sestroretsk, she even visited dancing floor over there .After returning from the Rest home, she even begin to work .At the described time


Nina had a quiet work in the department of technical information. However, Nina worked only 2 weeks. A deterioration of her general condition started in spite of our medicine .This included severe weakness and fatigue. Professor Davydov also


recommended that she must undergo chemotherapy at the Oncology Institute .However, I and


Bertha Solomonovna decided that while this unknown drug works,


chemotherapy should be avoided, because we did not know, what would happen in mixing chemotherapy with new drug.


For us it was not easy decision ,we accepted it


after painful hesitations . Soon it became clear that the drug


stops working .Therefore, Bertha and Nina began to go on chemotherapy to the Cancer Institute, located outskirt of city at the railway station Pesochnaya.


However, Nina weakened more and more. Inevitable end was approaching.


Meanwhile, Uncle Zodik also was very weak .He was 84 years old in 1975 (Photo 50)


but he acquired sickness of oldest persons ,which now called as disease of Alzhmeir ( this is the name of doctor ,who was first describing this disease.) He was needed daily care, he could not go outside .Besides that disease he had many others ,but these diseases could be diagnosed only in hospital. However ,no hospital would accept such old person for treatment. My relatives and Bertha convinced me that my uncle Zodik should be sent to the retirement house for old peoples, where there is a section for elderly. I agreed, and on 30 May with the help of my cousin Vova, we took Zodik to this retirement house .Before he leaved home to this house , the clouded mind of uncle Zodik got some enlightenment .He suddenly asked me why we are sending him to the “hospital”, he noticed that Nina is ill and, in general, he spoke to us as 5 years ago .But this enlightenment continued short time . The uncle Zodik was placed in the department of the elderly, and after 2 days I visited him .There was a horrible situation.


In the big room stood, approximately 20 beds, on which lie the elderly.


All beds were doubled , so the approach to each bed was from the one


side .Under sheets the rubber diaper were placed, because the physical needs were carried out in a bed .Air in this room was as in a stable. Uncle Zodik, and, probably,


most other elderly people did not understand, where they are.


Lying on the bed next to uncle Zodik old man periodically shouting:


“If would be a revolution, I would be a minister!”


At the request of uncle Zodik, I gave him water to drink, and a


the ward nurse even gave remark: “ Why did you give


him to drink? Did you not see in what condition he is? “ From what I understood that


they are not allowed to drink, and ,probably ,they are not feed patients. Maybe, some food is given to them, but absolutely nobody cares whether an elderly man ate or not, and after some time nurse carried away the tray.


A doctor, with whom I spoke, said me that if the state needs these patients continued to live for a while, then they are placed in this retirement community, and after that these people are free to live or die.


Of course, no treatment other there , except sedatives to prevent violence.


I never ever imagined before, that the conditions in this retirement community is so terrible.


It was clear that my uncle would not survive here for long time. The only consolation was that he did not realize where he was and did not feel pain .The next my visit simply did not take place, as literally


2 days later I was informed of his death.


Uncle Zodik burial took place on June 5, 1975.His body was cremated and


urn with his ashes was placed in the grave of my mother in the Jewish cemetery.


Meanwhile, Nina condition remained very grave, but the pain still


not aroused .Whole treatment consisted of periodic visits to the Oncological Institute, where she underwent the chemotherapy.


The summer arrived .We rented a room in Zelenogorsk, where Nina lived with Bertha Solomonovna and Irinka .But in late June she started feel pain.


Soon we returned to Leningrad .This time through


Nina's friend Sveta we met with two amazing guys,


who confessed Buddhism in one of its incarnations. This trend has gained popularity in Russia


in the beginning of 20th century.

This trend is called Theosophy and


its founder is religious philosopher Elena Blavatskaya .The followers of this teaching believed in reincarnation of souls and karma. They also believed that for all the misery and disease, carried by us in this world, would be a retribution for the wrong behavior, mistakes and crimes not necessarily in


this life, but in the next life .They offered spiritual


relief, but, unfortunately, Nina was raised, as we all raised, in the narrow-


minded materialism and she was not able to accept these ideas.


I considered these views interested in some degree .One of these guys


broad shouldered , sturdy man about 30 years old began to come to us each evening .Volodya (the name of our new friend) had,


what is now called, a very strong mental field .He performed strange passes over Nina, saying that he removes her black thoughts to the water.(He requested me to bring a basin with water and placed it next to her bed).


After that he went out onto the balcony to be charged with cosmic “prana.” Then he pumped “Prana” into Nina's body without touching her. Nina pain receded and her state improved.


He came every day and conducted similar treatment .He did not accepted money, because, as he said, if he starts to take money, then he


loses this ability to help people. The only thing, to which he agreed, is to join us in dinner .


And then he explained to Nina that if she felt pain on any time of day, she must imagine his, Volodya’s face. He would feel this, no matter there he is at this time and he would work remotely helping her.


Nina said that she did it and he helped her remotely.


Later, coming to us, Volodya tried to hypnotize her and


he recorded on a tape his monolog .He advised me to scroll a tape recording when necessary .However, hypnosis


and the tape did not work .But, Volodya remote influence worked. The objective statement to this fact is that during the period from


beginning of constant pain at the end of June until Nina's death on Oct. 19, we only twice summoned emergency help for pain medication shots .(I and Bertha could not make shots).Cancer patients, especially in the final stages of the disease, experiencing unbearable pain, they are getting medications continually .But Nina's pain was quite bearable, and she even slept relatively well thanks to Volodya.


Somewhere for a week before his death, Nina finally realized that she lost the game .She removed the ring from his hand and asked me to give it to Irinka.


              October 19 in the morning there were no signs that her death is close. It was Sunday, and I would planning even going to the cemetery to work out with a worker changing the inscriptions on the mother's memorial .The Bertha sister Aunt Sonya asked me to stay home .Nina was in


bed in a bright room, which I repaired after uncle Zodik death.


She did not feel serious pain but the outflow of urine stopped.


About noon we called the emergency help .A physician arrived .Nina was in full consciences .Doctor released urine by catheter and at the same time


he made an anesthetic injection. Then Nina sank into a kind of oblivion, and, approximately, at 1.30 p.m. she inhaled last time .Nina passed away.


I went to the clinic, where I found the same physician .He was even


frightened after learning that his recent patient went to another world.


But he wrote the certificate of death. Soon Nina's father and other relatives came over. The same evening the body was sent to the mortuary crematorium.


Maybe Nina fate was determined due to diametric difference of her parents and permanent family conflicts .Irinka was 12 years old, and I decided that for her emotional health would be better not to drag her through the procedures of burial .Therefore, 3 days


Irina spent with our friends Lida ,Stas , Elena Solomonovna and


Irina’s girlfriend Olga.


Nina's body was cremated and the urn containing the ashes was placed in one of the niches of the crematorium wall. (inside of the complex number 6 in the bottom row you could see inscription “Nina Kuznetsova”).


Lida, as a true friend, gathered some Nina's friends, and one day in October in our apartment on Saturday, a big clean-up took place.


And I was trying to do whatever possible in order to our life with Irina continue on the same established path.


The big difference was that in a few months the family has decreased


in two.



                           LIFE ON THE INERTIA



For a short time, our family decreased in two times while Irinka


was in the 6 grade .I did not talking to her about our losses, trying not to reopen wounds, I felt that for her normal mental development she should look forward, not backward, at least at that time .Therefore our communication was defined to routine daily problems. It was necessary to prepare Irina to school, buy food, cook dinner and check out her home works. She had to wear clean collar on school dress. I have arrange the delivery of linen to the laundry, clean the apartment and so on.


Irina was the sociable girl, and our apartment constantly was


visited by her girlfriends . She spend a little to prepare home works, because she had a rare ability to absorb the material in the classroom. Similar to Nina, Irina had a good visual memory .I understood that it is very difficult for her to come after school to an apartment, where she saw only the empty walls.


Lida strongly advised us to take a dog .After some hesitation I agreed, realizing that Irina really need a true friend and defender .She also had to have a living creature, about whom she would take care. With the help of Lida in the same 1975 we brought to our apartment seven-month old German shepherd named Zerbi .The dog was very beautiful with a good pedigree, but she was more nervous than she supposed to be, because we were already her third owners .The first few days were tough,


but gradually Zerbi accustomed to us, and attached to Irina as to


her master .Of course ,I had to handle more problems, connected to extra care for dog, such as buying food ,feeding and walking the dog


but it was justifiable ,because the Irina’s nervous system


recovered quickly after the hardest loss.


Zerbi was a bitch, and she was extremely intelligent and


well trained dog .When I returned from work normally


about 6 pm, I heard a muffled barking even if I enter our house stairwell . Our apartment was located on 4th floor of Stalin’s house (brick house with high ceilings in apartments).

Somehow Zerbi recognized my steps as soon as I


walked on the stairwell .When I entered the apartment, Zerbi joy was beyond limits .She rushed to me, hugging and trying to lick my face and her tail frantically struggled from side to side.


Zerbi met me if not


as God descended from heaven, then, in any case, as Messiah .


German shepherd to be a walking out three times a day, and often in the morning and before my return from work, she remained without walk. Therefore, I had time to put a collar on her and I with Zerbi flew headlong down the stairs, scattering the rare passerby . Next to our house was a vacant lot, and barely as she reach there, she immediately sit down on her needs .I remember that once, (it happens very rarely) the poor dog could not resist the stress and recovering somewhere in the corner of room on parquet .As soon as I entered the apartment, I already knew about this problem .Contrary to the usual behavior , the dog was not only jump on me, but I could not see the dog .I began to call: “ Zerbi, Zerbi!” The dog appeared with drooping head and her tail was clamped between legs, poke her


muzzle in my lap as if she asking forgiveness .I was getting the dog to the scene of accident and putting her nose in her actions, asked her: “ Who


did it? You are bad dog, I do not like you”. Zerbi licked my hands, twisting around my legs, tail still squeezed between her legs. She was trying to explain me that she understands all ,that she is very ashamed that she is to blamed and that she will not do this thing anymore . (And in fact, it was my and Irina faults that dog was not walked regularly). But Zerbi blamed


only herself. (What a contrast with the behavior of many people,


blaming for their sins the rest of the world). Zerbi soon learned to understand not only individual words but whole sentences.


In the room opposite the bed laid Zerbi’s pad .


But Zerbi loved to stay, where I and Irina sitting: in another room


or in the kitchen .However, if I say “ Where supposed to be a dog? “


as Zerbi reluctantly rose and was looking at me : “Would you change your mind?” But I repeat a command, and then Zerbi unwillingly


went back to her pad. Or there is an another example.


In the evening, about 9 p.m., we are watching TV .Zerbi, of course, is siting


next to us .It is necessary to walk the dog before we are go to sleep . “Who would take the dog for the walk?”-I ask. (It should be noted that we avoided pronouncing the word “for a walk” in order to prevent joyful reaction of Zerbi).


Zerbi understood something, and rushes to me .I am saying: “ No, Zerbi, Irina will take you for a walk, “. The dog immediately jumps on Irina.


Irina says: “ No, Zerbi, Dady will walk you.”


Zerbi again rushes to me .If I again referring her to Irina, we confuse the dog completely, and she


starts barking, as if to say: “You really sort it out faster, who would walk me, but I'm cannot wait for a long! “


But the biggest holiday for Zerbi was the trip to the woods for mushrooms or cranberries .She was so tired running whole day, that after returning home, she barely crept to his pad and fall asleep for almost whole twenty four hours.


In the years 1976 and 1977 I rented summer cottages in Zelenogorsk. Zerbi too, felt fine over there, and Irina still had a some degree of protection.


Irina conducted courses of dogs general training, where the dog received a medal, but Irina did not carried out the next level of training as a guard dog. But any course of dog training was very useful ,because it makes an animal more controlled .To finish with the dog theme ,I would talk about how we parted Zerbi . After submitting papers for emigration and after my dismissal from the institute, our main problem was a situation with Zerbi .To take a dog with us was out of questions .But we and Zerbi very lucky .Through Kennel Club we found a very kind and good people, who lost recently a German Shepard and still suffered their loss.


These old people lived in Sestrorezk and a dog for them was a member of family, for whom they prepared food separately. I and Irina visited these people on September 14,1979.We left Zerbi other there. (photo 51:Irinka and Zerbi)


The farewell was difficult, it looked that


the dog seemed to feel something, and whined the whole way to Sestrorezk .We fled home of these people


and for a long time in our ears we could hear a dog bark .But Zerbi new home was very good. Later we got a letter describing Zerbi’s life. She got puppies .These happiness Zerbi would not have if she stayed with us. The realization that our dog in very good hands eased the pain of loss .I understand the famous American writer Jack London that applied to dogs human feelings. Perhaps, this is an exaggeration, but here's one more dog’s story.


I was told this story by my colleague in “Proektavtomatika”


Volodya Vasilev. He was a hunter and on summer, almost every


friday night he went with a buddy in the woods, where they spent the night in a lodge, and the next morning they went hunting .Usually, he took a dog with him .The dog had a rare breed Drathar. She was not large, the size of fox terrier bitch .In the Russia, these dogs are counted in dozens and were descended from puppies ,taken from Germany after the war. When Volodya was going to hunt, the


dog, seeing his preparations, was very excited, looking forward to a great pleasure for himself .But, sometimes, as he told me, he did not take the dog for some reasons .On Sunday night Volodya returned home .When he entered the apartment, the dog did not meet him as usual, and laid somewhere in the corner . Beloved dog master came home after two day absence and the dog completely ignored him! It was necessary for a long time to talk to the dog, scratching and even to apologize to her before the dog became friendly again.


This dog behavior cannot be explained otherwise than dog felt


insult of the master, insult, which lasted couple days .This is


human feeling .Or maybe added to this is that dog's self-esteem was hurt?. We do not know, but I'm sure that many dogs are smarter, when we think about them.


Meanwhile, my labor activities continued at the same pace as before .Each morning I was jogging ,sometimes with Zerbi .After jogging, I took a shower, hastily


drink tea and fled to the subway station “Lesnaya”.During my lunchtime I managed to run into culinary store next to restaurant


and buy something to eat on evening .Or I bought some


semi-finished products in our institute buffet .At the end of the day I was racing again on the subway, then walk through the park of Forestry Academy to my house .I was lucky in the sense that the nature of my work changed since 1972, when I was transferred to the new department. My business trips to Siberia were over. In this department I had only a short trips to Moscow or later to Kiev. In Moscow, I, too, did not lost an available time .I tried to do everything to finish all business problems in the


morning, then I went into a huge grocery store at the Kalinin Prospect. I stand there in different queues, but stuffed my


a large portfolio with any scarce food : cod fillets, sausages,


cheeses, some cans .While I ride on the train to the Leningrad I arranged with the conductor storing of my food in the car’s vestibule and therefore I brought home sufficiently fresh food.


When I was out of Leningrad Bertha came and stayed overnight with Irina or Irina was sent to Lida.


Bertha Solomonovna did this reluctantly, but as ,a responsible person, she performed this arrangement as her duties and never let me down.


           My work in the department of design of automated control systems for the chemical industry has expanded my horizons .I acquired the new


circle of acquaintances, and most importantly, this position gave me a good observation of situation in economic field of the Soviet Union. By other words this position offers me an extraordinary view


on the road on which the Soviet economy was dragging, the road of the potholes and bumps.



                        Chapter 9



            “What the future day is preparing for us? “(Pushkin)



In the seventies, dissident historian Amalric published on the


West his book entitled “ Whether the Soviet Union will survive till


1984? “. In the Soviet Union, this book was, of course, forbidden to publishing and distributed clandestinely among the narrow circle of dissidents .Author was mistaken for several years in his forecast, but


his idea of collapse, seemingly invincible State, proved to be correct.


I set a more modest task: based on information that is visible from my vantage point, to anticipate


the development of Soviet economy .To prepare this analysis, we should turn to the history, because any forecast is based


on a certain interpolation of the Past.


Soviet Communist Party and Government always repeated


the Lenin’s formula of the best social system. Lenin


wrote that imposed in the Soviet State system is an advanced one


compared to capitalism, if it provides higher labor productivity.


It is easy to say this, than to provide the higher productivity in industry.


The Communist Party leadership desperately tried to search ways to increase productivity. However, most of their undertakings lead to nowhere, because of nature of socialist system. It is sufficient to mention, for example, socialist emulation on the plants and factories, while everywhere false reports and fraud were produced.


However, in the mid of fifties Communist Party leadership with the help of scientific institutes came to the conclusion that there is “magic way” to substantially increase the labor productivity .This was automation of manufacturing and other processes. Being not privy to the technique, and, in general, not very educated, Communist Party Leadership saw in the Production Automation some kind of magic wand, similar to magic tablecloth .(Without any human intervention,


at the request of fantastic character Ivanushka a tablecloth appeared


with all sorts of dishes, and then also at his request


instantly disappeared. Ivanushka did not apply any effort, except, perhaps, his thoughts .This looks as a delivery


of any type of food at the complete absence of expenses .)The Communist Party leadership seemed that if everything would happens on its own, and without any apparent human intervention, a productivity of labor would be significantly increased.


What economy, if not the centrally planned economy of Soviet State is the best one to realize these ideas


in practice? Any costs for the automation of industries the State could easily allocate from the budget. There is no parliament in the Soviet Union who could ask questions about its effectiveness.


The Government in the Soviet Union usually planned what it want, no one could show displeasure.


Even in the Stalin era this balloon started to swell .In 1947 in Moscow the special plant was built for fully automatic production line for ball-bearings. The pieces advanced


on the conveyor belt and were captured by a special device to


processing or assembly, then pushes back on the conveyor,


where pieces continued to move to the next step.


At the end of the process finished ball-bearing went off the assembly line.


As usual in the Soviet Union, the media began to blow


about the new achievements of Soviet industry, that the level of


Automation outperformed American companies. They repeated that


success of this automatic line once again proves the advantages of Socialism system over Capitalism .Of course, the various foreign delegations (most of delegates were members of West Communist Parties)


visited the factory, where they were shown a production line in


action and where for these delegations was arranged plentiful treats and drinks .After similar visits foreigners were very pleased and


wrote about the great achievements of socialism in the left press of the West.


But the Soviet press, citing these delights in the Soviet newspapers, represented these views as an objective view of foreigners.


After Stalin's death tendency of implement the industry automation has accelerated .Perhaps, the most important milestone in this trend was the new Rules of the State Committee for Construction. Accordingly to this rules any industrial project must include as its part an automation of new process or technology .Without such section the comprehensive project of plant or factory would not be accepted. This decree gave great impetus to the development of design institutes such as “Proektavtomatika”.


I worked at this institute since year 1958.Although all Soviet institutions


time to time experiencing periods of contraction and expansion, but the “Proektavtomatika” was never downsizing .Contrary, more new employees were hired and total number of employees multiplied , probably 10 times for 20 years. At that time another rule existed: new offices or institutes in Leningrad were not allowed . But easily the antidote was found. “Proektavtomatika” created the departments of institute in other cities .This way Ivanovo, Kemerovo departments were created .Accordingly to bureaucracy laws department managers in other cities made every effort to become a branch of the Institute, and later an independent institute .Our institute finally loses its former departments and would have to create new departments to avoid reducing a Ministry approved salary fund ,for example, Tbilisi department and others.


(In my recent years at the institute was in direct contact with our


new department in Tbilisi, for which we transferred some projects


of our department) . In short, a snowball grew uncontrollably in full


accordance with the laws of reproduction bureaucracy. I mean


Murphy's laws, which established


patterns of growth of administrative tumors in the bureaucratic America . All these laws fully applicable to the Soviet bureaucracy.


Somewhere in the fifties it was decided by the Party and the Government to create in each industry model-


demonstration automated plant .In non-ferrous metallurgy, for this


purpose was chosen Pikalevsky alumina plant, located in Leningrad’s region.


Naturally, the amount of work for our institute has increased,


as well as increased costs of mounting works and cost of automatic equipment . (Here I had to say, that contrary to construction of new process, where you could easily compare cost of construction and profit from realization of new product, there is completely different situation ,when process automation is implemented .To get economic effectiveness of plant or process automation you have to consider indirect factors ,such as reducing the manpower, improving quality of production, reducing expenses to energy etc.) If before the end of


sixties, these costs of automation grew roughly in proportion to


number of enterprises to be automated, then in the early seventies


a wave of automation was replaced by a powerful hurricane, and costs of automation began to rise tremendously . The main reason of this was that the Soviet Union industries planners imitated the model of Western countries, where industries started widely use computers and related accessories. For narrow-minded leaders of the Soviet economy computerization of industries seemed magic wand that could improve the backwardness of Soviet economy.


In fact, they naively assumed that the computer would decide how to


optimally manage the production and choose the best strategy


of management .This way started an epoch of implementation of automated systems of Management (ASM).


The developers of the software has always been scientific institutes, which are incorporated by different Ministries.


“Proektavtomatika” fulfilled projects, based on the research and recommendations of such institutes .After I was transferred in 1972, to the department of Chemical Industry


my partners in the creation of ASM was the Moscow Central Institute of Integrated Automation (ZNIIKA), Kharkov’s branch of the Special Design Bureau of Automation (OKBA) and the Moscow Institute of Fertilizers . Perhaps, the most closely our relationships were


with the Laboratory of sulfuric acid production of the Central


Institute for Integrated Automation .The head of this laboratory


was Alla Ilinichna Golant , an aggressive woman who usually was able to get support for her position in our Ministry in Moscow.


She kept himself simple and friendly, reminding me


a typical Youth Communist League leader of a period of idealistic belief in socialism .She spoke with visitors from other organizations, like me, with persuading tone as though admonished “Well, guys, well, let us live friendly! " But in this ambitious intelligent woman


lurked the great abilities .She was well known in the offices of our


Ministry of instrument-making industry and the Ministry of Chemical Industry, as well as on Sulfuric Acid chemical plants . She had a rare gift of persuasion, and usually she achieved her goals .Even the establishment in our institute the new department ,where I was transferred, would not took place without her pressure in the Ministry. So I was even indirectly obliged to her with my promotion to position of Senior Specialist.(The reason for this from her point of view was apparent .The research institute developed system automation for one plant, but the next step was to spread these innovations to others plants of this chemical branch . To fulfill these new designs the research institute needed to cooperate with design institute as “Proektavtomatika”).The pilot system of automation was created by Golant’s laboratory in the Gomel ‘s


Chemical plant .After implementation of this system and triumphant


banquet ,where researchers got many awards from the administration of the plant and the Ministry, a question arose: “what to do next? ".And the answer was that it is necessary to distribute similar systems to other chemical plants .Therefore, Ministry of Chemistry allocated funds


for this activity and through our Ministry requested this task to be fulfilled.


Our institute accepted this task .The rest events I described above. Briefly ,our department was called upon to design the computerized automatic management control of sulfuric acid production at 14 chemical plants.

However, i was immediately interested in one small detail .When I went for the first time at the Gomel chemical plant as part of a some delegations, the central operator's station looked like a control room of space ship .Printers crackled , multi-colored miniature lights flashed, warning signs shined on


control panels .An operator was sitting in the special chair manufactured specially for him


in accordance with the requirements of ergonomics. The control panel was manufactured on the research institute experimental plant. There were also colorful handsets and switches and different form of


communication ,including regular and operative phones and voice signals.


Director and chief engineer of the Gomel’s plant hailed this system and thanked research institute for it implementation.


However, in my subsequent visits to the factory when I was alone, not in the composition of delegation. I saw nobody in the control room. Nobody controlled the process at least from this room .It was unbelievable for me. I asked about this situation Golant. She answered me


sincerely, that an operator of control room could not stay far away from production line, he should be on a plant. Usually he is head of production shift.


He is not sitting in the remote control room, because his crucial task is to ensure smooth process operation of the shift. that depends mainly on the normal operation of the process equipment and machinery .However, some malfunctions in the operation of the equipment happened all the time. For example, pipe is blocked and it is necessary to include spare pipe in process, or a pump is out of order and reserve pump should be started or simply some gasket is broken and there is serious leak of acid on factory floor or some employee get hurt and you need to replace him, etc. In general ,there are dozens of reasons why the main process is not going on as expected .This is the reasons why control room was left empty, because main responsibility of an operator is to maintain normal functions of equipment and machinery.

A gratitude ,which director and chief engineer of plant expressed to research institute had simple explanation .The Moscow research institute had a lot of leverages to attract plant administration to his side .Here is an assistance in writing and defending of their dissertations in Moscow, participation in research articles and a good reception during their visits to Moscow and so on. (Even if we assume, that automatic system increases


productivity of plant, for example, increases output,


the director and the chief engineer will try to hide it, because the recognition of this fact would immediately increase production plan for plant .Every plant director beat the quota as low as he could simply to receive the bonuses, but not for getting a new increased quota.


Therefore ,you show plan performance for example, up to 100,3%, but, God forbid, to show 103%, because in this case you would get a new plan where 103% will be new updated plan. And once again you have to over fulfill this new plan to get bonuses ,but few reserves left for this .Therefore a basic line of management of any plant


in the Soviet Union was concealment of local resources .My friend Victor Levshinovsky, expressed his opinion on the implementation of automatic management system on the Pikalevo Alumina plant with the following sentence: “ I suspect ,


that somewhere in process there is a gate valve, which is open at half. .When it is necessary to report that automatic control system has increased plant productivity, this gate valve has been rotated a quarter of turn “.


In general, Alla Golant and other members of her lab were


good guys with whom I quickly found a common language .They themselves


scoffed at his work. They could get worn out and tell


jokes, you are always treated with a cup of coffee, which at that time


was not widespread in the Soviet organizations.


By working together with this research institute, I twice visited Poland.


In those years it was the height of the Cold War between the Soviet


Union and Western nations, united in a defensive


alliance (NATO). The West feared Soviet tank’s armadas standing


in the heart of Europe and ready to rush through NATO countries.


Poland was in a Soviet camp and was considered friendly to the Soviet Union.


But for ordinary Soviet citizen was extremely difficult travel even to Poland, as the party organs


feared that the Soviet people, being in closer contact to the West


would become more receptive to capitalist ideology.


Therefore, they allowed only trustworthy people to visit even socialist countries.


Due to the fact that my department head (Plusnin ) was also the


Communist Party secretary of the Institute, I was given a good reference of my behavior ,which was submitted for the approval to the Kuibyshev district Party Committee, which was located


in the former palace of the princes Belozersky-Beloselsky at the corner of Nevsky Prospect and Fontanka river .Over there I was interviewed with two old Party members, they asked me a few dumb questions ,but I answered well ,because ,as a reader remembers, I was good in politics .


My candidacy was approved. Before our business trip all our group was summoned to the Ministry in Moscow, where we signed several documents


about rules of behavior of Soviet people abroad. An official from the Human Resources Department of Ministry instructed us how not to discredit the high rank of the Soviet person .This treatment was similar to Vysozky song: “ There would be debates with vodka, but you have to answer: No, guys I drink only tea “ .


After finishing all formalities we were given blue travel passport, and we went on Leningralsky avenue to the Bank for obtaining foreign currency (zloty, not dollars). Alla Golant organized two trips to Poland as a preplanned tourist trips .We collected money in the pot to buy food, we determined who would buy what products. (canned food, broth cubes, salami, cheese, crackers, etc.). As usual, we tried to preserve the so-called currency for the procurement of any merchandises missing in the Soviet Union. We went by train from Moscow to Warsaw .After crossing the border I noticed a change in roadside pictures. In Russia usually remains of rusted metal agricultural machinery were situated along railways.


In Poland I saw nothing like this, but I saw peasants ,who with help of horses cultivated a small strip of land. Apparently, the picture was like in Russia before the collectivization. (In Poland, the authorities failed to


drive the peasants into collective farms).


We lived in a village near Warsaw .Here the plant producing appliances and equipment for Sulfuric acid production was located.


The work was not complicated: tours of the plant, meeting, negotiation protocols for sharing jobs etc. The free time left ,which I devoted to inspection of Warsaw .This city experienced


during the 1939-1945 war, terrible fate . Uprising of Jewish people in the ghetto: the Jewish resistance fighters held out for almost a month against the Hitler troops .Also the Polish uprising against Germans In 1944. The Red Army stood at that time on the east coast of river Visla next to Warsaw. Famous by his cunning Stalin provoked the Polish resistance to uprising against German occupants.


The Polish fighters thought that Red Army would help them fight Germans. But Stalin ordered to Red Army don’t interfere. Therefore, the Red Army did not help Polish fighters.


Warsaw was covered with blood. The reason of that was that Stalin wanted to plant a Communist government in Poland, while leaders of


Warsaw Uprising were not Communists and submitted to the Polish


emigrant’s government in London .This way Stalin with the Germans hands dealt with the potential opposition to the future Communist government.


I also visited existing in that time only in


Warsaw Museum of Jewish life .In the Poland before the war, there were


3,000,000 Jews and the overwhelming majority of them were destroyed in Hitler’s concentration camps. In a small two-floor building of the museum I was the only visitor .Perhaps, the Poles maintained that


Museum only for American Jews who came to Warsaw every year


in the last week of April in memory of heroes of the Warsaw ghetto uprising. Poles themselves are anti-Semites, the history of


Jewish people is not interested for them.


At the end of trip at the apartment where all our Soviet group lived, we organized farewell dinner with wine, appetizers, anecdotes and music .


Some Polish engineers joined us .They brought vodka, snacks, local women, and the feast has gained frivolous character .If the personnel officers of the Ministry of Instrumentation would be aware of our communication with the local population, then


they would have forbid all other trips .But, fortunately, no spies were in our group .Even when the second trip to the Poland took place later with famous professor Dudnikov ,who was working in Moscow institute ,no additional problems arise.


Dudnikov behaved quite sociable and


friendly, joking and telling all sorts of funny stories.


      In comparison to Russia, it seemed that Poland was overloaded


with merchandises .However ,only small amount of Polish money, which we got, was used for buying. I remembered that I bought a sheepskin coat for Irina and jeans, in which Irina barely able to squeeze into. And, of course, I brought many sorts of chewing gum, not manufactured at that time in the Soviet Union.


Now I am completing the story about computerization of sulfuric acid production . These events happened 8 - 9 years later, in years 1986-1987. At this time I was


working to the benefit of capitalism in the United States.


The Cold War came to an end and the US Central Intelligence


Agency (CIA), was interested what new cunning thing


prepared the Soviet Union, developing computerized control system of Chemical Industry. (By the way, the name of this system was”KUPOL”)


CIA was intrigued by system ,called “KUPOL”. They found some


former Soviet engineers, including me.


Through a consulting firm I was offered


write an article about automating the chemical industry in the


Soviet Union .In this article, and at a subsequent meeting in


Washington ,DC I completely dispelled their fears about a secret


Soviet weapons under the name” KUPOL”.I told them ,that system


“KUPOL” is really dangerous, but not


for the United States . This system is dangerous for Soviet Union, because a lot of materials, equipment ,cables , manpower and financial resources


diverted from use for military purposes .I said that all participants in the development of “KUPOL” should earn USA gratitude.


After that, the CIA lost interest to the automatic control systems in the chemical industry of the Soviet Union and to the author of that manuscript.


            We also collaborated with other laboratory of Moscow research institute for


which our department performed design works .This laboratory led by Dr. Voltaire, and they developed automatic control system for polyethylene production .A computer monitored high temperatures and pressures in the chemical process reactor. Here


purpose of the system was to prevent dangerous situations, sometimes leading to an explosion of reactor .This system successfully worked at the Polotsk


chemical plant in Belorussia, and our institute was involved in the project


for polyethylene plant on the territory of the so-called


German Democratic Republic (GDR). (It was German State ,which


Stalin created in year 1949 on the eastern


part of Germany occupied by Soviet troops in 1945).


Due to our small part in this work, I had


the possibility to visit twice GDR in a group of workers of Moscow


research institute .At that time travel, even to the East Germany


was considered a great privilege .Some employees of “Proektavtomatika”, were envious of me, especially ,that these trips permitted to buy deficit in the Soviet Union merchandises.


In one of this trips I was accompanied with of our employee


Nadi Voronina and used her advice to buy a lady's fur coat in Leipzig.


This fur coat I later sold in Leningrad .This selloff supported our financial situation.

But our relationships with this laboratory of research institute were absolutely different from the Golant’s laboratory.


The general atmosphere was very formal and official.


The head of our delegation Sofiev tried to follow all the rules of conduct prescribed by Ministry.


It was not easy for him. In Leipzig, we were placed in the hotel at the Agricultural Exhibition .While we were standing in the hotel lobby ,as it turned out that hotel did not have vacant room for me. Much to the dismay of Sofiev I was placed in a room with a German engineer.(To stay in one room with local people was forbidden by Ministry rules).


But what could I do? Sofiev reluctantly agreed to this accommodation,


asking me do not to talk about it in Ministry .I calmed him down,


saying that I do not have access to Ministry’s bureaucrats . My German neighbor was a pleasant conversationalist and I remembered my childhood study of the German language, while we talked normally to him on the family, weather and other harmless themes .It was mid-July, the days were very hot, nights were stuffy, no air conditioning in the hotel . The open window did not bring coolness. I took a cold shower and, for a while ,I felt myself better. Then again hot night came in.

Our work included endless boring discussion with the Germans about various protocols of joint works. This was softened by closing reception, where we were fed and entertained by our German’s hosts . In central square of Leipzig we went down


stairs in a lighted corridor .We went through the underground


gallery, and soon we found ourselves in the luxurious hall of the restaurant.


The paintings with scenes from “Faust” Gete hanged through the walls. Witches raced to their Sabbath, as Faust sold his soul to devil. The air-conditioned air in the room at that time was rather the exception than the rule.


We were offered a light Italian wine, then great full dinner.


When we were so full that almost fallen off the table, a waiters


brought a few bottles of the real Russian vodka .I could not drink


Russian vodka when I am full, but our guys still drink it.


Why they did not bring the vodka at the beginning of the feast, I did not know. Maybe ,we are not experienced with Europe’s


manners .At other time, too, at the closing reception


at another restaurant when we were sitting at a round table , waiting


ordered dishes, and the conversation flagged, someone offered to take turns to anecdotes .


Here you have to be vigilant and not


tell some sort of anti-Soviet anecdotes ,because it was considered that the Germans people ,though friendly, but still closer to the West. Many themes of anecdotes was a little uncomfortable to talk to unfamiliar foreigners .The line of telling jokes relentlessly


approached to me, and I still could not remember anything acceptable. Finally, all eyes were directed on me,


and I told the anecdote about Chapaev and Petya .At first I had to explain to the Germans, who are Chapaev and Petya. (An anecdote: Petka said to Chapayev:


“We brought a White” ,meaning a captured fighter. Chapaev asked immediately: “How many boxes?”). It was politically incorrect, because this joke was apparent mockery of the Soviet fighter . But everyone laughed, and the Germans later told us that somewhere in Pomerania also live a certain ethnic group of people ,who famous over their stupidity , on which others made fun off. They told a few jokes on this interesting theme . Meantime, a dinner was served.


          In Berlin, we lived a few days in the hotel on the main street of Unter


den Linden, and I was impressed by the traditional love of the Germans to marching, parades . Twice a week street parades took place .The participants were in military uniforms .An Orchestra played, and the people stood on either side of street, admiring their army, the uniform of which, incidentally, was similar to that of Hitler’s army.


         Peering into the faces of elderly people, I tried to imagine what


this person did during the war .Foe example ,here is line to buy strawberries. All peoples standing clearly one after the other, there is no ordinary dump when they approaching


counter, as in the Soviet Union .Thin gray-haired man with a wrinkled


face: that he did during the war? broke the head of Jewish children


or pushed into the crowd of Jews in gas chambers, or he just fought,


executing any orders of the officers? It was difficult to release his


past, but something obviously unpleasant is hidden under his head.


Maybe, now he is a party functionary in the Socialist


Unity Party of Germany, the ruling party of the GDR.(In reality ,this was Communist Party of GDR).


Next to him an elderly woman with a gaunt hands .Probably, she


was suffered during the war .How many relatives she lost in the bombings, whether her husband was killed at the front, and whether she herself was not raped when Soviet troops , occupied the eastern Germany ? Did they finally understood how much they paid for the blind worship of the demon-possessed Fuehrer? Maybe ,answer to this question is yes and maybe no.


            Now they are obedient and disciplined. With our acquainted Germans these topics were not discussed .I did not see Jewish peoples on the streets of East Germany. Simultaneously, I


did not feel related to me anti-Semitism.


Germans are very law abiding people, respecting any hard power.


        To other research organizations with which our department has worked, I would note Kharkov’s branch of the Special Design Bureau of the Ministry of Chemical industry .These people brought several volumes of tasks for the design of automatic control system for chemical fertilizers in the city Voscresensk .To communicate with them was not easy,


because they lacked a sense of humor, and all study


of the effectiveness of system was considered by them as absolute true.


All the engineers of this organization were type of Russian peasants,


Apparently the personnel department of the Ministry of Chemical Industry


strongly restricted the number of Jewish employees.


Chapter 10


            Anyone ,who is walking, will pass a road


The 65 years of Soviet power in the Soviet Union is well described by a popular anecdote:


How we lived under Lenin? We lived as in subway. It is dark around us,but light ahead.


How we lived under Stalin? We lived as in the bus .Half of passengers were sitting ,the other half was shaking.(In Russian language “sitting on the chair” and “sitting in prison” had the same meaning).


How we lived in Khruschev’s time? We lived as on a ship .The views are great, but all passengers are sick.


How we are living under Brezhnev? As in a cosmic ship. We are moving nowhere, but no exit available.

But in the early seventies, at least for the Jews new possibilities arised when the American Congress linked Jewish emigration to the providing to the Soviet Union the trade preferences.


Began in 1973, a tiny trickle of Jewish emigration


expanded and in 1978 it was a small river. The officially the Jewish


emigration took place under the banner of family reunification in


Israel .Therefore a process of emigration started with getting an invitation from Israel from someone, who is your “relative”.


My friend’s Samuel Rozhetsky sister


Masha went to Israel in the year 1973.Through her help I got an invitation from Israel from my “cousin” .The fact of receiving the invitation, still does not push you in filing emigration documents and at your workplace knew nothing about it .At least, I thought this way originally ,but later I understood that the fact of getting Israel’s invitation through mail became known to your place of work.

A reader of this manuscript may be interested what forced me to leave a country, where I was born and where I occupied relatively good professional position with possibility travel to the countries of Soviet bloc . From point of view of situation of years 1978 and 1979 I and Irina lived in relatively good conditions ,because we spend inheritance money ,which my parents left.

But I usually think through many years ahead and I remembered very well old years ,let say ,fifties. I was trying to evaluate the change in our life condition for 25 years and interpolate these changes through future years. This way I came to very unpleasant pictures.

The quality of life in the Soviet Union for the last 25 years not improved, but seriously worsened at least for my stratum of society. Even from my small observation post in ”Proektavtomatika” I observed tremendous grow of bureaucracy with substantial decrease of effectiveness of work .If in fifties we performed useful for industry improvements in process control and whole staff of our institute did not exceed 500 peoples, but in seventies we were forced to use computers in plants automation and our staff increased in 10-12 times. However, an effect of using these computers was seriously overestimated and ,in general ,fraudulent. Nevertheless, the expenses for building and implementing these systems increased in 10-15 times, as well as cost of computers and accessories. Such situation existed not in the my field, but everywhere in Soviet industry with exception, probably, unfamiliar to me military industry. I came to conclusion that even such large country like Soviet Union would not able to endure tremendous expenses next 20 years. (When I visited Soviet Union in the year 1992, my friend Mark Minz reminded me that I foresaw the disintegration of the Soviet Union by year 1995. This prediction I did in the year 1978 and in reality this event happened in 1990.)

I also saw the huge increase of corruption everywhere , bribes gradually become norms of life. I would need to pay 1500 rubles (my salary was 220 rubles in a month)to place Irina in the relatively good college. I considered also many other factors. Almost whole absence of merchandises ,expensive food for which I paid around 80% of my salary and ,of course, worsening medical service .The last thing was very important for me and Irina ,because all my relatives were dying from diseases ,which were diagnosed too late.

Also ,I wanted to test myself as a professional ,in normal society.

Briefly, the combination of these factors brought me to decision to leave the Soviet Union, until this is not late for me and Irina.

Initially I thought for patriotic reasons depart to


Israel, but later I correctly realized that in Israel, my field of work is very difficult to found, because of my age and great competition and because the country is too small, and large-scale industry is almost absent over there. Climate conditions in Israel were not very good for us too.


I knew also that the Jewish people are not easy to live with, especially when there are too many Jews around.


In 1978 Nina's cousin Leonid Slutsker emigrated to America .He started to write letters from Chicago, each letter at 6-8


pages, and the whole family gathering for a joint reading .From his letters, and from letters of his then-wife, Rena I got an impression that in America to find a decent job is also a serious problem.


All these burning questions I discussed then, perhaps, to only one


person, employee of “Proektavtomatika” Isaac Zukerman .Although he was afraid to leave because his job partly was performed in secret facilities and he more likely ,then I, could get rejection in the emigration permission , but, nevertheless ,he was keenly interested in this problem .Being easily communicated person ,he has more information about employment in America.


Visiting our building on the Fontanka 48, Isaac came into my office, after what we usually went out with him to the auditorium, sat in the center of the room on chairs, and discussed current news .I remember that, often the subject of our discussions was former employee of automatic department VAMI Victor Stern ,who left Soviet Union in the year 1976.I almost did not know him personally, but I knew that Victor Stern was one of the best minds in this laboratory .


He ,of course ,had PhD diploma and was a very skilled engineer. However, he did not found work in his profession, but being a good programmer, he worked in this area .Also, he was not a designer and how designers ,like me, found job in the USA no information existed. But I could not wait to get all answers to my questions, because a time was working against me. In 1978 the Jews from Leningrad were allowed emigrate relatively easily. I and Isaac tried to unravel the mystery of how some people are getting permission to emigrate while others were rejected. But we could not establish any patterns for KGB decision (the department of distribution permits for emigrations was, of course, part of KGB.)It was general believe that people are getting no release if they were engaged in secret work,


but sometimes this rule was violated .


Sometimes , people who did not have anything to do with secrecy, delayed for a long time .However , other people ,who worked in secret enterprises were given permission to emigrate without problems.


Only when I left, I met with many Russian emigrants


in Vienna and Rome and I could imagine whole picture of getting permission to emigrate .Criteria for this decision was surprisingly simple.


It was a quality of vacated apartment. In Leningrad, there were relatively


few fundamentally built in the Stalin era brick houses


with walls made of several layers of brick, high ceilings, large


windows, separate bathroom and toilet, large bright kitchen.


Most existing apartments were small-sized individual apartments in the, so-called, Khrushchev's prefabricated homes with low ceilings and combined bath and washrooms. Therefore those Jews who, leaving vacant , “ Stalin’s


Apartments “ were released in the first place, no matter of character of their work .Vacant apartments KGB peoples used for themselves. In Leningrad this practice was encouraged by the city host, the secretary of the Leningrad regional Party Committee, Gregory Romanov, who sought to liberate the city from the greatest possible number of Jews .So, in 1978, consideration of the application to emigration took only 3 weeks .There were rumors that the Presidium of the Central Committee in Moscow


blamed Romanov for getting the emigration permits too quickly.


Since 1979 the period of consideration of applications for emigration was increased to 3 months.


Whatever it was, in 1979 no one imagined what criteria is crucial when considering an application for leave, and therefore, from this


process, it was necessary to take into account the risk of rejection. When a potential applicant submit request for emigration from the Soviet Union


he would automatically exclude himself from respectable members of society, because he officially considered as a traitor.


This meant dismissal from work and inability to find a new professional position.


Or, if this person in spite of pressure, preferred to stay at his work in his organization, an administration would lower significantly his position. For me this meant that instead of position


Chief Specialist with a salary of 230 rubles a month I would have stayed at work as an ordinary engineer’s position with a salary of 120 rubles .By other words, we knew that the request to leave the Soviet Union would inevitably destroying your career in this country.


Before proceeding to the description of our last year of life in the Soviet


Union, I would like to outline the social atmosphere of the 1978-79 period.


The Soviet press, radio and television was still involved in the communist propaganda and the real situation in the country they declared as the first phase of communism ,which is a socialism. I am not sure that many people in the Soviet Union believed in this delirium by this time. Best characteristic of all the people relation


to this slogan was written in one public washroom:” The communism is the tale for fool”. The newspapers were full with typical lies about successes in enterprises, farmers were called for the sowing and harvesting (the battle for the harvest). At the same time nobody remembered that for centuries no one watched and commanded to peasant, what time it is necessary sowing, weeding, or harvesting. Somehow a peasant himself knew what to do on his field .But collective and state farms farmers did not consider state fields as their own, and therefore, as in serfdom, they were forced to work .Of course ,the productivity of this work was very low.

From the grocery stores gradually disappeared most necessary goods, while more than decent food could be bought only in the morning . Therefore Bertha Solomonovna , paraphrasing standard Stalin’s expression: “Who is not working, do not eat” usually said: “Who does work, does not eat “.


On the world stage the Soviet Union competed with the United States


trying to draw into its orbit as much as possible hungry countries in Africa and, fueling local conflicts under the banner of so-called struggle for


“National freedom” . In Moscow the


People’s Friendship University was established , which nurtured and feed future International terrorists .In all the existing problems the Soviet Union blamed bloodthirsty American imperialism and international Zionism. The Soviet media found a very convenient way to promote anti-Semitism. Propaganda did not needed accuse Jews, because this direct blame contradict official Communist Internationalism . Instead of Jews they mentioned Zionists and everyone understand whom they had in mind. Zionists are the people, who betrayed our great Socialist country who betrayed their country, leaving to Israel and USA. They are supported by international Zionist organizations, which are serving to the American imperialists interests .They trying to undermine the peace politic of the mighty Soviet Union. The state publishers released one after the other books of “homegrown philosophers” on the same theme against international Zionism. Whole flow of lies and propaganda poured on the head of the Russian people and for the common man is no difference between the Zionists and the Jews .This situation beautifully expressed in the his song of Russian poet and composer Vladimir Vysotsky:


                          Why should I be bandit and thugs?


                          It would be better for me to became Anti-Semite .


                          On their side, although no laws ,but


                          Support and enthusiasm of millions.



Jews continued to live and work, sadly bowing his head, pretending that all this pandemonium not related to them.


Light beam in this grim atmosphere began appearing back in the sixties, when semi-underground songs distributed, not endorsed officially, but shared between peoples through the tapes.


Poets ,and songwriters used for musical arrangement a usual guitar. These songs, as opposed to official optimism penetrated deep into a soul, awakened regrets about unfulfilled hopes, failed romantic love etc. The most favorite my songwriter was Bulat Okudjava. People called him often “The last knight”. After him, of course ,Vladimir Vysotsky. The songs in his performance has always evoked a whole range of feelings in the soul of ordinary person ,from melancholy to hopelessness .I liked, of course other poets ,like Gorodnizky , Vizbor and Kukin, each brilliant in its role. The special place in my mind occuped Alexander Galich . His songs


represented satire on the Soviet life and were often beyond permissiveness of censorship. This was the reason of expelling him abroad, where he soon died from a suspicious and ridiculous accident.(I believe that he was killed by KGB in 1978).


I am trying to cite here an example one of my favorite songs of Okudzhava:


The New Year fir


                       I see blue crown, crimson stem,


                       and jingle of green cones.


                       Somewhere in the room the wind has passed,


                       There congratulate the lovers…


                       Quickly an January arrived and bumped,


                       Mad as a electrical train.


                       …We dressed you very well,


                       We prepared you to celebration and


                       we saw a woman merged with your branches.


                          Pretty soon the moment of parting, is coming


                          What they all muzzy?


                          And sophisticated, like a nightingale,


                          Proud as grenadiers,


                          Why his unreliable hands


                          Hide your knights?


                          But it starts again bustling.


                         You, as the Christ ,was removed from the cross,


                          But Reincarnation will not happen.



In this, at first glance, unpretentious song lies a philosophical depth.


Here is the transience of life (frantic January), and the eternal theme of betrayal


and longing for true fidelity and love, and simply amazing in its beauty


metaphor (Please, my reader, excuse me for non-professional translation).


Or the songs of Vladimir Vysotsky, free of official deceit and lies,


praising loyalty, friendship and chivalry of the dangers of mountain climbing .



                             You're not on a plain, the climate is different,


                             Avalanches are coming one after one,


                             And for the rock fall another rock falls goes.


                             And you can choose and find way around,


                             But you chose the hard way


                             Dangerous, as the military path.



Lyrical hero of Vizbor seems that he has found his ideal:



                               You are only one, like the moon in the night,


                                Like a pine tree in the desert,


                                Like a year spring.


                                No other person like you is everywhere,


                                even in distant countries


                                and beyond oceans.



Regret for the lost idealism of youth and unrealistic desire to escape from the daily routine expressing a well-known song of Kukin:



                                I'm going for the fog of the forest

               for the dreams and the smell of the taiga.



Quote memorable poems I can cite endlessly .But I only brought


a few excerpts from the numerous songs that have become a fresh outlet for me , a fresh sip of air in the heavy atmosphere of described years.


                      But it's time to get down to the ground.


For the summer of 1978 I did not rented cottage because I need to save money for future emigration.


Irina after graduating from eighth grade had to undergo practical training at


Leningrad’s factory “ Svetlana”. She even earned some money over there and I bought a watch for her. Also I bought her a tourist ticket through her school to the Baltic Soviet Republics .


I was extremely surprised that on the day after


her departure, returning home, I found the child sitting on the stairs


next to our apartment .She had no key from apartment .It turned out that on arrival to Lithuania, they were put on a bus, that soon had an accident. Some children get hurt.


Irina even said that someone died. The continuation of the tour was not possible . Children were set to the Leningrad train and sent home. From the


train station she alone managed to reach our house . She had aching arm, where could be a fracture .


I called to my cousin doctor Volodia .He, as always, immediately responded and helped put Irina into the children's hospital .She spent a few days over there, they did everything what necessary in such cases and determined that nothing terrible with her arm, Thank God. But a psychological trauma remained a long time.


Irina was afraid to ride in the train, or in the car at high speed.


Rocking of train or car frightened her , she felt that the some kind of rollover might happen.


At the same time (somewhere in the middle of July), my team leader Nonna V. privately told me an interesting news.


In Leningrad, there was a Summer Cottages Trust, an organization, which rent out villas on


state prices, and these prices were 15-20 times lower than the private sector.


However, the applications of ordinary citizens to this trust did not considered, because


all villas at its disposal were given to large and medium-party


members . But no law that the state shall rent out cottages only to


high-ranking party members, existed . Theoretically , any Soviet


citizen could apply to such trust .In the summer of 1978 in late July, builders have just finished commissioning a new holiday village in Solnechnoe. Whole subdivision was built on swampy ground .A lot of mud lied around, but neat houses were already ready .Nobody from party bosses wanted to rent these cottages at the end of summer. So the Cottage Trust has decided to hand over these houses temporarily to common citizens. Nonna gave me the address of the Trust, and I applied for a cottage with written promise to leave the cottage in a month. I got the keys to a new clean house and soon Irina and Zerbi settled there.


The cost of this cottage was very low (15 or 20 rubles per month). When a month later I handed the manager of the subdivision the keys, I asked him how to rent a cottage in the next year .He answered me openly: “ It depends, who you are “.I knew this an advance. Anyway, we had the opportunity to stay a month in a privileged settlement for the Party members .To come over to our house was not easy due to lack of roads and because of the abundance of wet deep mud around.


I said Lida about this incredible opportunity, and she also managed to rent a cottage next to my one .Elena Solomonovna,


Olya and sheepdog Chana settled here .Everything looked well, except for


the fact that both of our dogs, being girls, do not live well together.


At best, they ignored each other, and in the worst ,they fight. Our Zerbi tend to prevail, and the poor Chana crawled into a corner, healing her wounds.

The final decision to leave the Soviet Union somehow come to me in the beginning of October of year 1978. Before this date I was still in doubts and hesitations. But after this date I had no hesitations.


In late 1978 I had the rare opportunity to learn something in


programming, which was very important to my potential


employment in the USA .In Leningrad at that time a school existed,


where engineers were trained in programming and in other new


subjects .They send a letter to our Institute with a proposal to submit some engineers for retraining .Of course, the most interesting was


a four-month course of programming. But it would be


very suspicious, if I, Chief Specialist, leave my work for 4 months.


Therefore I concentrated my efforts on how to achieve permission


for two-month course of programming .I explained Plusnin that


I needed this study to contact with many related institutions and organizations.


Even the two-month course looked a little strange for a Chief Specialist, but I persuaded Plusnin , that we need to write assignment for programming, and this job requires a deep understanding of the process of programming. Plusnin balked at first, but then agreed with my arguments. (Maybe he was sick of my request to hire to the our department couples of Jews ,maybe he wanted took a break from me).


So, my efforts were successful .2 months I was studying on the programming courses, where I understood some ideas of programming in BASIC, wrote end executed small programs, stuffed on punched tapes. Anyway, I learned the meaning in programming,


so that this area no longer was absolutely new for me . I was very conscientious student, helping other fellow students


in solving their problems .Because I did not know what awaits me in the U.S. A. ,I decided ,that even an elementary notion of programming would be very helpful.


Visiting shops with technical books, I bought many books on adjacent


engineering specialties, relying on my ability to learn unfamiliar things from books.


I was convinced that technical literature, would help me start my work not only as, say, an engineer on the instrumentation and automation, but as an electrical engineer .Simultaneously I tried to improve my knowledge of English language .Reading for me was not a problem, but then I had no idea that the phonetic problems of English language will be for me very difficult .By other words, my understanding of English conversation was difficult for me because my ears hardly distinguish speech sounds.


In studying the German language, as a child, I did not feel this problem, probably because the German pronunciation corresponds to the written text .However, studying English, you have to learn 2 languages:


written and conversational .In the spring of 1979, I enrolled in the course of spoken English language in the Forestry Academy .These studying occurred


in the Academy building next to my house, which was very convenient .The teacher was the middle-aged pretty woman who has lived with her husband several years in the Great Britain. The students were mainly a group of employees of famous plant “Electrosila”,who supposed to be sent on a business trip to Canada, and few Jews (including myself).


 Sessions were very lively and interesting, because the teacher,


trying to teach us conversational English. All students participated actively in this


process .As it done in England, we held discussions on various topics,


suggesting that everyone could say a word. For example, I remember how we simulated the members of British Parliament whether to grant


women the same voting right as to men .The students, of course, carried such nonsense, which would be difficult to understand even in pure Russian. One can only imagine how these speeches sounded rubbish on a mixture of broken Russian and broken English.


The endless laughter was in the classroom ,while a student was trying to say something .I am not sure what I got out from this class in terms of linguistics, but each visit of class brought positive emotions to a gray life. I waited for each lesson as a comedy show.


In April of 1979 Irina turns 16 years old. According to law she should


obtain a internal passport, the main document of each Soviet citizen. At this time she was able to choose the mother's surname, harmonious, native Russian name Kuznetsova .This would relieve her life in the Soviet Union. But since we decided to emigrate, then Irina took very suspicious for Russian people name Kheyfets .By this time the Rubicon was crossed, the decision to emigrate has been settled.

After finishing ninth grade, Irina, along with the class was to


go for a month to the farm for agricultural works .The problem arisen where to put the dog temporarily .No solution was found,


and by the time of departure to the farm for Irina nothing left than


take Zerbi with her to the school bus .Officially it was forbidden to take dogs, but we had no choice.


While Irina boarding the bus there was a conflict.


The school teachers have demanded to leave the dog .But all the kids stood up in unison of the protection of Irina with a dog, and the teachers had to yield .This way , Zerbi also went


for agricultural work (photo 51). This farm was located on the right bank of the Neva river. I got there by bus from Volodarsky bridge . Irinka stayed there with her girlfriends and felt himself well . Zerbi also was glad with her life, because she got a lot of food from cafeteria waste.


In June Lida and Stas unexpectedly received the permission to leave (in spite of Stas work in secret facilities ,but , probably ,their Stalin’s apartment would help them) and Lida fully


plunged into the world of sales and exchanges .She contacted some huckster and speculators ,who acquired goods from leaving people. I also needed to start active steps in this direction ,because the time was not on my side.


To apply for the Department issuing immigration permits (visa department)


it was necessary to provide proof of employment.


This meant to disclose to my superiors my


intention to emigrate .Accordingly to Communist Party rules the special treatment of these people should be started immediately.


The traitors of our homeland, leaving to the Zionist


Israel cannot be trusted to manage others people .It meant in turn, that I would be demoted to the level of ordinary engineer with fifty percent’s loss of my salary. There was another way: to quit my job. Several months our family could survive without my job .However, in the case of refusal of emigration how we suppose to survive? No enterprise would hire a person ,who intended to emigrate. So, this was a risky way .I was inclined to choose the second path.


Another reason was that I did not want to create a nasty problem for people I leave ,with whom I worked for many years.


Meanwhile, the summer was running out, and I needed to make a decision. I decided to submit my resignation from the institute, saying that I am changing my profession and start teaching in colleges.


Of course this pretext, was “sewn with white thread”(Russian expression). But ,fortunately for me my family demonstrated unity in this problem. Irinka and Bertha Solomonovna supported my decision, although


for various reasons .Irinka had unresponsive love (photo 53), and Bertha Solomonovna showed a high degree of generosity and altruism.


From her point of view it would be much better to have a granddaughter in Leningrad.


But she really wanted a better life for us with Irina and encouraged


us in this endeavor. (And maybe the old rivalry with her sister ,whose


son left Soviet Union in 1978, somehow subconsciously influenced her decision.)


Whatever it was, it was the self-sacrificing decision for her .


I was very grateful for her full support.


There was a target date for filing a request for my resignation after 21 years of work in “Proektavtomatika”. This was on July 31th

By this time, Plusnin has been chief engineer of the institute, and his position the


head of department was occupied by former Group leader Khranovsky George Leonidovich .He was always gloomy, unsociable man, former veteran and, of course, a member of Party .But he was not engaged in intrigues, was ingenuous and naive in


many things . Overall he was a narrow-minded, but not a bad guy.


Gathering courage, I put my resignation on his desk.


After reading my application, he was extremely surprised .His surprise was understandable . It is not easy to found a new job, especially for a person engaged in one of highest


position in the institute, the Chief Specialist .Nobody on this level


left a job .Other possible causes of dismissal


George L. did not suspected .Although I did not have many contacts with him, but I noticed that he did not want my dismissal.


“Maybe you are not satisfied with the salary? "he asked . So I'm sure that the director (New director was Sazonov)


would increase your salary .”


Anyway, he submitted my application to the Chief Engineer. The next


few days, meeting me, he asked: “ Did director called you? “ I knew that in my case, the director would not talk to me.


However, accordingly to labor laws, I had to work out


2 more weeks before I get a stamp in the passport about my resignation.


All this time I was imitating the work, while a lot of old colleagues approached my desk,


asking what is going on, since they heard about the resignation of one of the pillars of “Proektavtomatika.”


My personality immediately excited a lot of interest .Many asked me about the reasons for dismissal. If person is more or less close to me, I would not hide, and just told him that I am going to Israel. (officially permissions to leave


the Soviet Union were given as move to Israel).After 3-4 days after submitting my application the chief engineer Plusnin called and asked me to come in. He already knew the reason of my dismissal and he asked no


questions .But still our old work together and trust in me have him to react .I explicitly said that I decided to leave ,preventing troubles for the management of “Proektavtomatika”. He replied that if I would not dismissed, they would have been forced me to dramatically decrease in my position .Then, after a pause, he added: “ What about


Leypyasuo “ (Leypyasuo is a small village on the Karelian Isthmus, close


to Vyborg, which I liked visit to pick up cranberries ,I called this place “my swamp”. Each fall, I brought a bucket of cranberry from this place.) I said that I had to give up this trips .Plusnin did not know how to finish this conversation .He could not wish me success in emigration ,because he was


the Communist Party member and from official point of view I was a traitor. To blame me for this decision he could not, because he was not bad man. Therefore, he found nothing better than simply


get up from the table, not saying a word, and run out of room.


I sat for a moment, then another, he did not return, and then I had to leave his cabinet .This audience ended all my contacts with


the institute administration .On August 14 I finally got a stamp in my passport about my dismissal.


This gave me the opportunity to apply for a permission to emigrate through KGB department of the Leningrad ‘s Vyborg district. This department called OVIR (a department of getting emigration permits).



We did it with


Irina in the same memorable day August 14.Over there in OVIR we met an intelligent family Kagansky , which also on this day applied for emigration. The head of family was an artist, and their son Jack was the same age as Irinka .These people turned out to be even relatives of my friend Mark Mintz . In the following months we visited them a couple times . For some reason they were allowed to emigrate after us, and besides, they


traveled to New York, and we to Chicago .Therefore, in the New World our ways are separated.


     And now I want to tell about another event that occurred in the middle of


August, after the filing of documents in the OVIR .Probability of this event was so small that a clue may lie in the field of mysticism.


Among the friends and supporters, approached me during my


two weeks of forced stay in the workplace, was Seva Joffe ,the engineer working in a group of Zuckerman .As every sensible Jew, he was keenly interested in the fate of travelers.


And he was just a nice guy, always ready to help .I said him that for several years of unsuccessful searching I have not managed to find a decent woman who would become my wife and mother to Irina and be ready to emigrate. (I was familiar with many women, a total of at least 10.No particularly interesting women were among them. Although some of them were more or less acceptable.


But as soon as I announced to them about my intention to


leave, they shied away in horror .One of them even brought me a thick book, published by the Soviet Propaganda office about the unhappy fate of emigrants in


Israel and America .She discovered this way complete difference to my views .I set an another meeting to her just to


return the book. By mid of August I left a hope to arrange my own destiny for the short time of my staying in the Soviet Union.


           But Seva said that if I want, he can introduce me to a pretty young woman, adding that in his opinion, this woman and her


parents are still far from the intentions to emigrate .I had nothing to lose, after my dismissal I had a lot of free time, and I agreed to meet her.


I called on the phone and arranged a meeting


at 5 pm at the exit of the escalator in the metro station “Petrogradskaya”.


To make it easier to identify me, we agreed that I would keep in my hands the Newspaper “Pravda”. I would expected to see some regular Jewish chicken, plump with duck walk. (Seva could not describe her


in detail simply because, as it turned out, he did not see her). Imagine my surprise, when, having descended the escalator,


a young, slender, beautiful woman with subtle and not specifically


Jewish facial features come over to me.” Hello, my name is Lily “- said my new acquaintance, extending her hand .I was still impressed by the contrast between her look and my expectations and I was not quite sure what to do next.


I remembered that Nina always returned from work very hungry . Perhaps,


Lily, also is too hungry ,I thought . I suggested that we will have lunch at a cafeteria nearby on Grand Avenue .Later Lily told me that my invitation is disposed her to me, because she too was hungry .After dinner we walked through the Petrograd side and I told her that I has already filed papers to leave. I liked her answer: “You do not have to persuade me to depart this country.” We parted , on the condition that I would call.(Photo 54)


From my point of view , Lily turned out to be the most beautiful woman, with whom I was acquainted for all my life . In addition to this, she was intelligent woman and I felt her genuine sincerity.  She was a woman I could only dream of.


Our meetings started .I was not sure how I impressed


Lily until the moment when Lily called me out of a Rest Home, and said she already is looking forward to the end of the vacation.


Soon, I invited her to our apartment, acquainted her with Irina and treated he with fried mushrooms with potatoes .As she said later, this treat made an indelible impression on her.


I recall that at the end of September we went with Lily to the cinema .


Fashion leather coat covered her slender figure.


In the cinema, we met my former coworker Volodya Vasilyev.


Seeing me with a beautiful young woman, Volodya was very surprised, and spread the news throughout “Proektavtomatika”. I soon heard an echo of his message in the institute.


In the view of many other peoples , I not only leaving abroad, but also take away a beautiful woman .I am convinced that many of my colleges envied me.


 The head of “Proektavtomatika” personnel department Panfilov said that they not allowed me to leave. (He meant that his department should respond to the request of the OVIR about character of my work). I was not involved in secret works from State point of view, but one of my own invention, for whatever reason, was classified by the Institute of Patent Expertise .But, fortunately, Panfilov did not know about it.


Meanwhile, after submitting the documents to emigration the new life for me started. I had to get rid of the many goods by selling all that


possible, and buying clothes for myself and Irinka . Because of that our apartment began attending by nasty crowd of buyers of cheap goods .I did not bargained , considering that my main goal is to find job in America, and those pitiful money, which I could scrape together, selling our belongings, would not be serious help for me.

Here is extract from my letter to Stas and Lida in September who at this time live in Chicago , in the Stas mother apartment. “Irina continues to go to school, doing nothing but getting good grades. Each day on the evening 3 or 4 girls are coming and I hear laughter without end ,their


mouths are not closed, I do not understand how their jaws could endured this . Yesterday (September 27) we went to the Narva(Estonia) and bought her dress: Finnish


blouse and a skirt that looks like denim, but in reality ,synthetics . She also bought youth wool hat with a long scarf.”


In all this period I was actively helped by Bertha Solomonovna, for what I was very grateful to her.


In early November (the fourth or fifth in the morning), I got a phone


call, and a female voice asked politely: “Are you Yury Abramovich?”. “Yes.” I ask you to come to the appointed time to OVIR”. What it was?:


permission to leave or rejection, still remains unknown.


On the appointed day I and Irina came to the OVIR office .I was confident in getting a permission to leave .But talking to the some gathering people, I became nervous .It turned out to be, that while granting a permission to leave was very easy in the past, now some peoples are denied permission .I heard various tragic stories about people who were turned down.


But for us to Irina all ended happily, and we got permission to leave with a prescription to leave by December 2nd .The Panfilov threats, fortunately, did not work out.

Immediately, a feverish time of final preparation for departure started.


In wartime I have a subconscious fear of a huge luggage , which you could not even moved from one place to another one. Therefore, I immediately decided, and as it turned out later quite reasonable, that no big luggage ,sent by sea we will take.


I decided take only small luggage, which is allowed to take into airplane .It was 4 suitcases and soft bag .This decision saved me a lot of


my nerves .I do not need to pack, deliver to the loading station my luggage and paying bribes to the service peoples, so that your luggage would be finally took for delivery . It was not easy, taking into account a competition by departing peoples .

But still there was a lot of work. It was necessary to bring a lot of references to the visa department, including


a certificate about delivering your apartment to the city .To obtain this certificate you had to repair your apartment .However, this requirement was simplified by just paying to repair contractor and bringing copy of


financial statement, that money were paid. It was assumed that the apartment repair would be done after my departure. Some papers were needed from the last place of work and from the local housing bureaucrats.


In short, only by December, I managed to gather all the required papers. I came to OVIR to get permission to delay our departure, because we were not ready by 12/2.They extended leaving date to 12/23.Through former Lida’s acquaintance in the Aeroflot office on Nevsky Av. I managed to buy 2 tickets to airplane to Vienna on Sunday 12/23 .After that I need to get a visa stamp in the Dutch Embassy, representing at that time interests of Israel. For legalization of some personal documents in the Austrian Embassy, and also for the legalization of all personal


documents to the Soviet Ministry of Justice and Foreign Affairs I had to go to Moscow .Among departing people circulated a booklet showing how to arrange all the affairs in Moscow for one day . Even addresses of taxi drivers who supposed to drive all future emigrants to needed addresses, without asking unnecessary questions .On December 13, I arrived by the morning train to Moscow and found at


Leningrad railway station taxi driver with whom I contacted yesterday by phone.


He took in taxi 2 more people with the same problems .I started the race in Moscow. It is necessary to mention that the driver not only knew exactly where to go,


but he knew in what order to visit all offices. But, anyway,


fear that I would not finish all papers legalization for one day make me nervous . Five minutes to six


(It was already dark), we slipped through the door of the Soviet Ministry of Foreign Affairs,


to get the latest stamps on legalized documents .Clerks i already


removed their stuff from desks. But still couple minutes left till the end of workday and we got a seals on our papers .The driver drove us to the Leningrad’s railway station, we paid him (I think, 40 rubles per person), and I entered the train with the consciousness of the executed duties .On Dec. 14 in the morning, I arrived home and continue my last days at the Soviet soil.


Meanwhile, the more I learned Lily, the more I like her.


I understood well women, the manners they spoke in conversation to me was enough for me to understand who I'm dealing with.


But this time I realized that I had the great fortune to meet such an intelligent, beautiful, slim, woman who is not depraved by male attention .Her parents as well as mine, were from Belorussia. Her mom, as well as my mom, was a physician . I noticed in Lilya signs of the same upbringing, which I received in my family .Lilya was characterized by deep honesty, sincerity and the inability to lie .It was not just my opinion. Kirill Chemena ,whom I acquainted with Lilya, wrote to me later : “ I'm sure Lily will be an


intelligent and beautiful wife, whom I would wish for myself .”


One philosopher said: “ It is not happy marriage when the spouses are looking at each other, but when they are facing the same direction .”


While Lily was not the first woman in my life, but she definitely


was the first one to understand my originality


and appreciate the quality that distinguish me from the common gray peoples .I knew that she had no shortage of admirers (photos 55,56 in USA). Later, Lily tells me that felt in me a kindred soul, as though in the former life we were relatives or close friends.


On the other hand, we have been acquainted for a short time, and from the point view, of the, so-called, common sense, it seemed very


imprudent to her to entrust in little known person.


The matter was compounded by the fact that, although Lily’s mother agreed to go any place with her,


her father, a former military officer, was very far from this idea .


Lily applied titanic effort to get Dad to agree to depart.


He only agreed because, being not healthy


man, he afraid to stay alone in the Soviet Union.


              Serious problem accommodated by the fact that Lilya and


her parents did not have invitation from Israel’s authorities .At that time the Soviet authorities seeking to restrict the flow of departing peoples, accepted very simple method to prevent it: do not deliver mail from Israel to peoples who awaiting invitations .No invitation and no emigration! Very simple .Do not deliver mail to the recipients, and transfer it to the KGB, because KGB wanted to know who is not happy in the Soviet Union. Rumors spreaded fast among the Jews that the only way to get invitation from Israel was to send it from Israel with diplomatic mail .( I had a friend in Israel ,whom I later asked to send invitations for Lilya’s family. He answered that this is not easy, but he will do it under condition that Lilya will talk to his son, living in Leningrad and explain him the need to leave Soviet Union. Lilya performed this very unpleasant task and his son soon arrived to USA. This way Lilya’s family received invitations from Israel).

         Our last week staying on Soviet soil was somehow confused. Unknown people come to pick up the remaining things . A couple of days before departure, I invited my friends to my home for farewell party. Lilya saw my friends who maintained contact with me, despite my official label as a traitor of Soviet Union .Among them were Tamara Kurkova (Nina’s girlfriend), peoples from my former work as Alla Storozhilova, Vera Chugueva and our with Nina common friends as, Tanya and Misha Mirkin, Izya and Ada Hersonskie .In general, it was a regular party, as if nothing serious happened .It was a lot of laugh, when I told how I studied driving. My former coworker Vera Chugueva, who certainly had artistic talent, told funny stories about her interaction with police. All of them wanted me and Irina success in America.


The last 2-3 days before our departure Irinka’s friends were


coming without ends and our door was not closed .They all loved Irina and were sad for her departure .Later we learned that there were groups of girls that binding


together around Irina, and after her departure, they did not communicate.


     Two days before our departure on Dec. 21, 1979 the official Communist Party newspaper “Pravda” published a long article on


100-th anniversary of Stalin’s birthday . The whole article praised the wise leader who won the war and turned the Soviet Union into a mighty State. I had apprehension after reading this article on the stand, that the return of the Stalinism is possible .After Stalin's death in 1953, I have not seen


in the official newspaper, so laudatory eulogy to this bandit and criminal .At the end of the day I was still under the impression of this article ,I left


home and went to the stand to read it again, but this paper was carefully cut from newspaper with some caring hand.


Someone, apparently was very inspired with future rehabilitation of Stalin. I thought then that we're leaving on time.


Our plane on route to Leningrad-Vienna flew on December 23. We throw a last glance at our apartment and house on Novorossiysk Street, where we lived for 15 years .Then we gathered our meager belongings of the 4 suitcases ,I checking again the presence of


all documents, including currency around $ 250, and we ride in a taxi to Airport very early in the morning . I with Irina were accompanied by Lily and Irinka’s girlfriend Natasha Chernich . We exposed to agonizing long expectations and custom inspections. Opening and closing the suitcases took a long time. However, customs officer did not stir up our things, just open the suitcase, and throwing a casual glance, said: “Close in”. (Apparently, they knew well before that this emigrant is not rich man but a simple Soviet engineer, who has no currency, and no jewels .They have a trained eye).


Last farewell kissing .We tried to keep up, talking to Lily about a future meeting in America .However, deep down I had no confidence that this meeting will be held, because nobody knew what State decision regarding emigration would be in effect in the year 1981. Finally, a glass door that separates us from the Soviet peoples was locked .After that we were lead to the waiting room. We still napping for some time (2-3 hours) on the benches before boarding a plane .It is dawning as in ordinary winter day in Leningrad .Finally, we were loaded onto buses and driven through the snowy field to the plane.


I thought that most of the passengers are emigrants, as we are. However, then I looked on the faces of passengers ,I understood, that most of them are ordinary Russian. I came to conclusion that not more than half of the passengers were Jews ,which meant that these people are emigrants.


Finally, the plane left the runway, and seemed to took off.


Few seconds more, and we are in the air.


To paraphrase a famous song:



                … The country ,which is already not our motherland melted away in a morning fog…





                          Chapter 11



                          In a free world



                           EUROPEAN TRANSIT



In a 2,5 hours non-stop flight, our “Aeroflot” TU-104 plane landed in the Vienna Airport .The first time in my life I had to go to a capitalist world, and breathe a different air, free from the constant care of the Soviet authorities and KGB .Now the most important question possessed me was about what will happen to us in the free world, what is our fate ?


We were lucky because all our luggage, consisting of four suitcases, arrived aboard the same plane, while many peoples still looking for their luggage. We were met in Vienna by the representatives of Jewish organizations and they organized to their credit the perfect procedure and transportation of several dumbfounded and prone to panic people. After unloading from the aircraft still and while we still standing


on the airfield they had invited all exiles to assemble in certain place. A small middle aged man come over and asked: “ Who is going to


Israel? “ From our group of 50-60 people separated 3-4 individuals .I felt ashamed that an ungrateful public, including us, used the Israeli visas to get out the Soviet Union, while the real destination of emigrants was the United States of America. But this unpleasant moment was necessary to experience.


After waiting a couple of minutes and making sure that no one else responds to his call, the man with the words: “ The Israelis, follow me! “ led a miserable group of people to some unknown place.


After that an unexpected thing happened.


Directly on the airfield we were separated .Women with children were separated from men. (I think that this done due to the possibility of terrorism at the airport, but they did not explained us). Soon a comfortable bus took them somewhere. The organizers told us


that the men to be brought to the same place in a couple of hours. Any Soviet man ,who found himself the first time in a Western country, feels uncomfortable at first,


not understanding completely the new rules of behavior . Irina was only 16 years old, her life experience was almost nonexistent .


The poor girl was left alone with strangers and they were taken somewhere. Her Dad remained at the airport in a foreign country. She worried ,of course, and


some women even soothed her.


I and other men were brought into the airport, where after a while we got our luggage . Fortunately for us, all our bags and bale were shipped to the same flight, and I got all luggage . Many people received only one piece of luggage, and subsequently had to seek the rest suitcases.


After getting the luggage and a pre-registration


we were told that special bus supposed to arrive. After some


waiting a bus arrived and we were taken to a third-rate hotels in Vienna. In the lobby we were reunited with our families . Irinka was there with other women, so that we were not cheated .We were welcomed by the vigorous growth and hard features man. Immediately he reproached us in refusing to go to Israel .He even threatened , that we could be sent to Israel, against our will on the basis of the supposed agreement between Prime Minister of Israel, and Americans. But the former Soviet people during the years of life in the Soviet Union acquired immunity against any agitation and propaganda . Gloomy silence was in the air while we were awaiting end of his speech.


           Before our departure from the Soviet Union I became aware of some letters send in summer of 1979 by previous emigrants .They supposed to live in cheap hotels in Vienna, commissioned by the Jewish Agency, the dirty rooms are housed for 10 people. Therefore, before I left the Soviet Union I took from my friend Mark Yudkowsky , who left earlier, addresses of


decent hotels in Vienna .I asked the agitator about possibility to go to one of these hotels.


I got the answer: “You, sir, a free man and can go anywhere “. But I and Irina, while we were free people, have only $ 250.


Therefore, I decided to abstain from independent actions and follow


the crowd .Soon all of us were send to different cheap hotels.


I and Irina were lucky again: we were brought to the


apartment on 5th floor of a house.


In this apartment we were allocated a room in which three beds were installed. However, except for 2-3 days, when a third person was placed in our room ,we stayed there alone.


          Irina was in low spirits, since instead of constantly


present in her life friends she found herself in a position of isolation.


I brought from the Soviet Union small Radio Receiver which was silent, because the Soviet customs officials pulled out batteries .They believed that inside the batteries we can smuggle jewels . (But we saw jewels only in museums.) Therefore the next morning, I jog through a rainy Vienna, found a private electronic shop and immediately bought six 1.5 volts batteries


of Company Fillips) .Wireless Radio Receiver immediately revived, and Irina came to life again. Ultimately ,we are travelling to Chicago, where our friends awaiting us and it was necessary to


survive only a temporary period of transit.


The next day we received from Jewish organizations small allowance in Austrian schillings for a few days of living .With the help of old residents of our apartment (These people who lived there for more than three days)


we went to the Viennese market. We walked probably 45 minutes, through the beautiful streets of Vienna and city’s Parks .The market was abounded in a variety of all eatables. It was hard to fix attention on something. Strange and unfamiliar to us fruits and vegetables, and hundreds of sausages, all kinds of yogurt and fresh rolls of different varieties, all this abundance prevented us to concentrate .Having a modest amount of the money, I decided to postpone the introduction of new dishes to the best days .To avoid staying in line in our apartment kitchen to cook dinner, I bought simple, unpretentious food: sausages, bread, bananas and yogurt, which was similar to our beloved kefir.


In the evening we strolled through Vienna streets, peering into the lighted


displays of expensive shops, considering exposed samples of


furniture, clothing, electrical and radio equipment as museum exhibits.


In a couple of days we had to come in the HIAS (Hebrew organization for emigrants help), where we were supposed to register in order to further processing our entry documents to America.


         The corridor was crowded by Russian emigrants. It was possible to feel even some excitement as the students have before exams .All people were waiting interviews with HIAS employees . People did not know what questions will ask employees of HIAS .I heard some increased nervousness waiting invitation to the office. Rumors circulated that


HIAS is trying to establish ethnic background of emigrants and they try to confirm your Jewish identity .Therefore, they supposed to ask about Jewish holidays and traditions.


I and Irina knew very little about these things ,because our family was very far from religion. So ,we had a chance to be considered as non-Jews .But reality destroyed all my fear .The woman who talked to us, did not asked a single question


regarding our Jewishness .Perhaps, my typical Jewish appearance


first time in my life made beneficial impression on office person, and no doubt in our Jewishness was aroused .My Russian last name


Heifetz was written in English transcription. Accordingly to these rules


Russian letter X is written as KH. This is the reason that remaining years I was called KHEYFETS . An extra letter K was the result of stupidity of some


administrator, setting rules of transcription .


Later even the American Jews could not understand


which ethnic group we belong to (not a Hindu?). and happily nodding


head, when we told them this is the same name, which had outstanding violinist Jascha Heifetz. (And his name was written in the English transcription as HEIFETS). No matter what, we were registered as willing to go to America, immigrants. The HIAS interview was a beginning of further paperwork ,needed to enter the USA. In Vienna, we spent 8 days with Irina, humbly greeted the New 1980 Year.


On Jan. 2th

we with big group of other peoples were sent to Rome.


Meanwhile, the world was experiencing significant events .On 25th

December Soviet troops invaded Afghanistan, replacing the existing Afghan government with an another one ,more friendly to Moscow. This way started protracted and unpopular war .Gradually, even the Russian people are imbued with anti-war sentiments.


In the 1941-1945 Great Patriotic War nobody in the Soviet army cared about the burial of the fallen troops, many places of mass burial were unknown .In Afghan war the Soviet army tried to follow the U.S. example. American took out their dead soldiers from Vietnam, and buried them on American soil .Similar way the Soviet army took out the dead bodies from Afghanistan .However, the funerals brought a remote, little-known war


into homes and houses of relatives and neighbors, undermining the already low patriotism. However, at least initially, the success accompanied to the Soviet army, and the myopic sclerotic leaders of the Soviet Union triumphed victory.


While in Vienna, I finally got the opportunity to openly express my thoughts on the situation in the Soviet Union .I wrote a letter to my favorite commentator of British Broadcasting Corporation Anatoly


Maximovich Goldberg, where I expressed my opinion


on the article in “Pravda” to the 100-year anniversary of the Stalin’s birth.


I got a friendly response from him to my return address in Rome.


He thanked me for the information and wished me all success in the USA.


     So ,on January 2th

we left for Rome.


I was particularly struck by the excellent organization of transportation


hundreds of peoples, immigrants, people of different ages


and characters, calm and aggressive, balanced and panicked


from nothing .We were brought in buses to the railway station in the open room where we spent a couple hours waiting a train . We were not allowed to walk on platform and Austrian policemen, armed with Israeli guns “Uzi”, guarded us.


When the train arrived, the organizers of our transportation lined up all immigrants .After that each family was separately taken out of line through the platform and brought to the assigned to us car.


So, I and Irina were brought to the sleeping car and pointed out what


place in the car we should take. (In Russia, similar situation of fitting


the train would be in accordance with the description of famous humorists Ilf and Petrov's :


“ The passengers ran with nodes from the tail of the train to head back and forth, trying to get into at least some car .Conductors bravely defended their cars from passengers .It turned out ,that railway ticket office sold many of the wrong tickets .Passengers pleaded and cried ,but conductors stoically answered that ticket sales is not their business, their business is to seat peoples with the right tickets. (I am quoting from memory) “.


Our neighbors in the coupe was a pleasant intelligent people from Moscow Joseph and Dina Feldman .We lived with them in our Vienna apartment, but in the train we became friendly .Josef was about 65 years old, he worked in Moscow in the apparatus of a ministry, and our views on the Soviet reality completely coincided .Dina was younger him by 10 years, she was Russian .They moved to their children in Houston .Later, when we came to America, a mailing correspondence started. Dina wrote enthusiastic letters about their new life .Because our situation with Irina


was different: we still had to win a place in the sun, sometimes overstepping our usual nature, I did not share all her delights .


Therefore, gradually our correspondence damped.


Our train Vienna-Rome moved at night, passing over some infinite tunnels Our car was closed, so no one could sit in on the intermediate


railway stations. In the morning the train stopped at a small station


not far from Rome, and we were told that it was time for unloading. We get out of the car in sunny day, but we saw no city around .It turned out that, we were unloaded at


a small station near Rome in order to avoid attacks of Arab terrorists.


We were put into buses and brought to small hotels.


Our hotel was located on the outskirts of Rome, from where the bus could get to Rome in 25 minutes.


        The next 2 weeks we lived on the hill in a little old hotel .From the top of the hill we overlooked the valley with neat houses, gardens and roads leading to Rome .I and Irina got isolated room, and everything would be fine, if not cold .For us Italy was always associated with warm sea, blue sky and oranges .But in January the temperature inside our hotel did not rise above 48 degree of F .This happened due to the fact that after the recent Arab’s oil embargo Europe in a whole and, Italy, particularly, remained at half-starved oil supply .The heat batteries were heated only twice a day for an hour or so, that was not enough to warm the room ,where the floor was laid with marble plates .However, the organization of our life was great: we were fed with three meals a day and were given money in local currency as allowance. Soviet upbringing explained citizens that retail shopkeepers, speculators represent a capitalist evil which should be eliminated .However, apparently Jewish brains are immune from brainwashing. Everywhere a small but critical mass of former Soviet citizens, whether at the entrance to the hotel or in a city garden spontaneously organized a market and former Soviet citizens were turned into small traders.


          It was found that Russian emigrants taken from the Soviet Union all possible stuff for sale: there were clothes, costumes, textiles, footwear,


watches, cameras, binoculars, all sorts of dolls, crystal and other trash.


          In large such markets diversity of emigrant’s goods could


compete with department store of the Soviet Union.


          I and Irina came to the possible enrichment of the upcoming sales very thoughtless. Besides a camera and binoculars we had nothing to sell, and even those items we sold to speculators .The speculators were the Jews, which were very familiar with the marketing of different merchandises .They bought items from newly arrived peoples for resale on the main market in Rome .Next to our small hotel was a private grocery store,


where I and Irina for the first time tasted the unknown


in the Soviet Union yogurt.


           The next day after our arrival we in companionship of two relatively young people went to Rome . I was surprised that the bus driver sang Neapolitan songs, to which, apparently, the passengers were used to. They ignored songs, as in the Leningrad’s passengers of underground trains pay no attention to


person reading a newspaper. The bus drove us to a city square, and immediately we were stunned by the abundance of pedestrians, kiosks and transports, moving all directions without apparent rules.


            In an effort to save for the future uncertainty dollars, which exchanged to us by former homeland, I and Irina decided abstain


from a tour to Italian cities, limiting our tourist interests through the bus tour of the Rome .I am not sure about Irina, but I was most impressed by St. Peter's Catholic cathedral in Vatican .All luxury,


grandeur, gold and pictures of the crucifixion of Christ inspire incoming visitor with the thought of the impermanence of human existence on earth and the future


benefits beyond the Earth's life . Entering the Cathedral of St. Peter, I clearly felt that such an unearthly splendor of stained glass, chandeliers, tall ceiling and faces of the saints could not be created in the name of the myth. The cathedral builders were inspired by something beyond Earth , I thought .Being a non- religious person I seriously considered the following argument : Life in the Soviet Union from your birth till death or emigration consisted from lies. I am not remember a case when authorities told us the truth, at best, half-truths.


Therefore, I thought, it was very incredible that only one their argument, that God does not exist, is correct.


This was my argument for the existence of God or


Higher Intellect .I seemed Cathedral of St. Peter with his emotionally


charged atmosphere, confirmed this idea.(Now, when I translating this book to English in the year 2010 I don’t think so, but I prefer to consider this point in more detail in my notes).


In the meantime, our lives in a hotel lasted only 2 weeks, we were told that we should use our allowance money to rent an apartment for the remaining time in Italy .At that time Russian émigrés


tried to live in two small towns near Rome: Ladispoli


and Ostia .I and Irina went to Ladispoli, where we rented nothing ,but I met my former institute’s classmate Mark Lanin, who supposed to in a few days fly to America. Fortunately, we did not have to continue search for apartments.


To save given to us money allowance 2 families of Russian emigrants usually rented one apartment .People are looking whom to invite in common apartment. I and Irina as intelligent Leningrader’s , proved to be very suitable for apartment sharing.


We received suggestions from different families .We agreed to rent an apartment in Ostia together


with a Moscow family of four (husband, wife and 2 sons).


           Head of the family was very energetic, vibrant man of 55, he knew only two words in Italian, but he could communicate well with gestures ,grimaces and mimic .Most importantly , he was completely alien to shyness, propriety, modesty and other cultural attributes.


He believes he can fool any emigrant, although the vast majority


of them were also extremely shifty. I and Irina moved with them


in an apartment in Ostia near railway station .But our family consisted from only two peoples ,while their family included four people. In spite of this and in spite of situation ,when his wife practically occupied kitchen completely with cooking , we paid equal share for apartment .She cooked and steamed in a small dirty kitchen, always regretting her Moscow apartment, while I just prepared warm sausages on a hot plate. But main frustration of our neighbor was that the previous tenant ,a Jew from


Odessa, who already flew to San Francisco, still managed to fool him by saying that the


apartment paid by February 5 and ripped off our money for 5 days of February.


At the same time a few days later the landlord demanded from us


fee for the entire February, saying that the previous tenant paid only for January.


My neighbor was distressed about it every day, complaining to me: “ I felt inwardly that he is a crook, I did not understand how I could believe him .”


On my advice to forget about it, he agreed, but the next day he again


returned to this subject, trying as popular expression said, to “whip a dead horse”.


I think his self-respect was greatly impaired and undermined by this incident.


Our departure from Italy to America HIAS (Hebrew immigrants association) appointed on February 19, and the neighboring family was leaving on February 14. Our neighbor organized a heavy activity, because he had to rent out our apartment and get money for the remainder of February.


He persuaded HIAS to set our departure


also for February 14.Therefore we released apartment on February 14, and our neighbor rented out an apartment and frankly returned to us half of the money for the second half of February.

Our short stay at Ostia was instructive and


interesting. Seaside town of Ostia is located, approximately one hour


drive from Rome on a train .As was said by knowledgeable Russian emigrants in Ostia part of the city was named “communist district”, where poor people lived, where streets and houses


were dirty and neglected, and where you could easily be robbed. However, apartments in this area were significantly cheaper .The another part of the city characterized by our emigrants, as “fascists district ”.In this area homes were well maintained, the streets were clean, and order and safety was maintained .But apartments in this area of city


were significantly more expensive .The our apartment near the train station was in a


neutral zone, and the price of the apartment did not break an irreplaceable


dent in our small allowance. It was important that next to our house


was a private store of cheap and nutritious chicken wings ,which were


basic nutrition of emigrants , called by them “Wings of the Soviets.”


(Similarly to a frequently used phrase in the Soviet Union


for the title of a popular soccer team).


HIAS organized in Ostia the Hebrew club, where, as in


ordinary Soviet clubs, dance parties were held, and Irina, the first time after a long break, found the youth company .As for me, there was no better place than the library, because I was shocked with


abundance of literature in Russian, which in the Soviet Union was considered forbidden. I avidly read the book of Avtorkhanov A. “The riddle of Stalin's death.”


Avtorkhanov was former pre-war senior party official in Grozny .He was arrested and tortured in the dungeons of the NKVD, but he was able to move to the West during war’s time. Explaining Stalin's death as a result of the conspiracy, and possessing, as they say in the West


only circumstantial evidences, Avtorkhanov logically analyzed even the most minor facts that western historians would have ignored. But we know that in a centralized Soviet empire nothing happened by chance. I was highly impressed by this small book .To unfamiliar with the Soviet system person is hard to imagine that absolutely all the press, radio and television in the Soviet Union were under the most severe control of the ruling party, and its


Politburo .Therefore, information to Soviet peoples was severely restricted and contained only information Politburo wanted to say them.


Of course, the many facts were ignored or distorted . Briefly, our heads in the Soviet Union were immersed in ocean of lies. Independent media did not exist, and the KGB watchful eye on media ,suppressed all attempts to create some underground publications.


But some useful information could be caught from


Official Publications, if not read what is written, but pay attention


on what is not written, that is, as they say in the circles of intellectuals, read not the published text ,but between text.


Uncle Zodik and I reached a high skill in this type of reading.


Sometimes we predicted the future events .Here is an example .I already mentioned briefly in relating to the year 1953 that after, so-called conspiracy of Jewish doctors, national newspapers published daily satires, in which ridiculed some crooks or a rogues and a “hero” has always been Jewish man .However, his nationality was not mentioned (they retained some communist internationalist ideas of equality of nations).


But newspapers published middle names and surname of the story character, so that the reader had no doubt that this is a Jew, for example, Isaac Solomonovich Rabinovich . The Communist Party approaching to


the Russian people, saying: “ See, these Jewish people are rogues, scoundrels and scums .They should be exclude from life between us, the Soviet people .” Therefore, such propaganda is easily reached Russian who


always believed in malignancy of the Jews, so it was very easy to develop anti-Semitic feelings .These feelings came to the surface and were manifested everywhere openly .But suddenly, as if by magic, immediately after death of Stalin anti-Semitic campaign suddenly stopped .The caricatures and stories concerning Jewish criminality disappeared completely.


I with Uncle Zodik immediately realized that the highest level of Communist Party leadership requested to stop the anti-Semitic propaganda and that we can now breathe easier .This assumption was absolutely correct.


At that time we did not know who gave this command, later we learned that was made by the all-powerful interior minister Lavrenty Beria, who


organized and led a conspiracy to eliminate Stalin.

Going back to Avtorkhanov book ,I would like to note ,that


he gave a brilliant analysis of a plot, based,


mainly, on the analysis of connotation in the Soviet national newspapers and some conflicting statements of Khrushchev .Using a chess terminology, I and my uncle Zodik were a first-class chess players in the understanding of Soviet system. Avtorkhanov certainly was gross master . Subsequent


publications, hints and recollections of various Communist party figures, confirmed that conspiracy against


Stalin existed, and certainly not for Jews saving , but for the safety of the Stalin’s Politburo members. They were taught with experience


of the thirties, and felt that Stalin was preparing a new purge,


intending to replace them with younger members of the party. Older Stalin wanted to act in old pattern, but his companions became now the smart students of their boss.


Avtorkhanov brilliantly revealed an unknown at that time


real history.


In addition to this book, I could not tear myself away from the other interesting books, such as a book by the same author “The Technology of Power”, where Avtorkhanov analyzes the process of power concentration in the hands of the General


Secretary of the Party and the elimination of its real or imaginary enemies.


               Another center of attraction for Russian immigrants in Ostia was the so-called American, or rather, Missionary Club, where nice and friendly young guys and girls really tried to steer


misguided souls of the emigrants to road of Christian salvation.


I and Irina visited this club . However , our emigrants were attracted to this club not because of thoughts about saving souls. They were very interested with free coffee and cookies .How many souls were rescued I don’t know, but Baptists Church certainly suffered material damage from former Soviet people striving to snatch the maximum possible to eat for free.


Located after refreshments in comfortable chairs, our emigrant audience listened stories about the prophet Daniel .This Jewish prophet,


as I understood , taken place somewhat apart from the rest of the Old Testament prophets


and he is not recognized by the orthodox Jews .Extensive literature dedicated to interpretations of his writings . The young man standing at the blackboard, covered


some formulas, reminding me of our mathematics teacher in the


Institute Constantine Shahno .The difference was that Shahno performed his job dull and without enthusiasm, but a religious young man in the American club Ostia was very inspired .Auditoria favorably listened him, while crunching cookies and looking at the table with treats, whether or not new sweets are arrived.


            After the lecture a young teacher answered


few questions .People , who are seriously interested, crowded near him. I was pleasantly impressed not so much with the essence of his lecture as with his naive attempts to bring his belief to the callous former Soviet citizens who are strongly resistant to any propaganda.


I even took some of the free recommended literature in Russian, because I believed at that time that a sincere conviction would not flourish in a vacuum, probably at least something is real in his lecture. However, I will say that on my arrival in Chicago, I even tried to go to one of place ,mentioned in in those brochures, but found the Baptist Center over there with many black peoples. Gradually my desire to further explore the creation of prophet Daniel disappeared.


            Jewish club in Ostia operated also courses in English, where middle-aged American woman conscientiously and meticulously was


trying to improve our English . From those courses, I remembered the two important words for future employment .These were verbs: hire and fire.


            Whatever it was, time was running fast, started February, and with it warm sunny days, although the sea was still very cold.


We passed the interview at the U.S. embassy in Rome, thanks to good HIAS work we have not had any problems with registration papers to enter


the United States . In the American embassy pretty Italian woman asked me, what is the cause of our emigration from the Soviet Union (religious or political but not economic), I replied that the cause-political.


And it was the sheer truth, for I have with the Communist Party (the ruling Communist


Party of the Soviet Union), bitter perennial controversy.   And on Feb. 14, 1980, I and Irinka with a standard set of four trunks sunk into HIAS ordered bus and arrived at the Rome International Airport Fyumichino .Rumors of the impending strike by airport workers were, fortunately, incorrect, and after a short waiting our Boeing plane took-off the non-stop flight to New York.


         I still thinking about my ability to find a job in an unfamiliar world. (I thought that my life gives me the third serious challenge: first- evacuation from Leningrad at the age of 9, the second- immersion in the working class society after graduation from the college, and now, there is a third test -again immersion in an alien environment .The first two tests I have performed well, and what will happen with the third one, is not clear.)


This day, February 14,year 1980 seemed to have no end, as our Boeing


flow westward, not letting the sun get away from the horizon.


But, finally, we landed at JFK airport in New York.


We were met by representative of New York HIAS, and like obedient


lambs followed him .I was very impressed by a frontier guard, because we used to see these people in Soviet Union as rough guys with a straight face and watchful eyes piercing right through you. But here in New York a frontier guard was unexpectedly for us friendly, smiling Jewish woman in uniform.


“Welcome to the United States”-she said, sticking a white sheet of Refugee paper to our green Israeli visa issued in the Soviet Union .I mumbled something in reply, to which she replied that I have a Good English .This was lesson of courtesy in America: Don't make people feel bad about their language skill.


For most people, a symbol of a free country is the Statue of Liberty or a chain of majestic skyscrapers of Manhattan or White


House.


For me, forever a symbol of United States of America remained this dressed in uniform border guard, an ordinary Jewish woman.



                  END OF THE FIRST BOOK



                   June 2003





Afterword.



Since there is no assurance that the second book will be written,


I found it necessary to share some thoughts in the afterword.


This book is not for publication or internet .This story of


my life is written for descendants who become interested in their


ancestors .


The same way, I would be very interesting to read about my life


ancestors in the 18 or 19 centuries. However, absolutely no information about their lives exist . I think that among my grandchildren or great grandchildren or great-great grandchildren will be the individual, for whom stories ,described here, present a large interest . I hope there is a link of time, when long passing days and years will break


into the present life of reader of these lines. From the darkness of long time departed years, I


warmly welcome you, my dear reader!


I was lucky with the times, when I lived. The great


war of 1941-45, did not touched me seriously, because I was underage ,the horrors of the Holocaust


escaped me, because I was born in the Soviet Union territory ,not fallen under the occupation of German armies .Evacuation from Leningrad


was successful for me, because we immediately drove to the east, although many children were trafficked from the city to the south, toward the advancing Germans troops.


And in the subsequent post-war time the nuclear balance


between the Soviet Union and the United States provided


long period of peace. (At that time the Muslim fanaticism have not yet


manifested itself ).


 I hope that Western civilization will be able to defend itself against Muslim fanaticism. Otherwise, your life and the future


will be under greater threat than exists today, because


the technology of killing and destruction only improving with centuries.


The influence of religious fanatics on the minds of the illiterate, ignorant people ,unfortunately ,will continue.


But I still hope that, realizing the impending danger, the countries of Western civilization, unite and fight until the end of the self-styled


representatives of Allah.


And I sincerely wish you, your family, a good luck in life


in this great country! "Let your wishes come true and let over your heads, will be only a peaceful, clear, blue sky.”





















































































































































































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