Experiences in Russia 1931


Days 14 to 28


First published & copyrighted by the Alton Press, Inc, Pittsburgh, USA in 1932.


Transcription & republication by Dr. M. S. Colley & N. L. Colley. © 2002-03. All Rights reserved. For further information: www.colley.co.uk/garethjones/legal.htm  ; the domain from where this file was originally downloaded.


Original Source material from the diaries of Gareth Jones' visit to the Soviet Union with Jack Heinz II , in Autumn 1931.  For further Soviet articles by Gareth Jones, please visit: www.colley.co.uk/garethjones/  

Fourteenth Day


I went with Mrs. Patterson and her son to see a Prophylactia for former prostitutes this morning.  The girls are sent there after receiving hospital treatment.  The authorities attempt to change their lives, furnish them work in a healthy atmosphere, pay them, and give them “culture.”  There are 120 girls in this Prophylactia.  Their work consists of knitting cotton stockings by machine.  Even here they have Shock Brigade workers who display red pennants with their records on them.


We had the privilege of visiting Madame Krupskaya, Lenin’s widow, a woman of sixty years, most kindly, most simple, and fine.  Unfortunately she would not speak French, only Russian, and consequently I could not understand what she said.  However, I could tell by her expression that her heart was in her work in the schools, and that she was proud to tell foreigners of this work.


She had white, whispy hair, brushed closely back from her face, a slightly twisted mouth, and heavy prominent eyelids.  One eye was a little bloodshot.  Her smile, however, was indeed full of sympathy and love for children.  Her speech was clear and simple, without hesitation, and logical to a remarkable degree.  It was a wonderful interview, with a really fine person.


As she is at the head of the Primary School System of Russia, education was the subject she discussed. Here are points she made:


Education must teach the child and the worker everything about production.  Upon production she laid great stress at all times.  The children must learn about factories and mines and farms, and how to increase production, she explained.  The workers must also learn, and then help others.


There is a great desire among workers to study, and in some factories practically all the workers go to evening classes.


Then these workers go out to the collective farms to teach organization to the peasants.


Factories have special connections with the Kolhozi, and workers go from the factories to the Kolhozi and give the peasants the benefit of their organizing abilities.  The factory workers have learned how to work and organize in groups, whereas the peasant has only been accustomed to work for himself.


Thus the factory worker brings to the village his experience in working and organizing.  He also brings cultural education.  He teaches the peasant to read and write.  This is essential, not only from the cultural viewpoint, but also in knowing how to run a collective farm. I t is necessary to keep accounts, to make contracts, to figure and to budget.


Then she spoke of the children and Polytechnical Education.  Polytechnical Education is now the great motto.  Its aim is to educate the children to become at the same time workers and collective owners of industry.  Thus it lays great stress on the part the future citizen must play in production.  Each school has an arrangement with a factory or collective farm.  The pupil frequently visits the factory and learns about production by practical experience in handling machines.  When the children go to the collective farms they learn about life in the villages, and they also bring culture to the peasant.


This summer, for example, 500 children went from Moscow to Crimea.  They all worked four hours a day and thus helped to reduce the shortage of labor that was apparent everywhere in the Soviet Union.  In their spare time, they went on excursions, bathed, played games; and then returned home healthy and happy.


Workers and peasants are everywhere learning to read and write. Some people of eighty are trying to learn.  In Saratov, there was a Pioneers’ crusade against illiteracy.  The Pioneers visited every home and grouped the literate and the il1iterate.  They put the illiterate to shame!  They formed classes and taught them, and now Saratov has no illiteracy.  In the villages, there are cultural centers, children’s gardens, and libraries.  Where there are many tiny villages, a central one is made into the cultural center.


“Of course, we don’t teach religion in the schools,” Madam Krupskava announced.


“A German pedagogue wrote and asked me if we wanted to set up children’s towns where all the children would live together. I replied to him,  ‘No, that would be a mistake.  The children should have relations with their families, because they must learn about life, about factories, and about workers.’  Our idea is to have in the large new communal houses one floor devoted to the children.  We must remember that in Russia nearly all the mothers work.  They also want to learn, and to go to the cinema; so they are glad when they can devote their time to lessons while the care of children is taken off their hands.”


We heard an amusing story of an American doctor’s visit to the main hospital here.  He was favorably impressed, except for the flies.  He commented on them and received the excuse that the) were a “relic of the Czarist regime.”


Tonight, after an early dinner, from 8:30 to 10:00, we visited the famous Red Square and Lenin’s Tomb.  The huge square was lit by search lights, illuminating the ancient Kremlin wall, with the Red Flag (illuminated) flying atop.  The tomb stands against the wall; simple and beautiful in red and black marble.  A line of 1,500 people, two abreast, were waiting to enter.  Within, two sentries stood motionless - one at each end of the glass topped coffin.  There lies the great man in state.  It was quiet, except for the shuffle of feet.  We passed out, thrilled by the sight of the body of men dead seven years.


Fifteenth Day


We visited a communal prison with Mrs. Patterson and her son this morning. Expecting a highly disciplined jail, it was a surprise to find the prisoners wandering around quite freely and casually in their cell blocks and the prison yard.  Murderers, thieves, and miscreants of all sorts mingled together.  The warden told us that they are very proud of their penological ideas.  They have educational and manual training classes for the men, there are no uniforms, and the "trusty" receives two weeks’ vacation every year.  The whole place was far from clean, and we were very glad to leave after a brief inspection.


Mr. S., of Albert Kahn Inc., the great industrial architects, called at five and we walked home with him for dinner.  He was very nice to us, and it was a most enjoyable evening. He lives with twenty-five other American engineers in some specially built apartments, the neatest houses I have seen anywhere. He and his wife share an apartment with another couple.


During a very good dinner, our host told us about some of his experiences.  He has an office staff of 550, mostly very young boys and girls, and he is expected to turn out 700 million rubles worth of buildings with the help of his twenty-five American engineers.  It is difficult to keep the Russians at one job - they want to learn everything before they know anything well.  Their thirst for knowledge is tremendous.


Last November the workers got no pay for a month’s work because of a change in the Soviet bookkeeping system.


They had a “Chistka” (cleansing) in his office, and two of his best Russian engineers went off to Siberia.


There is an amazing system for reporting inefficiency to the Workers’ Discipline Committee, which is elected in the office.  The method is simply to place a written charge (unsigned) in a box, and this leads to almost incredible extremes.  Even the youngest girls will report an American engineer if they think he is not working.


The trouble is that there is no central authority outside of the Workers’ Committee.  Mr. S. cannot discharge a man if he desires.  But he can keep order, at least, and when he leaves, “God knows what will happen!”


The office employees also go to the country to teach, or to dig potatoes; or to a factory to work on their “off” days.


“It’s often a case of bluff all round," said an engineer, speaking of Soviet engineers and their estimates and projects.  “They dare not say it can’t be done, for, if they do, off they go to Siberia.  Hence many figures are inaccurate.”


In the case of signing drawings which he knows are not right, Mr. S. is always sure to have some trust chief OK them.  For instance, recently they wanted him to OK the use of 100-foot rails, instead of the standard 60 - foot.


“But how can you transport them or ears?” he asked.  “You can’t get them around turns!”


Yet they insist on having the longest rails in the world!


The Soviets claim to build a flat brick arch lintel of six metres without a steel beam.  Mr. S. figures that two metres only are safe.  Yet they insist on the other!


They mix concrete flooring sixteen parts gravel, one cement, one lime, four sand.  Any engineer knows the mixture is not right and will not last.  But the Russians are short of building materials!


Here it is a case of a new method of attack; the engineer must save material, and not worry about wage costs.  This is just the reverse of conditions at home.


Lack of co-ordination and planning are two of greatest faults.  In the South, there will be a steel plant two and a half times the size of the one at Gary, Ind.  Right now the American production manager has been waiting down there for four months at a $1 5,000-a-year salary and expenses, and even the timber is not cleared yet.  Just today, Mr. S. had plans submitted to him for building a huge carburetor plant - bigger than the one constructed for Ford. But they want to locate it six miles from the railroad!  All materials must therefore be trucked six miles.  Mr. S. warned them, but the plant must go there!


At the cement plant they erected a huge new building, but at the last minute changed from American to some other machinery.  Result - they have improper hook-ups, and must transfer them from the old factory to the new one every six months, so that they can say both are operating.


The difficulties of building are great.  Mr. S. said he designed a steel sash, only to find it could not be made, owing to the lack of steel.  Glass, too, is scarce.  Window sashes, instead of being produced in lots in one factory, are often made individually on the job by carpenters.  Consequently, costs are double those in the United States.


We went to a church service for a little while tonight, and enjoyed the beauti­ful singing. Quite a crowd of people attended - about 200.  As usual, everyone stood up, and the priest walked through the crowd at certain times, swinging a censer.  There was much bowing and scraping, crossing, and kissing the ground, with a great contrast between the poverty of the people and the rich robes and gold crown of the officiating priest.  Lighted candles, much gilt work, and innumerable icons with lamps in front, completed the picture - side from the usual Russian smell!


Mr. S. told of the fuel shortage of last winter; it was serious, only the industries being allowed to have coal.  But Mr. S. wanted to heat his apartment and knew the head man in a Moscow factory which had a lot of coal, although the plant was not operating; so he got him to send coal, a lump at a time, in sleighs at night, so that people would not ask questions.  Then he had “two heats” a day. All the windows were sealed with putty, and the steam heat was turned on at about 5:00 a.m. and again at 8:00 p.m., each time for about an hour.  The result was not an exactly even temperature.


Sixteenth Day


We passed a toy shop today having this amazing caption on a box of building blocks for children:


“A Mass Political Toy According to the Resolution of the 16th Congress of the All-Union Communist Party.”


Imagine children with such significant political playthings!


Jones translated the following remarks by the servant girl (a peasant) of two old Russian noblewomen living quietly in Moscow:


“The peasants are terribly dissatisfied.  They have been forced to join the Kolhozi; they want their own patch of land, their own house, their own cattle and pigs, and to work for themselves.  My two cousins worked day and night.  With their own hands they made bricks.  They built houses, and what happened.  They did not want to join the collectives and they were taken away to the Urals, where it is very bad.  My other cousin had two cows, two pigs, and some sheep; he owned two huts.  They called him a Kulak and forced him to sell everything.  Only three hundred rubles did they give him. In the Kolhozi, nobody wants to work.


“In my village, I hear they have murdered two Communists.


“The peasants cannot kill their cows or their pigs without getting permission from the Natchalnik, the village boss.  They were told that if they did not join the Kolhozi, everything would be taken from them.  Many were sent to Archangel.  They eat very little now; they used to have meat, but not now.”


On the way home from this visit, Jones asked a worker in a restaurant if he now ate more or less meat than before the Revolution.


“Less, of course,” came the abrupt reply.


Today is Sunday, but no one knows one day of the week from the other - business goes on as usual; for some it may be a rest day, that is all.  It is a strange feeling, not finding one day in the week when people drop their daily tasks and rest.


We saw a fine sign today - for Sunday:


“Alcohol is the Friend of Religion.”


I had a talk with Spencer Williams, of the American Chamber of Commerce here. He is a rather mild man, and it is a tough job he has these days.  He gave us the following opinions and information:


“The Five-Year Plan is only a slogan not necessarily a schedule which must be fulfilled.  “Stalin’s new policy is merely a temporary phase.


“There is little private trade left in the country now; and next year there will not be any!


“Diesel engines are being turned out in quantity, but quality is lacking.  Two or three boats on the Black Sea have proceeded at too fast a tempo, and, also, there is a general tendency for managers to be easy in making inspections.


“Labour has too high a turnover and is nomadic.  Food and housing rumors fly about to the effect that better conditions exist elsewhere, so workers move off.


“A decline or rise in the exports of the U.S.S.R. will depend very much on the world crisis.


“Last year was the test year for agriculture.  The Russians succeeded.  This year is the test year in industry.


“Most of the orders for machinery are now going to England.


Later, a worker said:


“Only when we are dead will conditions be better.  They are much worse now than before the Revolution.  The peasants are very angry.  We only get salt fish, but in the Kremlin they get everything.”


On the way home through the park we passed a little girl, about eight years old, seated on a bench reading a book.  It was titled “New Shock Brigade Workers.”


Farther along, a man was just about to be “framed” by one of those ten-cent-on-the-spot-for-the-folks cameras.  He was in overalls and cap, dirty of face and hands, and evidently proud of being a worker - the new philosophy of the “dirty shirt” as opposed to the “white collar.”


We walked along a side street, entered an open gate to a courtyard, knocked on the dilapidated door, and asked if we might look around.


Here lived, in the greatest squalor, forty persons in thirteen rooms, and only one kitchen!


“Most of the people in this house are Communists,” said the young woman who appeared at the door.  “There isn’t such a split between the young and old.  We let the old believe in religion.  My old mother is religious and lives in the country, but it doesn’t make any difference to us.”


In discussing the Loan, a window washer said:


“Plokho! Plokho! [Bad! Bad!]


I get 120 rubles a month.  When the Loan came I was forced to pay a whole month’s salary.  Each month I pay twelve rubles to the Loan.  It is voluntary, they say! And all the time there are new Loans!  I don’t want to waste twelve rubles each month; I can’t afford it, but I have got to pay.”


The following statements were culled from a conversation with two factory workers, one railway man, and a caretaker.


“Before the Revolution we could get everything, and cheap.  We had plenty of meat, butter, eggs, and milk, and they were cheap.  Now we have to pay ten rubles for a kilo of sausage.  Before, it cost only thirty-five kopecks.  We have had only ten eggs since January 1st.


“Moscow is the best place.  In the provinces, it is far worse.  And as for the peasants, they are worse off than they have ever been.”


“There is no opposition left now.  Bukharin wanted to give more food to the workers, but Stalin said, ‘No, we must hurry up, quicker and quicker to industrialize.’  It is dangerous to be in opposition.”


“What about the figures they publish?” asked Jones.


“Figures!” the speaker exclaimed.  “You can’t eat figures! You see that tree there.  It is not an apple tree, is it? But the Communists say, ‘Tomorrow that tree has to grow apples!’”


“In our factory, we can’t say a single thing.  They say everything is voluntary.  Voluntary, indeed!  They get up a meeting, and pass a resolution by asking who is against it.  Nobody wants to get into trouble by putting up his hand.  If he did, they would say, ‘Oh, you’re against the government, are you?’  You may disappear.  Oh, yes, a lot have disappeared!  They have been shooting people, too, and they have places in Siberia for the opposition.”


“People do not like Stalin.  He is too hard. I would say that only two percent of the population respects him.”


“It is much worse for the peasants than for the workers.”


“No, the Communists do not on the whole live better than the others.”


“In our factory, if four of us are friends they put a Communist in be­tween us to listen to our conversation.  We must be very careful about what we say.


“Now, it is almost impossible to leave one factory for another.  They make you stick there.”


“It was fine under the NEP. [New economic Policy, 1921-27]. When we had private trade, those were the days.  We ought to have private trade again.”


“The Five-Year Plan is all on paper.”


“The newspapers are terrible.  One cannot read them.  Nothing but industrialization, collectivization, and silly words like that.”


Seventeenth Day


Fair weather again today.  I wish I could go swimming.  No exercise for weeks.  We walked a long way to find Eugene Lyons this morning.  He is the A. P. correspondent in Moscow, and lives quite nicely.


“They are trying to raise the standard of living now,” he said. “All the devices and announcements are in the same direction - toward the betterment of living.


“Russia does not want to dump.  She has undersold because of the sheer necessity to secure foreign credits.  The whole question could be settled by a large loan.  Their new methods of finance are theoretically not justified, but they have found justification.


“This is a period of easing up, and a new deal for technicians.  Shortage of labor is forcing the government to accept the aristocrats and old-regime engineers.


“Now, there is a complete absence of organized opposition.  The Party has never been so unified.


“Coal production is planned to reach 140 million tons by 1933.  If they do not do as well as estimated they put up the figures.  This quota has been raised from 125 million just to give them more to shoot at.


“The Koihozi give more control to the government.  Young people want the Koihozi.”


Later today a somewhat drunken fellow came up to Jones.


“Oh, so you’re from England, are you?” he leered.  “That’s the country we are feeding, that’s where we are sending all our food.  How can we live now?  They are shooting workers and exiling them.  We are forced to do everything.  There is always a show of hands at meetings - f only we could vote secretly!”


We visited the private market this afternoon.  This market, as the name implies, is not State owned, and as one might expect, there is a tremendous amount of second-hand stuff for sale, much of which is bought by peasants.  The peasants are also allowed to come into town and sell their food if they wish to do so.  Last year many of the old aristocracy were selling their jewelry and family heirlooms here, but although we visited the private market in Moscow on two different occasions there was practically no one selling anything of that character.  This is, no doubt, due to the fact that those of the old aristocracy who remain are becoming afraid to show themselves.


There were hundreds of little booths, selling everything from vegetables to a balalaika, with crowds of people in the narrow passage ways between the booths.  There seemed to be an ample supply of vegetables, but no meat.  Many odd traders stood around, too.  One woman wanted four rubles for a cake of laundry soap; another asked the same price for a pair of child’s cotton stockings.  Old clothes, patched shoes, anything may be found for sale at exorbitant prices.


“Where can we buy icons?” we asked.


“What’s the use?  They are only pieces of wood.  Wasting money on wood, indeed!” replied a woman of forty, who had an old piece of fur for sale.  And she laughed!


Another woman beside her added:


“Very few buy icons nowadays.  What’s the use of them?”


Many gypsies were there in colorful India print dresses.  Most of them were women, fingering dirty packs of cards.   Sharp of eye and cozening of smile, they try to tell one’s fortune.  Half-naked children and babies scuttle around them rags and tatters, dirt abounds - these, the gypsies.


I met a charming American girl in a Torgsin store this afternoon, and went over to see her later at her hotel.  She hailed from Sheridan, Wyoming, and had been over here with her father for ten months.  She had driven from Berlin to Moscow with two boys, and slept in haystacks on the way. Quite a girl!


Tonight Jones and I went to call on an old Russian gentleman.  We walked miles, up dark streets and down dirty alleys, and finally discovered the building where he lived.  We climbed several flights of dark, creaking stairs.  We knocked on a dilapidated door.  No one came.  We knocked again.  The door opened a few inches, and a bedraggled woman asked what we wanted.


“Is Mr. N. at home?”

“No, he is not here now.”

“Could you tell us—?” we questioned.

“Well, you see, he has moved!” she interrupted.

“Oh—it is far away, quite far.”

“But where?”

“Well, he has gone to the Urals, but not of his own accord,” she replied.

Thus vanish the members of the old nobility.


Eighteenth Day


We dropped in to see Podoiski again today.  He is the acting secretary of the Press Bureau, and a very brilliant and suave man, with a hard, steely eye.  He had been getting some information for us.


We finally made an appointment to see Karl Radek, editor of the Izveslia, and quite a famous person in Russia.  He belonged to the Trotsky “Right Deviation”, and lost out in the Party machine when Trotsky fell.  He is a man of amazing appearance, with great horn-rimmed glasses, coarse features, and a set of under-the-chin whiskers like the cartoons for Pat and Mike stories.  He looks as if he had tied a piece of fur around his face from ear to ear.  His English is atrocious, mostly on account of the inflection.


He spoke of President Hoover:


“A fine man, a good engineer, but he does not know men!"


This was a little surprising, but he may have meant that President Hoover is not conscious enough of the public’s opinion and the attitude of his advisers.


“For the next twenty years we shall be absolutely occupied with our internal development and markets,” he said.  “The masses need so much!  The peasants, also, want to have better clothing and commodities.  Dumping is not done.  Could we receive a higher price for our products we would be very glad.


“It is nonsense to say that Russia will be independent and self-sufficient.  The more a country develops, the greater its foreign trade relations will grow.  Thus we have every reason for peaceful relations, and for strengthening them.  The needs of the country are growing.  I believe relations with foreign countries will be better.


“There is a greater feeling of power in the country.  It is an argument for a quieter policy.  We are growing stronger in Russia.  Every year more peasants realize that the tractor is better than the horse.  We are stronger."


He paused with a display of considerable pride after these warmly spoken words, filled his pipe, and lit it.


“Now!” he exclaimed in his strange imperative manner.


He spoke of Soviet Russia’s attitude toward various European countries.


“Does Russia want Poland?” he asked.  “If things in Europe stabilize why should we have a common frontier with Germany?  It would be worse to be next to a strong Capitalistic nation (Germany). If there is a. revolution in Germany, how can Poland stand between revolutionary Germany and revolutionary Russia?  Poland would probably revolt, too.  We can wait and see.


“Germany!  Every nation must be its own savior.  A feeble revolution in Germany would be a great set-back for us.  We would be obliged to help them.  I do not think that a German revolution is a concrete possibility.  First, because the German worker realizes that Germany’s location between imperialist France and Poland would force him to fight, from the very first day, against intervention.  Second, Germany is dependent upon foreign nations for raw materials and food.  This was not the case with Russia.


“Before the war, France made Russia a tool against Germany by her loans to Russia.  Now the situation is different.  We can do without loans.  We shall no longer be the tool of the policy of others.


“As long as two worlds exist there is always a danger.  If Poland or Roumania attacked Russia it would have the support of other Capitalistic countries. The sharpening of the crisis in Poland gives an opportunity to adventurers. But on the other hand, war with Soviet Russia would be very difficult.”


Radek’s newspaper articles have been spreading the cry of intervention, but I think he himself does not believe in that theory.


“With the new Franco-Russian relations, will Russia’s attitude towards the Versailles Treaty be modified?”  Jones asked.


“At a time when the Versailles Treaty is crashing on all replied Radek, “it would be nonsense to think that Russia would defend it.  The treaty will not be a basis for world relations.


“America and France have great resources; they will prosper at the expense of England and Germany.  But the Capitalistic world cannot have general prosperity!  The greatest danger for England is not English Communism but American Capitalism!


“Russia is the country with the worst propaganda.  It is weak in spreading propaganda because foreign newspapers suppress it.  But every Ford car makes propaganda for America.  The Soviet government only makes propaganda when Litvinoff speaks in Geneva.  I know of no evidence that we spread propaganda in America.”


This is Radek’s plan to improve American-Russian relations:


1.         End the embargo and anti-Soviet crusade.


2.         Mutual recognition is necessary.  The political aspect is important.


3.         America must drop the policy of America for Americans.


“We are a country like America,” he said.  “Without your help, development would go slower.  But there is no power that can check us.


“Intervention would mean the destruction of Germany and Poland.  We do not intend to intervene in other countries. History will decide which is the better system.”


Nineteenth Day


We visited the Kremlin this morning with a group of Intourist people, and encountered an interesting man from New York, a Mr. Richmond, a book collector.  I confess the Kremlin was a disappointment.  The exterior is romantic in appearance, with all its towers and Byzantine domes sticking above the old brick walls, but the interior is only a confusion of modern Renaissance plaster buildings, and some of the old 15th  century churches, with Russian domes from which the gilt had been stripped.


Immediately after this, I ran most of the way, because of an appointment, to the office of S. O. Zuckerman, Chief of the Supply Department of the Narcomsnab (the people’s food commissariat).  He was a pleasant man, who spoke excellent English and proved very friendly. He explained the organization of his department, with its thirty independent units assigned to such industries as meat packing, canning, sugar, milk, butter, poultry - trusts.  He said they had no program for the export of any of these products, but that they sold when they could, or when necessary to have valuta.


“We are exporting sugar, and shall continue to do so,” he said.  “Last year two million tons were produced; this year two and a half million.  The ‘vegetable front is much better than last year.  Everywhere there is plenty.  In fact, the vegetable program was overfilled.  In one year, we changed the entire situation.


“Two years ago there were no margarine factories. Now we have two modern plants, and next year there will be nine more.


“There is now a shortage of meat and fats, for two reasons.  First, the cattle stock is not so large as it should be.  Second, the meat industry is not yet modernized.”


He made no comment on the serious undernourishment of manual laborers on this account.


“When the canning industry is complete,” he said, “it will be as modern as the American industry.  Cold storage and refrigerator plants will be built.  We are now building three dry ice plants sixteen new cold storage houses were put in operation this year.  Eventually we will have some sort of refrigeration in every meat shop.”


There’s a pipe dream for you!


“You find private trade only in the villages, in the bazaars and on the streets,” he continued.  “The bazaar cannot supply the trade necessary.  It is an abnormal way of trading.  Private trade is hardly noticeable in volume, nor is there any wholesale private business.  It will all disappear soon, and the State and Co-operative organizations will do everything.  There is far less private trading than a year ago.


“Under the new system much responsibility is placed on the plant manager.  Before, it was bad, and the State was expected to support a losing organization.  Today if it is not OK, the manager is moved.  It works wonderfully.  No one will order more than he needs.”


Canning Industry        (In millions of tins)

            Plan                 1931    1932    1933

            Meat                220      390      750

            Fish                  265      450      700

            Fruit                 60        110      260

            Vegetables       205      375      855

            Tomatoes         130      215      485


Mr. Zuckerman was kind enough to send us off in an auto, with an interpreter to see the president of the Torgsin stores concerning the purchase of the “57”.  It was a lot of fun, and I arranged to send him samples, after giving him a fight talk through my interpreter.  I also told Mr. Zuckerman that the prices charged for the goods in Leningrad were too high, and he said he would fix that, as he regulated such charges.  I wanted Mr. Jdanoff, of Torgsin, to try some hot beans, and made an appointment to see him in an hour.  Just as I arrived, with my hot tins, the rascal drove off in his car. Audible comment on Russian politeness and business ethics!


Here are a few more observations about Moscow:


There are many new restaurants, but prices are all very high.  Meat dishes cost three to four rubles, and fish four to six. Jones and I had lunch at the Grande Hotel one day, and got a kind of beef stew for four rubles.  We decided it was much cheaper at the Metropole where you pay in dollars.  There you can get soup for fifty cents, meat and potatoes at $1.00 or $1.25, and ice cream (very good) at forty cents.


We had some laundry done.  For washing a handkerchief I was charged fifty kopecks, and for shirts two rubles.


A bath at the hotel cost $1.50, without soap.


The Hotel Metropole is really a swell place, and quite typically there is a radio in every room, but no toilet paper anywhere.  Of course there is no writing paper.  Every night they have gypsy music with a troupe of eighteen women and six men who dance and sing.  The gypsy group is rather picturesque, but only half are gypsies.  There is a jazz band, too, that plays very poor music after 11 p.m.


We left Moscow tonight for Nijni.  It was cold and rainy.  The taxi cost $3.00





Twentieth Day


We arrived in Nijni-Novgorod this morning at about eleven and were met by Mr. Davis, of the Austin Company, who took us out to their building site in one of their cars.  To our left lay the town of Nijni upon a hill at the juncture of the Okha and Volga rivers.  Its Kremlin looked impressive in the distance.  It took about twenty-five minutes on a very bumpy, cobbled road to get to Autostroy.  Here the engineers have a street to themselves, with about a dozen houses in all.  All the single men live in the club house, where we were bunked very comfortably.


The Autostroy layout is a large one, including a forge shop, machine shop, assembly building, and power house.  Here Russia will build and assemble the Ford car at the hoped-for output of 140,000 per annum.  The assembly building is truly remarkable in size, 1,800 feet long, with 600,000 square feet of floor space.  It is of steel and glass construction throughout.


The labor situation, in which 30,000 are involved, is interesting.  There is a very high turn-over - about 250 per day - due to the nomadic character of the people.  Labour efficiency is very low, for it takes three or four men to do the same job that one man does at home.


There are many women employed to do both the heavy and the light work, and they can do it, too.  The engineer told me that the women showed more aptitude than the men in learning their electrical jobs.


There is a minimum wage of three rubles per day, which applies to about twenty-five percent of the workers.  The five-day week works badly against production, for a foreman or engineer may have his day off just when there is a big job to do.  There the workers are, but no foreman or chief!  All the Americans agree that this is a serious handicap.


We passed a crowd of 200 men and women digging ditches, but they did not look like the others; they seemed better dressed and less coarse.


“Oh, those are subbotniki [persons who work in factories, other than the ones in which they are regularly employed on their free days] who come up from Nijni every day by boat, 5,000 of them.  They are working ‘voluntarily’ out here on their free day," explained Mr. Davis.


The methods of work are amazing. Carpenters use only an axe and a handsaw, but they are very clever with these two tools.  They haul much dirt on little stretcher-like devices that two people carry, and then, of course, there is the ridiculous Russian wheelbarrow with its tiny wheel and very wide handles.  On this job they use about 1,000 horse drawn wagons, mostly owned by Ukrainian peasants, who make the wagons themselves, except the wheels.


We visited the water intake and filtration plant they are building at the river, a very considerable engineering project in itself, for it will produce 60 million gallons per day.


Life at the club house where the fifteen single men live is very congenial. They are a jolly bunch, so we found meal-time very pleasant. The food was excellent, too, and everyone was extremely kind to us.


Twenty-first Day


Jones stayed in bed all morning today while I visited the “Mill of the Revolution” with Mr. Davis and Dr. Wells, a minister from Cleveland.


This factory for making Diesel engines was quite a surprise.  It was apparently well run in every way from the casual viewpoint.  The men were all busy, and work and materials were well organized.  Here some 6,000 men are employed.  The dining room was very fancy, with potted palms scattered around and a great red banner saying:


“Co-operation will increase control over social eating.”  I wonder how many understand what that means!  The meal cost only thirty-seven kopecks.



A huge bulletin board near the entrance displayed the names of those workers who had received prizes from the government for good work.  The prizes were not in cash, but certificates of loans to the government, on which the worker receives interest.  It’s easy! Win a prize and then hand it back to the government!


The children’s nursery at this factory was one of the best.  For thirty-three kopecks a day the child was fed two meals, and taken care of properly.


We also saw a nearby brick factory.  Most of the brick is made by hand in a primitive fashion on a little machine which has a weight-like hammer to pound the clay into the mould, and then a plunger below to push the brick up out of the mould.  The average man or woman can turn out 800 to 1,000 per day.  The clay is mixed by a machine, however, and hauled in little mine carts by ailing old horses.


Jones gave us a break by getting up for lunch.  This afternoon we saw the “Workers’ City,” which is to house 50,000.  It is an interesting fact that originally all these people were to have lived in community houses with a common dining room, a crèche, a kindergarten, and a club.  But now only 3,000 are to live there and the rest will dwell in three-room apartments.  The community house plan provides for 500 to the house, the layout being as follows:


[The Plan   Has not been included. ]


The plan for the rest of the city is rather good. It can be seen that there are large open parks between the house blocks and a school at one end, with no streets for the children to cross. Two hundred families are assigned to each house. The layout is like this:


[The Plan   Has not been included.]


The Workers’ Club is a fairly good building, but the decorations are simply beyond words.  The entrance hail has robin-egg blue wails, a grey ceiling, a brick colored baseboard, and a black and yellow balustrade on the stairs.


We went for a swim in the Okha this afternoon; my first and, as it turned out, my last swim in Russia.


We spent the day tramping.  It was overcast and cool, but nichevo!


We came to a typical village of about 700 people, with one long muddy street, the usual wells at intervals making oases in the desert of mud.  Crowds of small children were running about, in and out of the mud, barefooted and scantily clothed in dirty garments.  Few older people were about, except some elderly muzhiks.


We stopped to talk with one group that was seated on a porch eating black bread and tomatoes.  There was a bearded old man wearing a fur cap with ear tabs, and three boys in their teens.  They smiled cordially as we said “Strasvuitze”[greetings] in answer to our query, the man said:


“This is a Co-operative where they grow vegetables for Autostroy.  They took away our land - Plokho! They forced the individual peasants to join the Kolhozi by putting on heavy taxes.  The peasant could not pay.  The only thing he could do was to join the Koihozi.  They do not give us meat, butter, or anything.”


Jones: “Was it better before the war?”  Old Peasant: “Yes, much, much better.  There was everything then.”


One youngster: “No! No! It is much better now!”


A sad-looking horse, unshod and badly fed, was tied to a rail.


“Is that your horse?” we asked.


“Oh no, it’s the horse of the Kolhozi; I’ve been out looking at the potatoes,” said one of the boys, evidently not caring at all how the horse looked, while the old man shook his head knowingly.


The next person we saw was an old man sitting on the ground, weaving baskets out of willow rods.  He had a long grey beard, a tattered cap, and dirty felt boots; the latter, I feel sure, were never removed.  Behind him a couple of old women sat gabbing in the cottage window.  He shook his head and cursed softly as he said:


“Communists?  No, there are no Communists in this village, but the Party is responsible for things as they are now.  Most of us used to make baskets.  The baskets were used in Astrakhan, and we were well paid.  Now we make baskets for the Co-op. society here.”  Then he made a face.


Woman: “It’s hard to feed my child. They don’t give us meat, butter, or eggs.”


Jones: “Can you sell freely?  Could you sell eggs in Nijni if you wanted to?”


Woman: “But we haven’t any eggs!”


We moved farther along the Street and sat down to rest.  A group of children soon gathered around.


“We want our names down to be Pioneers,” said one, “but they don’t send an organizer.  The chief of the Kolhozi is a non-Party man; he’s a drunkard and takes the best horse out and has a good time.  There are no Communists here.  There were three or four Komsomoltsi (members of the Young Communist League), but they had a hard time.  No one would attend meetings.  Now they have gone. It is much better now than before the Revolution.”


A young man of thirty came strolling up and sat down.  It was his rest day from the factory.


“It’s hard to live here now," he said, “but it is better than before the Revolution. Then these people used to make baskets for a Kulak [peasant money lender]

Now they make them for a Co-op. society.  Before, there was schooling, but only for three years; now, it is for much longer.  Before, the children used to make baskets; now, they are playing.  Most young people work in the factory now.”


An old peasant came along and said:


“They took away our land and nobody has more than one cow.  Still that’s not bad because we haven’t enough to feed more than one cow.”


Just outside this village we came to a milk farm-to-be.  There were 1,000 head of cattle in ten buildings, then under construction - adequate but nothing fancy.  I saw them filling one of those underground silos, and was amazed at the silage they used - beet, turnip, and grass.


“But we are to have four regular silos, ten metres high, like those in America,” explained the foreman with evident pride.


We were hungry and wanted to eat in the dining room there.  It was so dirty and smelly, however, and there were so many flies that we decided otherwise and persuaded someone in the superintendent’s office to heat some beans we had with us.  A little soggy black bread that we bought at the Co-operative store tasted very good.


While we were eating, a little girl about twelve years old came and sat by us.


“In my class there are thirty-nine,” she said, “five believers and thirty-four Pioneers.  In the whole school there are one hundred children and only fifteen believers.  I am a Friend of the Ossoaviakhim {Society for Chemical Defense and Aviation] and of the M.O.P.R. Society for Help of Revolution Abroad].  We visit the factories and the Red Army.  We, also, handled rifles once.


“There will be a revolution soon in Germany.  America and England will also have revolutions, and they will be much happier.”


Jones: “What do you do in school?”


Girl: “We have four hours of school.  The first is devoted to reading from revolutionary books.”


Jones:   “What do you learn about America?”


Girl: “Oh, that workers live very badly there.  There are few Communists because they won’t give jobs to Communists. But the workers will some day have it as it is in the Soviet Union.  There is going to be war.”


We passed on from here through fields of potatoes in rolling country and came at last to a charming little village.  Many handsome trees grew in the middle of the street and around the houses.  There was a little of the usual mud, but the streets did not seem quite so dirty here.  A few squawking geese ran toward us as we entered.  The place seemed deserted.

We sat down to rest in front of a house from which three garrulous women soon came and proceeded to tell us their troubles.  The same story:


“Plokho!  It is bad here now - not enough to eat; everyone is unhappy.”


They shook their heads and sighed!


We went to the house of the priest.  It was a simple cottage like the rest. He was not at home, but his mother asked us to come in and wait.


He came shortly, a tall, fine-looking man in his long robe, crossing himself twice as he entered the room.  He seemed genuinely glad to see visitors and was most hospitable.  I was surprised at the neatness of the house - curtains, flowers in pots, even fly screens.  He had a little room of his own just off the tiny sitting and dining rooms, where hung a large icon with the ever-burning oil lamp in front of it.  There were several others in the sitting room.  Here lived a “lishenets” (man deprived of rights and bread ticket) in comparative luxury.


We sat and talked until tea time!  He told us many things that had been outlawed. For him, life had not been easy.


“I spent two weeks in prison a little over a year ago,” he said.  “In our village a decree forbade the ringing of church bells the week before Easter.  The villagers were angered and rang the bells anyway.  They could not arrest the whole village, so I was arrested and put in a prison for two weeks.


“I do not know what the future will bring.  Last year I had to pay 2,000 rubles in taxes for keeping my church open.   Everywhere the priests and the churches are weighed down with taxes.  And it is so hard to live!  We cannot buy from the Co-operatives; we must rely on what the flock brings to us and on the private market in Nijni.  But meat costs eight rubles a pound and tea eight rubles a quarter pound.”


Here he was interrupted by his mother’s cousin, who had joined our party.  She was an ordinary peasant of about thirty-five, but could not keep still.


“It is terrible for the lishentsi.’  My cousin was a trader before the revolution and owned his own house . In 1926, they took away everything he had.  Then he went blind and now he lives with my sister in Samara.  He has nothing, no boots, and almost no clothes.


“My brother was a priest and he could not pay taxes.  So he was taken away to the North.  We could write to him, so we made a collection in church and bought him some clothes and sent them to him.  He wrote back to us, saying that he had been put in a prison cell with bandits.  They beat him and stole his clothes.”


Priest: “Do you know that in a village far away, the Communists came to take away the Kulaks, but the villagers collected their scythes and sickles and attacked the Communists.  So they sent the Red Army soldiers to quell them.  But the soldiers refused to fight!  Finally, they sent Komsomoltsi with rifles and they shot many peasants. Some escaped and they came here and told us.”

Priest’s mother: “There is forced labour now, too.  The subbotniki have to go to the Autostroy whether they want to or not.  They send 4,000 a day and often there are no shovels and they are forced to carry earth in their skirts.  Last winter it was terrible.  They took seventy ‘lishentsi’, old and young, but mainly old, old people, and forced them to cut timber in the freezing cold.  They made them sign papers to say they were dobrovolvo [voluntary] They shivered and froze and the ice hung from their clothes; their feet were wrapped in rags.  One woman had just had an operation and there was a large wound in her stomach.  She went to the doctors, but they refused to do anything.  So she had to work.  She died!”


Priest: “I worked one and a half months ‘voluntarily’.  We call it ‘obligatorily voluntary’.  We got thirty kopecks per arshin [one cubic yard] and I could cut only two arshins per day.  It was awful in the icy weather.”


Mother: “In Moscow they are taking down the Church of the Redeemer.  All are sad.  In the street where I lived, a big five-story building collapsed and there were 250 killed, but the papers said there were only five killed and twenty wounded.  Some Communists in our village are at heart believers.  One called the priest some time ago because he felt ill and was dying.  ‘Do you believe in God?’ asked the priest.  ‘Well, of course I do; otherwise I would not have called you here,’ was the reply.”


We asked the priest about religious publications.


“No libraries are allowed in the churches except the books for the service,” he explained.  “The penalty for distributing religious books or pamphlets is very severe.  Only the Journal of the Moscow Patriarch can be published, and it is but a chronicle of events.”


The young woman, who had kept quiet, was fairly bursting with some news.  She bent low over the table and spoke in a loud whisper:


“They forced me to work in February and March.  For a whole month they paid me one ruble, thirty-five kopecks, four pounds of bread, and seventeen little pieces of tea - I counted them.  We had to sell our clothes to get food.  Conditions were terrible.”


She became very much excited, and nearly cried.  Then off on another tack, she said:


“The udarniki [Shock Brigades workers] get better food than we do.  They are about 10% active for the Five-Year Plan and ninety percent opposed to it - only they are afraid to say anything.”


Obviously, this must have been an exaggeration, but it is significant that such an attitude exists among those supposed to be hundred percent Communists.


Priest: “What is wrong with George Bernard Shaw?  Is he mad?  He saw nothing at all. If only he could see one-hundredth of what the peasants are suffering.  It is unbelievable that he can be so easily fooled.  We were pleased to read the speeches of Sir A. Chamberlain in the House of Commons.”


He suddenly changed his tone, his face became serious, his voice lowered, his eyes burned with emotion.


“We hope to have help from God - but also from foreign countries,” he said. We are hoping for war.  We read that the Pope wishes to have a crusade against Soviet Russia.  That is fine!  If there were intervention, the peasants would rise in revolt, but now there are no leaders, and all are afraid.  Do not buy from these people who are crucifying Russia -- poor Mother Russia!”


After all this, we decided to take a walk.  We strolled through the village, admiring the neatness of the cottages.  An old woman with sad, care-worn features and usual peasant costume, without shoes, stood at her gate.  We stopped to talk.


“And how is it with you, little mother?”  I asked.


“Oh, it’s terrible. How can one live without a cow?  They are taking everything away, and do they pay for it?  No such thing!


“Have you heard about the deacon?  He was drowned in the lake behind the village.  He came up three times, and then a ‘russalka’ seized him and pulled him down.  Poor man!  But then he was a little drunk.  Oh. yes, there are a lot of ‘russalka [water sprites] around here.  They live in the water and on sunny days come out and walk on shore.”


We walked into the Co-op. store to learn what it had and were greatly surprised to see a lot of lamb hanging up.  It was only for children, we were told, but Jones said he was nine years old and I eight.  As we were foreigners, the clerk smiled and gave us two kilograms for two rubles, fifty kopecks.  We took this and some butter back to the priest, who was delighted.


There was a service in the church at 6:00 p.m., which we attended. About twenty-five women formed the congregation.


Back at the priest’s house his mother was getting supper ready. She offered us some excellent cherry and apple preserves. Good cabbage soup with sour cream, boiled kasha [oatmeal] with butter, and some cream cheese with milk and sugar on it -all very good.


The young woman spoke again:


“I was wearing my little cross when I went to work in the factory.  They told me to take it off.  I said, ‘I won’t; it doesn’t hinder my work, does it?’  And now I wear it under my dress.


“I was a ‘lishentka [deprived of rights] because I used to work in a monastery.  My father was a peasant. I escaped from my village some months ago and came to work at Autostroy.”


Jones: “Do they know that you are a ‘lishentka?”


Young woman: “Gospodi bozhe moi Nyet!” (Good lord, no!)


Jones: “What about marriage and morals now?"


Priest: “Most people get married in the Church.  Every mother has her baby christened in the Church anyway.  Yes, there is a great number of divorces, and morals are certainly declining. God knows where it will lead!”


He had asked us to spend the night with him and offered his bed to us, but we said the floor was fine.  They fixed sheets and pillows for us; it was quite comfortable.  We slept well after the most interesting day of the trip so far.


Twenty-third Day


We were supposed to take a boat from here down to Autostroy, but after we had waited three hours, it sailed by our dock loaded with soldiers.  We walked it two hours of stiff tramping.  Ah, the vagaries of travel and Russian uncertainty!


Tonight being Sunday, Dr. Wells, the visiting Cleveland preacher here, conducted a simple little service - a few hymns, a few words, a little prayer.  It made me feel a lot better.  Somehow the value of the spirit “when two or three are gathered together,” is brought home to one in a far off and also atheistic country.  It was an ennobling evening!


Twenty-fourth Day


Poor Jones was sick today - a bit of a chill.  I drove into Nijni this afternoon and saw the old Fair buildings, famous for one thousand years.  The Fair is not held anymore -a great pity!  In the private market, there were many people, buying and selling.  Some excellent tomatoes were for sale - cheap, too!  We visited the old Kremlin on the hill, and had a fine view of the Volga and the Okha and the flat countryside for miles around, dotted with church domes.  The crumbling wall at our feet had looked out over this scene for a thousand years - a proud and wealthy town!


We saw in Nijni this evening, as guests of Messrs. Appleton and Jorgesson, “The Ace of Spades,” and it was fair.  The costumes were of the 17th century.


“Isn’t it bourgeois?” we asked a man next to us.


“Yes, the Communists do not approve, but then the people like it tremendously.”


Twenty-fifth Day


We were supposed to sail down the Volga yesterday and found today that we could not have done so – yesterday’s boat had not sailed yet.  We got on our steamer - a side-wheeler.  It was sup posed to sail at 11:00 a.m. It did - across the river, and it was nine hours later when we finally left Nijni.  It was cold and rainy and there was no place to sit except on our bunks.


Jones struck up a conversation with a mechanic on the boat.


“I am a Party man,” the stranger said.  “There are only four of us on board and only six candidates, and we have a crew of forty-six.  On some boats, there is only one Communist.  Why?  Because the boatmen are mostly of peasant origin and believe in things like private property.  The peasants do not like the collective farms because they do not understand.  A lot think they are something foreign and not truly Russian.  They are superstitious, too.”


It was difficult to get food all day, but finally by the use of some more cigarettes we got the lone waiter interested.  The food was not good, although it was very expensive.


The boat was crowded in the third and fourth-class sections.  Peasants with huge bundles, dirty clothes, and many babies lay around on every square inch of floor space.  There must have been a thousand of them.  Smell!


A doctor’s wife on the boat said to Jones:


“Exiles?  The peasants have been sent away in thousands to starve.  They were exiled just because they worked hard all their lives.  It’s terrible how they have treated them; they have not given them anything; no bread cards even. They sent a lot to Tashkent, where I was, and just left them on the square.  The exiles did not know what to do and many starved to death.”


Although there were a fine comfortable lounge and a dining room forward, we could not get the steward to unlock them.  He kept insisting that it was against orders to have them open before the boat left port.  We finally wore him down with arguing and cigarettes.


So to bed, with rather grim prospects for this trip!


Twenty-sixth Day


Somehow we managed to get some eggs for breakfast, and also had some of that Florida grapefruit we brought along.


A Russian engineer opened a conversation with us:


“It’s a good thing the engineers have been put in the first category since September 1St; we hope we will be better off now.  I hope my child will be permittedd to go to school.  We used to be at the bottom of the scale; now we are equal to the factory worker.


“Forced labour?  Of course there is.  Nobody has any choice.  I call my work forced labour because I have to go to work in the Urals.


“There are a lot of religious ones among the young who pretend they are Communists.  I have a friend who joined the Party just because the majority of the people with whom he was working had joined.  Very few are really sincere, I believe.

“Nationalism is very strong.  Here the Tartars and other peoples hate the Russians.  This has made local nationalism fanatical.


“The Russian intelligentsia is still longing for liberty.  Lack of freedom here is degrading for a man.”


It was nice and warm in the sun today, and we spent part of our time on the top deck.  Suddenly we were aroused by a shout:


“Get back into your cabins!”


We all had to go within doors and close the windows while we passed under a railroad bridge on which were sentries with guns.  They are told to shoot anyone standing on deck.  All Russian railroad bridges have sentries to guard against sabotage.  It gives one a funny feeling!


This afternoon we stopped at Kazan.  As usual, the people swarmed down to the boat to get on. It seemed impossible that so many could ever squeeze on with all their huge boxes, and bundles, and children.  The usual case of someone who gets left, or a child who gets separated from its mother makes each stop a drama and a tragedy.  A group of gypsies created a furore and much amusement when they carted their pots and pans, and tent poles, and junk onto the boat, making much noise and many trips, scuttling on and off the gangway.


But we saw a real tragedy on the bank near our wharf, a group of about a hundred - men, women and children - sitting sullenly and gloomily upon the bank waiting - for exile!  They were Kulaks, the hated and hounded Kulaks.  It was a pitiful sight; I have never seen such a dejected group.




Twenty-seventh Day


It was nice and sunny again today.


We arrived at Samara after dark at about 9:00 p. m.  It must be a half-mile tramp from the river to the hilltop where the town is inches of dust, and a tough climb.  We drove three-quarters of the way with our heavy bags, and blew a fuse; so Jones went off to find a droshki.  He returned forty-five minutes later.  The big hotel was full, so we went to the Bristol, and found a group of German-American munition workers who were living there for eighty rubles a month, with food.  They were glad to see English-speaking men again.  A meal - served immediately - was very good, and cost us only one ruble, 75 kopecks.


‘The following remarks on discipline were made by a man we encountered:


“The administrator is made responsible for his business.  The captain of a boat is made responsible.  The power of the captain has been made greater; the director of a factory has greater authority than formerly.  Now they can dismiss a man.  This was difficult until now, because of the Trade Unions.  The Unions said: ‘No, he has a big family, etc..’ Until now a case of dismissal had to go before a court, and often several courts.  The great task of the Trade Unions now is to educate the masses.”


That means the power of the Trade Unions has been broken, according to Jones.  Their work is now to carry out the Plan.


Jones: “Who is now the secretary, or the head of the Trade Unions?”


Party man: “I don’t know.  [Up to a year ago everybody would have known who held important position, according to Jones].  The role of the Trade Unions is now to help production and education, to prepare Shock Brigade workers, to mobilize the masses; and they cannot interfere if the administration dismisses a man.


“A director cannot take on a ‘flyer’ [worker who leaves his factory] now.  A worker must have documents showing that he had permission to leave his work.  The worker must remain in his factory.  If I am a worker and want to leave my factory, the director can say ‘No,’ and I cannot go.  But any reasonable changes - for family or climatic reasons are allowed.


“Now there is to be less centralization.  Now Kazan is more independent.  The Kazan administration used to wait for orders from Moscow, but now it acts for itself.


“We can now make use of our local supplies without permission from Moscow.  Formerly, we had to wait a long time for action on our requisitions, and iron and supplies would remain idle in a port or in a factory.  Now two local factories can exchange goods without permission from Moscow.


“There is no more direct paying between factories, the money goes through a bank, and factory accounts are settled by check.  This is under the new cost-accounting system.  Every engine driver must be responsible for the expenses of his locomotive.  Every factory or institution must account for its expenses.  If the director is economical he receives a premium; if he spends too much, he must pay a fine or sacrifice a part of his pay.”


Twenty-eighth Day


Off to the Kolhoz today!  It’s a tough job for the “boys” riding “hard,” as I found out from our half-hour trip to a neighboring town, which consisted simply of a station and fifteen houses.  It was very quiet when the train had gone.


Russian trains have two classes of carriages, “soft” and “hard,” the former having separate compartments with cushions for four persons, and the latter only hard wooden double-decked “shelves” throughout the car.


About a mile away, a tractor was threshing, and we could see the forks of the workers flashing in the afternoon sun; so we walked over.  It turned out to be a State farm threshing unit, employing about thirty persons, mostly girls, who seemed amply able to do the job of pitching.  They all but quit work when we came up, and pretty soon the engine coughed and wheezed and stopped.  They had seen my camera and wanted to have their pictures taken.


A girl of about twenty-five said:


“When will there be an end to our misery?  We have suffered and are suf­fering so much.  We are hoping and hoping that there will be a war - then there would be a revolt [with meaning in her eyes].  They took away our cow for a whole week and it was shut up and not fed.  Now we have nothing at all.  Our land was taken away from us and we were forced to work here.  They do not give us anything.  We work twelve hours a day.  It is a thousands and times worse than ever; we are actually hungry.  We get a tiny amount of milk and not enough bread, only half a kilo a day, and no meat.”


The continual use by peasants of the third person “they” in reference to Communists is a constant reminder that the mass of the people still feel that Communism is something extraneous and foreign.


“Those two,” pointing to a man in a red shirt, on a white horse, and the tractor mechanic, “are Party members,” the girl continued.  “They have a good time.”


“Red Shirt” was kissing all the girls, and ordering people about.  The mechanic just stood and gazed aimlessly around.


The other girls told the same story.


We left the girls working away, and started out for a little village we could see at the foot of some gently rising steppes five or six versts (kilometers) away.  We passed two wagons drawn by camels, and turned to watch their silhouettes against the orange sky.  Then the stars came out.  Walking through the dark streets, we came to a small house which had a bright light streaming from the window.  Evidently there was someone about.  We walked in, and found several bearded men huddled over account books and papers spilled in confusion on the table.  They immediately jumped up to welcome us, and began asking questions.  More and more collected until the small room was quite full - and very smelly!


They were much impressed by an old Cosmopolitan magazine we had, especially the illustrations:


“Kakaya krasievaya kartina!” (What pretty pictures!).


As usual, Jones talked and I tried to look interested.  We met the president, a small, sharp-eyed young man with a little military cap, and also the vice-president, a jolly unshaven fellow with a big voice.


This was the Stalin Kolhoz, a village of 4,000 persons.  The village Soviet had fifty-two members, of which about one-third were Communists.  From all sides they bombarded us with such questions as,


“When will there be a revolution in America?”


“Is it true that the English want war?”


“Why not let the Soviet Union live in peace?”


“Aren’t there thousands of workers dying in England and America?”


After a lot of this, we began to get pretty hungry, so the vice-president took us to his house for supper.  It was just like any village cottage, one front room with an old oil lamp burning over a table, covered with a piece of dirty oilcloth.  There were three chairs and a bench along the wall, a glass fronted cabinet with the family china, a bed in one corner and the stove - a large brick one - extending out into the middle of the room.  There we met the “Madame” and five children, all very dirty, especially the two little ones.  But while there was a lack of beauty and cleanliness there was nothing missing in hospitality. They heated our baked beans, and proudly produced a water melon and tea for us.  Everybody spat the seeds on the floor, and then after a while somebody swept them into the corner.


Our hostess said:


“Oh, it is terrible!  We used to have three cows, two horses, sheep, and ten chickens: now look around. The dvor [farmyard] is empty, and we only have two chickens. Now we only get half a litre of milk a day.  We used to have as much as we liked; one cow used to give fifteen litres a day.  That is why my children look so pale and ill.  How can it get better when we have no land and no cows?”


Our friend the president came in to say goodnight to us, and, of course, stayed to talk.


“There were forty Kulak families in this village." he told us, “and we’ve sent them all away [proudly].  We sent the last man only a month ago.  We exiled the entire families of these people be-cause we must dig out the Kulak spirit by the roots!  They go to Solovki or Siberia to cut wood, or work on the railways.  In six years, when they have justified themselves, they will be allowed to come back.  We leave the very old ones, ninety years and over, here, because they are not a danger to the Soviet power. Thus we have liquidated the Kulak!


“In June and July we had a campaign against illiteracy; there were a lot of illiterates.  We have liquidated the illiterates and now there is none at all.”


Imagine that!


Well, about this time we began to feel pretty sleepy, and said so.  Our friend offered us his bed, but we said we preferred the floor.  So after carefully shutting all the windows, and seeing that his four children were adjusted in a filthy bunch of old bedding on the floor, and ourselves likewise, he blew out the light.  Well, folks, that was some night!  In spite of tucking my trousers in my socks, etc., the flea and bug situation was very discouraging to any connected shut-eye.

Click here for days 29 -41