Western Mail, April 4th, 1933
RUSSIANS SEETHING WITH DISCONTENT
Arrested seen as a “Sop”
British engineers are now sitting in cells in that ugly grey and yellow
former insurance office which is the headquarters of the O.G.P.U., and two
others, Mr. Monkhouse and Mr. Nordwall, have bound themselves not to leave
few days ago I was walking past that sinister building. On the
pavement outside marched Red Army soldiers with their bayonets fixed;
within, the British engineers, accused of wilfully damaging machines and
of wrecking the Soviet electrical industry, were being submitted to that
nerve-racking form of torture-the mental agony of endless questioning.
had narrowly escaped being arrested myself not long before at a small
railway station in the Ukraine, where I had entered into conversation with
some peasants. These were bewailing their hunger to me, and were
gathering a crowd, all murmuring, “There is no bread,” when a
militiaman had appeared. Stop that growling,” he had shouted to
the peasants; while to me he said, “Come along; where are your
civilian (an O.G.P.U. man) appeared from nowhere, and they both submitted
me to a thorough gruelling of questions. They discussed among
themselves what they should do with me, and finally the O.G.P.U. man
decided to accompany me on the train to the big city of Kharkoff, where at
last he left me in peace. There was to be no arrest.
fate of the other British subjects in Russia was a less fortunate one, and
now they await their trial. This event is more than an isolated act
of violence by the political police. It. is a symbol of the panic which
has come over the Soviet rulers.
far greater than in the famine days of 1921, is condemning the Russian
people to despair and making them hate the Communist Party more than ever.
Even the young communists, once passionately enthusiastic, are now
resentful at the disillusion which has come. The workers want food
and fear loss of work.
peasant, having lost his cow, his land, and his bread, and being doomed to
starvation without a finger being raised to help him, is cursing the day
that Lenin took command. A sop must be provided for the wrath of the
hungry mob. The wicked foreigner must be found on whom to put the
blame. Thus our British subjects have been seized. The
imprisonment of the Metro-Vickers’ specialists is a continuation of that
hunt for victims which characterises the spring of 1933 in Russia.
month the Vice-Commissar for Agriculture for the whole of the Soviet Union
was shot and with him specialists and 34 workers in the agricultural
sphere. Many of them were in the Ministry of Agriculture, Moscow,
and in the Ministry for State Farms, and during a previous visit I met one
of them, Mr. Wolff, an outstanding expert on agriculture and a man
respected by all who knew him.
in this country the shooting of the Parliamentary Secretary of the
Ministry of Agriculture because the agricultural policy of the Government
had failed! They were accused of counter-revolutionary wrecking in
the machine-tractor stations and in the State farms in the Ukraine, North
Caucasia, and White Russia.
agriculturists confessed themselves guilty-or rather were forced by
torture to confess themselves guilty-of the following actions:-The
smashing of tractors, the burning of tractor stations and of flat
factories, the stealing of grain reserves, the disorganisation of sowing,
and the destruction of cattle. Surely a formidable task for 35 men
to carry out in a country which stretches 6,000 miles.
as these men were arrested because of the tragic ruin of agriculture, so
the British engineers were arrested because the electrical plans failed.
The Bolsheviks boasted of their magnificent Dnieperstroy, which was to
flood the Ukraine with light and make the machines in a vast area throb
with energy. What happened?
spite of the heralding of this achievement throughout the world as a
super-triumph for Socialist construction, the tramways within the very
area of the Dnieperstroy stopped because there was no electric current.
The great cities of Kharkoff and Kiev, the leading cities of the Ukraine,
were often plunged for hours on end into darkness, and men and women and
children had to huddle in blackened rooms, because it was difficult to buy
candles and lamp oil. In the theatres in Kharkoff the lights would
suddenly go out, and hundreds of people would sit there, dreading the
crush and the fight in the dark for the way out.
the same time as the people not many miles away from the Dnieperstroy sat
in darkness, resounding slogans of the triumph of the Soviet electrical
industry were drummed into the imagination of the world’s proletariat by
impressive statistics and by skillfully taken photographs of electric
works and of workers wreathed in smiles.
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